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Trump hush-money trial: 3 witnesses testify on Stormy Daniels, Michael Cohen

Former President Donald Trump returns to the courtroom after a break in his criminal trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Friday. Pool Photo by Jeenah Moon/UPI
1 of 3 | Former President Donald Trump returns to the courtroom after a break in his criminal trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Friday. Pool Photo by Jeenah Moon/UPI | License Photo

April 26 (UPI) -- Day four of the hush-money trial of Donald Trump has concluded after testimony from three witnesses, including former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker.

The day began with the defense's cross-examination of Pecker, followed by the prosecution calling Trump's longtime executive assistant Rhona Graff and attorney Michael Cohen's former banker Gary Farro to the stand.

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Farro was a senior managing director at First National Bank. He was assigned to work with Cohen during the time that Cohen allegedly arranged hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Much of Farro's early testimony centered on him explaining his dealings with Cohen. This included Cohen setting up a limited liability company with the bank. Farro said this account was never activated and within weeks Cohen informed him that he no longer wished to open it.

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Instead Cohen started another new account, again an LLC. This LLC. was called Essential Consultants. It allegedly was used to pay $130,000 in hush money to Daniels.

Graff worked for the Trump Organization for 34 years. She told prosecutor Joshua Steinglass that Trump is paying for her attorneys.

Graff said she believed the former president had Daniels' phone number because she was being cast for the NBC reality show The Celebrity Apprentice. That was also why she believed Daniels had visited Trump Tower.

Pecker testified Friday morning that he did not want to be involved in publishing the story about the former president's alleged affair with Daniels.

Prior to this he testified to the prosecution that he had met with Trump at Trump Tower in 2015 to discuss suppressing negative stories about him. On Friday he said his reluctance to be involved in the Daniels story was not related to any agreement made with Trump in 2015.

The former president was again in the courtroom on Friday.

The former publisher testified to purchasing and holding negative stories about Trump on Thursday.

Pecker was questioned Thursday about an alleged catch-and-kill scheme by the former president to bury stories of his extramarital affairs during his 2016 presidential campaign. Pecker said he purchased a story about an affair Trump allegedly had with a Playboy model to keep it from going public and harming his campaign.

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When asked by Steinglass if he purchased the story about the affair to influence the election, Pecker said "Yes." After the defense's cross-examination, Steinglass questioned Pecker about the story again. Pecker then elaborated on the purpose of purchasing it.

"[The] actual purpose was to acquire lifetime rights so it was not published by any other news organization," Pecker said.

Pecker also testified earlier this week that he published negative and "fake" stories about Trump's Republican primary opponents intended to harm their campaigns. Bove asked Pecker about the National Enquirer's practice of recycling stories like these from other outlets.

Pecker confirmed that this is true. He later added that American Media Inc., the National Enquirer's parent company, did not have an agreement to publish negative stories about Trump's Republican opponents until the Trump Tower meeting in 2015.

Trump is charged with 34 counts related to falsifying business records in an alleged attempt to hide hush money payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The Republican presidential candidate and presumptive nominee has complained throughout the trial that it is interfering with his ability to campaign. Trump has alleged that this and other cases against him are politically motivated.

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