Donald Trump
SCOTUS hears arguments on whether Donald Trump is immune from prosecution after leaving office for "official acts" while he was president. AFP

Donald Trump's historic criminal trial resumes on Tuesday with testimony from a former executive of the bank used to make a hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Trump is the first US former president to face criminal charges, and his required attendance in court is limiting the 77-year-old's time on the campaign trail less than seven months before his likely election rematch with President Joe Biden.

The Republican is accused of falsifying business records to reimburse his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, for the $130,000 funneled to Daniels just days ahead of the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton.

Daniels, 45, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, was threatening at the time to go public with her story about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump that could have potentially derailed his White House campaign.

Trump denies having sex with Daniels and has used appearances outside the Manhattan courtroom to rail against his indictment, claiming it is a "witch hunt" brought by Democrats to torpedo the ex-president's bid to recapture the White House in November.

Gary Farro, a former senior managing director of the now defunct First Republic Bank, was briefly on the witness stand Friday when court was adjourned until Tuesday.

Cohen, Trump's "fixer," set up an account at First Republic in the name of a company called Essential Consultants to arrange for the payment to Daniels.

Cohen, who has become a vocal Trump critic, and Daniels are expected to be star prosecution witnesses during the trial.

Trump has said he plans to testify but it is not clear whether his lawyers will actually put him on the witness stand.

Presiding Judge Juan Merchan is to hold a hearing Thursday on whether Trump violated terms of a gag order prohibiting him from attacking witnesses, jurors, court staff or their relatives.

Prosecutors have asked the judge to impose a $1,000 fine for each of what they allege have been multiple violations of the gag order by Trump.

The opening of the trial was dominated last week by four days of testimony by a former tabloid publisher who said he suppressed potentially damaging stories about Trump.

David Pecker, 72, outlined a scheme known as "catch and kill," which involved buying and then burying salacious stories that could have been embarrassing to the real estate tycoon and harmed his campaign.

The former National Enquirer publisher was not personally involved in the payment to Daniels, but prosecutors used his testimony to demonstrate that "catch and kill" was commonly used by Trump and Cohen.

Pecker told the court he paid $30,000 to kill a story from a Trump Tower doorman peddling an apparently false claim that Trump had fathered a child out of wedlock with a maid.

He said $150,000 was paid to squash a story from Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who claimed to have had a year-long affair with Trump.

The case, heard by 12 jurors and six alternates, is expected to last between six and eight weeks.

In addition, Trump has been indicted in Washington and Georgia on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election won by Democrat Joe Biden.

He also faces charges in Florida of allegedly mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House.