Prosecutor in hush money trial says Donald Trump orchestrated criminal scheme

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo, who presented his statement in the hush money trial of former US President Donald Trump, said on Monday that the case is “about conspiracy of fraud”.

“The defendant, Donald Trump, orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election,” the prosecutor was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency. He was making his opening statement in the trial being held in a New York Court.

The case is related to the payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump faces charges of falsifying business records to conceal the payment.

It is the first-ever criminal trial of a former US president.

Trump, the Republican candidate who will be contesting against Democratic President Joe Biden in the presidential election in November, has pleaded not guilty.

In court, Colangelo said Trump covered up the conspiracy by lying “over and over and over again,” falsifying a total of 34 invoices, ledger entries and checks related to the payment.

He added that Trump’s statement in his business records that he was paying his then lawyer, Michael Cohen, was a lie.

“There was no retainer agreement, Cohen was not being paid for legal services,” Colangelo was quoted as saying by Reuters.

He told the court that the scheme began with an August 2015 meeting in Trump Tower between Trump, former publisher of tabloid newspaper the National Enquirer David Pecker and Michael Cohen, shortly after Trump announced his candidacy.

On the other hand, Trump’s lawyer said the former US President is innocent and did not commit any crimes.

He acknowledged that Michael Cohen paid Stormy Daniels for her silence but argued that the payment was not illegal.

“I have a spoiler alert: there’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election. It’s called democracy. They put something sinister on this idea, as if it’s a crime,” Blanche said.

Further, former CEO of American Media David Pecker was also sworn in as the first witness in the trial.

The case may be the only one of Trump’s four criminal prosecutions to go to trial before the November 5 election, said a report by Reuters. The agency, citing legal experts, said the current case is the least consequential of the Trump prosecutions.

A guilty verdict in this case would not bar him from taking office, but it could hurt his candidacy.

WHAT IS THE CASE?

Last year, the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Donald Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up a USD 130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels. The payment was made to Daniels by Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen during the 2016 campaign for her silence about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump a decade earlier.

Daniels said she had a sexual encounter with Donald Trump in 2006, a year after he married eventual first lady Melania.

Published By:

chingkheinganbi mayengbam

Published On:

Apr 22, 2024

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