Five takeaways from day 10 of Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial (2024)

Former United States President Donald Trump has returned to New York City after a day of campaigning, as court proceedings resumed in the historic criminal trial against him.

On Thursday, the 10th day of the trial unfolded in the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, where Trump stands accused of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the midst of the 2016 presidential race.

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Those records allegedly pertain to a hush money payment he is accused of making to the adult film star Stormy Daniels, in order to buy her silence.

Daniels has claimed she and Trump had an affair, though the former president has denied any sexual liaison between them. He has also denied wrongdoing in the face of the criminal indictment.

Prosecutors, however, hope to prove that Trump intentionally sought to bury stories like Daniels’s to influence the outcome of the 2016 vote, which he ultimately won.

Each week, the trial takes a pause on Wednesday, and Trump used his day off to campaign in the critical battleground states of Wisconsin and Michigan, as he seeks reelectionthis November.

But even there, far from New York, the trial was evidently on Trump’s mind. “There is no crime. I have a crooked judge. He’s a totally conflicted judge,” Trump told his supporters at the Wisconsin stop.

The former president’s tendency to speak out about matters pertaining to the trial, however, was a centrepiece of Thursday’s proceedings, as Judge Juan Merchan began the day with questions about whether Trump had violated his court-imposed gag order.

Here are five takeaways from the day’s proceedings, including new witness testimony:

Five takeaways from day 10 of Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial (1)

Prosecutors seek further Trump fines

Before the midweek break, the prosecution in the case had scored a major coup: Judge Merchan agreed to fine Trump $9,000 for statements he made violating a court-imposed gag order.

The order requires Trump to avoid making statements about witnesses, jurors, court staff or other trial participants that might intimidate them or otherwise interfere with the case.

But the prosecution indicated it had further potential violations of the gag order to review, and Thursday’s return to court opened with those allegations.

Four examples were presented to the court. One, about National Enquirer editor David Pecker, was quickly brushed aside by Judge Merchan.

But Merchan had a heated exchange with Trump’s defence team over a different comment he made about the composition of the jury. On April 22, Trump told a right-wing TV network that the jury was “95 percent Democrats”.

“It’s a very unfair situation, that I can tell you,” he said.

While Trump’s defence argued the televised comment was protected speech, Judge Merchan expressed scepticism.

“He spoke about the jury, right?” Merchan said, speaking directly to lawyer Todd Blanche. “He said the jury was 95 percent Democrats and the jury had been rushed through and the implication being that this is not a fair jury.”

The prosecution also asked the judge to review remarks Trump made in the hallway outside the courtroom itself, questioning the credibility of key witnesses like his former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

“The defendant is talking about witnesses and the jury in this case, one right here outside this door,” prosecutor Christopher Conroy told the judge. “This is the most critical time — the time the proceeding has to be protected.”

No decision was rendered about whether the four comments violated the gag order by the end of Thursday.

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Davidson returns for conclusion of his testimony

Once discussion of the gag order concluded for the day, the trial turned its attention to Keith Davidson, a lawyer who previously represented Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom claim to have had affairs with Trump.

Davidson returned for his second day of testimony, as prosecutors pressed him for details about alleged “catch-and-kill” schemes to suppress negative coverage of Trump during the 2016 presidential race.

Part of his job as McDougal’s and Daniels’s lawyer was to sell the rights to their stories to publications. Davidson previously explained that he reached out to the National Enquirer tabloid, only to find himself redirected to Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, Cohen.

In the courtroom on Thursday, prosecutors displayed text messages Davidson exchanged with a National Enquirer editor on the night of the 2016 election. “What have we done?” Davidson wrote in one.

“This is sort of gallows humour,” Davidson said, referring to the text. He added: “There was an understanding that our efforts may have in some way — strike that — our activities may have in some way assisted the presidential campaign of Donald Trump.”

But the defence team sought to portray Davidson as an unreliable witness whose business was to peddle in celebrity gossip — and extract hefty paycheques.

“You were pretty well versed in coming right up to the line without committing extortion, right?” Trump lawyer Emil Bove asked Davidson, who replied: “I had familiarised myself with the law.”

A new witness takes the stand

The second witness to testify on Thursday was a forensic analyst for the district attorney’s office, Douglas Daus.

He was there to describe the contents of two cellphones that Cohen, the former Trump lawyer, surrendered to law enforcement.

Daus revealed that one of the phones contained 39,745 contacts — an “unusual” amount, he told the court.

“I have not seen that many contacts on a phone,” he said.

But Daus took the witness stand primarily to authenticate surreptitious recordings Cohen made on his phone, capturing his interactions with his then-client Trump.

The prosecution played excerpts from those recordings to the court on Thursday, including a segment where Trump and Cohen appeared to be discussing the hush money payments.

“I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David,” Cohen was recorded saying, referencing David Pecker, publisher of the National Enquirer.

Trump, meanwhile, was heard to say, “What do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?”

The two men proceed to discuss how best to pay the sum: whether in cash or cheque.

Judge shoots down request to review Trump posts

In the midst of Thursday’s proceedings, one of Trump’s lawyers, Susan Necheles, made a request to Judge Merchan to review articles the former president planned to repost on social media.

Necheles referenced the gag order, which bars Trump from speaking out on certain aspects of the trial. She said the order created ambiguity around what Trump could or could not post on his Truth Social account.

Judge Merchan, however, did not appear to buy the argument. There “is no ambiguity, I believe, in the order”, he replied, rejecting Necheles’s request that he approve various articles in advance.

“When in doubt, steer clear,” Merchan advised.

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Trump addresses reports he sleeps in court

Trump remained outspoken about the trial, saying at the end of the day that he was “very happy about the way things are going”.

But on his Truth Social account, he vented his frustrations with the court proceedings, revisiting past accusations that the trial was a means of derailing his reelection prospects.

“These are all Crooked Joe Biden Trials,” he wrote in one post, referencing his likely Democratic opponent in the November vote. “ELECTION INTERFERENCE!!!”

In another post, he took aim both at the district attorney who brought the case and media reports that suggested he falls asleep during the day-long proceedings.

“Contrary to the FAKE NEWS MEDIA, I don’t fall asleep during the Crooked D.A.’s Witch Hunt, especially not today,” he wrote. “I simply close my beautiful blue eyes, sometimes, listen intensely, and take it ALL in!!!”

Multiple news outlets have reported that Trump was seen to close his eyes and bow his head during the trial, sometimes with his mouth falling slightly ajar for several minutes.

Five takeaways from day 10 of Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial (2024)
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