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Poland's prime minister celebrates after his party wins a string of cities in mayoral votes

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Poland's prime minister celebrates after his party wins a string of cities in mayoral votes
News

News

Poland's prime minister celebrates after his party wins a string of cities in mayoral votes

2024-04-22 22:18 Last Updated At:22:20

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk expressed satisfaction on Monday after a series of candidates supported by his party won weekend races for mayor.

Candidates from his pro-European Union centrist Civic Coalition, or running with the party's backing, won in a series of cities in the second round of local elections held on Sunday, among them Krakow, Poznan, Wroclaw and Rzeszow.

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Polish voters take part in a local runoff election in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk expressed satisfaction on Monday after a series of candidates supported by his party won weekend races for mayor.

Campaign posters promote candidates as Poles vote in local and regional elections in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Campaign posters promote candidates as Poles vote in local and regional elections in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Polish voters take part in a local runoff election in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Polish voters take part in a local runoff election in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Polish voters take part in a local runoff election in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Polish voters take part in a local runoff election in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

FILE - Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk reacts during his and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meeting with students in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk is celebrating a victory on Monday April 22, 2024 after a series of candidates supported by his party won weekend races for mayor. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

FILE - Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk reacts during his and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meeting with students in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk is celebrating a victory on Monday April 22, 2024 after a series of candidates supported by his party won weekend races for mayor. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

FILE - Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk listens to the media in Berlin, Germany, Friday, March 15, 2024. Tusk is celebrating a victory on Monday April 22, 2024 after a series of candidates supported by his party won weekend races for mayor. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

FILE - Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk listens to the media in Berlin, Germany, Friday, March 15, 2024. Tusk is celebrating a victory on Monday April 22, 2024 after a series of candidates supported by his party won weekend races for mayor. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

“It is very difficult to clearly say who won and who lost,” Tusk said Monday. “But if we compare these results, especially in the most attractive places, on these attractive battlefields ... then I actually have reasons for satisfaction.”

“Law and Justice has simply disappeared in many places,” Tusk added at a news conference, referring to the main opposition party.

The results put Civic Coalition in a favorable position as the country looks next to elections to the European Parliament on June 9.

Mayors were chosen in a total of 748 cities and towns where no single candidate won at least 50% of the vote during the first round on April 7.

Candidates for Tusk’s party also recaptured cities where they had not held power for many years, including Zielona Gora, Legnica and Torun.

The local and regional elections were viewed as a test for Tusk's pro-European Union government four months after it took power at the national level. Sunday's second round strengthened the Tusk government's leverage in the cities, which should facilitate cooperation on development projects and allotment of EU funds.

Tusk's allies also won in some places in the first round two weeks ago, including in Warsaw, where incumbent Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski was an easy victor.

In the first round, the right-wing Law and Justice, prevailed on the level of regional assemblies in the country's 16 provinces, where it took 34.3% of the votes, while Tusk's Civic Coalition got 30.6%. Law and Justice governed on the national level from 2015-23.

Tusk’s socially liberal Civic Coalition traditionally has strong support in cities, while Law and Justice has a more solid base in conservative rural areas, particularly in eastern Poland.

Civic Coalition is the largest group in a three-party coalition that governs the EU nation of 38 million people. The coalition is pro-European Union but otherwise spans a wide ideological spectrum with left-wing politicians in the Left party as well as conservatives in the Third Way.

Polish voters take part in a local runoff election in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Polish voters take part in a local runoff election in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Campaign posters promote candidates as Poles vote in local and regional elections in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Campaign posters promote candidates as Poles vote in local and regional elections in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Polish voters take part in a local runoff election in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Polish voters take part in a local runoff election in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Polish voters take part in a local runoff election in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Polish voters take part in a local runoff election in Lomianki, near Warsaw, Poland on Sunday, April 21, 2024. Voters are choosing mayors who did not win outright in the first round of the election two weeks earlier. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

FILE - Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk reacts during his and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meeting with students in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk is celebrating a victory on Monday April 22, 2024 after a series of candidates supported by his party won weekend races for mayor. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

FILE - Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk reacts during his and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy meeting with students in Kyiv, Ukraine, Monday, Jan. 22, 2024. Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk is celebrating a victory on Monday April 22, 2024 after a series of candidates supported by his party won weekend races for mayor. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky, File)

FILE - Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk listens to the media in Berlin, Germany, Friday, March 15, 2024. Tusk is celebrating a victory on Monday April 22, 2024 after a series of candidates supported by his party won weekend races for mayor. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

FILE - Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk listens to the media in Berlin, Germany, Friday, March 15, 2024. Tusk is celebrating a victory on Monday April 22, 2024 after a series of candidates supported by his party won weekend races for mayor. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s legal team rested its case Tuesday in his hush money trial after calling just two witnesses and opting not to have the former president take the stand in his own defense.

But despite what Hollywood courtroom dramas might suggest, that isn’t all that unusual, according to criminal defense lawyers and former prosecutors.

The reason is simple: Prosecutors need to prove their case, while the defense only has to show there’s reasonable doubt their client committed a crime. And defense lawyers don't necessarily need to call different witnesses to knock holes in a prosecutor's case.

“The burden is on the prosecution, and it’s a high burden,” said Sarah Krissoff, a white-collar defense lawyer and former federal prosecutor in New York.

Trump has been charged with falsifying records at his company in order to disguise the true nature of payments made in 2017 to one of his lawyers, Michael Cohen. Prosecutors say the money was for Cohen's work suppressing negative stories about his boss during the 2016 presidential campaign, including one about an alleged sexual encounter with a porn actor, Stormy Daniels. Trump, who denies Daniels' account, has said the company properly classified them as legal expenses.

Most of the work of defense lawyers, Krissoff and other experts said, happens during cross-examination of the prosecution’s witnesses, when they can challenge their testimony and credibility.

“The defense narrative comes through during cross-examination, then they will tie it all together during the closing statement,” she explained.

It isn't unusual for defense lawyers to call just a few witnesses of their own, or none at all.

A lot of the defense team's work happens before the trial begins, and involves trying to make sure incriminating evidence isn’t admitted into the trial and is never seen or heard by the jury, Krissoff added.

“What you see in a courtroom is really only a sliver of the work they’re doing,” she said.

And while Trump has for weeks dangled the prospect of testifying, legal experts say that was never likely to happen.

“There was no guarantee that if Trump testified that he would stay on point and not go completely off script in ways that would be, at best, not helpful to the defense and, at worst, harmful to them,” said Richard Serafini, a criminal defense attorney in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and former prosecutor with the U.S. Justice Department.

Krissoff agreed, adding that having a defendant testify can also open the door for other evidence and information to be introduced in trial that could be harmful.

“They’ve done the calculus and decided that they’ve made enough inroads,” she explained, referring to Trump’s lawyers. “They feel they’ve done the damage to the prosecution’s case and they’re going to be able to stand up next week and argue that there isn’t enough to convict the former president.”

If anything, legal experts said, it was surprising that Trump’s lawyers called any witnesses.

The defense’s main witness was attorney Robert Costello, who testified Monday and Tuesday about conversations he had with Cohen in 2018, after the FBI raided Cohen’s home and office. Costello testified that Cohen told him at the time that Trump knew nothing about $130,000 in hush money paid to Daniels.

“I’m not sure that Costello moved the needle in favor of Trump,” said Mark Bederow, a New York criminal defense lawyer and former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. But he and other legal experts said Trump’s lawyers rightly zeroed in on Cohen's credibility.

Cohen testified that Trump knew all about the scheme to pay off Daniels. But under cross-examination, he also admitted stealing thousands of dollars from Trump's company and lying during congressional testimony. Cohen also claimed he was innocent of crimes, including tax evasion and bank fraud, despite having pleaded guilty to those crimes in 2018. Cohen said his guilty pleas were, themselves, lies.

“His lack of credibility is just shocking, in terms of his personal bias, his financial motives, his lying and stealing from the company that he was working with, his dishonesty and tape recording his own client,” Bederow said.

One potential witness who never wound up taking the stand was Allen Weisselberg, the former chief financial officer of the Trump Organization. According to the testimony of some witnesses, Weisselberg had knowledge of the payments made to Cohen.

But Weisselberg was sentenced last month to five months in jail for lying under oath during his testimony in the civil fraud lawsuit brought against Trump by New York’s attorney general.

“The problem was neither side could really call him,” Krissoff said. “He’s in custody for lying in a courtroom in the recent past. It was impossible for him to be a credible witness.”

Closing arguments in the trial are expected May 28.

Follow Philip Marcelo at twitter.com/philmarcelo.

Former President Donald Trump attorneys Emil Bove and Susan Necheles return to the courtroom after a break in Trump's trial Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool Photo via AP)

Former President Donald Trump attorneys Emil Bove and Susan Necheles return to the courtroom after a break in Trump's trial Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool Photo via AP)

Former President Donald Trump speaks alongside his attorney Todd Blanche following the day's proceedings in his trial Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool Photo via AP)

Former President Donald Trump speaks alongside his attorney Todd Blanche following the day's proceedings in his trial Tuesday, May 21, 2024, in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool Photo via AP)

Trump's lawyers rested their case after calling just 2 witnesses. Experts say that's not unusual

Trump's lawyers rested their case after calling just 2 witnesses. Experts say that's not unusual

Trump's lawyers rested their case after calling just 2 witnesses. Experts say that's not unusual

Trump's lawyers rested their case after calling just 2 witnesses. Experts say that's not unusual

Donald Trump, far left, watches as defense attorney Emil Bove questions Robert Costello, right, with Judge Juan Merchan presiding in Manhattan criminal court, Monday, May 20, 2024, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

Donald Trump, far left, watches as defense attorney Emil Bove questions Robert Costello, right, with Judge Juan Merchan presiding in Manhattan criminal court, Monday, May 20, 2024, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

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