Will Donald Trump Take the Stand in His NY Hush Money Trial? Alan Dershowitz Says He Shouldn’t

Jane Rosenberg/Pool Photo via AP

The People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump (i.e. the hush money trial against former President Donald Trump) got underway in Manhattan criminal court on Monday.

Jury selection is underway in the trial that is expected to last at least six to eight weeks, and it remains to be seen who will take the stand. Most notably, many are wondering whether or not Trump will testify in his own defense. 

On Monday’s show, Megyn was joined by Alan Dershowitz, author of Get Trump, and Josh Hammer, host of America on Trial with Josh Hammer, to discuss the possibility of the former president taking the stand and what it would mean for the trial.

The Trial

Trump became the first former president to stand trial in United States history on Monday. After months of delays and attempts to throw out the case, the proceedings before Judge Juan Merchan got underway.

The forty fifth president faces 34 felony counts related to allegations of illegally falsifying business records when reimbursing his former fixer, Michael Cohen, for making ‘hush money’ payments to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

As a criminal defendant, Trump is required to be in court for the duration of the trial and he also has the right to take the stand in his own defense. Whether or not he will exercise that right or it is legally prudent to do so, however, is another matter. 

Following a March 25 hearing, Trump told reporters he “would have no problem testifying.” The presumptive 2024 GOP nominee doubled down during a press conference at Mar-a-Lago on Friday. “Yeah, I would testify, absolutely,” he said in response to a question from NBC News. “I’m testifying. I tell the truth, I mean, all I can do is tell the truth. And the truth is that there is no case.”

The Potential Testimony

Despite the emphatic response, Trump’s lawyers have not yet signaled whether or not they intend to call on their client and Megyn wasn’t so sure it would happen. “Trump says he definitely will testify,” she said. “Do we believe that? And should he?”

Dershowitz, who was part of the former president’s defense team in his first impeachment trial, said he will not and should not. “Of course he won’t testify,” he said. “I am 100 percent certain his lawyers will tell him he can’t testify. If he were my client and didn’t take my advice and decided to testify, I would have to quit the case.”

He said he was in a similar situation as a member of the so-called “Dream Team” representing O.J. Simpson in his 1994 murder trial. ”He wanted to take the stand, and I told him I would quit the case if he took the stand [because] I could not watch him… being asked whether he beat his wife because we knew he did, there were pictures, and he would deny it,” Dershowitz recalled. “He didn’t take the stand, and he won. When he did take the stand in the civil case, he lost.”

Will He or Won’t He?

As Dershowitz explained, Trump would likely have a hard time getting past prosecutors. “The first question on cross examination will be, ‘Did you have sex with Ms. Daniels,’” he said. “There are three possible answers: No, which gets him indicted for perjury… Yes, which is obviously not helpful. Or ‘I don’t remember. I’ve had sex with so many porn stars’… There is no possibly good answer to that question.”

Megyn agreed that question would prove challenging. “Trump has a way of being kind of slippery with the truth, but it’s different when you have a good cross examiner there and you are forced to give clear and concise answers,” she admitted. “I do think Trump would have his hands full.”

While Megyn said Trump is “brazen and somewhat narcissistic like all presidential candidates and presidents,” she also believes “he doesn’t want to get convicted.” That fact, Hammer noted, should be the determining factor. “Donald Trump is definitely contrarian,” he said. “But if you look at [his] presidency, he actually often did listen to the people around him.”

Ultimately, Dershowitz believes the former president’s legal team will advise him not to testify and he will heed their advice. “His lawyers will tell him not to, and I think they will persuade him,” he concluded. “He will want to take the stand… he has the right to take the stand… but my prediction is he won’t take the stand.”

You can check out Megyn’s full interview with Dershowitz and Hammer by tuning in to episode 766 on YouTube, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you like to listen. And don’t forget that you can catch The Megyn Kelly Show live on SiriusXM’s Triumph (channel 111) weekdays from 12pm to 2pm ET.