Here’s what every witness said in Trump’s hush money trial

During the past five weeks, the jury in Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial has been exposed to an extensive array of testimonies.

During the trial, the jury listened to testimonies from a diverse range of individuals, totaling 22 witnesses. Notable figures included Trump’s former lawyer, an adult film actress, two of Trump’s executive assistants, a tabloid executive, and a high-ranking White House aide. In addition, there were several custodial witnesses who provided crucial evidence. The prosecution aimed to demonstrate that Trump had deliberately falsified business records in order to conceal the reimbursement of hush money paid by his attorney, Michael Cohen, to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The motive behind this payment was to bolster Trump’s chances in the 2016 presidential election.

Defense lawyers presented a contrasting narrative, attributing the invoices to Cohen and implying that Trump, who vehemently denies any wrongdoing, was merely safeguarding his family against baseless accusations.

Here’s a recap of the testimonies given by each witness before the closing arguments on Tuesday.

David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer

During the trial, Pecker testified that he had agreed to play a role as the “eyes and ears” of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. His responsibility was to identify any potentially damaging stories and bring them to the attention of Cohen. The purpose behind this was to allow Cohen to strategize and find ways to suppress or eliminate those stories.

According to Pecker’s testimony, his company made two payments as part of their agreement with Trump. They paid $30,000 to a former doorman who falsely claimed that Trump had a child out of wedlock. Additionally, they paid $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to ensure her silence about an alleged affair with Trump, which he denied ever happening.

According to Pecker, he informed Cohen about Stormy Daniels’ potential story in October 2016. However, he chose not to personally finance the $130,000 hush money payment.

Rhona Graff, Donald Trump’s longtime executive assistant

During her testimony, Graff revealed that she had created contact entries for both McDougal and Daniels in the Trump Organization’s computer system. Additionally, she mentioned that she had seen Daniels on the same floor as the former president’s office in Trump Tower.

Gary Farro, former Managing Director at First Republic Bank

In October 2016, Michael Cohen made a frantic effort to establish bank accounts for two shell companies, namely Resolution Consultants LLC and Essential Consultants LLC. These companies were presented as real estate consulting firms, as described by Farro.

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According to Farro, if Cohen had been honest about the intention behind the accounts, which were established to facilitate hush money payments as part of the catch-and-kill strategy, it is likely that the accounts and wire transfers would have faced delays or not been approved.

Robert Browning, Executive Director of C-SPAN Archives

Browning was present as a custodial witness to authenticate two campaign videos of Trump in 2016, as well as one speech that took place after Trump was elected.

In a video, Trump refuted all the allegations made against him by women and expressed concern that these accusations could potentially cost him the 2016 election. Prosecutors argue that this concern led to Trump making the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels.

Philip Thompson, Esquire Deposition Solutions

Thompson played a crucial role as a custodial witness in verifying the transcript and video evidence from Trump’s deposition in the defamation case brought by E. Jean Carroll.

Keith Davidson, ex-attorney for Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels

During his testimony, Davidson discussed his involvement in facilitating the hush money payments for Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels. He mentioned that although Michael Cohen ultimately covered the payment to Daniels from his personal funds, Davidson believed that Trump would essentially provide the funds and benefit from the payment.

Douglas Daus, Analyst for Manhattan DA’s Office

Cohen stated on the recording that he would promptly establish a company to facilitate the transfer of information related to their acquaintance, David.

“So, how much are we expected to pay for this? One-fifty?” Trump asked, seemingly referring to the $150,000 hush money payment made to Karen McDougal.

Georgia Longstreet, Paralegal for Manhattan DA’s Office

Longstreet took the stand as a custodial witness, presenting evidence that consisted of Donald Trump’s social media posts.

Hope Hicks, former White House Communications Director

According to Hicks, a former trusted advisor to Trump, she testified that Trump informed her in 2018 that he preferred the disclosure of the Stormy Daniels’ affair allegations to occur at that time, rather than before the 2016 election.

According to Hicks, Mr. Trump believed that it was preferable to address the issue at the time rather than have the story emerge before the election. Her statement was followed by her breaking down on the witness stand.

According to Hicks, Trump informed her that Cohen had made the payment to Daniels independently. However, she expressed skepticism regarding this claim, as she had never known Cohen to be particularly charitable or selfless. Hicks described him as someone who always sought credit for his actions.

During her cross-examination, Hicks supported the defense’s argument that Trump prioritized his family and was concerned about the impact of the allegations on them.

Hicks shared that he believed the individual in question had a strong desire to shield their family from any potential harm or embarrassment that might arise from the campaign. Their intention was for their loved ones to feel a sense of pride in their actions.

Jeffrey McConney, Former Trump Organization Controller

During his testimony, McConney shared with the jurors his involvement in reimbursing Michael Cohen in 2017. This reimbursement was for the $130,000 payment made to Stormy Daniels, as well as other expenses.

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McConney revealed that Allen Weisselberg, the then-CFO of the Trump Organization, directed him to authorize twelve payments of $35,000 each to Cohen. These payments were intended to cover the reimbursement for the Daniels payment, as well as another reimbursement and Cohen’s annual bonus.

Deborah Tarasoff, Trump Organization Accounts Payable Supervisor

During her testimony, Tarasoff discussed her involvement in handling Michael Cohen’s invoices in 2017. These invoices were initially labeled as payment for legal services, but it was later revealed that they were actually used to reimburse Cohen for the payment made to Daniels and other related expenses.

Tarasoff stated that McConney instructed her to approve the invoices as legal expenses. She followed his instructions and processed the invoices in the Trump Organization’s system.

Sally Franklin, Penguin Random House Executive

In his role as a custodial witness, Franklin shared excerpts from two of Trump’s books, namely “Think Like a Billionaire” and “How to Get Rich.” These excerpts shed light on Trump’s thrifty nature and his direct involvement in business matters.

Stormy Daniels, Adult Film Actress and Producer

Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has provided a detailed account of her alleged sexual encounter with Trump. According to prosecutors, Trump, who was the Republican nominee at the time, tried to unlawfully conceal this encounter from voters prior to the 2016 election. Trump, however, has consistently denied that any such encounter occurred.

“When I stepped out of the bathroom, I found Mr. Trump already in the bedroom, positioned on the bed, blocking my path to the exit,” Daniels recounted to the jurors, describing the alleged sexual incident that took place in 2006. “I was taken aback by his unexpected presence, especially since he was not fully clothed. It was a surreal moment, as if time slowed down, and I could feel my blood draining from my hands and feet.”

According to Daniels, she considered Cohen’s offer to purchase her story for $130,000 in 2016 as the ideal solution. It provided her with the opportunity to financially benefit from the story without having to go public and jeopardize her safety.

Rebecca Manochio, Trump Organization Junior Bookkeeper

During his testimony, Manochio discussed the subsequent phase of the repayment process to Cohen in 2017. This involved the collection of unsigned checks from Tarasoff, which were then sent to the White House in order to obtain President Trump’s signature.

Tracy Menzies, HarperCollins Executive

Menzies highlighted Trump’s emphasis on loyalty by reading quotes from his book “Think Big.”

Madeleine Westerhout, Former Director of Oval Office Operations

According to Westerhout, she typically received batches of checks from Manochio through the mail. Her responsibility was to pass these checks to Trump for his signature. After Trump signed them, Westerhout would then send the checks back to the Trump Organization in New York.

Westerhout provided contradictory accounts of Trump’s level of attention and intentionality when signing checks. Initially, he stated that Trump carefully reviewed all documents before signing them. However, during cross-examination, he admitted that there were instances where Trump signed documents without thoroughly examining them.

Daniel Dixon, Analyst for AT&T

Dixon, an AT&T records custodian, took the stand and provided testimony that allowed the prosecution to introduce Michael Cohen’s cellphone records as evidence.

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Jenny Tomalin, Analyst for Verizon

During the trial, Tomalin took the stand as a custodial witness, providing crucial testimony that enabled prosecutors to introduce Allen Weisselberg’s cellphone records as evidence.

Jaden Jarmel-Schneider, Paralegal for Manhattan DA’s Office

During the trial, Jarmel-Schneider explained that he devised a number of summary charts to present the phone records and the purportedly altered business records in a more simplified manner.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s Former Attorney

During his testimony over the course of four days, Cohen revealed that he carried out actions under Trump’s direct instructions in order to suppress unfavorable news coverage. He emphasized that he informed Trump about each and every action he took, stating that “Mr. Trump’s approval was necessary for everything.”

According to Cohen, he had more than 20 conversations with Trump in October 2016 regarding the strategy to address the allegations made by Stormy Daniels.

According to Cohen, “He gave his approval and even commented, ‘This is going to be quite a ride in D.C.'”

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche scored a significant victory in undermining Cohen’s credibility by presenting compelling evidence. Blanche revealed that the phone call Cohen claimed to have made on October 24, 2016, to confirm the execution of the $130,000 payment to Daniels was, in fact, a mere complaint about a teenage prank caller bothering Trump’s security guard.

During the trial, defense lawyers questioned Cohen about an incident where he allegedly appropriated $30,000 from the Trump Organization. It was revealed that Cohen had sought a reimbursement of $50,000 for an IT expense, despite the actual cost being $20,000.

Daniel Sitko, Legal Analyst at Blanche Law

During the trial, Sitko presented a summary chart that detailed the phone calls between defense witness Bob Costello and Michael Cohen.

Robert Costello, Former Legal Adviser to Michael Cohen

During the trial, Costello, who was closely associated with Rudy Giuliani at the time, testified about his interactions with Cohen in 2018. This was during the period when FBI agents had conducted raids on Cohen’s office and hotel room in connection with the Stormy Daniels case. Costello provided guidance to Cohen and even offered to relay messages to the White House through Giuliani. However, it’s important to note that Costello never officially served as Cohen’s legal representative.

During the testimony, Costello stated that Michael Cohen had repeatedly claimed that President Trump had no knowledge of the payments and that he had made them on his own. However, Cohen later admitted that he had lied to Costello about Trump’s involvement because he did not trust him. The prosecutors further questioned Costello’s credibility by presenting a series of emails that indicated he was working to further Trump’s interests rather than Cohen’s.

In a gripping moment of the trial, Judge Juan Merchan took the drastic step of clearing the entire courtroom while Costello was giving his testimony. The judge was so displeased with Costello’s disrespectful behavior that he even threatened to remove him from the witness stand altogether.

After Costello testified, the defense team decided to rest their case without calling Trump to the stand.

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