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Prosecutor Outlines 'Core Of The Conspiracy' In NYC Trump Case

In Monday's opening statements in Donald Trump's New York City criminal trial, prosecutor Matthew Colangelo pointed jurors to what he described as the underlying scheme that resulted in Trump's alleged crimes, starting with a 2015 meeting at Trump Tower that included Trump, Michael Cohen and David Pecker, the former CEO of National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc. (AMI) Colangelo said they “struck an agreement at that meeting. Together, they conspired to influence the 2016 presidential election in three different ways.” Politico reports. Colangelo said Pecker agreed to act as the “eyes and ears” for Trump’s campaign and use the publications Pecker controlled to find negative information about Trump and report it to Cohen to prevent it from becoming public. Colangelo called this as “core of the conspiracy.” Pecker agreed to publish flattering stories about Trump, in many cases sending Trump headlines and stories about himself for his approval before they ran. Colangelo said, AMI would use its publications to run stories attacking Trump’s political opponents, including Ben Carson and Ted Cruz. After the meeting, Colangelo said, Pecker told his deputy, Dylan Howard, about the meeting and instructed him to help him carry it out.

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche began his opening statement with these words: "President Trump is innocent. President Trump did not commit any crimes. The Manhattan district attorney’s office should never have brought this case." Blanche told jurors he would refer to Trump as “President Trump” because he “earned it.”

“We will call him President Trump out of respect for the office that he held,” Blanche said. “He’s not just our former president. He’s not just Donald Trump that you’ve seen on TV…he’s also a man, he’s a husband, he’s a father. He’s a person, just like you and just like me.” Blanche offered a two-fold defense to jurors. First, he said, Trump cut checks to Cohen for legitimate legal services. Of Cohen, Blanche said, "He was President Trump's personal attorney. You will see documents, you will see emails. His signature block in 2017 said, 'Michael Cohen, personal attorney to President Trump.'" Secondly, Blanche said, Trump didn’t have personal involvement with the invoices from Cohen or the way they were recorded at the Trump Organization.


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