Fri. May 17th, 2024

The trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump, centered on accusations of covering up hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels, concluded its second week on Friday after a series of fiery witness testimonies and debates over a gag order.

Trump, 77, faces charges of falsifying business records related to reimbursement of his former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 payment to Daniels just before the 2016 presidential election.

During the proceedings, prosecutors urged Judge Juan Merchan to impose additional fines on Trump for alleged violations of the gag order. This order was implemented to protect trial participants and maintain the integrity of the court. Earlier in the week, Merchan fined Trump $9,000 for gag order breaches. The judge made it clear that the gag order does not restrict Trump’s right to testify in court, only limiting his extrajudicial statements regarding witnesses, jurors, court staff, and their relatives.

Prosecutor Christopher Conroy pointed out several public comments made by Trump that seemed to breach the gag order, particularly targeting Cohen, who has become a vocal critic of his former employer and is expected to be a key witness in the case. Judge Merchan warned Trump of potential jail time if further violations occur, emphasizing the importance of respecting the court’s directives.

In one of the trial’s more intense exchanges, defense attorney Emil Bove cross-examined Keith Davidson, the former attorney for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, another woman who claims to have had an affair with Trump. Bove’s questioning about Davidson’s past dealings with other clients and potential extortion cases grew contentious. Davidson admitted to monetary negotiations with celebrities, including a settlement involving actor Charlie Sheen, but denied any wrongdoing, maintaining that his actions were lawful and devoid of threats.

During Friday’s session, the court also heard from forensic expert Douglas Daus, who examined Cohen’s cell phones, revealing recordings of phone calls between Cohen and Trump. These recordings are anticipated to play a significant role in the ongoing trial, providing additional insights into the events leading up to the alleged hush money payments.

As the trial continues to unfold, Trump has consistently criticized the proceedings, branding them as “election interference at the highest level.” The former president, who has a busy campaign schedule, expressed frustration at being tied up in court, stating, “I should be out campaigning right now.” The trial is expected to continue with further witness testimonies and potential rulings on the gag order violations in the coming days.

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