New York jurors can hear about 2015 meeting at Trump Tower

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Former President Donald Trump mingles with supporters in Clinton, Iowa.
AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

  • The first of Trump’s four felony criminal trials is on track to begin in mid-April.
  • In a defeat for Trump, the judge ruled Monday that jurors can hear about a 2015 Trump Tower meeting.
  • At the meeting, Trump met with Michael Cohen and a National Enquirer executive to negotiate his silence.

In a blow to former President Donald Trump’s prospects in his upcoming felony trial in ManhattanThe judge ruled Monday that jurors can hear about a meeting at Trump Tower where prosecutors say Trump was physically present while the money was being discussed to maintain silence.

News of the August 2015 meeting and Trump’s involvement was first revealed in November 2018. by The Wall Street Journal.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan alleged the meeting was evidence of criminal intent surrounding campaign finance regulations. CNN reported.

Trump’s side had fought to exclude any mention of the issue from silence in the trial, which is scheduled to begin in mid-April.

In even more bad news for Trump, the judge also ruled Monday that two women who alleged they had sexual encounters with Trump — adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal — can testify at the trial.

So can Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, who in 2018 pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations for making the payment to Daniels to maintain his silence, on behalf of Trump, he alleged.

Trump’s lawyers had fought to exclude the three from the trial.

Trump has denied having a sexual relationship with Daniels or McDougal.

The Trump Tower meeting was attended by Trump, Cohen and David Pecker, then president of American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, according to Monday’s ruling by state Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, the presiding judge. meeting. rehearsal.

State prosecutors allege Trump falsified business records to hide an illegal $130,000 payment he kept quiet daniels just 11 days before winning the presidency. The meeting at Trump Tower is key to understanding this accusation, Merchan wrote.

The meeting is “inextricably interwoven with the narrative of events, that is, the steps that ultimately led to the purchase of information from, among others, Daniels,” the judge wrote.

Merchan’s decision is significant. Testimony and evidence directly linking the former president to strategy sessions regarding money payments to Daniels and other Trump accusers will make it more difficult for the defense to minimize his involvement in the payments.

Trump’s lawyers have said he relied on legal advice and had no intention of violating campaign finance laws, as prosecutors allege.

The ruling is also significant because it expands the boundaries of the testimony of Cohen and Pecker, two former Trump confidants who are now about to do serious damage as prosecution witnesses.

Under Monday’s ruling, both can now take the stand to present their first-hand accounts of how the National Enquirer tried to put its thumb on the scale to help Trump in the 2016 election.

Prosecutors allege that the 2015 meeting at Trump Tower involved discussions about how the supermarket tabloid could publish flattering stories about Trump and negative stories about his opponents, the judge wrote.

“The Court grants the people’s motion regarding the introduction of evidence surrounding the meeting at Trump Tower,” he wrote.

“The high probative value of this evidence is not outweighed by any potential undue prejudice to the defendant,” the judge continued.

“As such, the evidence the People seek to present regarding this meeting is admissible so long as it establishes an adequate basis and meets evidentiary standards.”

The judge wrote that he reserved a decision on “the aspect of the Trump Tower meeting involving allegations that AMI sought to publish flattering stories about the defendant while seeking to publish disparaging stories about his opponents.”

Prosecutors will have to show that such evidence of “flattering stories” has probative value that outweighs its prejudicial effect, the judge wrote.

Additionally, in Monday’s ruling, the judge rejected Trump’s request that prosecutors not mention Trump’s role in influencing the 2016 election or the National Enquirer reporting. “catch and kill” practices.

Jurors will not see the “Access Hollywood” tape, but prosecutors can reference the tape and its alleged role in motivating Trump to buy Daniels’ silence, the judge also ruled.

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