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Top White House Aide Resumes Testimony in Hush Money Case

Madeleine Westerhout, a former Trump executive assistant, departs Manhattan Criminal Court on May 09, 2024 in New York City.

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

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

A former top White House aide with deep knowledge of how Donald Trump operated in the Oval Office is set to resume testifying Friday in the former president’s criminal hush money trial.

Madeleine Westerhout took the stand for the first time Thursday, where she spoke in detail about Trump’s work habits and confirmed a list of high-profile contacts that was compiled for Trump in 2017. The contact list included “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels, quarterback Tom Brady and tennis great Serena Williams.

Also listed were ex-tabloid publisher David Pecker and Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. The two men are at the center of Manhattan prosecutors’ case, in which Trump is charged with falsifying business records about hush money payments as part of a scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Former US President Donald Trump walks to speak to the press at the end of the day of his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 9, 2024. 

Angela Weiss | Via Reuters

Westerhout painted a flattering portrait of Trump, praising his work ethic and his relationship with his wife, Melania Trump. Westerhout cried while describing how she was fired from her job in 2019 after criticizing members of Trump’s family at a dinner with reporters.

Her description of Trump as a devoted husband cut sharply against the testimony of porn star Stormy Daniels. Shortly before Westerhout took the stand, Daniels testified that she had sex with then-married Trump in 2006, and was later paid $130,000 for her silence ahead of the 2016 election.

Over seven hours of testimony, Daniels graphically detailed a one-night stand with Trump. She also clashed with Trump’s attorney, who grilled her on cross-examination about her later attempts to sell her story.

There were lighter moments, too.

At one point, Trump’s attorney said to Daniels, “You have a lot of experience making phony stories about sex,” an allusion to Daniels’ work in adult films, and later writing scripts for porn movies.

Read more about Trump’s hush money trial

“Wow. That’s not how I would put it,” Daniels shot back. “The sex in the films is very much real. Just like what happened to me in that room” with Trump.

After the jury was excused for the day, Trump’s lawyers requested a mistrial for the second time in two days. And, for the second time in two days, the request was denied.

Judge Juan Merchan also rejected a request by Trump that he revise a gag order to permit the former president to publicly attack Daniels, now that she had finished testifying. Trump is currently barred from making statements about any of the witnesses in the trial.

“My concern is protecting the integrity of the proceedings as a whole,” said Merchan, rather than individual witnesses only before they testify. Merchan has already held Trump in contempt of court 10 times for violating the gag order.

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