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NY v. Trump to resume Monday after eventful third week of testimony, thousands of dollars of gag order fines

Former President Trump’s criminal trial will resume Monday after an eventful third week that saw key witnesses testify and thousands of dollars in fines against the presumptive Republican nominee — with the possibility of additional fines looming. 

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. The charges stem from a years-long investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. 

The charges are related to alleged payments made to silence adult film actress Stormy Daniels about an alleged extramarital affair with Trump before the 2016 election. 

HOPE HICKS: COHEN CALLED HIMSELF ‘MR. FIX IT’ ONLY BECAUSE HE ‘BROKE IT’

DA Alvin Bragg must convince the jury that not only did Trump falsify the business records related to hush money payments, but that he did so in furtherance of another crime, conspiracy to promote or prevent election. 

On their own, falsifying business records and conspiracy to promote or prevent election are misdemeanor charges. 

Prosecutors, during the third week of the trial, called a number of witnesses to testify, including Keith Davidson, an attorney who once represented Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. 

Davidson said Daniels’ denial of an affair with Trump was technically true. He also testified that the money ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen paid her was not a payoff, but a “consideration.” 

Trump’s defense attorneys, during cross-examination, played audio recordings of Davidson, in which he can be heard admitting Cohen did not need authority from Trump to make the payment to Stormy Daniels. 

NY V. TRUMP: WITNESS SAYS COHEN DREAMED OF WHITE HOUSE JOB DESPITE DENYING AMBITIONS IN HOUSE TESTIMONY

Before Davidson, the jury heard testimony from Doug Daus, a computer forensic analyst for the DA’s office, who testified about examining two cellphones that belonged to Cohen. 

During Daus’ testimony, an audio recording was played.  

“I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” Cohen said during the call. “So, I’m gonna do that right away. I’ve actually come up and spoken to Allen Weisselberg. … I’m all over that. I’ve spoken to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing, which will be—” 

Trump replied: “Listen, what financing?” 

HUSH MONEY TRIAL JUDGE DOUBLES DOWN ON NOT SHOWING TRUMP ‘ACCESS HOLLYWOOD’ TAPE TO JURORS

Last week, the jury heard testimony from bank executive Gary Farro, who said he assisted Cohen in setting up an account for Essential Consultants, LLC, the shell company Bragg alleges Cohen used to make the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. 

But Farro testified that there was nothing to indicate that the account would be used to make a payment on behalf of a political candidate, to purchase a media story or to pay an adult film actress. Farro testified that had the account been intended for those matters, there would have been additional scrutiny and delays in opening it, and he admitted it was possible the account would never have been opened. 

Farro also testified he was unaware the account was being done on behalf of Trump. 

The week ended with testimony from Hope Hicks, who worked for the Trump Organization and later served as Trump’s press secretary during the 2016 presidential campaign. Hicks later served as White House director of strategic communications. 

“He knew what he wanted to say and how to say it, and we were all just following his lead,” Hicks said of Trump. “He deserves the credit for the agenda.” 

TRUMP DELIVERS PIZZA TO NEW YORK CITY FIREFIGHTERS IN CAMPAIGN STOP AFTER DAY IN COURT

Hicks was asked about the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape featuring controversial comments from Trump that came out in the weeks leading up to the 2016 election. 

Hicks said she was “a little stunned” when she saw the tape and said it was a “damaging development” to the campaign, adding it “obviously wasn’t helpful.” But she noted it was two guys talking privately and insisted it was locker room talk that wasn’t meant to upset anyone. 

The 2005 “Access Hollywood” tape came to light ahead of the 2016 election and showed Trump boasting to host Billy Bush that he could kiss and grope women due to his star power.

Judge Juan Merchan previously prohibited the prosecution from showing the tape to jurors, saying in March, “It is not necessary that the tape itself be introduced into evidence or that it be played for the jury.”

Hicks also said Trump told her the claims of him having an affair with former Playboy model Karen McDougal were “unequivocally untrue.”

Hicks also blasted Michael Cohen, saying he was not involved in the 2016 campaign but would try to insert himself at certain moments. Hicks said the campaign had its own lawyers, and Cohen was instructed to focus on Trump’s private business credentials. 

NY V TRUMP: REMAINING ALLEGED GAG ORDER VIOLATIONS HANG IN BALANCE AS TRIAL RESUMES

Hicks said Cohen “used to like to call himself Mr. Fix it, but it was only because he first broke it.”

Hicks also testified that, with regard to allegations about Stormy Daniels, Trump did not want “anyone in his family to be hurt or embarrassed about anything on the campaign.” 

“He wanted them to be proud of him,” she said. 

Trump was fined $9,000 for violating a trial gag order imposed upon him. Judge Merchan still needs to consider four additional alleged violations of the order, which could come this week. 

The former president has blasted the trial as rigged and in coordination with President Biden’s White House. Trump says the case, and others against him, are “election interference.”

As for the gag order, Trump calls it “unconstitutional” and said he will appeal the order altogether, arguing it is a violation of his First Amendment rights. Trump has called on the judge to recuse himself, saying he is “totally conflicted.” 

The former president has said Democrats want to keep him confined to the courtroom and off of the campaign trail. 

Court does not meet on Wednesdays. Trump has taken advantage of that arrangement and last week held rallies in Wisconsin and Michigan. 

After hours in court last Thursday, Trump delivered pizzas to FDNY firefighters at a midtown Manhattan firehouse to honor first responders. 

Fox News’ Maria Paronich and Brianna Herlihy contributed to this report. 

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