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Politics

Trump’s Hush Money Trial Enters 11th Day as Second Week of Testimony is Set to Wrap Up

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump will return to Manhattan court on Friday as his hush money trial enters its 11th day, capping a frenzied second week of witness testimony.

Lawyer Keith Davidson concluded his testimony Thursday after spending nearly 6 1/2 hours on the stand over two days. He laid out for jurors details of his negotiations with Michael Cohen and the National Enquirer on behalf of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, not shying away from an election night realization that his efforts might have contributed to Trump’s 2016 win.

Forensic analyst Douglas Daul also took the stand, testifying about what he found on Cohen’s cellphone. Among other things, Daul said Cohen had nearly 40,000 contacts saved to the device.

Thursday’s proceedings included a contempt hearing over whether the former president had again violated his gag order.

Merchan heard from both sides about four more prospective violations, including comments Trump made about the jury. Prosecutors said they were seeking only fines and not jail time for the potential violations. An immediate decision was not made and it was unclear when Merchan would rule.

Prosecutors have said that Trump and others conducted a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election by purchasing and burying salacious stories that might hurt his campaign.

Trump is accused of falsifying internal business records to cover up hush money payments — including $130,000 given to Daniels, a porn actor, by Cohen — recording them instead as legal expenses.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

The case is the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president and the first of four prosecutions of Trump to reach a jury.

Currently:

— Donald Trump moves much of his White House campaign to New York

— Key players: Who’s who at Donald Trump’s hush money criminal trial

— The hush money case is just one of Trump’s legal cases. See the others here

— Trial begins for financial executive in insider trading case tied to taking Trump media firm public

Here’s the latest:

COHEN’S PRESENCE FELT IN COURTROOM VIA TESTIMONY AND AUDIO RECORDINGS
Despite not yet having testified in Donald Trump’s hush money case, Michael Cohen has been very present in the courtroom — in audio recordings of conversations he had and in witness testimony.

On Thursday, jurors heard a taped call between Cohen and Keith Davidson, Stormy Daniels’ former attorney, wherein Cohen could be heard telling Davidson about a conversation he’d had with someone believed to be Trump.

“I can’t even tell you how many times he said to me, ‘You know, I hate the fact that we did it.’ And my comment to him was, ‘But every person that you’ve spoken to told you it was the right move,’” Cohen said in the recording.

The panel also heard a recording of Cohen briefing Trump in September 2016 on the plan to buy former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story. That particular recording included Cohen detailing that he’d spoken to then-Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg about “how to set the whole thing up with funding.”

Cohen, who is the prosecution’s star witness, was Trump’s lawyer and personal fixer at the time.

JURORS WILL GET EARLY DISMISSAL FRIDAY
Court proceedings in Donald Trump’s hush money case will end early on Friday to accommodate an important appointment one of the jurors has in the late afternoon.

Judge Juan M. Merchan announced the scheduling change just before adjourning court on Thursday. Court will end at 3:45 p.m. Friday, about 45 minutes earlier than normal.

TRUMP EXPECTED IN COURT AS TRIAL ENTERS 11TH DAY
Donald Trump is expected to return to court Friday morning for the 11th day of his hush money trial as the second week of witness testimony wraps up.

Thursday’s proceedings saw the former president facing yet another contempt hearing, this time over four more prospective violations of his gag order.

While Judge Juan M. Merchan did not immediately rule on the sanctions request from prosecutors, he told defense attorneys he was concerned about three of the potential violations — including comments that Trump made about the political makeup of the jury. Merchan said he wasn’t worried about a comment Trump made last week calling former Enquirer publisher David Pecker a “nice guy.”

Prosecutors said they were only seeking fines and not jail time over the potential violations.

Trump is barred under a gag order from speaking publicly about witnesses, jurors and some others connected to the case. He was fined $9,000 on Tuesday over nine online posts.

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