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Trump Criminal Hush-Money Trial Speeds Along: Live Updates

Gasps were heard in the packed courtroom when Hope Hicks was called as a witness Friday in Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan, an audible sign of anticipation as M’s former press secretary . Trump and White House communications director spoke. His testimony brought a dramatic end to the third week of the trial.

In nearly three hours on the stand, Ms. Hicks described the impact on Mr. Trump’s campaign of the so-called “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Mr. Trump bragged about grabbing women’s genitals. As soon as the tape was leaked in October 2016, Ms. Hicks said, she knew it would be “a huge story.”

Speaking under a subpoena, Ms Hicks said she was nervous and at one point early in the cross-examination she broke down in tears.

The Manhattan district attorney has accused Mr. Trump, 77, of falsifying 34 business records to hide a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who says she and Mr. Trump had a dating in 2006 while he was married. Mr Trump, the first US president to face criminal charges, has denied the accusations and said he did not have sexual relations with Ms Daniels. If convicted, he could face probation or prison.

Here are five takeaways from the 11th day and third week of Mr. Trump’s trial:

A scandalous recording resurfaces.

Ms. Hicks, now a communications consultant, testified about her rapid rise in the Trump family orbit, from working for her daughter Ivanka to press secretary for Mr. Trump’s campaign. It was in this role that in October 2016, she faced what she called the “intense” fallout from the revelation of the “Access Hollywood” tape.




Donald Trump’s lewd comments about women

In a 2005 recording obtained by The Washington Post before the presidential election, Donald J. Trump speaks in vulgar terms about women to Billy Bush, then the host of “Access Hollywood.”

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In a 2005 recording obtained by The Washington Post before the presidential election, Donald J. Trump speaks in vulgar terms about women to Billy Bush, then the host of “Access Hollywood.”CreditCredit…Mark Makela for the New York Times

The judge in the case, Juan M. Merchan, said the tape itself could not be released, but jurors saw a transcript of it Friday in an email sent to Ms. Hicks by a Post reporter .

“When you’re a star, they let you do it,” Mr. Trump said in the tape about groping with women. “You can do anything.”

“Deny, deny, deny. »

The need for damage control did not diminish, however, when Ms. Hicks was confronted with the Karen McDougal story and a mention of Ms. Daniels in a Wall Street Journal article just days before the 2016 election. article reported that Ms. McDougal, a former Playboy model, was paid $150,000 in August 2016 by the National Enquirer’s parent company, which then suppressed her story of an affair with Mr. Trump, which he denied.

Ms. Hicks remembers consulting Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, who ultimately paid Ms. Daniels to keep quiet. Mr. Cohen denied the stories, writing a proposed response calling them “completely false,” and Ms. Hicks told the Journal the same thing.

Indeed, even as the “Access Hollywood” tape was being released, Ms. Hicks said one strategy — which she documented in an email to other top Trump aides — was simple: “Deny, deny, deny.”

The electoral pressures were enormous.

Earlier in the week, Keith Davidson, a Los Angeles lawyer, testified about deals he negotiated for Ms. Daniels and Ms. McDougal during the final months of the 2016 campaign, when Mr. Trump was battling Hillary Clinton .

The election was a constant topic, with Mr. Davidson pressuring Mr. Cohen to pay up as Election Day approached and Ms. Daniels threatening to blow up the deal as the days passed.

Former President Donald J. Trump in Manhattan Criminal Court Friday, where he is on trial on charges of falsifying records to cover up a sex scandal that threatened to derail his 2016 campaign.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

On Friday, prosecutors presented online posts and a video statement from Mr. Trump in which he acknowledged saying “stupid things” on the “Access Hollywood” tape but also attacked Mrs. Clinton. The jury also saw messages posted in the weeks before the election in which Mr. Trump lambasted women who had accused him of misconduct, calling their stories false.

“No one has more respect for women than me,” he wrote.

Trump’s voice was heard in court, but also outside.

Prosecutors on Tuesday played video clips of Mr. Trump’s denials of sexual assault while on the campaign trail, as well as part of the deposition Mr. Trump gave in a trial in which he was found responsible for sexual abuse.

And on Wednesday, Mr. Trump blasted the criminal case during his campaign, calling Judge Merchan “crooked” and “divisive.”

Back in court on Thursday, jurors heard a conversation Mr. Cohen recorded with Mr. Trump about how to reimburse The Enquirer’s publisher for purchasing Ms. McDougal’s story.

Trump, fined once, faces another gag order.

After hearing arguments from prosecutors last week about violations of a silence order barring attacks on trial participants, Judge Merchan on Tuesday fined Mr. Trump $9,000 and threatened him with prison if they continued.

On Thursday, prosecutors presented four more incidents and called Mr. Trump’s statements “corrosive.” Mr. Trump’s legal team argued that he was merely responding to political attacks.

Judge Merchan has not yet ruled, but a decision could come soon, perhaps next week. The trial continues Monday.

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