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The Latest | Witness testimony resumes as Trump’s hush money trial enters 15th day

NEW YORK (AP) — When witness testimony in Donald Trump’s hush money case resumes on Friday, it will cap a feverish week that saw porn actor Stormy Daniels take the stand, two failed attempts by the defense to have a mistrial declared, gag order sanctions and more.

Daniels’ sometimes graphic testimony over two days riveted jurors and drew upset from defense attorneys who decried it on Thursday as prejudicial and overly gratuitous. The prosecution defended its questioning and Daniels’ details of the alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump and ultimately, the judge denied the requests for a mistrial — chiding the defense for not objecting more during testimony.

Trump has denied the two ever had sex.

Several others took the stand after Daniels, including a former Trump Organization executive assistant and HarperCollins Publishing executive.

It is not yet clear who will next take the witness stand, but prosecutors are ramping up for star witness Michael Cohen, who arranged the $130,000 payment to Daniels and later went to prison for orchestrating the payments and other charges.

The trial is in its 15th day. Prosecutors say Trump and two of his associates orchestrated a scheme to influence the 2016 election by purchasing and then burying stories that might damage his campaign.

Trump is accused of falsifying internal business records to cover up the hush money payments and instead recording them as legal expenses. He has pleaded not guilty.

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:

— Trump is limited in what he can say about his court case. His GOP allies are showing up to help

— Here’s what happened on Thursday: Stormy Daniels’ testimony, a denied mistrial and an Oxford comma

— Hush money, catch and kill and more: Terms to know in Trump trial

— Key players: Who’s who at Donald 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:

THE CASE DOESN’T RISE OR FALL ON DANIELS’ ACCOUNT, IT HINGES ON BUSINESS TRANSACTIONS

Donald Trump’s defense attorney on Thursday accused Stormy Daniels of slowly altering the details of an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump, trying to persuade jurors that a key prosecution witness in the former president’s hush money trial cannot be believed.

Susan Necheles on Thursday accused Daniels of slowly altering the details of an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump, trying to persuade jurors that a key prosecution witness in the former president’s hush money trial cannot be believed.

As the jury looked on, the two women traded barbs over what Necheles said were inconsistencies in Daniels’ description of the encounter with Trump in a hotel room. He denies the whole story.

But despite all the talk over what may have happened in that hotel room, despite the discomfiting testimony by the adult film actor that she consented to sex in part because of a “power imbalance,” the case against Trump doesn’t rise or fall on whether her account is true or even believable. It’s a trial about money changing hands — business transactions — and whether those payments were made to illegally influence the 2016 election.

MCDOUGAL MAY NOT TAKE THE STAND

According to a defense attorney in Donald Trump’s hush money case, Karen McDougal is no longer expected to be called to the witness stand.

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche said late Thursday that the prosecution no longer intends to call McDougal, a former Playboy model who alleged that she had a yearlong, extramarital affair with Trump.

Trump has denied the affair took place.

GAG ORDER PROVES TO BE ONGOING THORN FOR TRUMP

The gag order that bars Donald Trump from speaking publicly about jurors, witnesses and some others connected to his hush money case continues to be a thorn for the former president.

On Wednesday, Trump’s lawyers asked New York’s mid-level appeals court to expedite a decision on his gag order appeal.

While the court did not take immediate action, it did set deadlines for court filings in the next two weeks. If the court refuses to lift the gag order, his lawyers want permission to take their appeal to the state’s high court, called the Court of Appeals.

A day later, defense attorneys tried to get Judge Juan M. Merchan to alter the gag order to allow Trump to publicly respond to Stormy Daniels’ testimony.

“He needs an opportunity to respond to the American people and the reasons for the gag order as it relates to Ms. Daniels is over. She’s no longer a witness,” Todd Blanche said.

Prosecutor Christopher Conroy argued that the gag order shouldn’t be altered to allow comments about Daniels because those remarks could have a chilling effect on others.

Merchan rejected the request, saying his primary concern was not with Daniels or a witness who has already testified but “with protecting the integrity of these proceedings as a whole.”

TRUMP TO RETURN TO COURT FRIDAY MORNING

Donald Trump is expected to return to court on Friday when witness testimony in his hush money trial resumes, but it’s unclear who will next take the stand.

Porn actor Stormy Daniels concluded her testimony on Thursday, having spent more than seven hours on the stand over two days. Daniels’ testimony was followed by that of a Trump Organization bookkeeper who was formerly an assistant to the company’s ex-finance chief Allen Weisselberg, a HarperCollins publishing executive and Trump’s former personal secretary.

Prosecutors are building up to testimony from star witness Michael Cohen, whose reimbursement for hush money payments made to Daniels are at the center of the charges against the former president.

The Associated Press



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