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Trump hush money trial: Prosecutors zero in on details as testimony resumes

NEW YORK (AP) — The first week of testimony in Donald Trump’s secret trial was the setting for jurors: Manhattan prosecutors described what they say was an illegal scheme to influence the 2016 presidential campaign by burying negative stories. Prosecutors are now scrambling to provide details about how they believe Trump and his allies succeeded.

The trial resumes Tuesday with Gary Farro, a banker who helped former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen open accounts, including one that Cohen used to buy the silence of porn artist Stormy Daniels. She alleged a sexual relationship with Trump in 2006, which he denies.

What you need to know about Trump’s secret trial:

For his part, the former president and presumptive Republican nominee campaigns outside of his work hours, but he is required to be present in court when the court is in session, four days a week.

So far, jurors have heard from two other witnesses. Former Trump executive assistant Rhona Graff recounted that she remembers seeing Daniels once in Trump’s office in Trump Tower and thought the artist was a potential candidate for one of the Trump-branded “Apprentice” shows. Ancient David Pecker, publisher of the National Enquirer explained how he agreed to serve as the Trump campaign’s “eyes and ears” by helping quell unflattering rumors and claims about Trump and women.

With detailed testimony about email exchanges, business transactions and bank accounts, prosecutors lay the groundwork for their argument that Trump is guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records in relation to discreet money payments. The prosecution leads to crucial testimony from Cohen himself, who was incarcerated in federal prison after plead guilty to campaign finance violations and other crimes. Trump has denied any wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty.

Former President Donald Trump greets the media as he returns from a break during his trial in Manhattan Criminal Court, Friday, April 26, 2024, in New York.  (Dave Sanders/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Former President Donald Trump greets the media as he returns from a break during his trial in Manhattan Criminal Court, Friday, April 26, 2024, in New York. (Dave Sanders/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

It is unclear when Cohen will speak; the trial is expected to last another month or more. And every moment, Trump is in court as the first of his four criminal trials takes placehe’s growing increasingly frustrated as the November election draws closer.

“Our country is going to hell and we’re sitting here day after day, which is their plan, because they think they could pull off an election,” Trump said last week in the courthouse hallway .

Also this week, Judge Juan M. Merchan could decide asks prosecutors to fine Trump for what they say are violations of a gag order that bars him from making public statements about witnesses, jurors and some others connected to the case. The judge also scheduled a hearing for Thursday on another set of alleged violations of the hush order.

Prosecutors used Pecker, a longtime Trump friend, to detail a “catch and kill” arrangement in which he collected sordid stories about the candidate so the National Enquirer or Trump associates could buy and bury the allegations. Pecker described how he paid $180,000 to recover and sit through the stories of doorman and former Playboy model, Karen McDougal. He was not involved in paying Daniels, he said. He testified for four days.

Trump says all these stories were false. His lawyers used cross-examination to suggest Trump was truly engaged in an effort to protect his name and that of his family – not to influence the outcome of the presidential election.

Farro appeared for the first time on Friday. While serving as chief executive of First Republic Bank, he was assigned to work with Trump’s attorney for about three years, in part because of his “ability to deal with individuals who can be a little difficult,” Farro said, adding that he did not do so. find Cohen difficult.

Gary Farro, a private client advisor who previously worked at First Republic Bank, testifies on the witness stand in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday, April 26, 2024, in New York.  (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

Gary Farro, a private client advisor who previously worked at First Republic Bank, testifies on the witness stand in Manhattan Criminal Court on Friday, April 26, 2024, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

Former President Donald Trump gestures as he leaves the courtroom during a break in his trial in Manhattan Criminal Court, Friday, April 26, 2024, in New York.  (Dave Sanders/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Former President Donald Trump gestures as he leaves the courtroom during a break in his trial in Manhattan Criminal Court, Friday, April 26, 2024, in New York. (Dave Sanders/The New York Times via AP, Pool)

Farro detailed for jurors the process of helping Cohen create accounts for two limited liability companies — in business terms, a business account that protects the person behind the account from liability, debt and other issues . Farro testified that Cohen indicated the companies, Resolution Consultants LLC and Essential Consultants LLC, would be involved in real estate consulting.

Prosecutors showed jurors emails in which Cohen described opening the Resolution Consultants account as an “important matter.”

Cohen admitted when he pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2018 that he was set up to send money to American Media, Inc., the Enquirer publisher. It was supposed to be a reward for their purchase of McDougal’s story. But the agreement never came to fruition.

Farro said that since the account was never funded, it was never technically opened. Instead, Cohen turned to starting the Essential Consultants account, which he then used to pay Daniels $130,000.

Asked if Cohen seemed eager to open the bank accounts, Farro said: “Every time Michael Cohen spoke to me, he gave a sense of urgency. »

Farro told the 12-person panel that the bank’s policy prohibits doing business with entities related to “adult entertainment,” including pornography and strip clubs. Trump’s lawyers have not yet had a chance to cross-examine Farro.

___ Long reported in Washington.

News Source : apnews.com
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With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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