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HomeUSNY hush money trial continues with additional testimony

NY hush money trial continues with additional testimony

  • Trump’s trial on hush money continues in Manhattan court
  • Witnesses testify about alleged election interference and cover-up
  • Prosecutors accuse Trump of breaching gag order on social media

On Tuesday, former President Donald Trump is scheduled to appear in a Manhattan court as his “hush money” criminal trial enters its third week. 

The proceedings on Tuesday follow a lengthy three-day weekend. The jury selection process occupied the majority of the first week of the case, whereas the prosecution and defense presented opening statements and witness testimony during the second week. 

Ahead of the 2024 presidential election, Trump, the presumed Republican nominee, has faced 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with a $130,000 payment made to pornographic film actress Stormy Daniels. 

According to prosecutors, Trump allegedly paid Daniels “hush money” before the 2016 presidential election in exchange for her silence regarding her allegations of an affair with him. 

To maintain the felony charges, however, the prosecution must persuade the jury that the falsifications were carried out to further another criminal scheme. 

Scholars have posited that the “hush money” disbursements were strategically timed to sway the 2016 presidential election, a period in which Trump was subject to scrutiny regarding his interactions with women and harassment allegations. 

In contrast, the defense has maintained that Trump is innocent and acted lawfully to shield his family from public disgrace. Moreover, the ex-president has refuted any allegations of engaging in sexual activity with Daniels. 

As per the judgment of Juan Merchan, the presiding judge, the trial is anticipated to last for around six weeks. 

Attestations of campaign activity by witnesses

The inaugural witness summoned to the stand was David Pecker, a former publisher of the National Enquirer, last week. 

Pecker testified before prosecutors for a total of four days and ten hours that he became the “eyes and ears” of the Trump campaign following a meeting with the then-presidential candidate and his attorney, Michael Cohen. 

Pecker recalled maintaining regular contact with Cohen while he orchestrated a “catch and kill” scheme involving the purchase of exclusive rights to stories that he subsequently suppressed. 

The information in those articles had the potential to cause Trump political harm. The documents comprised an allegation of an extramarital relationship involving model Karen McDougal and a declaration made by a doorman at Trump Tower that Trump had paternally fathered a child. 

This “catch and kill” scheme, according to prosecutors, was an orchestrated effort to deflect attention away from allegations of sexual misconduct against Trump. 

According to Pecker’s testimony, the effort was made with the explicit intention of aiding Trump’s campaign, and the politician appeared unconcerned that the information might reach his family. 

In an apparent effort to undermine the publisher’s claim that his agreement with Trump was exceptional, the defense noted during cross-examination that Pecker had entered into other “catch and kill” agreements with prominent figures, including former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and prominent Democratic politician Rahm Emanuel. 

Prosecutors called into question Rhona Graff, who served as Trump’s business assistant from 1987 to 2021, after Pecker’s testimony. 

She stated in her testimony that she had the opportunity to meet Daniels at Trump Tower before Trump’s presidential campaign. She added that she overheard Trump express interest in interviewing her for the reality television program he oversaw, The Apprentice. 

Graff stated that both Daniels and McDougal’s email addresses were maintained on the computer systems of Trump’s organization. 

Later, banker Gary Farro testified that Michael Cohen, Trump’s attorney, established accounts for two shell companies, one of which was utilized to remunerate Daniels, with him in the days leading up to the election. 

Farro stated that Cohen misled him into believing that Essential Consultants LLC would provide real estate consulting services. On Tuesday, his testimony is scheduled to resume. 

Examination of social media

This week, Judge Merchan may also render a decision regarding whether Trump has contravened a partial gag order prohibiting him from discussing certain individuals implicated in the prosecution, such as Daniels and Cohen, both of whom are anticipated to provide testimony. 

Prosecutors stated last week that Trump’s public statements and social media posts constituted more than a dozen violations of the order. They added that some of these violations even transpired within the courtroom. 

Although prison time is a potential penalty, prosecutors have stated that they are not pursuing that at this time. 

The New York trial is predicated upon one of four pending criminal indictments against Trump.

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The US Supreme Court heard arguments from Trump’s defense team last week, in which they argued that presidential immunity should defend his actions while in office. 

One of the criminal indictments levied against him is directly related to this case: a federal lawsuit filed in Washington, DC, which charges Trump with attempting to rig the 2020 election. Trump ought to be exempt from prosecution, according to his attorneys, because his statements and actions constituted official acts. 

The time of the highest court’s decision in the case was not immediately apparent. 

In a distinct federal case filed in Florida, Trump is accused of tampering with classified documents that he deleted from the White House following the conclusion of his term. Prosecutors assert that he attempted to conceal those documents despite efforts by authorities to retrieve them. 

The fourth indictment pertains to a state-level case in Georgia, where he is confronted with additional allegations concerning endeavors to nullify the outcomes of the 2020 election.

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