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Trump trial live updates: Trump begins to remove posts after being held in contempt

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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:

Apr 30, 4:58 PM
Trump, following court, again calls case unfair

Exiting the courtroom following the day’s testimony, former President Trump said reiterated claims that the case is unfair and that he should be campaigning instead of sitting in court.

“I’m sitting here because that’s exactly what they want,” Trump said. “They don’t want me on the campaign trail. But it’s a real — a real disgrace and the whole world is watching. It’s a disgrace to New York.”

Trump also railed against the limited gag order in the case, for which the judge this morning fined him $9,000 and ordered him to remove nine social media posts.

“This gag order is not only unique, it’s totally unconstitutional,” Trump opined, calling Judge Merchan “conflicted”

Asked by a reporter what he meant by calling the judge “conflicted,” Trump brusquely turned to respond.

“You can figure that one out easily,” he said.
 

Apr 30, 4:39 PM
Court recessed until Thursday

Following attorney Keith Davidson’s testimony about Michael Cohen providing the $130,000 payment for Stormy Daniels’ hush money deal, Judge Juan Merchan recessed the proceedings for the day.

With court off on Wednesday, he told the jury to report back at at 10 a.m. ET Thursday, allowing 30 minutes for a gag order hearing scheduled for the same day.

Apr 30, 4:31 PM
Davidson tells how Cohen finally made $130K payment

On Oct. 25, 2016, National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard made a push to restart the Daniels deal after Michael Cohen failed to come up with the agreed-upon $130,000 hush money payment, Stormy Daniels’ then-attorney Keith Davidson testified.

“Push for the cash. [David Pecker] and I just told [Cohen] he has to pay the 150K,” Howard texted Davidson that day, according to evidence.

“It was an attempt to resurrect this deal that had fallen apart,” Davidson testified. “They were encouraging Cohen to deal directly with me and that I should try to get as much as I could up to $150,000.”

“The entire matter was frustrating, that it was on again, off again, that there were delays in funding and cancellations,” Davidson said about the entire Daniels transaction.

According to Davidson, Cohen continued to push back on the deal despite the encouragement from Howard and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker.

“When I call Cohen, he says I am not paying anything. AMI is paying,” a frustrated Davidson testified.

On Oct. 26, 2016, Davidson said that he resent Cohen the instructions for where to wire the payment.

Asked why he resent the instructions, Davidson cited Cohen’s repeated assertion that “he didn’t have my wiring instructions despite the fact that they were repeatedly sent to him previously.”

“He said, ‘We are sending you the money,'” Davidson recounted Cohen saying on Oct. 26, 2016.

“I told him I didn’t believe him,” Davidson testified.

According to Davidson, Cohen then emailed him the wire transfer confirmation from First Republic Bank to prove that the money was sent.

Apr 30, 4:23 PM
Davidson suggests he assumed Trump would fund Daniels’ payment

When court resumed following the afternoon break, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass continued his direct examination of Stormy Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson.

Davidson testified that while Michael Cohen did not directly say he was negotiating the hush money deal on behalf of Donald Trump, it was implied throughout their negotiations.

“He leaned on his close affiliation with Donald Trump,” Davidson said, adding that for Cohen, working for Trump was “part of his identity.”

As a result, Davidson suggested he assumed that Donald Trump would ultimately fund the $130,000 payment to Daniels.

“It was my understanding that Mr. Trump was the beneficiary of this contract,” Davidson said. He added that the beneficiary of a contract normally pays the contract — but Judge Merchan struck that portion of his testimony.

Steinglass then attempted to get a clear answer to confirm that Davidson believed Trump would ultimately be responsible for Daniels’ payment, but defense lawyer Emil Bove successfully interrupted the testimony through multiple objections and sidebars.

Davidson testified that in October 2016, National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard joked to Davidson about Trump’s frugality, which Davidson said he believed was getting in the way of Daniels’ contract being completed.

“I reckon that trump impersonator I hired has more cash,” Howard said in a text to Davidson that was displayed for the jury.

Apr 30, 3:50 PM
Davidson says Cohen was slow to send Daniels’ payment

Stormy Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson testified that he began to think Michael Cohen was beginning to come up with excuses not to send the $130,000 payment owed to Daniels for her silence regarding an alleged rendezvous with Trump.

Jurors saw an email from Cohen where he blamed the delay on the Yom Kippur holiday.

“There were other excuses,” Davidson said.

On October 17, 2016, Davidson threatened to cancel the contract with Daniels after he said Cohen made a “barrage of excuses” and failed to meet the funding deadline for the contract.

“The things he was saying didn’t make sense from one conversation to the next,” Davidson said.

Davidson listed the excuses including, “the computer systems were all f—– up,” there was increased security due to the Secret Service, and he had lost the wire instructions.

“This is a very bad situation,” Davidson recounted telling Cohen. “It is making me look bad, and I don’t really believe a word that you are saying.”

“What do you expect me to do — my guy is in five f—— states today,” Davidson said Cohen told. “I am doing everything I can.”

Davidson testified his interpretation was that Cohen did not have the direct authorization to send the money.

“Where did you believe the money to be coming from?” prosecutor Josh Steinglass asked. “From Donald Trump or some kind of corporate entity,” Davidson said.

On October 17, 2016, Davidson said he emailed Cohen to cancel the Daniels agreement and tell him that he no longer represented her.

“This is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Davidson said following all the excuses from Cohen. “I said, ‘Hey, this deal is over.'”

“I am out. Go in peace,” Davidson summarized his email to Cohen.

“I believed Cohen was not being truthful,” Davidson said. “I thought he was trying to kick the can down the road until after the election.”

Cohen finally budged and said he would send the money himself, according to Davidson.

“God damn it, I will just do it myself,” Cohen eventually said, according to Davidson.

Court subsequently recessed for a short afternoon break. Trump did not speak with reporters as he left the courtroom.

Apr 30, 3:34 PM
Davidson says he called Trump ‘David Dennison’ in contract

Stormy Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson testified that he used the pseudonym “David Dennison” to reference Donald Trump in the contract that paid Daniels for her silence regarding an alleged rendezvous with Trump.

“Who came up with those pseudonyms?” prosecutor Josh Steinglass asked Davidson.

“I did,” replied Davidson, who said that the real David Dennison was on his “high school hockey team.”

“How does he feel about you now?” Steinglass asked about the real David Dennison.

“He is very upset,” Davidson said, prompting some smiles from the jury and laughter from the gallery.

Apr 30, 3:26 PM
Davidson walks through genesis of Stormy Daniels deal

Stormy Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson testified that National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard reached out to him in June 2016 to let him know that Stormy Daniels’ agent Gina Rodriguez was attempting to shop around the Daniels’ story.

“Gina is trying to hawk Stormy again,” Howard texted Davidson in messages shown to the jury.

“Lol – she’s trying to sell the story to you?” Davidson replied.

“Yep,” wrote Howard.

Davidson testified that the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump was heard bragging about grabbing women, reinvigorated interest in Daniels’ story.

“As far as I am aware, it had a tremendous influence,” Davidson said. Before the ‘Access Hollywood’ tape, there was very little if any interest. It wasn’t until ‘Access Hollywood’ that interest reached a crescendo.”

“Trump is f—–,” Davidson write in an Oct. 8, 2016, text message to Howard that was displayed for the jury.

Davidson also testified that the post about the alleged Daniels-Trump affair was active again, adding to Trump’s problems.

“The Dirty post was bad, but it could get a lot worse,” Davidson said.

According to Davidson, Howard and Rodriguez worked out a deal for AMI to buy Stormy Daniels’ story for $120,000, but AMI backed out at the last moment. Howard suggested that Rodriguez reach out to Cohen to broker the deal, but she refused. Rodriguez instead asked Davidson to contact Cohen directly.

“Michael Cohen stepped into AMI’s shoes” after “AMI washed their hands of the deal,” Davidson said.

Davidson said he padded the Stormy Daniels’ deal so he could get paid at the request of Gina Rodriguez.

“It is going to be the easiest deal you’ve ever done in your entire life,” Davidson said to describe Rodriguez’s request. Her only ask, according to Davidson, was that he would need to “talk to that a—— Cohen.”

“It was the original [$120,000], plus $10,000,” Davidson said about the $130,000 payment made by Cohen.

Apr 30, 3:14 PM
Davidson tells jury of 2011 call with ‘jerk’ Michael Cohen

Following Keith Davison’s testimony about the deal between Karen McDougal and AMI, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass turned to the topic of Davidson’s representation of Stormy Daniels.

Davidson recounted a conversation he had in 2011 with Cohen after a blog first posted a story about the Trump and Stormy Daniels affair allegations.

First, he said he got a call from Daniels’s talent manager, Gina Rodriguez:

“The blog post had published and apparently I was informed that Gina had received a phone call from Michael Cohen,” Davidson testified. “Gina called me up to tell me that some jerk called me and was very, very aggressive and threatened to sue.”

“And I would like you, Keith, to call this jerk back,” Davidson recounted Gina told him.

“I hate to ask it this way, but who was that jerk?” prosecutor Steinglass asked Davidson.

“Michael Cohen,” Davidson said.

Davidson said he did call Cohen back, and proceeded to tell the jury about that call.

“It was to the Trump Organization. I called and was transferred to Michael Cohen,” Davidson said. “I introduced myself and before I could barely get my name out, I was just met with a hostile barrage of insults and insinuations and allegations that went on for quite a while.”

In the courtroom, both Trump and his attorney Todd Blanche appeared to laugh as Davidson continued with this description of Cohen.

“He was upset that the story on the had published and he believed that stormy Daniels was behind the story,”

“What did you tell him?” Steinglass asked.

“Finally, after he finished, I explained that I was calling because my client Stormy Daniels did not want the story published and I wanted to see if he had done anything to contact the to take the story down.”

Davidson said he subsequently sent a cease-and-desist letter and successfully got the post taken down.

Apr 30, 3:03 PM
Davidson says Cohen was ‘pleased’ with McDougal deal

As Karen McDougal’s attorney Keith Davidson continued his testimony, jurors were shown the final contract between McDougal and AMI that prohibited her from talking about past relationships with a “then-married man.”

“Karen had … granted her limited life rights related to the subject matter — any affairs with any then-married man — to AMI,” Davidson testified, telling jurors that Donald Trump was the “then-married man” referenced in the contract.

Asked by prosecutor Joshua Steinglass the reasons he believed AMI would spend $150,000 on a story they didn’t plan to publish, Davidson said, “I think there were two. I think one explanation that was given was that they were trying to build Karen into a brand,” and didn’t want to compromise her reputation, he said.

“The second was more of an unspoken understanding that there was a close affiliation between (publisher) David Pecker and Donald Trump, and that AMI would not run this story … because it would tend to hurt Donald Trump.”

“You mean, hurt Donald Trump’s campaign?” Steinglass asked.

“Yes,” Davidson said.

Davidson previously testified that when the deal was finalized, he called Michael Cohen.

“I called him and let him know as a professional courtesy that the deal involving his client closed,” Davidson said.

“What client is that?” Steinglass asked.

“Donald Trump,” Davidson said.

Steinglass asked Davidson how Cohen received the news.

“He was pleased,” Davidson said.

Apr 30, 2:54 PM
Appeals court denies Trump’s bid to have judge recused

An appellate court has denied former President Trump’s bid to have Judge Juan Merchan recused from his hush money trial.

Trump’s application sought a stay of the proceedings and Merchan’s recusal.

Both were denied without explanation by the appellate judge.

Apr 30, 2:47 PM
Trump removes all 9 social posts cited by judge

All nine of former President Trump’s social media posts cited by Judge Juan Merchan in his contempt of court ruling this morning have been removed.

The judge ruled that the nine posts violated the limited gag order prohibiting Trump from targeting potential witnesses and others involved in the case.

The nine posts were deleted during the court’s lunch break.

Apr 30, 2:38 PM
Texts detail AMI’s negotiations for McDougal’s story

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass resumed his direct examination of Karen McDougal’s former attorney Keith Davidson regarding his text messages with National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard as the two were negotiating how much the publication would pay McDougal for the exclusive rights to her story alleging she’d had an affair with Donald Trump.

“I can’t believe they are asking me to go back for another 25 but they are. He deal is accepted at 150k. Can u do that?” Davidson wrote on August 2, 2016.

“He just called me. F— it. Not my money. I’ll ask,” Howard responded.

Davidson told the jury that Enquirer parent AMI initially provided a contract that did not match the terms originally discussed with Howard.

“Cameron’s agreement wasn’t really even close to what we were expecting. Please review the red-line I just sent. Need to handle this quickly,” Davidson wrote to Howard on Aug. 5, 2016.

Davidson testified that he initially avoided interacting with Michael Cohen while negotiating the deal with AMI due to a negative interaction he had with Cohen in 2011.

“My interaction with him was not pleasant or constructive and I didn’t particularly like dealing with him, and that is why I was trying like hell to avoid talking to him,” Davidson testified regarding Cohen.

Apr 30, 2:26 PM
Court resumes for afternoon session

Donald Trump reentered the courtroom after the lunch break, with his son Eric Trump following a few steps behind.

Trump campaign adviser Susie Wiles and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton are seated, along with Eric Trump, in the first row of the gallery behind Trump’s defense table.

Judge Merchan took his seat on the bench and asked for Keith Davidson to be brought back to the witness stand so his testimony could resume.

Apr 30, 2:19 PM
Trump begins to remove posts after being held in contempt

Former President Trump has begun to remove the social media posts cited by Judge Juan Merchan in today’s gag order ruling.

The judge this morning fined Trump a total of $9,000 for nine violations of the case’s limited gag order, which prevents Trump from targeting potential witnesses and others involved in the case.

Trump was ordered to remove the posts in question and to pay the fine by the close of business this Friday.

Apr 30, 1:07 PM
McDougal didn’t want her story to go public, lawyer says

Keith Davidson, the former attorney for Karen McDougal, testified that McDougal — who said in 2016 that years earlier had had an affair with Trump — did not actually want to tell her story publicly.

That’s partially what made a deal with the National Enquirer so “attractive”– because she would not have to, Davidson said.

“She did not want to tell her story,” Davidson testified.

“Get me a price on McDougal All in. Consulting gig perhaps as a fitness expert thrown into the mix,” National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard texted Davidson on July 23, 2016, in messages that were shown to the jury.

“How about 1m now. And 75K per year for next 2 years as a fitness correspondent for AMI & ur related pubs,” Davidson texted.

“I’ll take it to them but thinking it’s more hundreds than millions,” Howard responded.

“We are going to lay it on thick for her,” Howard subsequently texted on July 28, 2016.

“Good. Throw in an ambassadorship for me. I am thinking Isle of Mann,” Davidson responded.

“That was just a joke,” Davidson testified about the Isle of Mann reference, saying that killing the story “would help Donald Trump’s candidacy.”

The attorney reiterated on the stand that the “allure of the AMI deal” was that McDougal would get paid yet she would not have to speak publicly about the alleged affair.

The proceedings then broke for lunch. Trump made no comments to reporters as he left the courtroom.

Apr 30, 12:52 PM
McDougal alleged she had affair with Trump, lawyer recounts

Keith Davidson, the former attorney for Karen McDougal, testified about the meeting he arranged between McDougal and National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard.

“Ms. McDougal alleged that she had had a romantic affair with Donald Trump some years prior,” Davidson said, referring to what McDougal shared during the meeting.

Asked on the stand whether the affair was sexual, Davidson replied: “That’s what she expressed.”

Howard told them he wanted to “return to New York and run it up on the flag pole” before making a decision about whether to purchase McDougal’s story.

“It’s a story that should be told,” Davidson texted Howard on June 27, 2017, regarding the alleged affair.

“I agree,” Howard responded.

Jurors then saw text messages from about a month after the Howard-McDougal meeting.

“Let’s talk … tomorrow. I think this is the entree for me to go back to them,” Howard texted Davidson.

“Better to be quick,” replied Davidson, who said on the stand that he was trying to play the National Enquirer against another media outlet to create a “sense of urgency.”

“You were trying to convey that there was some urgency and Dylan Howard should act quickly?” prosecutor Josh Steinglass asked Davidson.

“That’s fair,” Davidson said.

Apr 30, 12:44 PM
‘I have a blockbuster Trump story,’ lawyer texted tabloid in 2016

With Keith Davidson, the former attorney for Karen McDougal, on the stand, jurors were shows text messages between him and National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard from 2016.

“I have a blockbuster Trump story,” Davidson texted Howard on June 7, 2016

“Talk 1st thing. I will get you more than ANYONE for it. You Know why…” Howard responded.

“It was sort of an entree or teaser to Dylan,” Davidson testified about the message, adding that he was aware of Pecker’s relationship with Trump.

Jurors were then shown more text messages from June 10, 2016.

“Did he cheat on Melania?” Howard asked. “Do you know if the affair was during his marriage to Melania?”

“I really cannot say yet. Sorry,” Davidson replied.

“OK. Keep me informed,” said Howard.

Asked on the stand why he did not confirm it was an affair, Davidson said, “I was not prepared to discuss the details.”

Apr 30, 12:36 PM
McDougal’s attorney outlines agreement he had with her

Keith Davidson testified that he represented Karen McDougal in the summer of 2016 when the former Playboy model entered into a non-disclosure agreement with AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer.

Jurors were then showed the retainer agreement between Davidson and McDougal, which details McDougal’s “life rights related to interactions with Donald Trump and/or negotiating assignment of exclusive press opportunities regarding same.”

Davidson testified that he provided “legal services” to help the former Playmate negotiate with media outlets for the rights to her story about “a personal interaction she had — allegedly had — with Donald Trump.”

“At the time … media outlets, both traditional and tabloid, would often enter into an exclusive arrangement where someone would provide exclusive content to that outlet in exchange for money,” Davidson said.

Davidson told Steinglass that he did not go behind McDougal’s back when he arranged the agreement with AMI for the rights to her story

Apr 30, 12:29 PM
Prosecution calls former attorney for McDougal and Daniels

Prosecutors called to the stand Keith Davidson, who worked as an attorney for both Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels when the hush money payments to both women were arranged.

Trump, at the defense table, turned his head to see Davidson as he entered the courtroom.

Davidson, who was granted immunity to testify, said that that he has set up nondisclosure agreements for some of his clients, including some with tabloids.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass asked Davidson about his relationship with former National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard. Earlier, former Enquirer publisher David Pecker testified that Davidson was one of Howard’s sources.

“I knew him in my professional dealings,” Davidson said. “We were professional acquaintances and friends.”

Davidson said he first met Michael Cohen in 2011 after a blog was posted about Stormy Daniels — who was Davidson’s client — and Donald Trump.

“Michael Cohen is the former attorney for Donald Trump,” Davidson recounted.

Apr 30, 12:19 PM
Jury hears transcript of Trump addressing ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

Prosecutors called their next witness, Philip Thompson, who works for a national court reporting company, to testify about a deposition Trump gave that was taken as part of former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll’s defamation cases against Trump.

Jurors were shown several videos, starting with Trump’s October 2022 deposition in that case.

In the first video, Trump briefly explains what Truth Social is and confirms his handle on the social media platform.

“It is a platform that has been opened by me as an alternative to Twitter,” Trump said.

They were next shown an Oct. 19, 2022, deposition taken at Mar-a-Lago, in which Trump confirms he married his wife Melania in 2005.

Thompson then read from the transcript of a deposition where Trump is asked about the “Access Hollywood” video in which he boasts about grabbing women.

Thompson then stepped off the witness stand.

Apr 30, 12:02 PM
‘We don’t win’ if people think stories are true, Trump said in 2016

As part of a series of video, jurors were shown a video of an October 2016 Trump rally in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

“They are trying to poison the mind of the American voter. Every woman lied when they came forward to hurt my campaign,” Trump said in the video.

Lastly, jurors sew a brief video of a press conference by President-elect Trump praising Michael Cohen.

Trump, in one of the videos, appears to acknowledge how damaging the stories could have been to his election prospects.

“If 5% of the people think its true, and maybe 10% of the people, we don’t win,” Trump says in the speech.

In the courtroom, Trump’s demeanor completely changed immediately after the videos were played for the jury. He perked up and frantically whispered with his attorney Todd Blanche, looking displeased.

Browning, the C-SPAN executive, concluded his testimony, and defense lawyers opted not to cross-examine him.

Apr 30, 11:41 AM
Judge will allow some questioning about intimidation effort

Judge Juan Merchan has ruled from the bench that prosecutors will be permitted to introduce evidence about Trump’s alleged “intimidation effort” for a limited purpose.

Prosecutors can use the evidence to offset the defense claim that witnesses are financially benefiting from the trial and explain why some witnesses have changed their story; however, the evidence cannot be used to demonstrate Trump’s “consciousness of guilt,” as the prosecution had sought.

Merchan also said jurors will have May 24 — the Friday before Memorial Day — off, because a juror has to catch a flight at 11 a.m. ET.

Prosecutors then called as their next witness Robert Browning, who has worked as the executive director of the C-SPAN’s archives for 30 years.

Apr 30, 11:33 AM
‘Let’s try to keep the break short,’ judge tells defense

Jurors have re-entered the courtroom following the mid-morning break.

Trump returned to the courtroom speaking with his defense attorney Todd Blanche as he entered.

Judge Juan Merchan lightly scolded Blanche about running late.

“Let’s try to keep the break short,” Merchan told Blanche, reminding him that jurors are waiting. “Let’s do better.”

Apr 30, 11:21 AM
Prosecutors want to ask Trump about gag order violations

In a conference with with judge and other attorneys during the mid-morning break, prosecutor Matthew Colangelo told Judge Merchan that prosecutors would like to cross-examine Donald Trump, if he opts to testify, about his nine violations of the case’s limited gag order that the judge handed down this morning.

“The people will seek to cross-examine him on those findings,” Colangelo said.

Colangelo also argued that prosecutors should be able to introduce evidence about what he called Trump’s “pressure campaign” and “intimidation effort” for witnesses like Michael Cohen.

Colangelo argued that defense attorneys “opened the door” to the evidence during their opening statement by arguing that some of the witnesses like Cohen and Stormy Daniels benefited personally from their involvement in the case. He mentioned that prosecutors have approximately half-a-dozen exhibits to demonstrate Trump’s effort attacking witnesses.

Colangelo said the evidence would help show Trump’s “consciousness of guilt” and explain why some witnesses made contradictory statements about the case.

Apr 30, 10:58 AM
Farro says opening Cohen’s LLC account raised no red flags

While Michael Cohen’s former banker, Gary Farro, testified that Cohen took steps to quickly open the account for Essential Consultants, the shell company Cohen used to pay Stormy Daniels, Farro said the process did not prompt any red flags based on the information Cohen provided.

“Not based on the answers I was given … on the questions I asked,” Farro said when asked about potential red flags.

Farro added that accounts in the real estate world were often opened quickly.

“It’s not unusual, it’s not every time. It’s not unusual,” Farro said.

Farro testified that he was not involved with the decision to end First Republic Bank’s relationship with Cohen, adding that if a client provides false information, First Republic Bank would sever their relationship.

“The decision was not mine,” Farro said during a brief re-cross examination.

Apr 30, 10:50 AM
Farro explains how Cohen’s LLC account was opened

Gary Farro, under cross-examination, said that First Republic Bank did not open the account for Essential Consultants LLC for Michael Cohen to operate a shell company.

“I don’t open up shell corporations,” Farro, who was Cohen’s banker, said of the LLC that was used for Cohen to send payment to Stormy Daniels in 2016. “Shell corporations that have no business behind them would give me pause.”

While First Republic allows some accounts to be opened with limited transactions — such as an account for an LLC to own a property or aircraft — the account created by Cohen had the listed business purpose of “investment consulting” work, according to evidence.

Farro added that the information that Cohen provided — such as not listing himself as someone’s agent — allowed the account to be opened quicker.

“Not only would it raise more questions, but it would require more paperwork,” Farro said.

Apr 30, 10:38 AM
Farro says Cohen was removed as his client in 2017

Under cross-examination by defense attorney Todd Blanche, Michael Cohen’s former banker testified about his first interactions with Cohen.

Gary Farro said his boss introduced him to Michael Cohen in Cohen’s office in Trump Tower.

“He was a challenging client because of his desire to get things done so quickly,” Farro said. “Ninety percent of the time, it was an urgent matter.”

Farro said that his supervisors removed Cohen as his client in 2017, as the details about the transactions in question “went public.”

“They didn’t want me to have communication with the client any longer,” Farro said.

Apr 30, 10:31 AM
Banker says Daniels payment could have prompted review

Prosecutor Becky Mangold concluded her direct examination of banker Gary Farro by asking if First Republic Bank would have still permitted the wire transfer to Stormy Daniels if Michael Cohen disclosed the money was going to an adult film actress.

“There would definitely have been enhanced due diligence on that,” Farro said, adding that the due diligence would have delayed the payment.

“We might consider that a reputational risk,” Farro added.

After prosecutors completed their direct examination of Gary Farro, defense attorney Todd Blanche began his cross-examination.

Apr 30, 10:21 AM
Banker details Michael Cohen’s $130K payment to Stormy Daniels

Michael Cohen’s former banker, Gary Farro, returned to the stand, where he was asked by prosecutor Becky Mangold about Cohen’s frantic effort to create a bank account for a new company he created called Essential Consultants LLC on October 26, 2016.

Referring to Stormy Daniels, Farro told jurors that Cohen did not disclose the account would be used to send money to an adult film actress, adding that his bank, First Republic, avoided financing the adult-entertainment sector.

Farro said that Cohen added $131,000 to an account for Essential Consultants LLC using a home equity line of credit.

Apr 30, 10:04 AM
Judge warns Trump could be jailed for further violations

In the paper order explaining his ruling holding Trump in contempt for his violations of the case’s limited gag order, Judge Merchan warned Trump that he could be locked up if he continues to willfully violate the order.

“Defendant is hereby warned that the Court will not tolerate continued willful violations of its lawful orders and that if necessary and appropriate under the circumstances, it will impose an incarceratory punishment,” Merchan wrote in his order.

Merchan wrote that Trump has until 2:15 p.m. ET today to remove posts violating the order from his social media account and campaign website. Trump has until close of business on Friday to submit the $9,000 penalty Merchan levied against him.

Apr 30, 10:00 AM
Judge orders Trump to pay gag order fine by Friday

After Judge Merchan fined Trump a total of $9,000 for nine violations of the case’s limited gag order, Trump was ordered to pay the fine by the close of business this Friday.

Merchan also ordered Trump to remove the posts from his Truth Social account and campaign website by 2:15 p.m. today.

Before resuming Gary Farro’s direct examination, Judge Merchan also informed the parties that Trump will be able to attend his son Barron’s high school graduation in May, as Trump had requested.

“I don’t think the May 17 date is the problem, so Mr. Trump can certainly attend that day, attend his son’s graduation,” Merchan said.

Apr 30, 9:49 AM
Judge fines Trump $9,000 for violating limited gag order

Judge Juan Merchan has ruled that Donald Trump repeatedly violated the limited gag order imposed by the court.

The judge found that prosecutors “met their burden” to show several contempt motions.

Trump will be fined $1,000 for each of the nine violations, Merchan said, and will be ordered to pay a total of $9,000.

Apr 30, 9:31 AM
Trump enters courtroom with son Eric

Former President Trump has entered the courtroom with his son Eric Trump.

Eric Trump frequently attended last year’s New York civil fraud trial, but today marks his first time attending his father’s criminal hush money trial.

Trump’s campaign staff and advisers have attended the criminal trial over the last two weeks, but Eric Trump is the only Trump family member to attend the proceedings.

Susie Wiles, Trump’s top campaign adviser who is helping lead his presidential campaign, is also in the courtroom with him, marking the first time she has been spotted in court.

Apr 30, 9:26 AM
Prosecutors have arrived

Prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office have entered the courtroom.

Prosecutors Joshua Steinglass, Becky Mangold, and Matthew Colangelo are seated at counsel table.

Former President Trump and his counsel are on their way in.

Apr 30, 8:15 AM
Michael Cohen’s banker testified Friday about Cohen’s LLCs

On his first day on the stand Friday, banker Gary Farro told jurors that he was assigned to work with Michael Cohen in 2015 after one of Farro’s colleagues left First Republic Bank, and that in October 2016 Cohen frantically attempted to open an account for a new business called Resolution Consultants LLC.

Prosecutors allege that Cohen intended to use that account to transfer $125,000 to National Enquirer parent AMI for the rights to Playboy playmate Karen McDougal’s story about an alleged affair with Trump, but the deal fell through after publisher David Pecker consulted with his attorneys.

“I am not going forward. It is a bad idea, and I want you to rip up the agreement,” Pecker recounted telling Cohen. “He was very, very, angry. Very upset. Screaming, basically, at me.”

Ultimately, Farro said the account for Resolution Consultants LLC was never funded or opened by Cohen; prosecutors allege the account was abandoned along with the deal to reimburse AMI for the McDougal story. Then, said Farro, Cohen sought him out in October 2016 to open a new account for a company called Essential Consultants LLC, which Farro said Cohen described as a real estate consulting company “to collect fees for investment consulting work [Cohen] does for real estate deals.”

According to prosecutors, the day after the account was created, Cohen used it to wire $130,000 to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence ahead of the 2016 election.

Apr 30, 7:35 AM
Michael Cohen’s banker to return to the stand

After a week of testimony from longtime National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, former President Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial is scheduled to resume this morning with the direct examination of Gary Farro, the one-time banker for former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

Farro, a former managing director at First Republic Bank, began his testimony on Friday by outlining some of the documents used to allegedly create the shell companies formed by Cohen that are related to two hush-money payments at the center of the case.

Prosecutors have called Farro to authenticate records they hope will prove that Trump falsified business records to hide the reimbursement of Cohen’s hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

“Read the documents, the emails, the text messages, the bank statements, the handwritten notes, all of it,” prosecutor Matthew Colangelo asked jurors last week. “It inescapably leads to only one conclusion: Donald Trump is guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree.”

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