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Michael Cohen takes the stand in Trump hush money case

New York — The fourth week of witness testimony in Donald Trump's hush money trial could be a doozy: Michael Cohen, the prosecution's star witness, has taken the stand.

The long-anticipated testimony on Monday from Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer follows a breathtaking buildup by prosecutors of a case that ultimately hinges on record-keeping. Trump is accused of falsifying internal business records to cover up hush money payments that Cohen made as part of efforts to buy and bury stories that might hurt the former president's 2016 campaign.

Text messages, audio recordings, notes and more have all been introduced or shown to jurors in recent weeks to illustrate what prosecutors say was a scheme to illegally influence the election that year. And sometimes dramatic testimony from witnesses that included former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, ex-Trump staffers and porn actor Stormy Daniels added to the intrigue.

The prosecution could wrap its case this week after telling the judge on Friday that they expected to call just two more witnesses.

The trial is in its 16th day.

In addition to Daniels' recounting of a 2006 sexual encounter she said she had with Trump — which he denies — last week saw two failed bids by the defense to have a mistrial declared, attempts to have the gag order squashed or at least altered and more.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts.

The case is the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president and the first of four prosecutions of Trump to reach a jury.

Copyright Associated Press

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