Key quotes from Trump’s criminal hush money trial

Opening statements kicked off on Monday in the criminal hush money trial of Donald Trump and the first prosecution witness, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, took the stand.

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty to falsifying business records to cover up a hush money payment made by Mr Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election.

Here are some key quotes from the proceedings:

“This case is about a conspiracy and a cover-up, an illegal conspiracy to undermine the integrity of a presidential election, and then the steps that Donald Trump took to conceal that illegal election fraud,” prosecutor Matthew Colangelo told the jury during his opening statement.

“No politician wants bad press, but the evidence at trial will show that this was not spin or communications strategy. This was a planned, coordinated, long-running conspiracy to influence the 2016 election, to help Donald Trump get elected through illegal expenditures to silence people who had something bad to say about his behavior,” Mr Colangelo said. “It was election fraud, pure and simple.”

“The defendant disguised his reimbursements to Michael Cohen through 11 falsified invoices, 12 falsified ledger entries, and 11 falsified checks,” Mr Colangelo said.

Mr Colangelo also described an alleged scheme to “catch and kill” Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story of a months-long affair she says she had with Mr Trump, which is not a formal part of the indictment.

“The evidence will show that the defendant desperately did not want this info about Karen McDougal to become public because he was worried about its impact on the election,” Mr Colangelo said.

Mr Trump has denied the affair.

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche countered that Mr Trump, whom he referred to as president Trump, is innocent.

“President Trump did not commit any crimes. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office should never have brought this case,” Trump lawyer Todd Blanche told the jury during his opening statement.

“There’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election. It’s called democracy. They put something sinister on this idea, as if it’s a crime,” Mr Blanche said.

Mr Blanche said that despite Mr Trump’s celebrity and stature as a former president, he is also a husband and father.

“He is in some ways larger than life, but he’s also here in this courtroom doing what any of us would do: defending himself,” Mr Blanche said.

“President Trump fought back like he always does and like he’s entitled to do to protect his family, his reputation and his brand – and that is not a crime,” Mr Blanche told the jury.

Mr Blanche asserted that Stormy Daniels is lying about the former president for financial gain.

“She saw her chance to make a lot of money, and it worked,” Mr Blanche said, referring to the hush money payout.

He also said Mr Cohen was not trustworthy.

-“He has a goal – an obsession – with getting Trump,” Mr Blanche said of Mr Cohen, adding that he had lied under oath during previous testimony in other cases. “I submit to you that he cannot be trusted.”

David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer and the first prosecution witness to take the stand said he had the final say over publishing decisions.

“Yes. I had the final say on the celebrity side of the magazine industry, at least on the tabloid side. We used checkbook journalism and we paid for stories,” he said.


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