ex-attorney-for-daniels-and-mcdougal-testifies-in-trump-trial

Ex-attorney for Daniels and McDougal testifies in Trump trial

Politics
6:49 p.m. ET, April 30, 2024

Here are the key takeaways from day 9 of the Trump hush money trial

From CNN’s Jeremy Herb, Kara Scannell and Lauren del Valle

Catch up on the key takeaways after the ninth day of Donald Trump’s historic hush money trial wrapped.

Trump is fined – and faces more later this week: Before the jury was called in Tuesday morning, Judge Juan Merchan fined Trump for nine violations – $1,000 each, the maximum allowed by law – of the judge’s gag order barring public discussion of witnesses in the case or the jury. This came after prosecutors had filed a motion to hold Trump in contempt over his social media posts and public comments about Cohen, Daniels and the makeup of the jury pool.

This won’t be Trump’s last run-in with Merchan’s gag order. Last week, the district attorney’s office cited another four comments from Trump that allegedly violated the order. Merchan has scheduled a hearing on those violations for Thursday. In his order, the judge warned Trump that he could be imprisoned if he continues to willfully violate the gag order. Merchan could jail Trump for 30 days for finding him in contempt.

Daniels’ lawyer takes the stand: Keith Davidson, an LA-based attorney, represented both Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels when they were shopping stories about their romantic relations with Trump in 2016. He described in detail his conversations with American Media Inc.’s then-chief content officer Dylan Howard – aided by text exchanges between the two rich in detail to help freshen up Davidson’s memory – as he cut a $150,000 deal with AMI for McDougal’s story and then struck a $130,000 deal directly with Trump’s then-fixer Michael Cohen for Daniels after AMI backed out.

Jurors hear about the Stormy Daniels payment paper trail: Cohen’s former banker Gary Farro returned Tuesday morning to walk the jury through Cohen’s bank activity around the payment to Daniels. Records show it took Cohen less than 24 hours to open an account for a shell company and use it to wire the money to Daniels’ attorney. The banker also said First Republic Bank closed all of Cohen’s accounts, leaving only his existing mortgages with the institution, after news of the Daniels hush money payment became public.

Trump videos played for the jury in court: Prosecutors used records custodians to enter several video clips into evidence Tuesday morning.

  • Three C-SPAN clips of Trump speaking at public events were played for the jury.
  • Two clips from October 2016 campaign events showed then-candidate Trump vehemently denying allegations from women who publicly accused him of sexual assault after the “Access Hollywood” tape was released earlier that month.
  • In a clip from January 11, 2017, President-elect Trump praised Cohen.
  • Snippets from Trump’s October 2022 deposition taken for his E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuits were also admitted into evidence and played in court.
  • Prosecutors also played a clip from the deposition where Trump described that Truth Social was a platform he opened as an alternative to Twitter.
  • In another clip, Trump responds to questions confirming that he is married to Melania Trump, since 2005.
  • Jurors also saw Trump identify himself as the speaker in the Access Hollywood” tape during that deposition – although no video clip was played in relation to the question about the Access Hollywood” tape, nor the tape itself. (The judge previously ruled only a transcript of the audio could be admitted into evidence  not the video footage.)

Trump allies in court: Trump’s son, Eric Trump, attended the trial – the first family member of the former president to appear during the trial. Others present included: Susie Wiles, Trump’s senior campaign adviser, Ken Paxton, the Texas attorney general, and David McIntosh, who has cofounded conservative political groups including the Club for Growth.

Trump can attend his son’s graduation: Before the trial began, Trump’s attorneys had asked for May 17 off so that Trump could attend his son Barron’s graduation. The judge had said he didn’t know yet if that was possible – but on Tuesday, Merchan said things were moving quickly enough that he was comfortable having no court that day so Trump could attend graduation. Trump had previously attacked the judge for preventing him from attending Barron’s graduation, even though the judge had only previously said he was withholding a decision on the request.

6:08 p.m. ET, April 30, 2024

Trump is also facing charges in 3 other criminal cases

From CNN’s Devan Cole, Amy O’Kruk and Curt Merrill 

The hush money criminal trial against former President Donald Trump is one of four criminal cases he faces while juggling his presidential campaign.

The former president faces at least 88 charges over the four criminal indictments in Georgia, New York, Washington, DC, and Florida. Trump has pleaded not guilty to every charge in these cases. 

Here’s a recap of each case: 

  • Hush money: Trump was first indicted in March 2023 by the Manhattan district attorney on state charges related to a hush-money payment to an adult film star in 2016. Prosecutors allege Trump was part of an illegal conspiracy to undermine the integrity of the 2016 election. Further, they allege he was part of an unlawful plan to suppress negative information, including the $130,000 payment. 
  • Classified documents: Trump was indicted in June 2023 by a federal grand jury in Miami for taking classified national defense documents from the White House after he left office and resisting the government’s attempts to retrieve the materials. The National Archives said in early 2022 that at least 15 boxes of White House records were recovered from the estate, including some that were classified. The charges were brought by special counsel Jack Smith. 
  • Federal election interference: Smith separately charged the former president last August with four crimes over his efforts to reverse the 2020 election results. The indictment alleges Trump and a co-conspirator “attempted to exploit the violence and chaos at the Capitol by calling lawmakers to convince them … to delay the certification” of the election. That case is currently on hold as the Supreme Court weighs Trump’s claims of presidential immunity in the matter. The court held a hearing on the issue of immunity last week. Now the clock starts ticking. Every day the court doesn’t issue a decision will play into Trump’s strategy of delay, jeopardizing the likelihood that Smith can bring his case to trial before the November election. 
  • Fulton County: State prosecutors in Georgia brought a similar election subversion case against Trump and others. An Atlanta-based grand jury on August 14, 2023, indicted Trump and 18 others on state charges stemming from their alleged efforts to overturn the former president’s 2020 electoral defeat. A trial date has not yet been set in that case. 

Read more about the four criminal cases Trump faces. 

5:58 p.m. ET, April 30, 2024

Here’s a timeline of key events in the hush money case

From CNN’s Lauren del Valle, Kara Scannell, Annette Choi and Gillian Roberts 

Prosecutors and the defense have been zeroing in on key moments related to the hush money case.

Keith Davidson, the former lawyer of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, on Tuesday testified about the negotiations that led to the tabloid deals with both women.

CNN compiled a timeline of the events leading up to the historic trial. Read up on the moments below:

  • September 2016: Donald Trump discusses a $150,000 hush money payment understood to be for former Playboy model Karen McDougal with Michael Cohen who secretly records the conversation. McDougal has alleged she had an extramarital affair with Trump beginning in 2006, which he has denied. 
  • October 7, 2016: The Washington Post releases an “Access Hollywood” video from 2005 in which Trump uses vulgar language to describe his sexual approach to women with show host Billy Bush. 
  • October 27, 2016: According to prosecutors, Cohen pays Stormy Daniels $130,000 through her attorney via a shell company in exchange for her silence about an affair she allegedly had with Trump in 2006. This $130,000 sum is separate from the $150,000 paid to McDougal. Trump has publicly denied having any affairs and has denied making the payments. 
  • November 8, 2016: Trump secures the election to become the 45th President of the United States. 
  • February 2017: Prosecutors say Cohen meets with Trump in the Oval Office to confirm how he would be reimbursed for the hush money payment Cohen fronted to Daniels. Under the plan, Cohen would send a series of false invoices requesting payment for legal services he performed pursuant to a retainer agreement and receive monthly checks for $35,000 for a total of $420,000 to cover the payment, his taxes and a bonus, prosecutors alleged. Prosecutors also allege there was never a retainer agreement. 
  • January 2018: The Wall Street Journal breaks news about the hush money payment Cohen made to Daniels in 2016. 

See the full timeline. 

5:36 p.m. ET, April 30, 2024

Catch up on everything that happened in court on Tuesday

From CNN’s Elise Hammond

Robert Browning, executive director of C-SPAN archives, testified under a subpoena received by CSPAN from the Manhattan DA’s office.
Robert Browning, executive director of C-SPAN archives, testified under a subpoena received by CSPAN from the Manhattan DA’s office. Jane Rosenberg

The hush money trial against Donald Trump started Tuesday with Michael Cohen’s former banker Gary Farro back on the stand. At the end of last week, jurors saw the paper trail for a shell company and corresponding account Cohen opened to pay Karen McDougal and later a second account intended to pay Stormy Daniels.

Prosecutors then called Dr. Robert Browning, the executive director of C-SPAN archives, and Philip Thompson who works for a court reporting company. 

Keith Davidson, the former attorney for Daniels and McDougal, then took the stand. He walked the jury through the negotiations that led to Daniels’ tabloid deal and hush money payment, which is at the center of the case against Trump.

Here’s a recap of what happened in court:

Gary Farro

  • Farro testified there was no indication that Essential Consultants LLC — the account opened by Cohen intended to be used to pay Daniels — would be related to a political candidate or used to pay someone in the adult film industry. “There would be additional scrutiny” and the account may not have been opened at all if the bank knew those things, he said.
  • The jury saw emails showing a bank transfer of $130,000 from Cohen’s home equity line of credit into a checking account. That money was then transferred to the Essential Consultants account. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal charges connected to this bank activity.
  • Prosecutors then showed a wire transfer authorization for $130,000 from Essential Consultants to Keith Davidson, who was representing Daniels. Farro testifies that Cohen listed the purpose of the wire as a “retainer.”
  • On cross-examination, the defense sought to establish that Cohen did not say he was working on behalf of his employer, Trump. The defense had Farro reaffirm that Cohen on the paperwork indicated he was not “acting as an agent” for anyone when he opened the account.

Robert Browning

  • Browning said C-SPAN received a subpoena to testify and to turn over its archives of Trump.
  • Prosecutors played three video clips to the jury that featured Trump, including one in which the former president says he had “no idea who these women are,” in response to stories of women alleging sexual assault after the “Access Hollywood” tape was released in October 2016.

Phillip Thompson

Keith Davidson

  • The jury saw texts between Davidson and Dylan Howard, the former chief content officer at AMI, in which Davidson said he had a “blockbuster” Trump story and then arranged a meeting between McDougal, who said she had an affair with Trump, and Howard.
  • During negotiations with AMI to buy McDougal’s story, Davidson said AMI General Counsel Cameron Stracher suggested he call Cohen. Davidson testified that he thought it was odd and he was trying to avoid it, adding that his last conversation with Cohen was “not pleasant or constructive.”
  • Switching to discuss Stormy Daniels, who was also his client, Davidson said he first interacted with Cohen about a blog post in 2011 involving Daniels and Trump. Davidson testified that Cohen was working on Trump’s behalf. He said Cohen was a “jerk” and “hostile” in those conversations.
  • In 2016, Howard texted Davidson that Daniels’ manager was pitching her story again. He testified that the “Access Hollywood” tape sparked interest in Daniels’ story. In response to the release of the tape, Davidson texted Howard, “Trump is f**ked.”
  • When it came to the deal with Daniels, Howard referred him to someone outside AMI to arrange the agreement. Pecker previously testified that he wanted nothing to do with an adult film star even if it would help Trump. Davidson said after AMI washed its hands, they handed the deal off to Cohen. Prosecutors showed an email from Davidson to Cohen showing the $130,000 agreement, in which they used fake names for Trump and Daniels.
  • Davidson described the frustration that followed when Cohen did not send the money by the deadline outlined in the deal. He said Cohen made excuses for not paying until Davidson sent an email letting Cohen know his client considered the agreement canceled and that he was off the case. Davidson said he felt like Cohen was trying to “kick the can down the road until after the election.” He said he had an assumption of how the deal would be funded.

Gag order violation: Judge Juan Merchan has found Trump in contempt of court for violating his gag order. He is handing down his written decision to the parties. Merchan has fined Trump $1,000 for each violation and warned of jail time if violations keep occurring. As part of the order, Trump removed the posts this afternoon.

CNN’s Kara Scannell, Lauren Del Valle, Jeremy Herb contributed reporting to this post.

4:45 p.m. ET, April 30, 2024

Trump rails against gag order and trial as he leaves the courtroom 

Former President Donald Trump again criticized the gag order placed on him in his hush money criminal trial, calling it “unconstitutional.”

What the gag order says: Trump is barred from making statements about witnesses, jurors, prosecutors, court staff and family members of the prosecutors, court staff and Manhattan district attorney. 

This morning, he was fined $9,000 after Judge Juan Merchan ruled he had violated the gag order in nine different posts on social media and his campaign website.

Trump reiterated his claim that there’s “no crime” in the case.

4:31 p.m. ET, April 30, 2024

Judge is off the bench and Trump is leaving the courtroom

Judge Merchan is off the bench.

Trump is standing and has turned to leave the courtroom.

The prosecutors are waiting to leave.

4:30 p.m. ET, April 30, 2024

Cohen was a highly excitable “sort of pants-on-fire kind of guy,” Davidson testifies

Before breaking for the day, Keith Davidson described Michael Cohen like the dog who yells “Squirrel!”

Steinglass asks how was Cohen’s demeanor during this time on the phone. “He was highly excitable, sort of a pants-on-fire kind of guy,” Davidson said.

4:29 p.m. ET, April 30, 2024

Jury excused for the day

The jury is being excused for the day.

Judge Juan Merchan told the jury he’ll see them Thursday at 10 a.m. ET.

Reminder: A gag order hearing is set for 9:30 a.m. ET Thursday.

4:22 p.m. ET, April 30, 2024

Jury shown email from Davidson to Cohen with wiring instructions

The jury is now seeing an email from October 26, 2016, from Keith Davidson to Michael Cohen with wiring instructions.

“This is the fourth or fifth time I sent my wiring instructions to Michael Cohen,” Davidson testifies.