UNITED STATES NEWS

Hope Hicks, a former close Trump adviser, takes the witness stand in his hush money trial

May 2, 2024, 9:05 PM | Updated: May 3, 2024, 9:10 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Hope Hicks, a former longtime adviser to Donald Trump, took the witness stand Friday in his criminal trial, where prosecutors are expected to question her about her knowledge of hush money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Hicks, who served as White House communications director, is the first close Trump adviser to testify in the case, which accuses the Republican former president of a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election by silencing women who claimed to have sexual encounters with him.

Hicks, who is is testifying for the prosecution under a subpoena, acknowledged she was “really nervous” after stepping up to the microphone. Referring to her former boss as “Mr. Trump,” she told the court she last communicated with him in the summer or fall of 2022.

While no longer in Trump’s inner circle, Hicks spoke about the former president in glowing terms as the prosecutor began questioning her about her background. Hicks complimented Trump multiple times in the first few minutes of her testimony, describing him as a “very good multitasker, a very hard worker.”

Hicks served as Trump’s 2016 campaign press secretary and was one of a small number of early campaign staffers who joined his administration.

Prosecutors say Hicks spoke with Trump by phone during a frenzied effort to keep allegations of his marital infidelity out of the press after the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape leaked weeks before the 2016 election. In the tape, from 2005, Trump boasted about grabbing women without their permission.

Trump has denied the allegations of extramarital sexual encounters. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee for election this November denies any wrongdoing in the case.

Former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen, the prosecution’s star witness, has yet to take the stand in the hush money trial. But jurors are already hearing Cohen’s words as prosecutors work to directly tie Trump to payments to silence women with damaging claims about him before the 2016 election.

The second week of testimony in the case will wrap up Friday, a day after jurors heard a potentially crucial piece of evidence: a recording of Trump and Cohen, then his attorney, discussing a plan to pay off an ex-Playboy model who claimed to have an affair with Trump. The former president denies the affair.

Prosecutors have spent the week using detailed testimony about meetings, email exchanges, business transactions and bank accounts to build on the foundation of their case accusing Trump of a scheme to illegally influence the election. They are setting the stage for pivotal testimony from Cohen, who paid porn actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 for her silence before he went to prison for the hush money scheme.

Trump’s defense has worked to poke holes in the credibility of prosecutors’ witnesses, and show that Trump was trying to protect his reputation and family — not his campaign — by keeping the women quiet. The defense also suggested while questioning an attorney who represented two women in hush money negotiations that Trump was, in fact, the victim of extortion.

The recording played Thursday was secretly made by Cohen shortly before the 2016 election. Cohen is heard telling Trump about a plan to purchase the rights to former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story from the National Enquirer so that it would never come out. The tabloid had previously bought McDougal’s story to bury it on Trump’s behalf.

In the recording, Cohen revealed that he had spoken to then-Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg about “how to set the whole thing up with funding.”

Trump can be heard responding: “What do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?”

Trump suggested the payment be made with cash, prompting Cohen to object by repeatedly saying “no.” Trump then says “check” before the recording cuts off.

Prosecutors played the recording after calling to the stand Douglas Daus, a forensic analyst from the Manhattan district attorney’s office who performed analyses on iPhones Cohen turned over to authorities during the investigation. Daus will return to the stand Friday morning, and it’s not clear who will follow him.

Jurors also heard more than six hours of crucial testimony this week from Keith Davidson, a lawyer who represented McDougal and Daniels in their negotiations with Cohen and the National Enquirer — the tabloid that bought and buried negative stories in an industry practice known as “catch and kill.” Davidson on Thursday described being shocked that his hidden-hand efforts might have contributed to Trump winning the 2016 election.

“What have we done?” Davidson texted the then-editor of the National Enquirer on election night when it became clear that Trump was going to win. “Oh my god,” the tabloid editor responded.

“There was an understanding that our efforts may have in some way — strike that — our activities may have in some way assisted the presidential campaign of Donald Trump,” Davidson told jurors.

Trump’s lawyers sought earlier in the day to blunt the potential harm of Davidson’s testimony by getting him to acknowledge that he never had any interactions with Trump — only Cohen. In fact, Davidson said, he had never been in the same room as Trump until his testimony.

“I had no personal interactions with Donald Trump. It either came from my clients, Mr. Cohen or some other source, but certainly not him,” Davidson said.

Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying internal Trump Organization business records. The charges stem from things like invoices and checks that were deemed legal expenses in Trump Organization records when prosecutors say they were really reimbursements to Cohen for the $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels

United States News

Associated Press

Mother pushes 2-year-old girl to safety just before fatal crash at Michigan drag race

OCEANA COUNTY, Mich. (AP) — Police say a Michigan woman was killed when an out-of-control vehicle slammed into her during a drag-racing event, but she was able to push her 2-year-old daughter to safety in the seconds before the crash. The crash happened Sunday at Silver Lake State Park Sand Dunes in western Oceana County, […]

16 minutes ago

Associated Press

Suspect identified in stabbings at a Massachusetts theater and a McDonald’s

BRAINTREE, Mass. (AP) — A Massachusetts man will be arraigned Tuesday on multiple charges including assault with the intent to murder after six people, including four girls at a movie theater, were stabbed in separate attacks, officials said. Jared Ravizza, 26, of Chilmark, a town on Martha’s Vineyard, was arrested Saturday night after a police […]

2 hours ago

A shopper moves past a display of items in a Costco warehouse Saturday, May 18, 2024, in Sheridan, ...

Associated Press

Here’s what’s open and closed on Memorial Day

The vast majority of retailers will be open on Memorial Day, with many trying to lure customers with big promotional sales.

2 hours ago

Associated Press

Latest deadly weather in US kills at least 18 as storms carve path of ruin across multiple states

VALLEY VIEW, Texas (AP) — Powerful storms killed at least 18 people, injured hundreds and left a wide trail of destruction across Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas after obliterating homes and destroying a truck stop where dozens sought shelter in a restroom during the latest deadly weather to strike the central U.S. The storms inflicted their […]

11 hours ago

Associated Press

Stock market today: World shares are mostly higher after rebound on Wall St

Shares advanced in Europe and Asia ahead of Monday’s Memorial Day holiday in the United States. Oil prices also rose. European shares saw modest gains after the opening while Asian benchmarks gained upward momentum as the day wore on. Germany’s DAX edged 0.1% higher to 18,713.43 and the CAC 40 in Paris rose 0.2% to […]

12 hours ago

Associated Press

Lightning strike kills Colorado rancher and 34 head of cattle

DENVER (AP) — A lightning strike killed a Colorado rancher and 34 head of cattle over the weekend, officials said Sunday. Mike Morgan, 51, was feeding his cattle from a trailer when he was struck and died on the scene despite life-saving efforts, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office said. The lightning bolt struck on wide […]

14 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Sanderson Ford

3 new rides for 3 new road trips in Arizona

It's time for the Sanderson Ford Memorial Day sale with the Mighty Fine 69 Anniversary, as Sanderson Ford turned 69 years old in May.

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Beat the heat, ensure your AC unit is summer-ready

With temperatures starting to rise across the Valley, now is a great time to be sure your AC unit is ready to withstand the sweltering summer heat.

...

COLLINS COMFORT MASTERS

Here are 5 things Arizona residents need to know about their HVAC system

It's warming back up in the Valley, which means it's time to think about your air conditioning system's preparedness for summer.

Hope Hicks, a former close Trump adviser, takes the witness stand in his hush money trial