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Day 1189

1/ On the fifth day of Trump’s election interference case involving falsified business records to conceal a hush money payment during the 2016 campaign, the prosecution and defense both delivered opening statements. Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo framed that case as “a planned, long-running conspiracy” – orchestrated by Trump – “to corrupt the 2016 presidential election,” and that Trump then “covered up that criminal conspiracy by lying in his New York business records over and over and over again.” Trump’s lawyer cast his actions – falsifying 34 business records in an attempt to cover up a payment to a porn star in the days before the 2016 election – as run-of-the-mill, saying: “There’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election; it’s called democracy.” Prosecutors called their first witness: David Pecker, the former National Enquirer publisher. In his initial testimony, Pecker described the tabloid’s use of “checkbook journalism” to pay for stories — a practice in the tabloid industry of suppressing a potentially damaging story by buying the rights to it. The first “catch-and-kill” deal, Pecker said, was a $30,000 payment to a Trump Tower doorman, who said he had heard Trump had fathered a child out of wedlock. The second payment – made three months before the 2016 election – was made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who was paid $150,000 for her story about an affair she had with Trump while he was married. And in the final deal – made one month before the election – Pecker and the Enquirer’s editor helped Michael Cohen negotiate a $130,000 hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels, the former porn star who also said she had sex with Trump. (Associated Press / New York Times / Washington Post / CNN / Politico / NPR / NBC News / Axios)

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