Donald Trump at Manhattan Courthouse
Donald Trump AFP

The prosecutors leading the hush money case against former President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he "orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt" the 2016 elections by hiding an alleged payment to former porn star Stormy Daniels.

"This case is about criminal conspiracy," said Matthew Collangelo, as Trump was conspiring with his then-lawyer Michael Cohen and David Pecker, then-published of the National Enquirer outlet.

Pecker was the prosecution's first witness. He did not get to his relationship with Trump as the court ended relatively early because a juror had an emergency dental appointment.

Pecker is alleged to have played a central role in burying claims from women who said they had affairs with Trump, namely by engaging in a practice known as catch and kill: that is, getting the exclusive on a story (whether through money or other means) but without the intention to ever run it.

Colangelo said that Cohen and Pecker had respective roles in the scheme, with the former being to "take care of problems for the defendant," and the latter being his "eyes and ears," letting Trump known about allegations that could hurt the campaign. "The defendant and his campaign were concerned that it would irrevocably damage him with female voters," the prosecutor said.

The businessman turned politician is facing 34 counts on criminal charges for falsifying business records. The prosecutor said the three conspired to hide "damaging information from the voting public," including payments to models and porn stars. Trump has denied all claims.

Trump's attorney, on his end, reiterated that his client hadn't committed any crimes. The story you just heard, you will learn, is not true," Blanche said. He added that the only thing Trump had done was signing checks for his lawyer's legal services.

"The invoice is processed, somebody at Trump Tower generated a check, the check was ultimately signed, and there was a record in the ledger," Blanche said. "He's the only signatory on his personal checking account, which is why he signed the check."

Regarding claims that he intended to influence the elections, Blanche said that he had a "spoiler alert: there's nothing wrong with trying to influence an election. It's called democracy."

The lawyer also said Daniels was "extremely biased" and tried to extort Trump (judge Juan Merchan ordered the word be stricken from the record) and her threats to go public were "sinister" and "damaging to him and damaging to his family."

Regarding Cohen, who broke with Trump and has been extremely critical of him ever since, Blanche said that "he's obsessed with President Trump, even to this day," He called Cohen a "convicted felon" and a "convicted liar," making reference to Cohen's guilty pleas in 2018, including saying he had committed crimes on Trump's behalf.

Tuesday's proceedings will also be cut short on Tuesday due to the Jewish Passover holiday.

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