The Trump trial could end this week. Catch up on key evidence and testimony from 6 weeks (2024)

Donald Trump's hush money trial is entering its seventh and potentially final week.

Jurors have heard from more than 20 witnesses as prosecutors tried to build the case that the former president falsified business records to conceal reimbursem*nts to his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who paid p*rn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in 2016 to keep her unflattering claims about the presidential candidate under wraps.

Testimony has swung from seedy details about the alleged sexual encounter to accounting processes within the Trump organization.

The defense team and the prosecution will recap their cases during closing arguments for the jury on Tuesday, and the case will be in the hands of 12 Manhattanites shortly after.

Here is a look back at the trial as we enter the home stretch:

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The Trump trial could end this week. Catch up on key evidence and testimony from 6 weeks (1)

Prosecutors argue Trump falsified business records to cover up campaign finance violation

At the heart of the case is former Trump lawyer Cohen's $130,000 payment to Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. Cohen pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance laws in 2018 in relation to the payment. Trump denies Daniels' claim they had sex in 2006 while he was married to Melania Trump.

Prosecutors have tried to show Trump falsified business records to conceal that crime, which would constitute a felony.

Much of the testimony set the scene for how Trump's campaign dealt with negative stories. Trump allies became concerned about his standing with women after the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape recording him talking about grabbing women's genitals came out in 2016, and several people testified on the levers they could pull to address those concerns.

Who is David Pecker?Former head of National Enquirer expected as first witness in Donald Trump's trial

Evidence: Michael Cohen's secret recording of Trump

This recording was teased inopening argumentsand introduced through awitness, computer forensic analyst Douglas Daus. "So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?" Trump says in the conversation, allegedly referring to the hush money deal for former Playboy modelKaren McDougal.

McDougal's hush money payment was issued by American Media Inc., the parent company of the tabloid National Enquirer, and ultimately never repaid by Trump despite Cohen's promises.

Cohen also testified Trump knew about the hush money payment and praised Cohen once it was closed. "Fantastic. Great job," Trump said, according to Cohen's testimony.

David Pecker used National Enquirer to be 'eyes and ears' of Trump campaign in 2016

David Pecker is the former CEO of the tabloid National Enquirer's parent company. He had been friendly with Trump since the 1980s and met with Cohen and Trump in August of 2015.

Pecker testified that he promised to be "eyes and ears" because he knewthe Trump Organizationhad a "very small staff." Pecker said he promised that if he heard anything negative about Trump or anything about women selling stories, he would notify Cohen, as he did over the last several years. Cohen would then have the stories killed, Pecker testified.

In addition to McDougal's life rights, the tabloid paid$30,000 to silence a doormanat Trump Tower, Dino Sajudin, who was shopping a story that Trump fathered an extramarital child.

Hope Hicks, Keith Davidson, Michael Cohen testify on Access Hollywood tape watershed moment

The Trump trial could end this week. Catch up on key evidence and testimony from 6 weeks (2)

The "Access Hollywood" tape, in which Trump boasted about grabbing women without consent, was released by the Washington Post on Oct. 7, 2016. While jurors did not see the video, the transcript was entered into evidence.

Several witnesses, including former Trump aide Hope Hicks, a lawyer who represented Daniels and McDougal in their hush money deals, and Cohen discussed how damaging it was to Trump's campaign.

"It wasn't until 'Access Hollywood' that the interest sort of reached a crescendo," lawyer Keith Davidson testified about Daniels' story.

Hicks said the video eventually raised concern in the Trump campaign about his standing with women voters. "Not in that moment, but certainly eventually that was something that was raised," Hicks said on the stand.

"(Trump) wanted me to reach out to all of my contacts in the media. We needed to put a spin on this. And the spin that he wanted put on it was that this is locker room talk," Cohen testified about the tape, "and use that in order to get control over the story and to minimize its impact on him and his campaign."

'What have we done?'Stormy Daniels' attorney thought hush money aided Trump in 2016 election

Trump lawyers asked for mistrial after Stormy Daniels 'dog whistle for rape' testimony

Daniels' testimony included intimate details about the alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006 at a golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. She said the evening left her shaking, and that she didn't say no but, "didn't say anything at all."

Trump's defense lawyer Todd Blanche requested a mistrial after Daniels' testimony, saying portions of her testimony were "dog whistle for rape," and could make the jury prejudicial against Trump.

But Judge Juan Merchan denied the motion, pointing out that Blanche had denied that Daniels' story was true at all in his opening statements.

"Your denial puts the jury in a position of having to choose who they believe," Merchan said at the time.

'Oh my god':Stormy Daniels testifies on spanking Trump, his gold tweezers, and silky PJs

Alleged reimbursem*nt scheme: 'He approved it.'

In key testimony for the prosecution, Cohen testified he met withTrumpand Allen Weisselberg and Trump approved the plan to repay Cohen for Daniels' hush money through a scheme that involved stretching out payments over 12 months in 2017.

In Trump's presence, Weisselberg said during the meeting that the money would be repaid as a monthly retainer for legal services, Cohen testified. Alegal retaineris an agreement with a lawyer about compensation that reserves a lawyer or pays for future services.

In earlier testimony, Jeffrey McConney, the former controller at the Trump Organization, calculated how the $130,000 allegedly netted out to $35,000 monthly payments for Cohen's "retainer." The $130,000 paid toKeith M DavidsonAssociates PLC, plus $50,000 paid for technology services, doubled to pay for taxes, plus a $60,000 bonus, equaled $420,000. At a monthly rate for one year, McConney testified, that came to $35,000. Tarasoff testified the check from Trump's personal account was signed by Trump. Cohen admitted to stealing from the Trump Organization by overstating the technology services costs he paid, as part of this repayment.

Weisselberg said the money to Cohen was a monthly retainer even though the three men were actually discussing repaying Cohen for the hush money, as well as giving him a bonus and repaying him for a separate expense, according to Cohen's testimony.

"He approved it," Cohen told jurors, speaking about Trump.

Did Cohen convince the jury?Michael Cohen's testimony in Trump hush money trial impressed experts, but suffered setbacks

Defense witness Robert Costello scolded for 'contemptuous' behavior

Trump's defense team called Republican lawyerRobert Costelloas their second and last witness. After numerous objections from the prosecution were sustained, Costello appeared frustrated.

'Jeez!' Costello said in the witness box, at a normal volume − but with an exasperated tone − after a sustained objection.

"Sorry? I'm sorry?" Merchan said heatedly to Costello. Costello then said "strike it," seeming to refer to striking his own testimony from the court record.

Costello continued testifying, and then he dramatically sighed after another objection was sustained. Merchan then excused the jurors from the courtroom and said to Costello: "I want to discuss proper decorum in my courtroom."

Costello later testified on some statements Cohen made, particularly about how he previously told Costello he did not have any evidence against Trump when the FBI raided his home in 2018.

Contributing: Bart Jansen

The Trump trial could end this week. Catch up on key evidence and testimony from 6 weeks (2024)


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