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The Latest | Cohen expected to take the stand as testimony in Trump hush money case enters 4th week

NEW YORK (AP) — The fourth week of witness testimony in Donald Trump’s hush money trial could be a doozy: Michael Cohen is expected to finally take the stand on Monday.

The long-anticipated testimony from Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer would follow a breathtaking buildup by prosecutors of a case that ultimately hinges on record-keeping. Trump is accused of falsifying internal business records to cover up hush money payments that Cohen made as part of efforts to buy and bury stories that might hurt the former president’s 2016 campaign.

Text messages, audio recordings, notes and more have all been introduced or shown to jurors in recent weeks to illustrate what prosecutors say was a scheme to illegally influence the election that year. And sometimes dramatic testimony from witnesses that included former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, ex-Trump staffers and porn actor Stormy Daniels added to the intrigue.

The prosecution could wrap its case this week after telling the judge on Friday that they expected to call just two more witnesses.

The trial is in its 16th day.

In addition to Daniels’ recounting of a 2006 sexual encounter she said she had with Trump — which he denies — last week saw two failed bids by the defense to have a mistrial declared, attempts to have the gag order squashed or at least altered and more.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts.

The case is the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president and the first of four prosecutions of Trump to reach a jury.

Currently:

— Michael Cohen: A challenging star witness in Trump’s hush money trial

— Trump trial turns to sex, bank accounts and power: Highlights from the third week of testimony

— Key players: Who’s who at Trump’s hush money criminal trial

— The hush money case is just one of Trump’s legal cases. See the others here

Here’s the latest:

TRIAL WILL ONLY MEET FOR 3 DAYS THIS WEEK

Court proceedings in Donald Trump’s hush money trial will be held on just three days this week — Monday, Tuesday and Thursday.

Wednesday is the trial’s usual day off during the week and court will not be in session on Friday to allow the former president to attend his son Barron’s high school graduation.

COULD WEISSELBERG MAKE AN APPEARANCE AFTER ALL?

Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s former chief financial officer, could make an appearance at Donald Trump’s hush money trial after all.

On Friday, Judge Juan M. Merchan asked prosecutors to see if they could get him to court before seeking instead to introduce evidence to explain his absence.

Weisselberg, 76, is currently jailed at New York City’s Rikers Island complex, serving a five-month sentence for lying under oath in his testimony in the state attorney general’s civil fraud investigation of Trump. He pleaded guilty in March and was sentenced last month. His plea agreement does not require his cooperation or testimony in the criminal case.

“Right now it’s seems to me we’re trying to jump the gun. We’re trying to explain why he’s not here without making any effort to get him here,” Merchan said.

Trump lawyer Emil Bove noted that his absence “is a very complicated issue” and may require a jury instruction about uncalled witnesses.

Prosecutors had argued that subpoenaing Weisselberg to testify would probably be a waste of time due to his loyalty to Trump and the likelihood that he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

WITNESS TESTIMONY IN TRUMP’S HUSH MONEY TRIAL ENTERS 4TH WEEK

Donald Trump is due back in court on Monday morning as witness testimony in his criminal trial enters its fourth week.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer, is the star prosecution witness in Trump’s hush money trial. Cohen is set to take the stand Monday and is by far the Manhattan district attorney’s most important witness in the case.

Prosecutors say they may wrap up their presentation of evidence by the end of the week.

Cohen is expected to testify about his role in arranging hush money payments on Trump’s behalf during his first presidential campaign, including to porn actor Stormy Daniels, who told jurors last week that the $130,000 that she received in 2016 was meant to prevent her from going public about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in a hotel suite a decade earlier.

Defense lawyers have teed up a bruising cross-examination of Cohen, telling jurors during opening statements that the fixer-turned-foe is an “admitted liar” with an “obsession to get President Trump.”

The trial is in its 16th day.

The Associated Press


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