Donald Trump Fails to Block Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels From Testifying at Hush Money Trial

By Jace Dela Cruz

Mar 19, 2024 02:26 AM EDT

The attempt of former President Donald Trump to block testimony from Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels in his upcoming trial regarding hush money payments was unsuccessful.

Trump is facing 34 counts of falsifying business records in connection to the hush money payments to Daniels. Cohen, the former president's lawyer and "fixer," arranged the payment days leading up to the 2016 election to silence the porn star about a sexual encounter she said she had with Trump in 2006. 

VANDALIA, OHIO - MARCH 16: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Dayton International Airport on March 16, 2024 in Vandalia, Ohio. The rally was hosted by the Buckeye Values PAC.
(Photo : Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Donald Trump Loses Bid to Block Michael Cohen Testimony in Hush Money Trial

According to Reuters, Donald Trump's request to Justice Juan Merchan to block their testimony was denied on Monday. The former president had argued that Michael Cohen's history of lying made him an unreliable witness and that Stormy Daniels would exploit the trial for financial gain.

However, Merchan found no valid reason to exclude Cohen as a witness. The judge noted that he was not aware of any basis for Trump's "rationale that a prosecution witness should be kept off the witness stand because his credibility has been called into question," Reuters reported.

Initially set for March 25, the trial was postponed due to a dispute over evidence disclosure. A new date will be determined following a court hearing on March 25. 

Trump has denied the sexual encounter and pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide his reimbursement of Cohen for the payment to Daniels.

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Judge Also Denies Donald Trump's Request to Exclude Stormy Daniels' Testimony

The judge also denied Monday Donald Trump's appeal to prohibit the testimony from or any evidence on three people who were given hush money payments. 

These included Stormy Daniels, a doorman, and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said she had an affair with the former president. However, Trump has also denied it.

According to Reuters, Merchan said the evidence and testimony "surrounding these individuals is inextricably intertwined with the narrative of events and is necessary background for the jury." 

This trial is one of four criminal cases Trump faces, including allegations related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and mishandling government documents after his presidency.

Prosecutors argued that the payment to Daniels was part of a broader scheme with Michael Cohen to silence individuals with damaging information about Trump, labeled the "catch-and-kill" scheme. 

In a decision favoring Trump, Merchan ruled that while prosecutors could discuss the "Access Hollywood" tape wherein Trump commented about forcing himself on women, playing the tape for the jury could cause "undue prejudice" to the former president.

However, the judge left the possibility of reconsidering this ruling "should the Defense open the door," CNN reported.

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