top of page

Prosecutors' Focus Sharpens in Trump's Hush Money Trial

Michael Cohen exiting the courthouse

Trump Hush Money Trial: Focus Narrows to Checks and Phone Records

In the ongoing trial centered around Donald Trump's alleged hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels, Friday saw prosecutors zero in on checks and phone records. The case's spotlight is now set on Michael Cohen, Trump's ex-lawyer and the prosecution's star witness, set to testify next week.

This phase of the trial pivots on record-keeping, a stark contrast to Daniels' previous, riveting testimony recounting an alleged sexual encounter with Trump, which he denies. Daniels' account, however, is key for prosecutors arguing that Trump and his team squashed damaging stories prior to the 2016 presidential election aiming to illegally sway the results.

Trump's adamant declaration of innocence and his lawyers' unsuccessful motion for a mistrial following Daniels' detailed testimony marked Thursday's proceedings. The prosecution is methodically building their case, with Cohen's impending testimony being highly anticipated. Cohen coordinated the $130,000 payment to Daniels allegedly at Trump's direction and has faced prison time for tax evasion and campaign-finance violations associated with the hush money operation.

Witness testimonies have fluctuated between mundane accounts from bookkeepers and bankers to scandalous stories regarding Trump. Yet, at its core, the trial scrutinizes monetary transactions and their potential illegal intent to influence the 2016 election.

Friday's testimony resumed with Madeleine Westerhout, a former Trump White House aide who elaborated on the procedure by which Trump received personal mail, including checks to sign, while in the White House. This is crucial as it is how Trump allegedly received and signed the checks reimbursing Cohen for the Daniels payment.

Westerhout further revealed that Trump was ""very upset"" when The Wall Street Journal broke the news of his hush money agreement with Daniels in 2018. His lawyers argue that Daniels was paid for her silence to protect Trump's family, not his campaign.

Phone records authenticated by AT&T and Verizon employees also featured in the trial, though this technical testimony seemingly tested the jurors' endurance.

Daniels' graphic testimony about her encounter with Trump at a celebrity golf event captivated the courtroom for over 7½ hours. Trump's lawyers attempted to discredit Daniels as a liar and extortionist capitalizing on her claims against the former president.

Trump's lawyers also attempted to alter the gag order restricting him from commenting on the case's witnesses to publicly counter Daniels' claims, but their request was rejected.

Records from Mark Pomerantz, a previous Manhattan prosecutor and author, were also sought after by Trump on Friday but the request was denied. Trump is facing 34 charges of falsifying internal Trump Organization business records relating to payments deemed legal expenses. Prosecutors contend that these payments were primarily reimbursements to Cohen for Daniels' hush money payment.

As the potential of jail time looms for Trump following multiple gag order breaches, his attorneys are appealing the order and swiftly seeking a decision in an appeals court. If unsuccessful, they aim to take their appeal to the state's high court.



bottom of page