Five takeaways from the tenth day of Donald Trump's New York hush money trial | Donald Trump news

Former US President Donald Trump has returned to New York City after a day of campaigning as trial resumes in the historic criminal case against him.

Thursday marked the tenth day of the trial at the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, where Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records during the 2016 presidential campaign.

These recordings allegedly relate to a hush money payment he allegedly made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to buy her silence.

Daniels has claimed that she and Trump had an affair, although the former president has denied any sexual relationship between them. He has also denied wrongdoing in the face of the criminal charges.

But prosecutors hope to prove that Trump intentionally tried to cover up stories like Daniels' in order to influence the outcome of the 2016 vote, which he ultimately won.

Each week the trial takes a break on Wednesday, and Trump used his day off to campaign in the battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan as he seeks re-election in November.

But even there, far from New York, Trump was apparently preoccupied with the process. “There is no crime. I have a corrupt judge. “He is a completely contradictory judge,” Trump told his supporters at the hearing in Wisconsin.

But the former president's tendency to speak out on issues related to the trial was a centerpiece of Thursday's proceedings, as Judge Juan Merchan began the day by asking whether Trump had violated his court-imposed confidentiality agreement.

Here are five takeaways from the day, including new testimony:

Former President Donald Trump used his day out of court to campaign in Freeland, Michigan, and Waukesha, Wisconsin [Paul Sancya/AP Photo]

Prosecutors are demanding more fines against Trump

Before the midweek break, the prosecution had scored a major coup in this case: Judge Merchan agreed to fine Trump $9,000 for violating a judge's silence order with his comments.

The order requires Trump to avoid statements about witnesses, jurors, court staff or other trial participants that could intimidate them or otherwise interfere with the case.

However, prosecutors indicated they needed to examine other potential violations of the gag order, and Thursday's retrial in court began with those allegations.

Four examples were presented to the court. One about National Enquirer editor David Pecker was quickly brushed aside by Judge Merchan.

But Merchan had a heated exchange with Trump's defense team over another comment he made about the composition of the jury. On April 22, Trump told a right-wing television station that the jury was “95 percent Democrats.”

“It’s a very unfair situation, I can tell you that,” he said.

While Trump's defense argued that the televised comment was protected speech, Judge Merchan expressed skepticism.

“He was talking about the jury, right?” Merchan said, speaking directly to attorney Todd Blanche. “He said the jury was 95 percent Democrats and the jury was rushed, implying that this was not a fair jury.”

Prosecutors also asked the judge to review comments Trump made in the courtroom hallway in which he questioned the credibility of key witnesses such as his former lawyer Michael Cohen.

“The defendant in this case is talking about witnesses and the jury, one right here in front of this door,” prosecutor Christopher Conroy told the judge. “This is the most critical time – the time when the process needs to be protected.”

As of late Thursday, no decision had been made on whether the four comments violated the gag order.

Donald Trump, dressed in a blue suit and yellow tie, waves as he enters a vehicle.
Former President Donald Trump waves after visiting a Manhattan fire station on May 2 following his court appearance [Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo]

Davidson returns to complete his statement

After discussion of the gag order concluded for the day, the trial turned its attention to Keith Davidson, a lawyer who previously represented Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom claim to have had affairs with Trump.

Davidson returned for his second day of testimony as prosecutors pressed him for details about alleged “catch-and-kill” measures to suppress negative coverage of Trump during the 2016 presidential election.

Part of his duties as McDougal and Daniels' attorney included selling the rights to their stories to publications. Davidson previously said he reached out to the National Enquirer tabloid, only to be directed to Trump's then-personal attorney Cohen.

In the courtroom Thursday, prosecutors showed text messages that Davidson exchanged with a National Enquirer editor on the night of the 2016 election. “What did we do?” Davidson wrote in one.

“It’s a kind of gallows humor,” Davidson said, referring to the lyrics. He added: “There was a consensus that our efforts may have in some way – it appears – our activities may have in some way supported Donald Trump's presidential campaign.”

But the defense team tried to paint Davidson as an unreliable witness whose job was to spread celebrity gossip — and extort hefty paychecks.

“You were pretty adept at going straight to the line without blackmail, weren't you?” Trump attorney Emil Bove asked Davidson, who replied, “I had familiarized myself with the law.”

A new witness takes the stand

The second witness to testify Thursday was a forensic analyst for the prosecution, Douglas Daus.

He was there to describe the contents of two cellphones that Cohen, the former Trump lawyer, had turned over to law enforcement.

Daus revealed that one of the phones contained 39,745 contacts – an “unusual” amount, he told the court.

“I’ve never seen so many contacts on one phone,” he said.

But Daus took the witness stand primarily to authenticate the secret recordings Cohen made on his phone that captured his interactions with his then-client Trump.

Prosecutors played excerpts from those recordings to the court on Thursday, including a segment in which Trump and Cohen appeared to discuss the hush money payments.

“I need to set up a company to transmit all this information about our friend David,” Cohen was recorded saying, referring to David Pecker, publisher of the National Enquirer.

Meanwhile, Trump was heard saying: “What do we have to pay for this? Five-five?”

The two men then discuss the best way to pay the amount: whether in cash or by check.

Judge rejects request to review Trump posts

In the middle of Thursday's proceedings, one of Trump's lawyers, Susan Necheles, asked Judge Merchan to review articles the former president planned to repost on social media.

Necheles referred to the confidentiality requirement that prevents Trump from commenting on certain aspects of the trial. She said the order creates ambiguity about what Trump can and cannot post on his Truth Social account.

However, Judge Merchan did not seem to accept the argument. “There is, I believe, no ambiguity in the order,” he replied, denying Necheles' request to approve various items in advance.

“When in doubt, stay away from it,” Merchan advised.

Donald Trump walks with two boxes of pizza in his hand and his mouth slightly open.
Former President Donald Trump greets firefighters with two boxes of pizza after his court appearance on May 2 [Yuki Iwamura/AP Photo]

Trump addresses reports that he is sleeping in court

Trump continued to be outspoken about the trial, saying at the end of the day he was “very happy with how things turned out.”

But on his Truth Social account, he vented his frustration with the legal proceedings, repeating previous accusations that the proceedings were a means to destroy his re-election prospects.

“These are all Crooked Joe Biden trials,” he wrote in one post, referring to his likely Democratic opponent in the November vote. “ELECTION INTERFERENCE!!!”

In another post, he took aim at both the district attorney who filed the case and media reports that he fell asleep during the day-long trial.

“Unlike the FAKE NEWS MEDIA, I am not falling asleep during the Crooked DA’s witch hunt, especially not today,” he wrote. “Sometimes I just close my beautiful blue eyes, listen carefully and take it all in!!!”

Multiple news outlets have reported that during the trial, Trump was seen closing his eyes and bowing his head, with his mouth sometimes slightly open for several minutes.

Anna Harden

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