Stormy Daniels’ Attorney Accuses Trump of Orchestrating Hush-Money Negotiations

Lawyer for Stormy Daniels Says He Believed Trump Was Behind Hush-Money Talks

Trump Faces Contempt Charges in Criminal Trial

The third week of Donald J. Trump’s criminal trial launched with a firm reprimand from Judge Juan M. Merchan. The former president was held in contempt and fined $9,000 for repeatedly breaching a gag order. The judge threatened Trump with potential incarceration if the violations persist, marking a stern turn in the ongoing proceedings.

Trump’s Hush-Money Payments Under Scrutiny

This decision was precipitated by Mr. Trump’s social media comments about witnesses and others involved in the case. Notably, the trial’s focus has centered on a $130,000 hush-money payment designed to hide an alleged affair between Mr. Trump and adult film actress Stormy Daniels, paid just weeks ahead of the 2016 election.

Lawyer Reveals Details of Trump’s Alleged Affairs

Keith Davidson, a lawyer who organized the hush-money payment, provided captivating testimony about this arrangement. He also disclosed details of another deal to silence Karen McDougal, another woman who claimed to have had a longer-term affair with Trump. The former president, now 77, faces charges of falsifying 34 business records to conceal the payment to Ms. Daniels, a charge he vehemently denies, alongside allegations of affairs with both women.

Unraveling the Trump-Daniels Affair Narrative

Davidson, a Los Angeles-based lawyer, went into meticulous detail about the high-pressure negotiations to pay off McDougal in the summer of 2016. These negotiations were conducted through text messages with Dylan Howard, an editor at The National Enquirer. The tabloid allegedly agreed to purchase and bury negative stories about Trump, with McDougal ultimately receiving $150,000 and other benefits in a deal negotiated in a somewhat light-hearted manner.

Cohen’s Role in Trump’s Payments

Later in the day, Davidson detailed the arrangements made with Stormy Daniels later that year when interest in her story surged following the public release of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape. Davidson testified that he dealt with Michael D. Cohen, the then-special counsel at the Trump Organization, and believed that Cohen was acting primarily for Trump’s benefit.

Consequences of Trump’s Gag Order Violations

In an eight-page decision, Justice Merchan announced that Trump had repeatedly violated the gag order established in March to protect witnesses, court staff, and others involved in the trial. He warned the former president that the court would not tolerate further violations, raising the potential for “an incarceratory punishment” – essentially, jail time.

Banker Sheds Light on Cohen’s Payment to Stormy Daniels

Michael D. Cohen, who also served as Trump’s fixer, made the $130,000 payment to Daniels by drawing from a credit line and funneling the money through a shell company. Gary Farro, a banker with First Republic Bank, described the monetary flow, a crucial part of the prosecution’s case.

Record Keepers Testify on Evidence Authenticity

Prosecutors called upon several witnesses to validate the authenticity of records, including a C-SPAN archivist and an official from a court reporting company. These so-called custodial witnesses were critical in verifying the fundamental evidence in the case, such as videos and deposition transcripts.

The trial continues to unfold, with testimony expected to resume with Mr. Davidson on Thursday. The defense is expected to mount a rigorous cross-examination.