Major Twist in Trump Trial


President Donald Trump returns to court Tuesday ready to watch his lawyers cross-examine perhaps the most central witness that the government will present in his so-called hush money trial.

Testimony from Stormy Daniels is expected to be heard as the adult film star will ostensibly chronicle behind-the-scenes negotiations with Michael Cohen that resulted in a $130,000 payment and nondisclosure agreement about an alleged affair she had with Trump decades ago. Clark Brewster, an attorney for Daniels, told the AP that his client will “likely” be asked to testify Tuesday while Trump complained that he was just “recently told” about the development and should have been given more notice.

The tango between Trump and Daniels dates back to a celebrity golf outing at Lake Tahoe in 2006 when Daniels claimed an awkward sexual encounter occurred. Trump denies having sex with Daniels, though the prospect of seeing the story hit the papers days before Election Day 2016 prompted a payment to ensure she didn’t reveal details of the alleged tryst. Regardless, a story mentioning Daniels was released on November 4th, 2016 by the Wall Street Journal detailing allegations of unfaithfulness by Trump.

On Monday the court heard from prosecutors who produced record-keeping documents from within the Trump empire, including checks signed by Trump that went toward paying Daniels as part of the settlement. Lawyers with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg still need to prove that Trump’s signature is indicative of his knowledge about the reasons for the payments and his tacit approval to list them as legal expenses, not ones to his campaign. Bragg has brought 34 felony counts against Trump, arguing the payments were meant to support his campaign but disguised through falsified business records.

Throughout the trial, prosecutors have pervaded the narrative that Trump, suffering a lack of support among female voters, paid off Daniels as part of a strategy to shore up support among rival Hillary Clinton. Former Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks testified in court that Trump was most concerned about how the alleged affair would affect his wife Melania. After the Wall Street Journal ran a story days before the election detailing a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and mentioning Daniels, Hicks said Trump was “concerned how it would be viewed by his wife,” asking her to ensure a paper was not delivered to his house that day.

Cohen, Trump’s former attorney and fixer, ultimately paid Daniels after her lawyer at the time, Keith Davidson, indicated she was prepared to go on the record with her story about a rendezvous with Trump. Cohen complained internally about the slow process of being paid back, telling allies he was working tirelessly to “fix” situations created by Trump. Hicks also shared her thoughts about Cohen, a felon and star witness for the prosecution. “He used to like to call himself Mr. Fix-It, but it was only because he first broke it,” said told the jury.


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