At the Trump trial, story of a political “crisis” linked to his vulgar comments about women: News

At the Trump trial, story of a political “crisis” linked to his vulgar comments about women: News
At the Trump trial, story of a political “crisis” linked to his vulgar comments about women: News

The first ex-member of his bodyguard to testify at Donald Trump’s criminal trial, his former adviser Hope Hicks recounted on Friday how the revelations about his vulgar and outrageous remarks towards women had plunged his presidential campaign into “crisis ” in 2016.

“Very nervous” in her own words, even bursting into tears during her testimony, Hope Hicks, who was White House communications director from 2017 to 2018, described a candidate “very involved” in all aspects of his campaign , to whom she reported directly.

In this trial with enormous political stakes, the former President of the United States, who dreams of returning to the White House, is being prosecuted for 34 falsifications of accounting documents linked to a payment to avoid a sex scandal a few days before the won election on the wire against Hillary Clinton, in November 2016.

The sum, $130,000, was paid by Donald Trump’s lawyer and central figure in the affair, Michael Cohen, to a former pornographic film star, Stormy Daniels, to buy her silence about a sexual relationship she claims having had with the real estate mogul in 2006, when he was already married to his current wife, Melania. A relationship that Donald Trump denies.

Hope Hicks was part of Donald Trump’s inner circle during the campaign, speaking to him “every day.” As she recounts how she rose through the ranks, first within the holding company Trump Organization, “where everyone (…) reported to Mr. Trump”, then within the political team of the candidate, his former boss listens attentively.

She avoids meeting his eyes as much as possible. With “Mr. Trump”, as she calls him, they have no longer had contact since “summer-fall 2022”, she specifies.

– “It was going to hurt” –

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo questions him especially about an episode which precedes the payment to Stormy Daniels. A month before the election in 2016, the Washington Post broadcast a video where we hear Donald Trump bragging in crude terms about having offensive behavior with women, such as “grabbing them by the pussy”.

“I was worried, very worried,” she remembers, when the prosecution produces the email sent to her, on October 7, 2016, by the Washington Post journalist. And when she heard the extracts for the first time, “I was a little stunned (…) there was a consensus on the fact that it was going to hurt and that we were facing a crisis”, adds -She.

For the prosecution, this episode encouraged Donald Trump to do everything to avoid a new scandal before the November 2016 election, even if it meant buying the silence of Stormy Daniels.

On October 28, 2016, a confidentiality contract was signed with the former pornographic film star.

The $130,000 was paid by Michael Cohen, via a shell company. He was reimbursed in 2017 by the billionaire’s holding company, the Trump Organization, for expenses disguised as “legal fees”, hence the prosecution for falsification of accounting documents.

– “Break to repair” –

Hope Hicks painted an unflattering portrait of Michael Cohen, the prosecution’s key witness, who has yet to take the stand to say that he acted at the candidate’s request.

“He liked to call himself a ‘repairer’”, but first “he broke things in order to be able to repair”, she says. “I didn’t know Michael to be a charitable or selfless person,” she adds, of the idea that he could have made the payment to Stormy Daniels out of his own pocket.

As for Donald Trump, she describes him as worrying about the reaction of his wife, Melania, when the Wall Street Journal reported a first payment to buy the silence of a Playboy model, Karen McDougal.

In this case, the whole issue will be to determine what Donald Trump knew about the behind-the-scenes dealings with Stormy Daniels and the concealment of the payment.

Three years after leaving the White House in chaos, the Republican enters the campaign being indicted in four cases, including that before federal justice in Washington for accusations of illegal attempts to reverse the results of the presidential election won by Joe Biden in 2020.

But due to appeals and procedural questions, the trial in New York, of a smaller scale, could be the only one tried before the November 5 election.

If he were elected again, Donald Trump could, once inaugurated in January 2025, order the abandonment of the two federal proceedings against him, in Washington but also in Florida (southeast), where he is being prosecuted for allegedly managing casual access to classified documents after leaving the White House.

The debates in New York will resume on Monday.

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