Stormy Daniels to testify in Trump hush money trial

Stormy Daniels to testify in Trump hush money trial
Stormy Daniels to testify in Trump hush money trial

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump walks, as his criminal trial over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016 continues, at Manhattan state court in New York City May 6, 2024. — Reuters pool pic

NEW YORK, May 7 — Stormy Daniels will be called as a witness at Donald Trump’s criminal trial today, lawyers in the case said, setting up a long-awaited showdown between the former US president and the porn star who says they had sex.

Daniels is at the centre of the first criminal trial of a former president. Prosecutors say Trump covered up a US$130,000 (RM61,594) hush money payment his former lawyer Michael Cohen made to Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Cohen has previously said Trump directed him to pay Daniels to keep quiet about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in 2006.

Lawyers said Daniels would be the second witness to testify today, the 13th day of the trial.

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Justice Juan Merchan said Daniels would be allowed to testify about the basic details of the encounter. Trump defence lawyer Susan Necheles objected, arguing that testimony was peripheral to a case cantered on financial records.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger said the testimony was needed to complete the story and establish Daniels’ credibility.

“In terms of the sexual act, it will be just very basic. It’s not going to involve descriptions of genitalia or anything of that nature,” Hoffinger said.

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As he entered the courtroom, Trump repeated complaints about the merits of the case but did not mention Daniels. Trump has been fined $10,000 so far for violating a gag order that prevents him from talking about witnesses.

Before Daniels took the stand, jurors were shown passages from several of Trump’s books, including one that read: “A sexual dynamic is always present between people, unless you are asexual.”

Other passages advised readers to keep a close eye on their business operations. “I always sign my checks, so I know where my money’s going,” one excerpt read.

Prosecutors have shown the former president’s signature was on payments at the heart of the case. They say Trump falsely labelled his reimbursement payments to Cohen in 2017 as legal expenses in his real estate company’s books to cover up what they call an illegal scheme to influence the 2016 election by buying the silence of people with potentially damaging information.

Cohen in 2018 pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance law through the payment to Daniels. He testified that Trump directed him to make the payment.

Trump, running again for president in the November 5 election, has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records and denies any sexual encounter with Daniels.

Trump’s defence lawyers have told the 12 jurors and six alternates that Daniels’ testimony will not be relevant to the paperwork violations at the heart of prosecutors’ case.

Daniels, 45, said she had sex with Trump, 77, at a Lake Tahoe hotel while he was married to his wife Melania Trump.

Trump’s lawyers have suggested she was seeking a role on Trump’s reality TV show, The Apprentice.

Daniels has been at the receiving end of some of Trump’s vitriolic attacks on social media.

Merchan, who is hearing the case, has said some of those posts violated a gag order restricting Trump from speaking about witnesses, jurors, and others involved in the case if those statements are meant to influence the proceedings.

Merchan has warned Trump could be jailed if he keeps up his attacks.

Trump, the Republican candidate for president, has called the gag order a violation of his free speech rights and says the trial is an attempt to hobble his attempt to win back the White House from Democratic President Joe Biden.

The case is widely seen as less consequential than three other criminal prosecutions Trump faces, but it is the only one certain to go to trial before the election.

The other cases charge Trump with trying to overturn his 2020 presidential defeat and mishandling classified documents after leaving office. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all three. — Reuters

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