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Trump trial live updates: Custodial witness set to return to stand

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(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York City, where he is facing felony charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. It marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president has been tried on criminal charges.


Trump last April pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment charging him with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels in order to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

Here’s how the news is developing. All times Eastern:

May 03, 4:29 PM
Trump pays fine for gag order violations

Donald Trump has paid the $9,000 he was fined for violating the limited gag order in the case, according to a court official.

Trump made the payment yesterday using two cashiers checks — one for $2,000 and another for $7,000.

Trump on Tuesday was ordered by Judge Merchan to pay the $9,000 fine — $1,000 for each of Trump’s nine violations — by the close of business today.

May 03, 4:11 PM
Trump, departing, says he was ‘very interested’ in proceedings

Exiting court, Trump spoke briefly with reporters before departing the courthouse.

“I was very interested in what took place today,” Trump said of the 11th day of his criminal trial.

The former president wished everyone a good weekend before departing.

-ABC News’ Kelsey Walsh and Mike Pappano

May 03, 3:45 PM
Judge won’t let Trump be cross-examined over gag order

“We are going to call it a week at this time,” Judge Merchan told the jury, dismissing them for the weekend.

The judge then gathered attorneys for both sides to continue the case’s Sandoval hearing, begun last week, about the limit on Trump’s potential testimony.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche objected to Trump being cross-examined on his gag order violations.

“Injecting into the cross-examination a finding by your honor beyond a reasonable doubt of contempt … it puts a layer on top of the testimony,” Blanche said. “It invites a sideshow that the People don’t need.”

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo argued that the gag order violations are relevant to Trump’s credibility because if he violated the gag order, he similarly might “violate his obligation to tell the truth.”

“These findings are relevant to the defendant’s credibility if he chooses to testify,” he said.

Issuing his ruling, Merchan denied the prosecution’s request to cross-examine Trump on the gag order violations, finding that a determination from the court would be too prejudicial for the jury to overlook.

“I agree with Mr. Blanche,” Merchan said, ending the week’s proceedings.

May 03, 3:35 PM
Hicks says Trump wanted his family to be proud of him

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks reached for a glass of water as defense attorney Emil Bove, who has slowed the pace of his questioning, returned to the topic of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

Hicks said that Trump wanted his family to be proud of him, reinforcing the defense argument that Trump was just trying to protect his family amid negative press ahead of the 2016 election.

“I don’t think he wanted anyone in his family to be hurt or embarrassed by anything that was happening on the campaign,” Hicks said. “He wanted them to be proud of him.”

Throughout her cross-examination, Hicks sprinkled her testimony with positive remarks about Trump.

“He likes to call and praise people for stories, even if they were not about him,” Hicks said of Trump’s interactions with the media. “He does a really nice job of maintaining relationships and always being willing to engage with the media.”

When asked about her role in Trump’s presidential campaign, Hicks responded, “I have only been on one campaign but it was a great one.”

Trump, through much of this testimony, sat back in his chair, clasping his open hands over his chest.

Bove subsequently concluded his cross-examination and Hicks stepped down off the stand.

She appeared to give a side-eye glance at Trump as she left. As she walked by, Trump turned his head and watched her walk toward the exit.

May 03, 3:24 PM
Cohen was a ‘fixer’ because ‘he first broke it,’ Hicks says

Defense attorney Emil Bove restarted his cross-examination of questioning longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks by asking her about her time at the Trump Organization — following up on her earlier sentiment about the company functioning like a family business.

He asked if she met members of the Trump family, his wife and other employees.

“You felt you had his trust and respect, right?” Bove asked regarding Trump.

“Trust and respect? Yes,” Hicks said.

Hicks’ voice wavered during her testimony about the Trump Organization, which she recalled fondly.

“I really looked up to Rhona,” Hicks said about Rhona Graff, Trump’s longtime executive assistant.

Asked about then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen, she said found him something of a headache for the campaign when he circumvented their press shop.

“He went rogue, at times? Fair to say?” Bove asked.

“Yes,” Hicks said.

“There were times … he did things that were not helpful?” Bove asked.

“I used to say he would like to call himself a ‘fixer,’ or ‘Mr. Fix-it,'” Hicks testified. “But it was only because he first broke it.”

May 03, 3:16 PM
Hicks returns to witness stand after break

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks returned to the courtroom after breaking down on the witness stand. Her face was red and her eyes still watery as she walked past the gallery and to her seat on the witness stand.

Trump — who appeared to be in the middle of a conversation with his lawyers — did not look up as Hicks re-entered the courtroom after a short break.

Both Trump and Hicks looked straight ahead as the jurors re-entered the courtroom. For a brief moment, Hicks appeared to glance toward the defense table. She did not appear to make eye contact with Trump.

“Sorry about that,” Hicks said as defense attorney Emil Bove resumed his cross-examination.

May 03, 3:05 PM
Hope Hicks breaks down on the stand

Donald Trump’s longtime aide Hope Hicks broke down on the stand as her cross-examination was about to begin.

Hicks began crying after the prosecution’s direct examination concluded.

Defense attorney Emil Bove had only just started his cross examination. “I want to talk to you about your time at the Trump Organization,” Bove said before he asked for a break.

Hicks was visibly crying, looking down on the witness stand and dabbing her eyes as the jury was sent out of the room.

In her last set of responses on direct examination, she recalled a time in 2018 talking to Donald Trump about the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. She testified that Trump told her Cohen made the payment on his own.

But Hicks testified she felt that would be out of character for Cohen.

“I didn’t know Michael to be an especially charitable person, or selfless person,” Hicks said. “(He was) the kind of person who seeks credit.”

Hicks then said Trump expressed that “It would have been bad to have that story come out before the election.”

Hicks left the courtroom after she broke down, and jurors were excused during the break.

May 03, 2:57 PM
Hicks denies speaking to Pecker about McDougal in 2018

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks said that she never spoke to National Enquirer publisher David Pecker about Karen McDougal in March 2018, appearing to contradict Pecker’s testimony last week.

Last week, Pecker testified that he spoke to Hicks and Sarah Huckabee Sanders about extending McDougal’s contract in March 2018.

“I explained to them, to the two of them, that — why I was going to extend her agreement. And both of them said that they thought that it was a good idea,” Pecker said.

But asked about the same timeframe, Hicks denied ever calling Pecker.

“I have no recollection of speaking to Mr. Pecker after that interview,” Hicks said, referencing McDougal’s CNN interview at the time. “I did not speak to Mr. Pecker. I did speak to Mr. Trump.”

Prosecutors introduced a text message where Trump’s executive assistant asked Hicks to call Pecker for Trump, but Hicks could not recall a phone call with Pecker.

May 03, 2:52 PM
Trump asked Hicks to keep WSJ from being delivered

When the November 2016 Wall Street Journal story about AMI’s hush payment to Karen McDougal was published, Trump grew concerned with how his wife, Melania, would feel about it — so he made a request of longtime aide Hope Hicks, according to Hicks’ testimony.

“He was concerned about the story,” Hicks said on the stand. “He was concerned how it would be viewed by his wife and he wanted me to make sure the newspapers weren’t delivered to their residence that morning.”

May 03, 2:46 PM
‘Keep praying,’ about story, Hicks said she told Cohen

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks said that she exchanged a series of text messages with Michael Cohen after the November 2016 Wall Street Journal story on the Karen McDougal agreement was published.

“Michael asked me to call him, Michael asked me for updates,” Hicks said.

“‘Lots of innuendos with little fact,'” Cohen wrote to Hicks the night the story was published. “‘Poorly written and I doubt see it getting much play.” Hicks said “doubt” was a typo and it should have read “don’t.”

In ensuing text messages, Cohen and Hicks said they had not noticed substantial interest in other media outlets.

“I told him to ‘keep praying,’ because this was obviously the only reason why there were six stories,” Hicks said with a laugh.

May 03, 2:41 PM
Hicks says Trump wanted denials of both alleged affairs

Donald Trump’s longtime aide Hope Hicks returned to the stand following the lunch break for her ongoing direct examination.

Discussing her response after the Wall Street Journal told them it was about to break the story that National Enquirer parent AMI had paid Karen McDougal to buy her silence about a long-denied affair with Trump. Hicks said she ultimately provided a statement to the Journal that said the allegations were “totally untrue.”

“The denial was from Mr. Trump for both women,” Hicks testified, referring to both McDougal and Stormy Daniels, who was also mentioned in the Journal story. “I know very clearly that he stated the denials and wanted those included.”

Hicks’ statement to the Journal said she had no knowledge of the agreement between AMI and McDougal.

When prosecutors pressed Hicks on that portion of the statement, Hicks could not recall if Trump explicitly directed that statement to deny knowledge of the arrangement.

“I don’t remember him verbatim saying that, but that was the consensus of the conversations we were all having,” Hicks said.

May 03, 1:30 PM
Trump, Hicks make no eye contact as court breaks for lunch

Donald Trump and Hope Hicks made no eye contact when Hicks got off the stand for the lunch break. Hicks looked down at the floor as she passed Trump sitting at the defense table, and he turned to the left to huddle with his attorneys as she went by.

The former president spent a good deal of the morning session looking away while his one-time closest aide testified.

During more than an hour of testimony from Hicks, Trump at times looked straight ahead, looked down at his tie, and closed his eyes. At one point his head rolled down and his chin hit his chest, remaining there for a few moments before it quickly snapped back up straight.

The former president hardly reacted to any of Hicks’ testimony, save for when Hicks shared her own personal response to the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

“Just a little stunned,” Hicks said of her initial reaction, prompting Trump to snap his head and whisper to his attorney, Todd Blanche.

In contrast to many other former Trump aides, Hicks has never spoken about Trump publicly before. The pair were often described as having a father-daughter relationship, with Trump calling her “Hopey”.

May 03, 1:02 PM
Hicks says says Trump drafted Karen McDougal statement

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks said she spoke with National Enquirer publisher Pecker about the Karen McDougal story on Nov. 4, 2016.

“He explained that Karen McDougal was paid for magazine covers and fitness columns and that it was all very legitimate. And that was what the contract was for,” Hicks said.

Hicks said she spoke with Michael Cohen before calling Pecker.

Hicks said she drafted a statement to respond to the Wall Street Journal, which was about to break the story that National Enquirer parent AMI had paid off McDougal to buy her silence about a long-denied affair with Trump. She then shared the statement with Trump once he returned to his plane.

“When Mr. Trump came on the plane for the rally, I shared it with him as well,” Hicks said.

Cohen also made edits and offered feedback to the draft statement, according to an exhibit entered into evidence.

According to Hicks, Trump opted to write his own statement instead.

“He wanted to draft his own statement,” Hicks said.

Before he drafted the statement, Hicks and Trump called back Pecker, who repeated the information he told Hicks earlier.

“It included his explanation for this — that this was a legitimate contract, and that’s what they planned to tell the Journal,” Hicks said.

Hicks said on the stand that her memory was “very fuzzy at this point,” but she said that Trump wanted to make sure the statement denied any relationship with Stormy Daniels, who was also mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article.

“He wanted to know the context and he wanted to make sure that there was a denial of any kind of relationship,” Hicks said.

Following this testimony, court broke for lunch. Trump gave a thumbs-up to reporters as he exited the courtroom for the break.

May 03, 12:56 PM
Hicks recounts learning of Karen McDougal story

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks testified that she first heard the name Stormy Daniels in 2015 when she overheard some of the security on Trump’s plane discuss a golf tournament Trump attended.

“Her name came up. She was there was with one of the other participants that Mr. Trump had played with that day,” Hicks said.

Hicks said she first learned of Karen McDougal when the Wall Street Journal reached out for comment regarding their AMI payment story on Nov. 4, 2016, as the newspaper was preparing to break the story that National Enquirer parent AMI had paid off Karen McDougal to buy her silence about a long-denied affair with Trump.

Jurors were then shown the email Hicks received on Nov. 4, 2016, from the Wall Street Journal.

Hicks said she received the email ahead of a campaign rally.

“I was sort of dealing with this by myself on the plane while the rally was taking place,” Hicks said.

According to Hicks, she notified Trump about the story before the rally began.

“I was worried about not having enough time to respond while he was speaking,” Hicks said.

Hicks said she forwarded the email to Jared Kushner in part because he had “a very good relationship with Rupert Murdoch,” the owner of the Wall Street Journal.

Hicks said she hoped Kushner could “buy a little extra time to deal with this.”

“I think [Kushner] said he wasn’t going to be able to reach Murdoch and that we should work on responding and deal with it,” Hicks said.

Hicks said she called David Pecker’s office as well as Cohen, due to his relationship with Pecker.

May 03, 12:46 PM
Hicks says she asked Michael Cohen about a 2nd rumored tape

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks testified that she spoke with then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen on Oct. 8, 2016, to ask about a rumor she had heard of another potential tape that could be released, following the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

“I was calling to ask him to chase down a rumor I had heard with a contact he was familiar with in the media,” Hicks said, describing that there “might be another tape that might be problematic for the campaign.”

“I didn’t want anyone to be blindsided. I wanted to have an understanding of what material was out there that we needed to prepare for,” Hicks said.

Hicks said that no such tape existed but Cohen still chased down the rumor for her. She spoke vaguely about what the potential story was.

Hicks was then asked about Trump’s campaign speech in Greensboro, North Carolina, which jurors watched earlier this week. Prosecutors again played the tape for the jury.

“These are all horrible lies, all fabrications,” Trump told the crown in Greensboro regarding accusations of infidelity. “And we can’t let them change the most important election in our lifetime.”

“If 5% of the people think it’s true and maybe 10% think, we don’t win,” Trump said at the rally.

Hicks also was asked about Trump’s tweets after the “Access Hollywood” video was released.

“Nothing ever happened with any of these women. Totally made up nonsense to steal the election,” Trump wrote in one tweet.

May 03, 12:36 PM
‘It was intense,’ Hicks says of coverage of ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks testified about the ensuing coverage of the “Access Hollywood” tape.

“It was intense. Dominated coverage for the 36 hours leading up the debate,” Hicks said.

Hicks recalled that a Category 4 hurricane was predicted to make landfall around the same time, but the Trump coverage completely dominated the news.

“I don’t think anywhere remembers where or when that hurricane made landfall. It was all Trump all the time for … 36 hours,” Hicks said.

Hicks testified about how other Republican politicians — like Mitt Romney and Mitch McConnell — responded to the Access Hollywood tape.

“Things like disgraces, disgusting, something along those lines,” Hicks said in describing Romney’s statement.

In the courtroom, Trump has been sitting slightly back in his chair for the bulk of Hicks’ testimony. His body is angled slightly toward the witness stand to watch the testimony.

He appeared to be taking some handwritten notes while his lawyers attended a sidebar conference with the judge.

May 03, 12:28 PM
Trump felt ‘Access Hollywood’ tape ‘wasn’t good,’ Hicks says

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks testified that when she informed Trump’s brain trust of the discovery of the “Access Hollywood” tape, there was a consensus among the staff that “the tape was damaging. This was a crisis.”

“This was kind of pulling us backwards in a way that was going to be hard to overcome,” Hicks said.

Hicks said she was not immediately concerned about the impact of the tape on female voters, but the concern was “quickly raised.”

“Mr. Trump felt this wasn’t good,” Hicks said, but he didn’t think it was “something to get so upset over.”

“He felt this was pretty standard stuff for two guys chatting with each other,” Hicks said.

At this point in Hicks’ testimony, jurors were shown the written statement that the Trump campaign issued on the afternoon that the “Access Hollywood” tape was released.

“This was locker room banter…” the statement said in part.

Jurors then saw the same video statement from Trump that was played for them earlier this morning during the Georgia Longstreet direct examination.

May 03, 12:18 PM
Hicks recounts telling Trump about ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks testified that when the Washington Post informed her of the existence of the “Access Hollywood” tape, she went up to the conference room on the 26th floor of Trump Tower where debate prep was taking place. She said Jason Miller, Jarrod Kushner, and Chris Christie was there.

“They were practicing for debate prep,” Hicks said.

“The sight of the … five or six or 6 of us gathered out there was a signal that something was afoot. Mr. Trump asked us to come into the conference room,” Hicks said.

Hicks said she read the email aloud, though Trump finished reading it himself.

“We weren’t sure how to respond yet,” Hicks said. “Everyone was absorbing the shock of it.”

“He said that didn’t sound like something he would say,” Hicks said of Trump’s response to the video.

“I had a good sense this was going to be a massive story,” Hicks said.

May 03, 12:09 PM
Hicks says she was ‘very concerned’ about ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks said she first learned of the “Access Hollywood” tape when she was contacted by the Washington Post.

“It would have been in the afternoon of Oct. 7,” in 2016, Hicks said. “I received an email from the Washington Post asking for comment.”

“I was in my office on the 14th floor of Trump Tower,” Hicks said.

Asked about the timing of the story, Hicks said the story was “a month — maybe a little less than a month” from the election.

Jurors were then shown the email that Hicks received from a Washington Post to request a comment about the video.

“URGENT: WashPost query,” the subject line reads.

The email detailed that the video contained Trump engaging in an inappropriate conversation about women and included a transcript of Trump’s remarks.

“I was concerned. Very concerned,” Hicks said about her reaction to the email.

“I was concerned about the contents of the email. I was concerned about the lack of time to respond. I was concerned that we had a transcript not a tape. There was a lot at play,” Hicks said.

May 03, 12:04 PM
Hicks recounts meeting David Pecker

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks described the early days of the Trump campaign’s press shop as being staffed by only her and “Mr. Trump, who’s better than anybody at communications and branding.”

She said he was “very involved” in crafting messaging for the campaign. “He knew what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it and we were all just following his lead.”

Hicks testified that Trump was responsible for the campaign’s messaging.

“I would say that Mr. Trump was responsible,” Hicks said. “He knew what he wanted to say and how he wanted to say it, and we were all just following his lead. I think that he deserves the credit for the different messages that the campaign focused on.”

“Do you know someone named David Pecker,” prosecutor Matthew Colangelo asked.

“Yes,” Hicks said, noting that she first met Pecker at an earlier job.

“I reconnected with him at some point as he was a friend of Mr. Trump’s,” Hicks said. “I knew they were friends.”

Hicks said she could not recall attending a meeting between Trump and Pecker at Trump Tower.

“I don’t have a recollection of that but it is certainly possible,” Hicks said.

Hicks recounted overhearing a phone call between Pecker and Trump where Trump congratulated Pecker for running “a great investigative piece” about Ben Carson’s alleged medical malpractice

Hicks recalled another call with Pecker about the National Enquirer’s work about Ted Cruz’s father’s. Jurors heard about this reporting during Pecker’s testimony.

“Mr. Trump was just congratulating him on the great reporting,” Hicks said. “This is Pulitzer-worthy,” Hicks recalled Trump telling Pecker.

May 03, 11:55 AM
Hicks describes Trump’s initial interest in presidency

Longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks testified that Michael Cohen “was an attorney” for the Trump Organization.

“I know he was involved in a couple of the license deals for some of the hotel projects and maybe some of the entertainment pieces as well, like the Ms. Universe pageant,” she said.

Hicks said that Trump began exploring running for president by visiting Iowa in January 2015.

“Mr. Trump said we are going to Iowa, and I really didn’t know why,” Hicks testified.

“[Trump] eventually made the decision to formalize that with an exploratory committee at first and announced that he was going to run for president in June,” Hicks said.

Hicks said that while Trump remarked about making her press secretary, but she didn’t take it seriously at first.

“I didn’t take it very seriously but eventually I just started spending so much time on the campaign,” Hicks said.

Hicks added that Trump was “better than anybody” at communications and marketing.

“I reported to Mr. Trump,” Hicks said about her eventual role as press secretary. She said they spoke everyday during the campaign.

May 03, 11:45 AM
‘He’s a very hard worker,’ Hicks says of Trump

Hope Hicks testified that, as the director of communications for the Trump Organization, she initially met with Trump on a weekly basis.

“As we transitioned a few months later into the political work, I met with him more regularly,” Hicks said, saying they began to meet daily.

“He’s a very good multitasker and a very hard worker. He’s always doing many things at once. He might be having a conversation with someone and it will remind him to follow up on something else,” Hicks testified about Trump.

Hicks said she directly reported to Donald Trump, Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump.

“It’s a very big and successful company, but it is really run like a small family business in certain ways,” Hicks said.

She testified about the role within the company of Rhona Graff, who testified last week.

“She was crucial to how everything ran on the 26th floor. She had a lot of institutional knowledge about different projects and Mr. Trump’s business relationships, network, likes and dislikes in terms of scheduling,” Hicks said.

Asked about Trump’s relationship with Graff, she said “it was one of mutual respect.”

May 03, 11:41 AM
‘I’m really nervous,’ Hicks says as she begins testimony

“I’m really nervous,” longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks said as prosecutor Matthew Colangelo asked her to move closer to the microphone on the witness stand.

Hicks testified that she joined the Trump Organization in 2014, about four years after she graduated from college. She first worked at a communications firm.

“I was enjoying it so much that I was offered a position at the Trump Organization, and jumped opportunity to join the company full time,” Hicks said.

“Shortly after I joined the Trump Organization, Mr. Trump — at the time, Mr Trump — said that he would be exploring a run for president,” she said.

Hicks said that she was subpoenaed to testify. She is paying for her own lawyer.

She testified she was last in communication with Trump in the summer or fall of 2022. She affirmed he is not a client of her own communications consulting company and she has no professional relationship with him

May 03, 11:34 AM
Trump watches Hicks takes seat on witness stand

Donald Trump turned his head as his longtime aide Hope Hicks entered the courtroom from a side door behind the defense counsel table and took a seat on the witness stand.

In her roles at the White House, Hicks witnessed several moments of interest to prosecutors. She briefly attended an August 2015 meeting in Trump Tower where tabloid executive David Pecker vowed to serve as the Trump campaign’s “eyes and ears” for negative stories, Pecker testified earlier.

Pecker also testified that Hicks and another White House official, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, called him in March 2018 to strategize about the National Enquirer’s contract with Playboy model Karen McDougal.

May 03, 11:27 AM
Prosecutors call longtime Trump aide Hope Hicks

Prosecutors have called to the stand Hope Hicks, who for a time was one of Donald Trump’s closest and most trusted aide.

Hicks came to Trump after being recruited by his daughter Ivanka, then later expanded as head of communications for the Trump Organization. After launching his campaign, Hicks moved over to run all of his 2016 campaign communications and took on a similar role in the White House. Hicks had two stints in the White House, with her office just steps outside the Oval Office.

She no longer works for Donald Trump or any of his affiliated organizations.

May 03, 11:22 AM
Jury watches Trump’s apology for ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

Following the break, custodial witness Georgia Longstreet returned to the stand so prosecutors could introduce evidence that had been posted to social media.

Jurors were shown the 2016 video Donald Trump posted in the wake of the publication of the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which the then-candidate apologized for making “foolish” statements about groping women.

“I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize,” Trump said in the video.

Jurors watched their screens closely as the apology video played — many of them with their heads tilted down at the monitors and showing no emotion at all. Trump watched the video on the monitor on his table.

Trump posted the video late at night following the release of the tape, after aides debated how to respond.

May 03, 10:58 AM
DA calls witness to introduce social media evidence

Prosecutors have called Georgia Longstreet as their next witness. A paralegal with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, she has worked on the DA’s Trump investigation for one-and-a-half years.

Longstreet has been called to introduce multiple social media posts, after the defense declined to stipulate to any of that evidence.

She said has saved about 1,500 social media posts of the approximately 10,000 she reviewed as part of the investigation.

Additional testimony was delayed while the jurors took their morning break. Trump, who usually leaves the courtroom during these short breaks, remained in courtroom during the recess as his attorneys discussed the details of what exhibits prosecutors will introduce after the break.

The former president also surveyed the courtroom and chatted with his legal adviser Boris Epshteyn. At one point he stood alone behind the counsel table while his lawyers attended to other tasks nearby.

May 03, 10:42 AM
Trump appears pleased with cross-examination

Trump appeared please during his lawyer’s cross-examination of custodial witness Douglas Daus, in which Daus acknowledged there were gaps in the handling of the data on Michael Cohen’s iPhone that could create a risk of tampering. Trump nodded at his attorney Emil Bove and conversed with him when Bove sat down.

On prosecutors’ re-direct examination of Daus, Christopher Conroy asked Daus if the issues raised by Bove would materially impact the integrity of Cohen’s device.

Daus replied that they would not.

May 03, 10:32 AM
Defense asks again about integrity of Cohen’s phone data

Douglas Daus told defense attorney Emil Bove that the recording on Michael Cohen’s phone of of a 2016 conversation with Donald Trump lacks any metadata to suggest it was ever modified. Bove asked Judge Merchan to strike the response from the record, but the judge denied the request.

Bove then continued to ask Daus about about reliability of the evidence extracted from Cohen’s phones.

At one point, Bove suggested that jurors would have to take “Michael Cohen’s word for it” regarding the integrity of the evidence after Daus was unable to answer a series of questions with confidence. Daus’ said his role was limited to extracting the data from phone, so he couldn’t answer questions about the context of the investigation.

Bove suggested for a second time that, in order to fully trust the integrity of the phone, “We would have to take Michael Cohen’s word for it.”

“It would seem so,” Daus said.

Bove subsequently ended his cross-examination of Daus.

May 03, 10:19 AM
Defense questions recording of Trump-Cohen conversation

Defense attorney Emil Bove Bove continued his attempts from yesterday to cast doubt on the integrity of the secret recording that Michael Cohen made of a conversation with Donald Trump on September 6, 2016, in which the two appeared to discusses the hush money payment to Karen McDougal.

Bove highlighted that Cohen conducted a factory reset of his phone on October 15, 2016.

“That sequencing … raises some questions about that file right?” Bove asked.

“You have to then look at where that file came from,” Daus responded.

“It raises some questions that require further analysis?” Bove asked.

“That is fair,” Daus said.

It’s unclear if the factory reset materially impacted the recording in any way since Cohen had backed up his device, Daus said.

Bove also repeated a line of questions from yesterday about the abrupt end to the recording of the Cohen-Trump conversation.

“You don’t know how long the conservation continued?” Bove asked.

“No I don’t,” Daus said.

Yesterday, Daus suggested that Cohen’s phone received a call that may have prompted the recording to end, but Bove suggested today that the extraction lacked any metadata to suggest an incoming call was received.

May 03, 10:06 AM
Defense questions chain of custody for Cohen’s phone

Defense attorney Emil Bove has resumed his cross-examination of custodial witness Doug Daus, who conducted the extraction of Michael Cohen’s two iPhones for the Manhattan’s DA’s office.

Bove appears to be continuing a line of questioning to raise suspicions about the chain of custody related to the phones.

He asked Daus about a four-day gap between the Manhattan DA receiving the phone and delivering it to the unit that processes the phone’s contents. Bove also asked about only one witness signing the receipt form for the phone.

Bove also asked Daus about a “self-destruct timer” that Cohen used for one of his encrypted messaging apps. Daus confirmed that Cohen used the setting for some chats on one his three encrypted messaging applications.

May 03, 9:58 AM
Merchan reiterates jury won’t be shown ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

Before the jury was led into the courtroom, Judge Merchan addressed whether an image of Donald Trump and Billy Bush that appeared in a Washington Post article about the Access Hollywood tape should be allowed into evidence.

The judge reiterated his ruling not to have the Access Hollywood tape played for the jury, though he repeated his earlier determination that prosecutors could show jurors a transcript of the remarks, which included Trump boasting about grabbing women.

“I don’t want those words to be associated with Mr. Trump’s face or voice,” Merchan said.

May 03, 9:41 AM
Judge tells Trump he has ‘absolute right to testify’

Judge Juan Merchan began the day’s proceedings by clearing up a “misunderstanding” about the case’s limited gag order’s impact on Trump’s ability to testify.

It comes after Trump, speaking after court yesterday, told reporters, “I’m not allowed to testify because this judge who’s totally conflicted has put me under an unconstitutional gag order,” referring to the limited gag order that keeps him from directing prohibited comments at witnesses, jury members, and attorneys in the case.

“You have an absolute right to testify at trial,” Merchan told Trump from the bench. “That is a constitutional right that cannot be denied … it is a fundamental right that cannot be infringed upon.”

“The order on extrajudicial statements does not prevent you from testifying in any way, it does not prohibit you from taking the stand and it does not prohibit or minimize what you could say from the witness stand,” Merchan said.

Merchan told Trump and his lawyers that the order only prohibits extrajudicial statements — not statements made during the actual proceeding.

“It does not apply to statements made from the witness stand,” Merchan said, directing Trump to speak to his lawyers if he has any further questions.

May 03, 9:28 AM
Trump enters courtroom

Donald Trump has entered the courtroom for the day’s proceedings.

The former president was accompanied by his usual entourage of lawyers, Secret Service agents and campaign staffers.

May 03, 7:40 AM
Custodial witness set to return to the stand

A custodial witness who testified yesterday about the contents of former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s phone is scheduled to return to the witness stand this morning on Day 11 of the trial.

Douglas Daus, who handles the processing of electronic devices for the Manhattan district attorney’s office, told jurors what he found when he extracted the contents of Cohen’s two iPhones — including a September 2016 recording of Donald Trump discussing the arranged purchase of Karen McDougal’s story that was made public in 2018.

Daus also testified that Cohen had nearly 40,000 contacts on one of this phones, including 10 pages of contact information s for Trump alone.

May 02, 4:55 PM
Trump signals he might not testify after all

Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, former President Trump signaled that he might not be taking the stand in the trial, despite having previously indicated he would.

“I’m not allowed to testify because this judge who’s totally conflicted has put me under an unconstitutional gag order. Nobody’s ever had that before,” Trump said, despite the limited gag order only keeping him from directing prohibited comments at witnesses, jury members, and attorneys in the case.

Trump also did not say who was not allowing him to testify. The gag order does not prohibit Trump from testifying.

-ABC News’ Kelsey Walsh and Mike Pappano

May 02, 4:33 PM
Expert can’t fully say why Trump-Cohen recording cuts off

In his cross-examination of expert witness Douglas Daus, defense attorney Emil Bove asked Daus why the 2016 Trump-Cohen recording on Cohen’s phone abruptly cuts off, attempting to raise doubts about the integrity of the recording.

Daus suggested that he heard in the recording that another call was coming in, but Daus said he could not say with certainty why the recording ended.

“You don’t have firsthand knowledge of why it cuts off?” Bove said.

Bove — a former prosecutor with plenty of experience handling cellphone extractions — then discussed with Daus the different ways to extract a device. For a brief moment, the tone of the cross-examination shifted from tense to friendly.

Judge Merchan subsequently ended the proceedings for the day, dismissing the parties.

The proceedings are scheduled to resume tomorrow at 9:30 p.m. ET.

May 02, 4:14 PM
In 2016 recording, Cohen tells Trump of ‘transfer’ of ‘info’

Expert witness Douglas Daus testified about a recording on Michael Cohen’s phone from Sept. 6, 2016, at 10:56 a.m.

The recording, approximately two minutes long, captures a conversation between Cohen and Trump.

“I need to open up a company for the transfer for all of that info regarding our friend David,” Cohen says on the call. “I am all over that, and I spoke to Allen about it when it comes time for the financing,” Cohen says.

“What financing?” Trump asks.

“We’ll have to pay him something,” Cohen said.

The prosecution then concluded its direct examination of Daus.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Emil Bove sought to raise doubts about the integrity of the material on Cohen’s phone, suggesting it had been “subject to the risk of manipulation” somewhere in the chain of custody.

May 02, 4:01 PM
Expert says Cohen had 40K phone contacts, 10 pages for Trump

Expert witness Douglas Daus walked jurors through what he found on Cohen’s phones after he extracted the data — including an astounding 39,745 contacts.

Most phones have a few hundred contacts, Daus said.

On one of Cohen’s phones, he had 10 pages of contacts for Donald Trump alone, according to Daus.

On Cohen’s second phone, he had 385 contacts, which is average, according to Daus.

Daus then displayed for the jury text messages between Cohen and former White House Communications Director Hope Hicks.

“Call me,” Cohen texted Hicks on November 4, 2016.

Jurors then saw a photo of Cohen in the White House briefing room which was contained on his phone. Cohen is standing behind the podium in the photo.

Jurors also saw a calendar entry on Cohen’s phone called “Meeting with POTUS” on February 8, 2017.

Daus identified that Cohen’s phone contained three encrypted messaging apps: WhatsApp, Telegram, and Signal.

Less than an hour after jurors listened to some of Cohen’s recordings of his phone calls with Keith Davidson, Daus showed the jurors the location of some of those recordings on Cohen’s phone.

May 02, 3:40 PM
DA calls expert who extracted Cohen’s cellphone data

Prosecutors have called their next witness: Douglas Daus, who works for the lab that processes devices for the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

Daus works as an analyst in the unit of the Manhattan DA’s office that handles intake and processing of electronic devices, such as a cell phone seized pursuant to a search warrant. Daus said the unit creates “extractions” of the devices, which are copies of the devices called a Cellebrite or GreyKey report.

The extraction contain “anything that is normally on a phone,” according to Daus, including text messages, contacts, call history, and software.

The extraction also includes metadata, which provides a deeper record of when, where, and how a device was used.

For the Trump case, Daus conducted an analysis of two of Michael Cohen’s phones — an iPhone 6S and iPhone 7.

Daus said Cohen consented to the analysis of the devices.

May 02, 3:34 PM
On call, Cohen said Trump ‘hated’ that they did Daniels agreement

During defense attorney Emil Bove’s re-cross examination of Stormy Daniels’ former attorney Keith Davidson, jurors heard Michael Cohen on a recorded 2018 phone call telling Davidson, “And I can’t even tell you how many times he said to me, ‘I hate the fact that we did it.’ And my comment to him was, ‘But every person that you’ve spoken to told you it was the right move.'”

Davidson said that Cohen was referring to Trump and Stormy Daniels’ nondisclosure agreement.

Trump, in the courtroom, leaned forward in his chair as he read the transcript of the recordings displayed on the screen on counsel table.

Bove concluded his re-cross by getting Davidson to say again that he never met Donald Trump.

May 02, 3:23 PM
Jurors hear portion of 2018 call between Davidson, Cohen

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass led off the re-direct examination of Stormy Daniels’ former attorney Keith Davidson by asking Davidson about the recorded phone call with Cohen in April 2018.

At the time, attorney Michael Avenatti had taken over as Daniels’ lawyer and was suing Davidson, he said.

Steinglass sought to get Davidson to add context to incendiary-sounding remarks during his phone call with Cohen.

“You were not telling Michael Cohen that Stormy Daniels was talking about the election and how she’s going to lose her leverage after the election?” Steinglass asked.

“Correct,” Davidson said.

Jurors then heard a portion of a recorded call.

“What would you do if you were me,” Cohen said on the call.

“I can’t even imagine,” Davidson replied.

“Would you write a book? Would you break away from the entire Trump … doctrine, you know? Would you go completely rouge? Would you join with (Steve) Bannon? Any thoughts? Because it’s not just me that’s being affected — it’s my entire family. Nobody is thinking about Michael,” Cohen said.

Steinglass then completed his redirect.

May 02, 3:11 PM
Trump stares at Alvin Bragg as DA enters courtroom

Defense attorney Emil Bove moved on to question Stormy Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson about the nondisclosure agreement Daniels had signed as part of hush money arrangement.

On the signature page, Bove pointed out how there are the initials “esq” next to Michael Cohen’s signature.

“Because he’s signing this agreement as a lawyer?” he asked Davidson, who agreed — appearing to support why Trump reimbursed Cohen and marked it as a legal expense.

Bove then wrapped up his cross-examination, leading to a short break in the proceedings.

Trump remained in the courtroom, standing and speaking with his attorney Susan Necheles and legal adviser Boris Epshteyn.

When Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg entered the courtroom, Trump stared right at him and his eyes appeared to follow Bragg as the DA moved toward his seat.

Although mere feet from one another, Bragg did not appear to look at Trump.

May 02, 2:57 PM
Defense suggests Cohen never said Trump OK’d hush payment

“You used the word leverage,” defense attorney Emil Bove said of the March 2018 recorded phone conversation between Stormy Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson and Michael Cohen. “And that was Ms. Daniels’ goal was it not? To create leverage over President Trump?”

“No,” Davidson responded.

Davidson pushed back against the timing of the call suggested by Bove.

“I think you are grossly mistaken about the dates. This is years after the settlement,” Davidson said.

Jurors heard the substance of the audio recording in bits and pieces as Bove read from the transcript.

“It’s the truth, Michael. You know that — that you and I both want the truth out there,” Bove read from transcript of Davidson’s remarks.

According to Bove, Davidson said at the time that Cohen getting authorization from Trump for the Daniels payment was “never discussed.”

As the lawyers and the judge in the case listened to the recording on headphones, Trump stared forward as he sat at the defense table. His eyes appear shut at times and he adjusted himself in his seat.

Defense attorneys Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles attempted to communicate across Trump on several occasions.

May 02, 2:44 PM
Defense seeks to admit phone call recording

Stormy Daniels’ former attorney Keith Davidson testified that he continued to work with Trump’s then-attorney Michael Cohen after the 2016 election.

“He sent me work,” Davidson said, before clarifying.

“He sent me a non-paying client,” Davidson said, prompting at least two jurors to laugh.

“Our relationship changed over time,” Davidson said of Cohen.

Davidson testified that he believed Cohen was secretly recording him in 2018.

“It was a very structured conservation, which wasn’t really his [style],” Davidson said, recounting that Cohen is normally “all over the place.”

“That led me to believe I was being recorded,” Davidson said.

The defense was attempting to introduced a recorded phone call between Cohen and Davidson in which Davidson said, “Sometimes people get settler’s remorse” in connection with the Stormy Daniels hush payment

Bove, Davidson, and Judge Merchan put on headphones to listen to the evidence before it was admitted.

“You were talking about Stormy Daniels with Michael Cohen in March 2018?” Bove asked.

“It certainly appears to be, yes,” Davidson responded.

May 02, 2:35 PM
Defense resumes cross-examination of Davidson

Defense attorney Emil Bove resumed his cross-examination of Stormy Daniels’ and Karen McDougal’s former attorney Keith Davidson by asking Davidson about the 2011 blog post in TheDirty.com that alleged an affair between Trump and Daniels.

Davidson testified that his effort to kill the 2011 blog post helped Stormy Daniels make the story more marketable to another publication.

“They were using my efforts to create an exclusive opportunity with another publication,” Davidson said.

“They were using you to make more money, right?” Bove asked about the efforts by Daniels and her representative Gina Rodriguez.

“Yes,” Davidson said.

Bove’s questioning was briefly interrupted when a binder fell off a table in the courtroom.

“That drop was catastrophic to my client,” Bove joked, prompting some light laughter from the galler

May 02, 2:28 PM
Judge declines to approve articles for Trump to post

Court has resumed following the lunch break. But before jurors were escorted back into the courtroom, Trump attorney Susan Necheles handed Judge Merchan a series of articles by “legal scholars” like Jonathan Turley that she said are “very critical of this case.”

“These articles are all articles which President Trump would like to post on his Truth,” Necheles said, referring to Trump’s social media platform.

“We think they are perfectly fine, but we think there is ambiguity in the gag order,” Necheles said, asking the judge to “take a look at them” before Trump posts them.

Judge Merchan did not seem inclined to take up the matter, saying, “There is no ambiguity in the order.”

“I am not going to give an advanced ruling on this,” Merchan said. “When in doubt, steer clear.”

May 02, 1:16 PM
Davidson was to earn 45% of McDougal’s hush payment

Defense attorney Emil Bove asked Stormy Daniels’ and Karen McDougal’s former attorney Keith Davidson about his 2016 effort to negotiate a payment on behalf of McDougal, who was ultimately paid $150,000 by the National Enquirer so the publication could “catch and kill” her story.

Davidson was set to earn 45% of the payment based on the retainer agreement he signed with McDougal, according to testimony.

Bove suggested that the National Enquirer was struggling to verify McDougal’s allegations, which threatened to derail the negotiations.

“I am drafting a declination of representation letter to send off,” Davidson texted Enquirer editor Dylan Howard in 2016, according to evidence.

Davidson testified he could not recall threatening to end the negotiations.

The judge subsequently recessed the proceedings for lunch, with Davidson’s cross-examination set to resume after the break.

May 02, 12:53 PM
Davidson was investigated for Hogan extortion but not charged

Under cross-examination, Stormy Daniels’ former attorney Keith Davidson testified that he attempted to negotiate a monetary offer from Hulk Hogan related to the release of an alleged sex tape.

“There was a monetary demand made,” Davidson said while declining to provide specifics.

Davidson denied that he leaked any information about the alleged tape to the National Enquirer though Dylan Howard.

Davidson appeared to admit that he was investigated for extortion related to Hulk Hogan by the Tampa Police Department.

“They conducted an investigation, yes,” Davidson said.

“An investigation related to extortion?” Bove asked.

“I believe so,” Davidson said.

“You were not ultimately charged, right”” Bove asked.

“True,” Davidson said.

When asked if he learned about extortion law from the experience, Davidson mumbled, “Perhaps, I don’t know.”

May 02, 12:47 PM
Defense’s questioning of Davidson turns heated

Trump attorney Emil Bove’s cross-examination of Stormy Daniels’ former attorney Davidson turned heated as Bove asked Davidson about some of his previous cases.

Bove asked about his alleged involvement in a TMZ story related to Lindsey Lohan’s treatment at a rehab facility.

“I don’t recall that,” Davidson.

Bove then asked Davidson about his clients related to Charlie Sheen.

“We asserted that there was tortious activity,” Davidson said, adding there was some kind of settlement.

Bove then attempted to ask Davidson about the specifics of the settlement related to Sheen.

“I’m not going to answer that question,” Davidson said. “I don’t recall.”

“Is it fair to say your memory seems a bit fuzzy?” Bove said.

Davidson appeared to be refusing to answer some questions while invoking attorney-client confidentiality.

“We’re both lawyers here — I’m not trying to play lawyer games with you,” Bove said, telling Davidson he was just demanding truthful answers.

“You are getting truthful answers, sir,” Davidson said bluntly.

May 02, 12:33 PM
Defense attorney suggests Davidson extorted Daniels payment

Defense attorney Emil Bove appeared to suggest that Keith Davidson, as Stormy Daniels’ attorney, was committing extortion when he negotiated the Daniels payment. Bove asked whether the statute of limitations has run out for any extortion offenses.

“What does the word extortion mean to you?” Bove asked.

“Extortion is the attaining property by fear or threat of force,” Davidson said.

“By 2016, you were pretty well versed in getting right up to the line without committing extortion?” Bove asked.

“I don’t understand your question,” Davidson said.

Bove asked Davidson about a 2012 state and federal extortion investigation related to Hulk Hogan.

“I familiarized myself with the law,” Davidson said of the 2012 investigation “I did everything I could to make sure my activities were lawful.”

Bove attempted to suggest that based on that past experience, Davidson intentionally avoided making overt threats related to the 2016 election when negotiating the Daniels payment.

“I made no threats to anyone,” Davidson responded.

May 02, 12:19 PM
Davidson says he provided legal services without retainer

Under cross-examination, Keith Davidson agreed that he provided legal services to Stormy Daniels in 2011 when he sent a cease-and- desist letter to TheDirty.com when the website published allegations of an affair between Daniels and Trump.

“You were acting as Ms. Daniels’ attorney?” Trump lawyer Emil Bove asked.

“Yes,” Davidson responded, while noting there was no formal retainer agreement.

The defense has suggested Trump properly characterized his reimbursement to Michael Cohen, which sits at the heart of the case, as a legal expense because it was a payment to a lawyer.

Prosecutors have repeatedly said there was no retainer agreement between Trump and Cohen.

May 02, 12:06 PM
Defense begins cross-examination of Stormy Daniels’ attorney

After a short morning break, court is now back in session with the cross-examination of for Stormy Daniels attorney Keith Davidson.

Defense attorney Emil Bove is questioning Davidson on behalf of Donald Trump, who is back at the defense table.

Trump leaned back in his chair, twisting to the right, to watch his lawyer take his turn.

Bove began by asking Davidson about whether he had ever interacted with Trump, suggesting in his questions that Davidson’s impression of Trump came from television or what he learned from Michael Cohen.

“I have had no personal interactions with Donald Trump,” Davidson said.

Referring to National Enquirer publisher David Pecker’s testimony last week that Davidson was one of the publication’s major sources though his relationship with editor Dylan Howard, Bove asked Davidson, “Would it surprise you to learn that Mr. Howard considered you to be a major source of information?”

“Yes,” Davidson said.

May 02, 11:46 AM
With no ‘relationship,’ denial was ‘effectively true,’ lawyer says

Stormy Daniels’ former attorney Keith Davidson read to the jury her denial statement from Jan. 30, 2018.

“I am denying this affair because it never happened,” the statement read.

“I think it’s effectively true,” Davidson testified, arguing that a “relationship is an ongoing interaction.”

At one point, Davidson drafted a statement affirming that Michael Cohen was the source of the Daniels’ hush money payment. Cohen had texted Cohen Chis Cuomo’s email address.

“He is a news broadcaster, then with CNN,” Davidson testified regarding Cuomo.

“Perfect, send to Cuomo,” Cohen texted Davidson about the statement.

“I think he was under some fire and wanted validation or cooperation” that he was the source of the money, Davidson said.

Davidson testified that while he believed Trump would ultimately be the source of the payment, Cohen had made the payment out of his own pocket in October 2016.

Prosecutors subsequently ended their direct examination of Davidson.

May 02, 11:34 AM
Davidson details more Stormy Daniels denials

Jurors were shown more 2018 text messages between Stormy Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson and Michael Cohen, including one in which Cohen said, about Stormy Daniels. “I have her tentatively scheduled for Hannity tonight” so she could issue additional denials about her alleged relationship with Trump.

“Did your client actually appear on Hannity that night?” Steinglass asked Davidson.

“No,” Davidson said, calling this Cohen’s attempt to book Daniels on Hannity as part of one of his “pants-on-fire stages.”

“He believed she would further deny the interaction,” Davidson said about Cohen’s effort to book Daniels’ on Hannity.

By January 17, Cohen appeared to change his tone about booking Daniels on television.

“The wise men all believe the story is dying,” Cohen texted Davidson.

“Why is she going on Kimmel after the Sotu,” Cohen texted Davidson on January 26, 2018, referring to the State of the Union Address.

“Idk I was pissed. She said this is her shot. Meeting her this weekend to prep her and get the statement,” Davidson texted back.

“She wanted to talk about her life and reinvigorate her career,” Davidson testified about the the Jimmy Kimmel appearance.

May 02, 11:21 AM
Davidson testifies about denials to Wall Street Journal

Sometime in mid-December 2016, after the election, Keith Davidson and Michael Cohen spoke by phone, and Cohen unloaded on Trump.

In Davidson’s recollection, Cohen told him, “Jesus Christ, can you f—– believe I’m not going to Washington? After everything I’ve done for that f—– guy. I can’t believe I’m not going to Washington. I’ve saved that guy’s ass so many times you don’t even know.”

“That guy’s not even paid me the 130,000 back,” Davidson said Cohen told him.

Davidson was then asked about his actions in January 2018 when the Wall Street Journal reached out for comment about the Stormy Daniels contract.

“They wanted a comment on any interaction regarding Stormy Daniels and Donald Trump,” Davidson said.

“Nothing about the present day regurgitation of these rumors causes us to rethink our prior denial issued in 2011,” Davidson wrote in response to the request for comment in 2018. Davidson had sent a cease-and-desist letter in 2011 when the affair was mentioned on a blog.

Davidson said he forwarded the comment to Michael Cohen given their aligned interest at the time.

Jurors were shown the January 10, 2018 denial issued by Stormy Daniels, which Davidson said he wrote.

“An extremely strict reading of this denial would technically be true,” Davidson testified. “I don’t think anyone ever alleged that any interaction between she and Mr. Trump was romantic.”

“OK,” Steinglass responded, prompting some laughs from the gallery.

“It wasn’t a payoff and it wasn’t hush money — it was consideration in a civil settlement,” Davidson said.

May 02, 11:09 AM
‘What have we done?’ Stormy Daniels’ lawyer texted on election night

On election night, as results were coming in that were favorable to Trump, Stormy Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson texted National Editor Dylan Howard, “What have we done?” according to texts shown the jury.

“This was sort of gallows humor. It was on election night as the results were coming,” Davidson testified.

Asked to explain his text message, Davidson responded, “There was an understanding that our activities may have in some way assisted the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.”

“Oh my god,” Howard responded to the text on election night.

May 02, 10:56 AM
Jurors shown final contract for Stormy Daniels agreement

Jurors were shown the final Stormy Daniels contract, which prohibited her from making public statements about her alleged affair with Trump.

“That’s essentially part of the nondisclosure aspect of the agreement,” her then-attorney, Keith Davidson, told jurors after reading aloud from the contract.

The contract stated that Daniel’s would owe $1 million for each breach of contract, though Davidson said that portion of the contract was likely unenforceable.

Davidson testified that Michael Cohen requested the $1 million penalty be added to the contract.

Jurors were shown signed copies of the agreement, which was signed by Daniels, Cohen, and Davidson.

The signature line for “David Dennison” — the pseudonym used for Donald Trump — was never signed by Trump. In one version of the contract, Cohen signed for “Dennison.”

Davidson testified that he made $10,000 for negotiating the contract.

May 02, 10:46 AM
Lawyer resumes testimony on Stormy Daniels hush payment

Following the contempt hearing, Keith Davidson, the former lawyer for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, has returned to the stand to resume his testimony.

When Davidson stepped off the witness stand on Tuesday, he testified about the difficulty in getting the $130,000 payment from then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen for Stormy Daniel’s hush money agreement.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass resumed the direct examination by asking Davidson about a phone call between himself, Michael Cohen, and National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard about the payment.

“That conversation took place because there was difficulty in communications with Michael Cohen and I had lost trust in what he was telling me, and Dylan came in as a mediator,” Davidson said. “I believed he was not telling me the truth … about the delays in funding.”

Jurors then looked at an email from Cohen where he flagged to Davidson that the wire would be coming from an account for Essential Consultants LLC.

On Tuesday, jurors heard from a banker who described Cohen’s rushed effort to create a bank account for Essential Consultants LLC, which prosecutors say was a shell company created for the Daniels payment.

Emails and texts involving Cohen, Davidson and Howard, displayed to the jury, indicate the hush payment was finalized with the wire transfer of $130,000 on October 27, 2016 — 12 days before the 2016 election.

May 02, 10:31 AM
Contempt hearing ends without immediate ruling

After Judge Merchan asked defense attorney Todd Blanche to explain Trump’s remarks about the jury, Blanche argued that Trump’s remarks referenced the political nature of the trial.

“We very much believe that this is a political persecution and that this is a political trial,” Blanche argued.

“I’m not accepting your argument,” the judge said. “He spoke about the jury. And he said the jury was 95% Democrats and the jury had been rushed through, and the implication being this is not a fair jury.”

The judge concluded the contempt hearing without issuing a ruling on whether Trump’s four recent statements violated the case’s limited gag order.

Testimony in the trial was then set to resume.

May 02, 10:24 AM
Defense says Trump was responding to Cohen’s remarks

Judge Merchan told Trump attorney Todd Blanche that he is “not terribly concerned” about Trump’s remarks about David Pecker being a “nice guy.”

“I am not terribly concerned about that one,” Merchan said during the hearing on whether Trump should again he held in contempt for allegedly violating the case’s limited gag order.

Blanche then turned to Trump’s remarks about witness Michael Cohen, displaying exhibits that included screenshots of four posts on Cohen’s X account.

“There is repeated attacks on President Trump’s candidacy for president by Michael Cohen,” Blanche said about Cohen’s posts on X and remarks on TikTok as well as on his podcast.

“You made your point,” Merchan responded after Blanche spent a few minutes highlighting Cohen’s public comments.

“Mr. Cohen has started going on TikTok nightly, literally making money,” Blanche added. “He actively encourages folks to give him money.”

May 02, 10:14 AM
Trump glares at his attorney after he agrees with judge

At one point in the ongoing contempt hearing, Trump appeared to show frustration with his own attorney during arguments regarding Trump’s remarks to the press.

When Judge Merchan said that “nobody is forcing” Trump to make remarks in the hallways, Trump attorney Todd Blanche surprisingly responded, “I agree.”

At that moment, Trump shot around and glared at his own lawyer in disbelief, his mouth hanging open. He then turned back around to face forward, repeatedly shaking his head no.

“What is happening in this trial is no surprise to anyone,” Merchan said of the media attention. “It is not surprising that we have press here.”

May 02, 10:04 AM
Defense argues Trump’s comments were ‘completely neutral

Defense attorney Todd Blanche argued against accusations that Trump again violated the case’ limited gag order, saying that Trump was attempting to respond to political attacks.

Appearing to cite President Joe Biden’s remarks at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner this weekend, Blanche said, “He mocked President Trump. He said, ‘Donald had had a few tough days recently — you might call it stormy weather,” Blanche said, arguing Trump should be able to respond to that remark but can’t because of the gag order.

Merchan pushed back on that argument, telling Blanche that Trump is allowed to respond to remarks by Biden.

“Trump can’t respond to that in a way that he wants to because of this order,” Blanche argued.

Blanche also argued that Trump’s remarks about David Pecker were “completely neutral” comments about Trump’s longtime friend.

“He is talking … about a man he had known for decades, who he was friends with for decades. There is no threat in what President Trump said,” Blanche said.

Blanche also attempted to put some blame on the press for asking Trump questions prompting his remarks. “He can’t just say ‘no comment’ repeatedly, he’s running for president,” he said.

Merchan told Blanche that Trump’s remarks about Pecker impacts other witnesses, because it signals that Trump could make remarks about other particpants.

May 02, 9:53 AM
Prosecutors ask judge to again fine Trump for contempt

Prosecutor Christopher Conroy argued that Trump’s remarks about witness Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney — including Trump’s statements in the courtroom hallway after opening statements last week — were made to “affect and disrupt” the proceedings at its “most critical time.”

“His statements are corrosive to this proceeding and to the fair administration of justice,” Conroy said.

“We are not yet seeking jail,” Conroy said about the four alleged violations, citing the desire to prevent disruptions to the proceedings.

He asked Merchan to fine Trump the maximum of $1,000 for violation, totaling $4,000, following the identical fines earlier this week for nine previous violations.

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche argued that the alleged violations were not willful violations of the court’s limited gag order.

Blanche said Trump’s commentary reflects his defense to “political attacks” — and as a candidate for president, he is entitled to respond to “multiple and repeated attacks.”

“Part of the campaign takes place outside of this courtroom,” Blanche said.

May 02, 9:45 AM
Prosecutor calls Trump’s remarks ‘deliberate and calculated’

Prosecutor Christopher Conroy told Judge Merchan during the contempt hearing that the limited gag order exists because of Trump’s “persistent and escalating rhetoric” regarding trial participants, adding that Trump had violated the gag order nine times already.

“He has done it again here,” Conroy said.

“That is what the order forbids, and he did it anyway,” Conroy said about Trump’s remarks about the composition of the jury.

Conroy then turned his attention to Trump’s remarks about witness and former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker last Thursday at a construction site in midtown Manhattan, in which he said, “He’s been very nice. I mean, he’s been — David’s been very nice. A nice guy.”

“It was deliberate and calculated,” Conroy said, describing the remarks as a “deliberate shots across the bow” to participants in the case.

“The defendant thinks the rules should be different for him,” Conroy says about Trump’s remarks about witnesses like Michael Cohen and David Pecker.

Trump has defended some of his commentary about the trial as a recitation of what he sees in media coverage. But Conroy said that Trump’s rhetoric carries an “air of menace that is substantially different” than a news report.

“He places this process and proceeding here in jeopardy,” Conroy said.

May 02, 9:36 AM
Contempt hearing underway

Judge Juan Merchan has begun this morning’s contempt hearing in which he will determine whether to hold Trump in contempt and fine him for making four additional out-of-court statements about the jury and known witnesses in the trial, after the judge on Tuesday cited and fined him for nine such violations.

Prosecutor Christopher Conroy, speaking for the Manhattan district attorney’s office during the contempt proceeding, said he does not plan to play the videos of the alleged violations.

May 02, 9:23 AM
Trump arrives in courtroom

Former President Donald Trump has arrived in the courtroom for today’s proceedings.

Proceedings get underway today with a second contempt hearing on Trump’s alleged violation of the case’ limited gag order, before testimony in the trial resumes.

May 02, 7:36 AM
Day will begin with second contempt hearing

Two days after Judge Juan Merchan held former President Trump in criminal contempt for nine violations of the limited gag order that prohibits statements about witnesses and others involved in the case, the judge will hold a hearing this morning to determine whether to hold Trump in contempt again and fine him $4,000 for making four additional out-of-court statements about the jury and known witnesses in the trial.

Judge Merchan on Tuesday fined the former president $1,000 for each of the nine violations — the maximum allowable fine under state law — and threatened that future violations could result in jail time.

Testimony in the trial is scheduled to resume following the conclusion of this morning’s hearing.

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