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Judge rules evidence related to “Access Hollywood” tape admissible in Trump hush money trial

Witthaya Prasongsin/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — The judge overseeing former President Donald Trump’s criminal prosecution in New York has denied Trump’s attempts to exclude evidence related to the Access Hollywood tape and testimony from key witnesses from his upcoming criminal trial, but prosecutors will not be permitted to play the infamous tape to jurors.

The defense argued Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, should not be allowed to testify because he has a history of lying, arguing that calling him to the witness stand would amount to suborning perjury.

Judge Juan Merchan rejected the argument.

“This Court has been unable to locate any treatise, statute or holding from courts in this jurisdiction or others that support defendant’s rational that a particular witness should be kept off the witness stand because his credibility has been previously called into question,” Merchan said.

He also will allow Stormy Daniels to testify since she is the recipient of the $130,000 hush payment at the center of the case, writing, “The probative value of the evidence is evident.“

Merchan also ruled that prosecutors will not be permitted to play the Access Hollywood tape — on which Trump is overheard bragging about how he approaches women — to the jury or introduce it into evidence. However, prosecutors are allowed to elicit testimony about the tape and how it prompted Trump to fear its impact on his presidential aspirations.

“Thus, the tape helps establish Defendant’s intent and motive for making the payment to Daniels and then attempting to conceal them,” the ruling said.

Trump is facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records after being indicted by a Manhattan grand jury.

In court documents unsealed April 4, prosecutors alleged Trump engaged in a “scheme” to boost his chances during the 2016 presidential election through a series of hush money payments made by others and the falsification of New York business records to cover up that alleged criminal conduct.

In a statement of facts accompanying the indictment, Manhattan prosecutors allege Trump made payments to his lawyer to reimburse him for a payment the lawyer made to one woman.

Trump, who has denied all wrongdoing, pleaded not guilty to all 34 counts.

Trump’s criminal trial in New York has been delayed until at least mid-April.

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