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Hush money case resumes, Supreme Court hears immunity claim

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Former U.S. President Donald Trump waits for the start of proceedings in Manhattan criminal court on April 23, 2024.

Yuki Iwamura | Via Reuters

The New York criminal trial of Donald Trump is set to resume Thursday with more testimony from David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer and a key player in the former president’s alleged hush money scheme.

At the same time that Pecker is testifying, lawyers for Trump are set to argue before the Supreme Court that he cannot be prosecuted in a federal election interference case in Washington, D.C., because he was president at the time the alleged crimes took place.

The courtroom clash underscores the extent to which Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, is weighed down by his copious legal battles while campaigning to unseat President Joe Biden.

Trump is required to be in Manhattan Supreme Court for his criminal trial. Judge Juan Merchan denied Trump’s request to skip at least part of the trial day Thursday to attend the Supreme Court oral arguments.

The trial, which began in earnest Monday with opening statements, is expected to last six weeks.

Trump is charged with falsifying business records as part of a scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election by buying the silence of porn star Stormy Daniels, who says she had sex with Trump while he was married years earlier.

In his testimony Tuesday, Pecker detailed how he agreed to help Trump’s 2016 campaign by alerting the then-candidate of damaging information and working to keep it from the public. He described his involvement in a deal to pay a former Trump Tower doorman $30,000 for his story that Trump had fathered a child with his maid.

While he would conclude the story was untrue, Pecker said he bought the exclusive rights to the story in order to have it “removed from the market.”

“I made the decision to buy the story because of the potential embarrassment to the campaign and Mr. Trump,” he testified.

Pecker also said that he and his tabloid would “embellish” negative stories about Trump’s political rivals after being asked to do so by Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney at the time.

This is developing news. Check back for updates.

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