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Trump paid hush money to porn star to protect brand, lawyer says

David Voreacos, Patricia Hurtado and Hadriana Lowenkron, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

NEW YORK — Prosecutors launched the hush money trial of Donald Trump by revealing new details Monday about how they seek to prove the former president corrupted the 2016 election to bury a sex scandal, while a defense lawyer countered the payment was meant only to protect his reputation.

The trial in lower Manhattan, the first of a former president, involves 34 felony counts alleging Trump falsified business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to stifle her claims of a sexual liaison. Prosecutors say he falsified records by claiming the reimbursements to his former attorney, Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels, were for legal fees.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo used his opening statement Monday to sketch out a criminal conspiracy involving Trump, Cohen and David Pecker, who ran the company that owned the National Enquirer and agreed to buy and bury negative news about the former president. The plot, he said, began in a May 2015 meeting in Trump Tower.

“The evidence will show this was not spin or strategy but a plan to influence the election to help Donald Trump get elected,” he said. “It was election fraud, pure and simple.”

The trial takes place as Trump, 77, seeks to return to the White House in a rematch with President Joe Biden. It’s one of four prosecutions hanging over the presumptive Republican nominee, who calls the case election interference and a witch hunt by Democrats.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche had a different spin on the events.


“Spoiler alert: there’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election,” Blanche said. “It’s called democracy.”

Trump’s reputation

He assailed the prosecution case and their witnesses. Daniels had threatened to go public with her account of having sex with Trump in 2006, which was “almost an attempt to extort” him, Blanche said. Cohen, the DA’s star witness, is “obsessed” with Trump and will lie to see him convicted, he said.

“It was sinister, it was an attempt to embarrass President Trump,” the defense lawyer said. Trump bought the silence of Daniels, he said, to protect “his family, his reputation and his brand.”


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