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‘Women will hate me:’ Trump’s concerns on 2016 scandals were about campaign, Cohen testifies

Michael Cohen, a key witness in Donald Trump’s hush money trial, shot out of the gate while testifying Monday, providing the Manhattan jury with details of Trump’s response to the threat of alleged ex-mistresses coming forward in 2016. Crucially for the prosecution, Cohen said Trump’s efforts to stop those stories were driven by the desire to protect his campaign’s prospects.

“Women are gonna hate me,” Trump said, according to Cohen. Cohen also said Trump anticipated “a lot of women coming forward” with stories about during the campaign.

Trump is on trial for 34 counts of falsifying business records. Prosecutors are trying to show Trump covered up reimbursements to Cohen, who was convicted of violating campaign finance law for paying porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 in 2016 to stay quiet about a sexual encounter with Trump.

Cohen’s testimony contradicts Trump’s defense strategy of claiming the hush money was about protecting his relationships with his family.

Here are some key revelations Cohen has shared on the stand so far:

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‘Just be prepared. There’s gonna be a lot of women coming forward’

As Trump was planning his 2016 presidential campaign, he said to Cohen, according to Cohen’s testimony: “Just be prepared. There’s gonna be a lot of women coming forward.”

Cohen said he brought up Karen McDougal to Trump, after Cohen learned she was shopping a story around. McDougal is a former Playboy model who says she had an affair with Trump during his wife Melania’s pregnancy. Trump denies the affair.

According to Cohen, when he raised McDougal with Trump, the real estate mogul responded: “She’s really beautiful.”

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McDougal was a potential witness in this trial, but the prosecution has now said it won’t call her. Former tabloid executive David Pecker, who oversaw the National Enquirer parent company in 2016, testified earlier in the trial on the hush money deal. McDougal was paid $150,000 by the publication for the rights to her life story, including her alleged affair with Trump, which they never published.

Donald Trump, Michael Cohen recording reintroduced

Cohen said when he told Trump the hush money deal to buy the rights to Karen McDougal’s story was completed, the then-presidential candidate responded: “Fantastic. Great job.”

The prosecution played a recording for the jury of Trump and Cohen having a discussion. The jurors have already heard this recording in the trial.

“I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David,” Cohen tells Trump on the recording.

Cohen explained to jurors that “David” was “David Pecker,” and the company was a way to have “separation,” to keep the deal away from Trump. He said that was “for privacy purposes” and “for the benefit of Mr. Trump.”

The call is cut off during the conversation, but Cohen testified he stopped recording because he captured what he meant to capture: a statement from Trump that would “appease” David Pecker when it came to Pecker’s concern about being paid back for the $150,000 to Karen McDougal in the hush money deal.

See evidence in hush money trial‘Chicken scratch’ notes, Trump’s book, and a 2006 picture

‘Put a spin on this:’ Trump to Cohen on ‘Access Hollywood,’ per testimony

Cohen described getting a call from Hope Hicks during the 2016 presidential campaign about the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump boasted about kissing women without waiting for consent and grabbing their genitals.

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About what Trump said about the “Access Hollywood” tape Cohen testified: “He wanted me to reach out to all of my contacts in the media. We needed to put a spin on this. And the spin that he wanted put on it was that this is locker room talk – something that Melania had recommended, or at least he told me that that’s what Melania had thought it was – and use that in order to get control over the story and to minimize its impact on him and his campaign.”

Cohen recounted talking with a CNN journalist about it, and said the concern at the time was that the tape would be harmful to the campaign, especially with women voters.

‘Do it. Take care of it.’ Trump told Cohen on Stormy Daniels story, testimony

Cohen said he went to Trump and told him he learned from National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard about a story that Stormy Daniels had sex with him.

Cohen asked Trump if he knew who Daniels was. “He told me that he did,” Cohen testified.

Cohen said he told Trump about a website called “TheDirty.com” having posted about a relationship between Daniels and Trump going back to 2006.

Cohen said he made a suggestion about how to handle it. Trump responded, according to Cohen: “Do it. Take care of it.”

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‘Women will hate me,’ ‘Guys may think it’s cool’: Trump allegedly said on Stormy Daniels story

Cohen said he asked if Trump had an affair with Stormy Daniels and Trump didn’t answer the question. However, when Cohen asked Trump what Daniels looked like, Trump alleged responded: “She was a beautiful woman.”

Trump has more recently publicly insulted Daniels’ looks, calling her “Horseface.”

Trump also characterized the potential for a Daniels story as a “total disaster,” according to Cohen.

“Women are gonna hate me,” Trump allegedly said. “Guys may think it’s cool, but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign,” Trump added, according to Cohen.

Cohen said Trump was thinking of the coupling of the story with the “Access Hollywood” tape, which had already hit the press. Trump allegedly said, “This is a disaster” and “Get control over it.”

‘He wasn’t thinking about Melania. This was all about the campaign.’

 

Cohen testified that Trump instructed him to push out paying Stormy Daniels as long as he could, and to just get past the election. Trump allegedly said if he won the election before the story could be released, the story would then have “no relevance.” Trump added, according to Cohen: “And if I lose, I wouldn’t care.”

“He wasn’t thinking about Melania. This was all about the campaign,” Cohen said.

Cohen said he was instructed by Trump: “Push it past the election day.” “I was following directions,” Cohen added.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger showed jurors communication between Cohen and then-Daniels lawyer Keith Davidson, who has already testified. Cohen explained that Davidson was pushing for the hush money to be paid by Oct. 14, 2016.

However, Cohen told jurors he had a clear plan: “Delay.”

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