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Crucial Witnesses in Trump’s Criminal Trial Detail the Formation of Hush Money Deals

Donald Trump
Donald Trump (Credits: Getty Images)

The criminal trial of former President Donald Trump resumed in a Manhattan courtroom with testimony from Keith Davidson, the lawyer who represented both Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, two women who alleged sexual encounters with Trump and were paid to keep quiet about their claims during the 2016 presidential election.

Davidson recounted his involvement in the hush money transactions, starting with his representation of Daniels, an adult film star.

He described how he sent a cease-and-desist letter to a website in 2011 after it posted a blog item about Daniels’ alleged interaction with Trump. Davidson mentioned receiving aggressive threats from Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, at the time.

Former President Donald Trump (Credits: CNN)

The story resurfaced in 2016, and negotiations ensued, leading to a settlement that included aliases for Daniels and Trump. Cohen delayed the payment multiple times, citing various reasons, until the deal was finally completed in late October 2016.

Davidson also testified about McDougal’s hush money deal, which involved selling her story to the National Enquirer. He described text messages exchanged with the Enquirer’s editor-in-chief, Dylan Howard, and the eventual $150,000 settlement reached.

During Davidson’s testimony, Trump appeared largely disengaged, with his eyes closed at times, prompting speculation about whether he was sleeping.

In a separate development, Judge Juan Merchan found Trump in criminal contempt for repeatedly violating his gag order and fined him $9,000. Trump decried the ruling on social media, claiming it infringed on his constitutional right to free speech.

Donald Trump (Credits: Vox)

Despite Trump’s absence from the trial on May 17 for his son’s graduation, other figures attended, including Eric Trump, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, and former Trump campaign aide Carter Page.

The trial also heard testimony from Gary Farro, a banker who worked with Cohen to set up a bank account for the hush money payment to Daniels. Farro described the account setup and the transfer of funds.

Prosecutors played videos of Trump during the 2016 election, where he praised Cohen as “a very talented lawyer.” The trial proceedings continued despite Trump’s request for a stay, which was denied by a state appeals court.

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