Michael Cohen’s Banker Reopens His Account

TMI Newsdesk
4 Min Read

The third week of Donald Trump’s hush money trial will get underway in Manhattan on Tuesday morning with more testimony from a private banker who took the stand last week to talk about his work for Michael Cohen, Trump’s erstwhile attorney and fixer.

Gary Farro, Cohen’s contact at First Republic Bank in 2015, has spoken about opening two accounts for Cohen—including the one which Cohen used to make a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels to stop her speaking out about an alleged 2006 one-night stand with Trump. Trump has denied having sex with the porn star.

That payment is at the heart of the case. Prosecutors claim that Trump engaged in an illegal scheme to influence the 2016 election in which damaging stories about him were bought and buried in a “catch and kill” scheme, and that he sought to cover up the true purpose of the payments. Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Farro took the stand Friday after the jury briefly heard from Rhona Graff, Trump’s longtime assistant, who said that Trump had the contact details of both Daniels and Karen McDougal—the Playboy model who also allegedly received money to keep her silence about an affair (which Trump claims never happened).

Farro explained to jurors about how he’d helped Cohen open accounts for two new LLCs—including for Resolution Consultants LLC. In 2018, when Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and other charges, it had been set up to send cash to American Media, Inc (AMI), the publisher of The National Enquirer, to reimburse AMI for purchasing McDougal’s story (though the deal never actually went through).

David Pecker, AMI’s former CEO, testified last week that his company bought McDougal’s story to stop it from embarrassing Trump or hurting his campaign.

The Resolution account was never funded so was never technically opened, Farro said, according to the Associated Press. Instead, Cohen put his own money into the account of the other LLC—Essential Consultants—which Cohen has admitted using to make the payment to Daniels. Prosecutors claim the point of using the LLCs to make hush-money payments was to obscure Trump’s involvement in the alleged scheme.

It’s not yet clear when we’ll be hearing from Cohen himself, who is expected to testify in the trial.

But this week we will definitely be hearing more about Trump’s alleged gag order violations. The court order intended to stop Trump from making public comments about jurors, witnesses, and other people connected to the proceedings has been repeatedly breached, according to prosecutors. Judge Juan Merchan has scheduled a hearing Thursday on another four more alleged order breaches in addition to the 10 instances for which prosecutors have already sought fines.

Merchan, who could hit Trump with a fine or hold him in contempt, has yet to rule on the alleged violations. He is expected to do so soon.

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