Everyone Who Might Testify in Donald Trump's Hush Money Trial, Which Begins April 15

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The first-ever criminal trial of a U.S. president is scheduled to kick off in less than two weeks, as a few high-profile witnesses prepare to take the stand

SETH WENIG/POOL/AFP via Getty Donald Trump is arraigned at the Manhattan Criminal Court on April 4, 2023
SETH WENIG/POOL/AFP via Getty Donald Trump is arraigned at the Manhattan Criminal Court on April 4, 2023

Donald Trump will soon get his day in court, when a jury weighs 34 felony charges related to an alleged hush money scheme involving former adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Trump was indicted by a grand jury in Manhattan last spring, becoming the first-ever sitting or former U.S. president to face criminal charges. He went on to earn three more indictments in 2023 — two of which were at the federal level — though none of those cases have gone to trial yet.

The hush money case traces back to an alleged affair Trump had with Daniels, rumors of which surfaced in 2018, when the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump arranged a $130,000 payment to the ex-porn star a month before the 2016 election so she'd keep quiet about the alleged sexual encounter they'd had years earlier. Trump has repeatedly denied the affair.

Trump is accused of falsifying business records by calling Daniels' and other hush money payments "legal expenses" in the Trump Organization's financial records. While Trump and his longtime lawyer Michael Cohen initially denied the claims of an affair, Cohen later admitted that there was a payment made to Daniels.

Related: How Donald Trump Learned of His Hush Money Indictment — and Spent His Weekend Preparing for Court Surrender

During the upcoming trial, which begins with jury selection on April 15, a few high-profile witnesses are expected to take the stand. Other names on the proposed witness list have not yet been revealed, but are likely to include people who worked closely with Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Here are the rumored witnesses so far, as prosecutors and defense attorneys work to pinpoint the testimonies they'll need to argue their sides.

Stormy Daniels

<p>Drew Angerer/Getty</p> Stormy Daniels exits the United States District Court Southern District of New York for a hearing related to Michael Cohen on April 16, 2018

Drew Angerer/Getty

Stormy Daniels exits the United States District Court Southern District of New York for a hearing related to Michael Cohen on April 16, 2018

In a case that many are colloquially calling Trump's "Stormy Daniels trial," it makes sense that Daniels herself would play a central role in the courtroom, to give her account of the payment she received from Cohen and her connection to Trump.

The entertainer previously lost to the former president in court when she sued him for defamation, but the criminal case takes a different focus, giving her another chance to challenge the man who made her an enemy of the Republican Party.

Related: Stormy Daniels Was 'Completely Sure' She'd Be Murdered After Taking on Trump: 'If Something Happens to Me...'

Trump's legal team tried to bar Daniels from testifying at the trial, calling her a "liar," but Judge Juan Merchan declined the request. Merchan did, however, place a restriction on Daniels' testimony, saying that if she takes the stand, she may not reference a lie detector test she took in 2018 that indicated she'd been truthful while discussing Trump.

Michael Cohen

Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Michael Cohen
Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Michael Cohen

Cohen — who facilitated the non-disclosure agreement and payment to Daniels as Trump's personal lawyer — will almost certainly play a significant role in the Manhattan DA's effort to convict the former president.

Cohen was interviewed by the DA's office several times before charges were filed, and in a separate civil fraud suit earlier this year, testified against Trump's integrity with financial filings.

Trump's legal team tried to also bar Cohen from testifying in the hush money trial — referencing Cohen's own admission that he lied under oath as a witness in Trump's civil trial — but the judge determined that Cohen can still take the stand, where he would likely speak to Trump's involvement in the hush money deals.

Hope Hicks

J. Scott Applewhite/AP/REX/Shutterstock Hope Hicks
J. Scott Applewhite/AP/REX/Shutterstock Hope Hicks

Hope Hicks, who served as Trump's press secretary at the time of the hush money payment, has joined the DA's reported list of trial witnesses, CNN reports. She previously testified before the grand jury that ultimately indicted Trump.

Hicks could offer valuable information about the 2016 campaign's attempts to suppress sexual allegations against Trump.

In a 2019 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee, Hicks asserted that she was never present during Trump and Cohen's conversations about Daniels, and that she didn't have any knowledge about Daniels outside of what reporters had told her.

But even as Hicks has denied being involved in negotiations, an FBI agent has said otherwise, writing in an affidavit that based on phone records, he believes Hicks and Cohen discussed the need to keep Daniels quiet.

Related: Hope Hicks Vented That Trump Left His Team 'Unemployable' on Jan. 6: 'We Look Like Domestic Terrorists Now'

In previous testimony with the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, Hicks painted her former boss in a negative light, saying under oath that she and another adviser to then-President Trump urged him to dissuade supporters against resorting to violence, but that he refused.

If she has valuable information about his hush money negotiations, too, she may share them in the forthcoming trial.

Karen McDougal

Gregg DeGuire/WireImage Karen McDougal attends the 2005 Young Hollywood Awards
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage Karen McDougal attends the 2005 Young Hollywood Awards

Though the hush money payment to Daniels has received the most attention, there are two other payments cited in Trump's criminal case. One involves ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, who was reportedly paid $150,000 to stay quiet about an alleged extramarital affair Trump had with her in 2006 (a claim that he continues to deny).

Related: Who Is Karen McDougal? All About the Former Playboy Model Tied to Donald Trump's Indictment

McDougal has been less visible than Daniels in recent years, but since her perspective is relevant to the charges, Judge Merchan has given attorneys the green light to call her as a witness.

If McDougal appears in court, she could provide the jury with helpful background about what she claims happened with Trump back in 2006, and how he and his allies attempted to stop her from coming forward a decade later.

Dino Sajudin

Dino Sajudin is a former Trump World Tower doorman who received the other hush money payment mentioned in the indictment. He reportedly sold a story to the National Enquirer — then owned by American Media, Inc. — which claimed that there were rumors circling about Trump secretly fathering a child out of wedlock.

AMI, aiming to keep the unverified rumors from seeing the light of day, stopped investigating Sajudin's claims after buying exclusive rights to the story, effectively keeping them from going public.

Related: Former Trump Doorman Was Paid $30K for Story That the President Has a Love Child: Reports

Like with others at the center of the hush money schemes, Trump aimed to prevent Sajudin from being eligible to testify. Judge Merchan denied the former president's request, suggesting that Sajudin's testimony about the secret child rumors he heard — and how they were buried — would help a jury understand the background of the case.

It remains unclear if Sajudin, who has since authored a book about his experiences, will actually testify — but as the least famous figure in the case, his insight would prove interesting.

David Pecker

Francois Durand/Getty David Pecker at an event in France on Jan. 19, 2012
Francois Durand/Getty David Pecker at an event in France on Jan. 19, 2012

David Pecker, the former CEO and chairman of American Media, Inc., is caught up in the hush money case as a friend of the former president's who reportedly used his publications to buy damning stories about Trump and then kill them, ensuring that they would not be scooped by other outlets.

Prosecutors previously agreed not to prosecute Pecker when he admitted that his media company helped broker hush money payments to Daniels, McDougal and Sajudin in an effort to help Trump's 2016 campaign. He was removed as the chief executive of AMI in 2020.

Pecker testified before the grand jury that indicted Trump last spring, and would likely discuss his "catch and kill" practices — as well as be pressed on Trump's level of involvement in the schemes — if called as a trial witness.

Kellyanne Conway

Mark Wilson/Getty Donald Trump and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway celebrate their victory in the 2016 presidential election
Mark Wilson/Getty Donald Trump and campaign manager Kellyanne Conway celebrate their victory in the 2016 presidential election

Kellyanne Conway — who served as the campaign manager for Trump's 2016 presidential bid — met with Manhattan prosecutors during their investigation last year, and as one of Trump's senior-most advisers around the time of the hush money payments, she makes a natural fit for a trial witness.

In Cohen's 2020 memoir, he alleged that Conway was the person he called after completing the transaction to Daniels. Though Cohen didn't accuse Conway of playing a role in brokering the deals, he said that she agreed to "pass along the good news" of the payment to Trump, suggesting that she was aware of the situation.

While others in Trump's orbit at the time have spoken out against him in recent years, Conway has remained mostly loyal to the former president's cause and may not be too keen on supporting efforts to convict him. In late March, Axios alleged that Conway was even considering a return to Trump's team as he seeks another term in the White House.

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