Former Trump Aide Hope Hicks Testifies In Hush Money Trial

Hope Hicks Trump Trial

Hope Hicks, a former top aide to Donald Trump, testified on Friday that he instructed her in the final days of the 2016 presidential election to deny his sexual relationship with porn star Stormy Daniels.

Hicks’ testimony provided jurors with an inside look at the campaign’s damage-control efforts when Trump faced multiple accusations of unflattering sexual behavior in the waning weeks of his successful White House campaign.

Trump, who has pleaded not guilty to charges of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment made at that time to Daniels, was facing threats from Daniels to go public with her story of their 2006 sexual encounter.

Hicks testified that she informed Trump four days before the Nov. 8, 2016, election that the Wall Street Journal would publish details of Daniels’ story.

“He wanted to ensure there was a denial of any kind of relationship,” said Hicks, who served as campaign press secretary. She stated that Trump was concerned about how the story would be perceived by his wife Melania and wanted to ensure the newspapers weren’t delivered to their residence that morning.

Prosecutors in the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president argue that the payment to Daniels corrupted the election by suppressing news that could have influenced voters as they decided between Trump and his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton.


They assert that Trump falsified records to cover up election-law and tax-law violations, elevating the 34 counts he faces from a misdemeanor to a felony punishable by up to four years in prison.

Hicks’ testimony could assist Trump’s lawyers in making their case that he paid off Daniels to protect his marriage, not to influence voters. She stated that Trump told her his personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, paid off Daniels to “protect him from a false allegation” out of the “kindness of his own heart.” Hicks expressed doubt about Cohen’s character, stating, “I didn’t know Michael to be an especially charitable person or selfless person.”

During her testimony, Hicks briefly teared up.

Trump, the Republican candidate for president again in the current year, sat expressionless at the defendants’ table during her testimony. Hicks revealed that the campaign was rattled by the public release of an audio recording from the “Access Hollywood” TV show in which Trump boasted about grabbing women’s genitals. She testified that Trump was upset but also downplayed the comments, describing them as “locker-room talk.”

Key figures yet to be heard

The 12 jurors and six alternates have yet to hear from key figures in the case, including Daniels and Cohen. Earlier in the day, the judge overseeing the trial informed Trump that a gag order barring him from commenting about witnesses and jurors would not prevent him from testifying, despite Trump’s statements to reporters suggesting otherwise.

“I want to stress to Mr. Trump: you have an absolute right to testify at trial,” Justice Juan Merchan said. Trump’s legal team indicated they would try to overturn the gag order, which bars him from making public comments about jurors, witnesses, and families of the judge and prosecutors if those statements are meant to interfere with the case.

Merchan fined Trump $9,000 on Tuesday for violating the order and suggested he may impose more fines for further violations. He has warned Trump that he could face jail time if he does not comply. Trump claims the case is an attempt by Democrats to undermine his chances of defeating Democratic President Joe Biden in the upcoming presidential election.

The case involves allegations of adultery and secret payoffs but is seen as less significant than other criminal prosecutions Trump faces, including charges of attempting to overturn his 2020 presidential defeat and mishandling classified documents after leaving office. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges. However, a guilty verdict could negatively impact his presidential bid, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling.