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Fabien Deglise

Published at 0:00 Analysis

  • United States

Did Donald Trump order the falsification of accounting documents in order to conceal the payment of a bribe intended to buy the silence of a former adulterous relationship ? And this, in order not to harm his 2016 campaign ?

These are the questions that the jury made up of 12 ordinary citizens will have to answer in the coming days, at the end of the highly publicized trial of the ex-president and Republican candidate for the next presidential election, a trial which is entering its home stretch this week.

After the hearing of 22 witnesses, including Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, the ex-porn star at the center of the affair, and Michael Cohen, the ex-lawyer and Trump henchman who managed the transaction , to which are added a tabloid editor and several relatives of the ex-president in the White House, the fate of Donald Trump will therefore be placed in the hands of a jury which, unanimously, will have to decide of his guilt. Or his not guilty. A delicate exercise of justice which must be nourished by the revelations made during the last four weeks of this historic trial.

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What did the main witnesses say ?

Key player in this trial, Michael Cohen compromised Donald Trump during the four days he spent in the witness box. Among other things, he assured under oath that the ex-president was the order giver and conductor of the financial transactions aimed at silencing Ms. Clifford and buying the silence of the ex-model of < i>Playboy Karen McDougal on an alleged relationship she had with the populist.

The former right-hand man of Trump said he was invited by the accused to meet Allen Weisselberg, the financial guardian of the Trump Organization, to iron out the final details of the transactions, but he ultimately borrowed money from the bank to pay the sum of $130,000 to the ex-porn actress. The discussion of the repayment plan would have taken place at the White House in February 2017, he said.

Under cross-examination, the defense sought tirelessly to discredit his testimony – the only one to attest that Trump did indeed take part directly in the planning of these bribe payments. The jury's level of confidence in Mr. Cohen could tip the verdict one way or the other.

Another notable appearance at the Manhattan court: that of Stephanie Clifford, who came to recount under oath the sexual relationship that the Republican tirelessly sought to make disappear from the public space. It happened in 2006 in Nevada, on the sidelines of a celebrity golf tournament where the former adult film actress saw an opportunity to redirect her career by finding her place on the reality TV show by Trump, The Apprentice. She said that after being invited to Trump's room for dinner, she was surprised to see him come out of the bathroom in his underwear. “I felt the room slow down. I felt the blood drain from my hands and feet,” she testified. “I just said to myself: 'Oh, my God, what have I read wrong to get there?'” The rest was done without constraint, but without conviction, he said. she clarified.

This story, like many others, was one of the potentially harmful stories for Donald Trump's campaign that David Pecker, friend of the ex-president and editor of the National Enquirer, had undertaken to monitor, to intercept and make them disappear, becoming “the eyes and ears” of the Republican's campaign, he said during his testimony. He explained the technique known as “ catch and kill“, which consists of buying the exclusivity of the publication of a compromising story for never make it public and thus protect the great people of this world who could be splashed by embarrassing revelations.

“As soon as rumors spread about Mr. Trump or about his family — or negative stories of any kind that were coming out or that I was hearing — I would call Michael Cohen directly,” he said.

This climate of concern was also confirmed by Hope Hicks, former Trump campaign manager and former White House communications director, who recounted the excitement in the populist camp which followed the unveiling of a 2016 recording in which the ex-president took pride in grabbing women “by the pussy.” After that, Trump allegedly asked Cohen to verify another rumor, about another potentially damaging recording, which ultimately did not turn out to be accurate.

What verdict for the ex-president ?

It is difficult to know how the jury will analyze the facts and documents which were presented to him in recent weeks.

Last week, however, former FBI Director James Comey gave his analysis of the trial, saying on NewsNation that the criminal case targeting Donald Trump ultimately seemed “much stronger than [he] imagined.” “. “There is an overwhelming risk of a conviction and no chance of an acquittal” for Donald Trump, the first ex-president to face a criminal trial in the United States, Mr. Comey said, while raising a slim possibility that the jury cannot reach unanimity on the verdict.

On Monday, Michael Cohen's ex-lawyer Lanny Davis, who advised him in 2019 to admit to having lied and to come to light about his participation in the bribery scheme involving the ex-president, said his part assured that a conviction of Trump could be pronounced without even taking into account Cohen's testimony. “The [other] testimonies and documents speak for themselves,” he said on MSNBC. “Donald Trump supporters and loyalists, like David Pecker and Hope Hicks, have admitted that Donald Trump ordered Michael Cohen to give the money to Stormy Daniels to silence her before the election. »

The jury could begin deliberations as early as Wednesday, the day after closing arguments scheduled for Tuesday, and after Judge Juan Merchan provides his recommendations and guidelines to this group of citizens who are preparing to make history by setting the final point of this trial in the coming days.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116