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Toobin: Keeping ‘Access Hollywood’ Tape from Jury ‘Appropriate Decision for Trump’s Benefit’

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin weighed in on former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial this week, saying the former president got some “good news” from the judge.

Trump, the 45th president of the United States and the presumed nominee of the Republican Party, began his criminal trial on Monday, with prospective jurors gathering in a New York City courtroom as Trump observed.

Trump is accused of fabricating almost thirty business documents to conceal a payment made to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who claimed to have had a brief sexual encounter with him in 2006.

During a segment on CNN, Toobin spoke about Manhattan Judge Juan Merchan’s ruling to keep the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape from the jury, saying it was an “appropriate decision for Trump’s benefit.”

“Jeff, I‘m wondering what you make the different evidence that the judge has ruled in miscible. Karen McDougal, the former playmate that foreign president allegedly had an affair with, will be allowed to testify and on the other hand, the Access Hollywood tape, which everybody knows about can‘t be played for the jury,” CNN’s Anderson Cooper said.

Toobin responded: “I thought those were very reasonable conclusions by the judge. The Karen McDougal story is very similar to the Stormy Daniels story. It is money paid for silence for women who were allegedly involved with Trump at Trump‘s behalf as the idea that Trump was trying to keep information from the voters on the eve of, on the eve of the election by, by paying this money or having his allies at the National Enquirer pay pay Karen McDougal.”

“I also thought it was appropriate to keep the access Hollywood tape out. That is the case. That is a tape about nonconsensual sexual contact, with Donald Trump saying what everyone knows he said about what he could do with women,” Toobin continued.

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“That‘s not what this case is about. Both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal claim that this was consensual sex, and I thought keeping that away from the jury, even though they probably already know about it, was an appropriate decision for Trump‘s benefit,” he added.

WATCH:

Manhattan Judge Juan Merchan, the presiding judge in Trump’s hush money case, made his first crucial ruling shortly after the historic proceedings began on Monday.

Merchan started the trial by denying Trump’s motion for recusal, telling the court that the former president’s arguments lacked basis.

Trump has accused the judge of being biased against him and called on him to recuse himself from the case. The former president has also repeatedly attacked Merchan’s daughter over her political consulting work, which includes employment at a Democratic firm that worked with Joe Biden’s 2020 campaign.

In April of last year, Bragg filed 34 first-degree charges against Trump for falsifying business records. The charges also relate to purported hush-money payments made during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Bragg alleged that Trump “repeatedly and fraudulently falsified New York business records to conceal criminal conduct that hid damaging information from the voting public during the 2016 presidential election.”

“During the election, Trump and others employed a ‘catch and kill’ scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects,” Bragg alleged in the indictment last year. “TRUMP then went to great lengths to hide this conduct, causing dozens of false entries in business records to conceal criminal activity, including attempts to violate state and federal election laws.”

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Fox News reported:

According to New York state law, a charge of falsifying business records in the first degree alleges that the defendant committed a crime of falsifying business records with the intent to defraud. The intent to defraud would be the intent to commit another crime.

In 2019, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York investigated the matter and opted not to charge Trump related to the alleged payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

The Federal Election Commission also tossed its investigation into the matter in 2021.

According to Bragg, Trump “orchestrated a ‘catch and kill’ scheme through a series of payments that he then concealed through months of false business entries” between August 2015 and December 2017.

Bragg also claimed that a former doorman at Trump Tower received $30,000 from American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, for a story he claimed to have about a child Trump had not married into.

Additionally, the DA claimed that American Media Inc. gave a woman who claimed to have had a sexual relationship with Trump $150,000. Bragg was reportedly talking about McDougal.

Bragg also claims that Trump “explicitly directed a lawyer,” presumably a reference to former personal attorney Michael Cohen, to “reimburse” American Media Inc. with cash. He claimed that Cohen wired $130,000 to an attorney for an adult film actress “12 days before the presidential general election,” ostensibly referring to Daniels.

For breaking campaign finance laws connected to the payments, among other federal charges, Cohen entered a guilty plea in 2019 and received a three-year prison sentence. Cohen admitted to organizing the payments, but he insists that Trump gave the orders.

Bragg alleged that after the election, Trump reimbursed Cohen through a series of monthly checks, “first from the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust, created in New York to hold the Trump Organization’s assets during TRUMP’s presidency, and later from TRUMP’s bank account. In total, 11 checks were issued for a phony purpose.”

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