Here are the witnesses expected at Trump’s hush money trial

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jun13,2024

NEW YORK — Former President Trump is set to come face-to-face with a lineup of witnesses in his first criminal trial that could include former White House aides, Trump Organization employees and multiple people allegedly paid hush money on his behalf. 

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) is looking to convince a New York jury that the former president criminally covered up hush money payments to conceal damaging information from voters during his 2016 campaign, which ultimately led to victory.

During the roughly six-week trial, Bragg’s team is expected to bring in key players in Trump’s orbit and those who knew about the hush money arrangement at the center of the case. 

Here’s a look at some of the potential trial witnesses, which the judge revealed this week.

‘Catch-and-kill’ scheme 

Michael Cohen 

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former fixer and personal lawyer, is expected to be a star witness for prosecutors. 

Cohen made the 2016 hush money payment at the center of the case, with Trump’s 34 counts of falsifying business records all connected to reimbursements made to Cohen following the payment. Trump has pleaded not guilty and has denied wrongdoing. He insists the records are truthful. 

Cohen had served as a loyal aide to the then-real estate mogul for roughly a decade. At one point, he even said he’d take a bullet for Trump. 

Things have since changed. Cohen turned against his former boss as federal authorities criminally investigated Cohen during Trump’s presidency. Cohen ultimately pleaded guilty on two separate occasions, including admitting that the hush money payment was an illegal campaign contribution. 

Cohen regularly rails against Trump on cable news, his podcast, his book, social media and elsewhere.  

It won’t be the first time Cohen testifies against Trump. Cohen testified during the former president’s civil fraud trial last year. 

Stormy Daniels 

Porn actress Stormy Daniels received the $130,000 payment from Cohen at the center of Trump’s case.  

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, claims she met Trump at a July 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. Daniels said she met Trump at his hotel room, where they had sex. Trump denies any sexual encounter with Daniels. 

As the Trump campaign was dealing with the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in the final weeks of the 2016 campaign, Cohen paid Daniels off to stay quiet about her story. 

Karen McDougal 

Former Playboy model Karen McDougal could also take the stand after Trump unsuccessfully tried to block her testimony. 

Like Daniels, McDougal says she was paid $150,000 during the 2016 campaign after similarly claiming she had an affair with Trump, which he also denies. 

Though Trump is not directly charged over that alleged payment, prosecutors have looked to portray the McDougal payment as part of a broader “catch-and-kill” scheme that violated state and federal law. 

David Pecker  

Two months after Trump famously descended a Trump Tower escalator to announce his 2016 presidential campaign, he and Cohen allegedly met with David Pecker, the then-CEO of American Media Inc. (AMI), which publishes the National Enquirer. 

At the August 2015 meeting, Pecker allegedly agreed to look for negative stories about Trump and alert Cohen before they were published. That agreement is what sparked the payments to Daniels, McDougal and a third individual, according to the indictment. 

Dylan Howard 

Dylan Howard served as the National Enquirer’s editor in chief at the time. 

He could take the stand during the trial to discuss his alleged conversations with Cohen and Pecker after learning about Daniels’s and McDougal’s salacious stories. 

White House, campaign aides 

Hope Hicks 

Hope Hicks, who served as Trump’s spokeswoman during his 2016 presidential campaign and then also worked in the White House, is a potential witness. Her possible testimony was first reported by The New York Times. 

Court documents indicate Hicks was on phone calls with Cohen and Trump as they worked to bury Daniels’s salacious story.  

Rhona Graff 

Prosecutors are expected to call to the stand longtime Trump assistant Rhona Graff, according to ABC News. 

For decades, Graff worked at the Trump Organization before helping handle Trump’s affairs once he arrived in the White House. 

Madeleine Westerhout 

Madeleine Westerhout served as Trump’s personal secretary in the White House during his first two years in office before becoming his director of Oval Office operations.  

Trump Organization employees 

Jeffrey McConney  

Ex-Trump Organization Controller Jeffrey McConney was allegedly involved in processing the reimbursements to Cohen for the hush payment to Daniels. 

After receiving invoices from Cohen, prosecutors say McConney passed them along for processing with instructions to falsely classify the payments as a legal retainer fee. 

McConney testified at Trump’s civil fraud trial late last year and broke down in tears on the stand. As part of that case, McConney was barred for life from serving in a financial management role at a New York company. 

Deborah Tarasoff 

Deborah Tarasoff, a former accounts payable supervisor at the Trump Organization, processed the invoices after receiving McConney’s instructions, according to the indictment.  

Alan Garten 

Alan Garten is the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer. 

Lawyers 

Keith Davidson 

Keith Davidson, who is referenced in the indictment, was Daniels’s attorney who negotiated the hush money deal with Cohen. 

Robert Costello 

Robert Costello, who is referenced in the indictment, is a former legal adviser to Cohen. Costello allegedly offered to set up a back channel between Trump and Cohen as federal prosecutors were criminally investigating Cohen in 2018.

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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2 thoughts on “Here are the witnesses expected at Trump’s hush money trial”
  1. It’s quite intriguing to see how key players in Trump’s circle are now turning against him. Michael Cohen’s testimony is anticipated to be crucial in unraveling the truth behind the hush money payments. Let’s see how this trial unfolds.

  2. In my opinion, it seems like Michael Cohen’s testimony could be crucial in the upcoming trial. It’s interesting to see how someone who once vowed loyalty is now becoming a key witness against their former boss.

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