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Trump Trial Resumes After Infamous Cohen Phone Call Tape is Played for Jury

Former U.S. President Donald Trump attends the first day of his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 15, 2024 in New York City. 

Angela Weiss | Getty Images

This is developing news. Check back for updates throughout the day.

Prosecutors are set to resume questioning witnesses Friday in the New York criminal hush money trial of Donald Trump, after jurors heard from the former lawyer for two women who were paid not to reveal their alleged affairs with the ex-president.

The lawyer, Keith Davidson, negotiated six-figure hush money deals for porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to the $130,000 payment to Daniels, who claims she had sex with Trump in 2006. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg accuses Trump of unlawfully trying to influence the 2016 election by buying and suppressing damaging information about him.

Judge Juan Merchan on Thursday also held a hearing on whether Trump once again violated the gag order barring him from speaking about jurors, witnesses and others involved in the trial.

On Tuesday, Merchan held Trump in contempt for violating his speech restrictions nine times. The judge fined Trump $9,000, the maximum, and warned him that future violations could land him in jail. Prosecutors in Thursday’s hearing flagged four more alleged gag order violations by Trump, though they said they were not seeking to put him in jail.

Merchan has yet to rule on the additional alleged violations.

Over two days of testimony, Davidson discussed his work with the National Enquirer and Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen to craft the hush money deals, in the process shedding light on how tabloids operate in their hunt for lurid stories.

David Pecker, the former CEO of the Enquirer’s publisher, in prior trial testimony described his work as “checkbook journalism” and said he made deals with the understanding of trying to help Trump’s election chances.

On the night Trump won that election, Davidson texted the Enquirer’s then-editor in chief, “What have we done?”

He testified Thursday that the text was “sort of gallows humor.” But he added that he and the top editor, Dylan Howard, understood at the time that “our activities may have in some way assisted the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.”

On cross-examination, Trump’s attorney stressed that Davidson has never met or spoken with Trump, and that all of his knowledge about the then-presidential candidate came secondhand.

After Davidson left the witness stand, prosecutors called Douglas Daus, a forensic analyst for Bragg’s office who detailed his findings from Cohen’s phone.

Jurors heard a recording of Trump saying asking Cohen, “So what do we got to pay for this — 150?” and instructing his lawyer to “pay with cash.” Pecker’s company at the time, American Media, paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her affair claim as part of an alleged “catch and kill” scheme to bury the story.

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