Parade of GOP leaders and lawmakers attends Trump's criminal trial - TAI News
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Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court before his trial in New York, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (Curtis Means/Pool Photo via AP)

A whole host of Republican officials, including the speaker of the U.S. House, has been lining up to attend former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York, using their visit to the Manhattan courthouse to trash witnesses and lie about the proceedings.

Among the Republicans who have attended Trump’s trial are U.S. Sens. J.D. Vance of Ohio, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, and Rick Scott of Florida. Trump’s former GOP presidential campaign rivals Vivek Ramaswamy and Nebraska Gov. Doug Burgum also attended.

Vance assailed the trustworthiness of one of the prosecution’s key witnesses, former Trump fixer Michael Cohen, saying, “Cohen can’t remember how old his son is or how old he was when he started to work for Trump but I’m sure he remembers extremely small details from years ago!” Scott, meanwhile, attacked the daughter of the judge on the case, accusing her of being a “political operative” who “raises money for Democrats.” Trump is legally barred from making such comments himself on threat of being jailed for contempt. 

House Speaker Mike Johnson is the highest-profile Republican to attend the trial so far. He appeared alongside Trump on May 14 inside the courthouse before holding a news conference outside during which he called the case a sham and said it’s an intentional effort by prosecutors to keep Trump off the campaign trail. Trump, however, is free to campaign when he is not in the courthouse and has held a handful of rallies. Trump also golfed at one of his New Jersey clubs on one of the trial’s days off. 

“The crime that they are accusing President Trump of is falsification of business records. But I think everybody knows he is not the bookkeeper for his company. President Trump is innocent of these charges,” Johnson said in a news conference outside the courthouse. 

In the current case, Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsification of business records surrounding alleged hush money payments he ordered made during the 2016 campaign. 

New York prosecutors allege that Trump made two payments, $130,000 to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels and $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal, to keep them from going public with stories that they had affairs with Trump that might have negatively impacted his presidential ambitions. Prosecutors say that the payments were illegally disguised in business records as payment for legal services to Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer.

“The People of the State of New York allege that Donald J. Trump repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal crimes that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election,” Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a news release in April 2023 after a grand jury handed down the indictments.

The trial has so far featured blockbuster testimony from both Daniels and Cohen.

Daniels testified about the sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in an effort by prosecutors to show motive for Trump to pay her to keep from going public with her story. 

According to the Associated Press, Cohen testified that Trump directed him to pay both Daniels and McDougal to keep their stories from going public during the campaign, telling him, “We need to stop this from getting out.” 

“What I was doing, I was doing at the direction of and benefit of Mr. Trump,” Cohen said in testimony.

It’s unclear when the trial will wrap up. In instructions to reporters, the communications department of the New York State Unified Court System estimated that the trial, which started on April 15, could last between six and eight weeks

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