The Latest | Hope Hicks takes the witness stand in Trump’s hush money trial

The Latest | Hope Hicks takes the witness stand in Trump’s hush money trial
The Latest | Hope Hicks takes the witness stand in Trump’s hush money trial

Prosecutors have said that Trump and others conducted a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election by purchasing and burying salacious stories that could hurt his campaign.

Trump is accused of falsifying internal business records to cover up hush money payments — including $130,000 given to Daniels, a porn actor, by Cohen — recording them instead as legal expenses.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 criminal counts of falsifying business records.

The case is the first-ever criminal trial of a former US president and the first of four prosecutions of Trump to reach a jury.

Currently:

— Donald Trump moves much of his White House campaign to New York

— Key players: Who’s who at Donald Trump’s hush money criminal trial

— The hush money case is just one of Trump’s legal cases. See the others here

— Trial begins for financial executive in insider trading case tied to taking Trump media firm public

Here’s the latest:

FORMER TRUMP ADVISER HOPE HICKS TAKES THE STAND

Hope Hicks, who served as Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign press secretary and went on to hold various roles in his White House, took the witness stand in his New York hush money case on Friday.

Her testimony on the trial’s 11th day was the latest in a frenzied second week of witness testimony and followed that of forensic analyst Douglas Daus and paralegal Georgia Longstreet.

TRUMP PAYS GAG ORDER FINE

Donald Trump has paid his $9,000 fine for violating the gag order in his hush money criminal trial.

The former president paid the penalty Thursday, ahead of a Friday deadline. Trump’s legal team supplied the court clerk’s office with two cashier’s checks — one for $2,000 and one for $7,000.

Judge Juan M. Merchan ordered Trump to pay the fine after holding him in contempt of court and finding that posts he made online about his ex-lawyer Cohen, porn actor Stormy Daniels and the composition of the jury had violated the gag order.

Merchan is currently weighing a prosecution request to hold Trump in contempt again and fine him $1,000 for each of four more alleged violations from last week. Merchan has warned Trump that he could be jailed if he keeps breaching the gag order.

PARALEGAL SAYS SHE USED NATIONAL ARCHIVES TO VERY TRUMP’S SOCIAL ACCOUNTS

A government agency at the heart of Donald Trump’s separate classified documents criminal case got a name dropped at his New York hush money trial on Friday.

Georiga Longstreet testified that she used the National Archives and Records Administration’s archive of the official presidential account on Twitter, now known as the social platform X, to help verify the authenticity of Trump’s account.

Longstreet noted that Trump’s official government account, @POTUS45, frequently reposted posts from Trump’s @realdonaldtrump account.

There was no visible reaction from Trump to the mention of the National Archives, whose pursuit of records he took from the White House to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida after his 2020 election loss led to charges alleging that he illegally hoarded classified documents .

PARALEGAL FROM MANHATTAN DA’S OFFICE CALLED TO THE STAND

Georgia Longstreet, a paralegal with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, was called as the next witness in Donald Trump’s hush money case on Friday.

She has been assigned to the Trump case for the past year and a half and her role has been to review publicly available records relevant to the case, including Trump’s social media accounts on the social platform Social Truth.

DEFENSE RAISES QUESTIONS ABOUT KEY RECORDING PLAYED IN COURT

Picking up where he left off on Thursday, Trump attorney Emil Bove turned to Douglas Daus, the forensic analyst, with a set of deeply technical questions Friday meant to suggest that Michael Cohen may have doctored a 2016 recording played in court the previous day.

As evidence, Bove noted that the audio cuts off suddenly, as well as “gaps” in the handling of the phone that Daus agreed were “not ideal.”

Prosecutors say the abrupt ending of the recording was the result of Cohen receiving another call. Under questioning from Bove, Daus said there was no record of an incoming call in the phone’s metadata — but said it would be difficult to say for sure without looking at call log data from Cohen’s phone carrier.

“In many ways, we’re just going to have to take Michael Cohen’s word for it, aren’t we?” Bove said.

“Yes,” Daus replied.

With that, Bove concluded his cross-examination.

TRUMP’S ATTORNEY INVOKES ‘WEINSTEIN DECISION’ TO KEEP OUT EVIDENCE

Before testimony summarized in Donald Trump’s hush money trial, Judge Juan M. Merchan ruled to prevent prosecutors from showing the jury a photograph of Trump with Billy Bush and soap opera actor Arianne Zucker at the time of the infamous “Access Hollywood” recording.

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche had asked for the image to be excluded from the trial, pointing to a recent court decision overturning Harvey Weinstein’s rape conviction. In that case, the appeals court ordered a retrial because the judge had allowed testimony at trial unrelated to the allegations.

Merchan said the appeals court decision “doesn’t really factor into this” case, noting that the ruling had not laid out any new law, but nevertheless agreed to block prosecutors from introducing the photograph.

Prosecutors had said the image would help establish the timeline of the revelations about the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump could be heard bragging about grabbing women without permission.

Merchan has previously ruled the 2005 tape cannot be played in court for jurors, but said prosecutors can still question witnesses about the recording.

FORENSIC ANALYST RETURNS TO THE STAND

Trump lawyer Emil Bove on Friday morning summarized cross-examination questioning of Douglas Daus, a forensic analyst at the Manhattan district attorney’s office who extracted recordings, text messages and other evidence from two of Michael Cohen’s iPhones.

JUDGE CLARIFIES THAT GAG ORDER WON’T STOP TRUMP FROM TESTIFYING

Judge Juan M. Merchan started the trial day also by clarifying that Donald Trump’s gag order doesn’t prohibit him from testifying on his own behalf, apparently responding to comments the former president made after court the day before.

“The order restricting extrajudicial statements does not prevent you from testifying in any way,” Merchan said, adding that the order does not in any way limit what Trump says on the witness stand.

Merchan directed his comments to Trump and his lawyers, saying it had come to his attention that there may have been a “misunderstanding” regarding the order.

TRUMP SPEAKS ABOUT GAG ORDER, TESTIFYING

Speaking to reporters before heading into court on Friday, Donald Trump clarified comments he made the day before about his gag order, saying it does not stop him from testifying in the case but it does keep him from “talking about people and responding when they say “things about me.”

After court adjourned on Thursday, Trump had responded to questions about what he’d thought of the day’s testimony.

“I’m not allowed to testify. I’m under a gag order,” he said, causing some confusion. The gag order bars him from making public statements about witnesses, jurors and some others connected to the case.

He also commented on the latest job numbers showing that US employers scaled back hiring in April and said they’re “horrible.”

TRUMP ARRIVES AT COURTHOUSE

Donald Trump has arrived at the courthouse in Manhattan for the 11th day of his hush money trial.

HOPE HICKS COULD TESTIFY AS SOON AS TODAY

Hope Hicks, who served as Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign press secretary and went on to hold various roles in his White House, could testify in his hush money trial as early as Friday.

The two people who described her upcoming appearance to The Associated Press insisted on anonymity to discuss internal trial preparations.

Hicks spoke with Trump by phone during a frenzied effort to keep his alleged affairs out of the press in the final weeks before the election.

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Associated Press writers Eric Tucker in Washington and Jake Offenhartz in New York contributed to this report.

COHEN’S PRESENCE FELT IN COURTROOM VIA TESTIMONY AND AUDIO RECORDINGS

Despite not yet having testified in Donald Trump’s hush money case, Michael Cohen has been very present in the courtroom — in audio recordings of conversations he had and in witness testimony.

On Thursday, jurors heard a taped call between Cohen and Keith Davidson, Stormy Daniels’ former attorney, wherein Cohen could be heard telling Davidson about a conversation he’d had with someone believed to be Trump.

“I can’t even tell you how many times he said to me, ‘You know, I hate the fact that we did it.’ And my comment to him was, ‘But every person that you’ve spoken to told you it was the right move,’” Cohen said in the recording.

The panel also heard a recording of Cohen briefing Trump in September 2016 on the plan to buy former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story. That particular recording included Cohen detailing that he’d spoken to then-Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg about “how to set the whole thing up with funding.”

Cohen, who is the prosecution’s star witness, was Trump’s lawyer and personal fixer at the time.

JURORS WILL GET EARLY DISMISSAL FRIDAY

Court proceedings in Donald Trump’s hush money case will end early on Friday to accommodate an important appointment one of the jurors has in the late afternoon.

Judge Juan M. Merchan announced the scheduling change just before entering court on Thursday. Court will end at 3:45 pm Friday, about 45 minutes earlier than normal.

TRUMP EXPECTED IN COURT AS TRIAL ENTERS 11TH DAY

Donald Trump is expected to return to court Friday morning for the 11th day of his hush money trial as the second week of witness testimony wraps up.

Thursday’s proceedings saw the former president facing yet another contempt hearing, this time over four more prospective violations of his gag order.

While Judge Juan M. Merchan did not immediately rule on the sanctions request from prosecutors, he told defense attorneys he was concerned about three of the potential violations — including comments that Trump made about the political makeup of the jury. Merchan said he wasn’t worried about a comment Trump made last week calling former Enquirer publisher David Pecker a “nice guy.”

Prosecutors said they were only seeking fines and not jail time over the potential violations.

Trump is barred under a gag order from speaking publicly about witnesses, jurors and some others connected to the case. He was fined $9,000 on Tuesday over nine online posts.

___

The introduction has been updated to correct the spelling of the last name of forensic analyst Douglas Daus, from Daul.

The Associated Press

 
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