Trump trial sees new witnesses to close out first week of testimony

Prosecutors in former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York called two new witnesses to the stand on Friday, rounding out the first week of testimony in the historic proceedings.

Rhona Graff served as Trump’s executive assistant and a senior executive at the Trump Organization for decades. Stationed outside Trump’s office in Trump Tower, she handled his phone calls and schedule, engaging with those coming and going from meetings. 

Testifying for less than an hour, she told the court that she maintained a list of Trump’s contacts, which included entries for Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels. Both women said they had sex with Trump and were paid for their silence before the 2016 election. Trump denies their allegations.

Graff also said she had a “vague recollection” of seeing Daniels “waiting in the reception area of the 26th floor” of Trump Tower.

After Graff’s testimony, prosecutors called a bank executive named Gary Farro, who worked at First Republic Bank. He testified that Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, was his client when Cohen wired $130,000 in “hush money” to Daniels’ attorney days before the election.

Their turns on the witness stand came after the conclusion of testimony by Donald Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer. Over the course of four days, Pecker detailed his involvement in a “catch and kill” scheme to acquire the rights to damaging stories about Trump and keep them from public view, saying he did so to help Trump’s campaign. 

Pecker testified about several meetings he said he had at Trump Tower, including a 2015 meeting where he said he agreed to be the “eyes and ears” of the Trump campaign. He said that arrangement led him to pay $150,000 to McDougal, a former model. He declined to put up the money to acquire Daniels’ story weeks later.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The charges relate to reimbursements to Cohen for the $130,000 payment.

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