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Trump Accused Of Staging Criminal Scheme To Corrupt Presidential Election

During the first criminal trial of a former president, prosecutor Matthew Colangelo asserted to the jury that Donald Trump had “orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt” the 2016 presidential election. Opening statements began with Colangelo detailing a conspiracy involving Trump, his lawyer Michael Cohen, and David Pecker, then-publisher of the National Enquirer.

Colangelo accused Trump of repeatedly falsifying his New York business records to cover up this conspiracy. As the trial progressed, David Pecker, a key witness for the prosecution and a former ally of Trump, was the first to testify. Observers noted Trump’s keen interest when Pecker took the stand, suggesting a tense anticipation of what Pecker might reveal.

Trump’s defense attorney, Todd Blanche, argued that Trump was not guilty, contending that no crime had been committed. Meanwhile, the prosecution described a 2015 meeting at Trump Tower, asserting that Cohen and Pecker played specific roles in the alleged scheme to protect Trump’s campaign from damaging stories. Pecker was described as someone who kept the candidate informed about potential threats to his image, while Cohen handled the direct mitigation of these problems.

The trial also delves into accusations from Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who claimed she had a long-term affair with Trump, which he denies. The prosecution alleges that Pecker’s company, AMI, paid her $150,000 as part of a “catch and kill” strategy to prevent her from going public with her story.

Adding to Trump’s troubles was the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape by the Washington Post in October 2016, in which Trump made controversial comments about women. Although the judge prohibited the playing of the tape in court to avoid bias, its contents were still presented via a transcript. Prosecutor Colangelo highlighted the severe impact of the tape, claiming it forced Trump’s campaign into “immediate damage control mode,” fearing significant backlash from female voters.

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