Trump hush-money case: Judge permits Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels to testify

A New York judge will allow Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels to testify at former President Trump’s hush-money trial, overruling Trump’s objections. In two separate decisions Monday, Judge Juan M. Merchan ruled on a series of motions from prosecutors and the defense on whether to exclude certain testimony and evidence from Trump’s upcoming trial. The trial was scheduled to begin next Monday but has been delayed until mid-April after new evidence came to light. Merchan’s decision will allow Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Brag to call Daniels, an adult film actress, and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to the stand to testify about their claims that Cohen and Trump arranged payments to keep them quiet about their alleged extramarital sexual encounters with Trump. However, McDougal cannot testify about the underlying details of her reported affair unless prosecutors can show how it is relevant.The judge will also allow Cohen to testify, rejecting the defense’s claims that Cohen is a known liar who is likely to commit perjury on the stand. TRUMP TRIALS; HERE’S WHERE EACH CASE AGAINST FORMER PRESIDENT AND PRESUMPTIVE GOP NOMINEE STANDS”This Court has been unable to locate any treatise, statute, or holding from courts in this jurisdiction, or others, that support Defenant’s rationale that a prosecution witness should be kept off the witness stand because his credibility has been previously called into question,” the judge wrote. The trial stems from Bragg’s investigation into Trump’s alleged hush-money payments during the 2016 election. Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 and arranged for the publisher of the National Enquirer supermarket tabloid to pay McDougal $150,000 to suppress their claims that they had affairs with Trump years earlier. Trump’s company then reimbursed Cohen and logged the payments to him as legal expenses, prosecutors said.Trump, now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee in his quest to retake the White House, pleaded not guilty last year to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. His lawyers argue the payments to Cohen were legitimate legal expenses and not part of any cover-up. Trump says he did not have any of the alleged sexual encounters.SUPREME COURT TO HEAR ARGUMENTS IN TRUMP PRESIDENTIAL IMMUNITY CASE ON APRIL 25Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal campaign finance violations related to the alleged hush-money payments and other unrelated crimes. He was imprisoned for about one year before being released to home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York opted out of charging Trump related to the payments made to Daniels and McDougal.The Federal Election Commission also tossed its investigation into the matter in 2021.JUDGE RULES FANI WILLIS MUST STEP ASIDE FROM TRUMP CASE OR FIRE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR NATHAN WADEMerchan also ruled Monday that the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape — in which Trump bragged about grabbing a woman’s private parts without consent — will not be shown at trial. The judge said prosecutors may question witnesses about the 2005 video, which was unearthed during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign. However, he added “it is not necessary that the tape itself be introduced into evidence or that it be played for the jury.” CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPProsecutors say the “Access Hollywood” footage and various sexual assault claims made against Trump prompted him to pay off Daniels to keep negative stories out of the press. Trump’s lawyers argued the video “contains inflammatory and unduly prejudicial evidence that has no place at this trial about documents and accounting practices.” In other rulings, Merhcan rejected a defense request that prosecutors be precluded from arguing that Trump sought to improperly influence the 2016 election or that the National Enquirer suppressed negative news coverage of him with a “catch and kill” strategy. Fox News’ Grace Taggart and Fox News Digital’s Brooke Singman, as well as The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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