Donald Trump Rouses as Prosecutor Brands Him Deceptive

Exploring hidden tactics in political campaigns and media manipulation.

by Nouman Rasool
Donald Trump Rouses as Prosecutor Brands Him Deceptive
© Tom Pennington/Getty Images

In a historic trial that opened this week, former President Donald Trump was a bit drowsy at court just as the proceedings were about to take shape. The landmark case in the history of American law charges Trump with falsification of business records in connection with a $130,000 payment to adult movie actress Stormy Daniels to allegedly keep her mouth shut during the crucial months in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

If convicted, Trump could face up to four years in prison. Courtroom drama ramped up early in the trial when Trump, who had been dozing off, was suddenly startled awake by a note from his defense attorney, Todd Blanche. This happened just as Assistant District Attorney Matthew Colangelo was about to start opening statements that will outline the case that the former commander-in-chief needs to answer to.

Colangelo said it was Trump who had concocted a "criminal scheme" to affect the 2016 election. This case is about a criminal conspiracy and a cover-up, Colangelo alleged, where he said Trump lied over and over to cover his actions.

According to the prosecutors, Trump acted together with his then-lawyer Michael Cohen and David Pecker of the National Enquirer to close ranks against the publication of negative stories during the election race.

Conspiracy to Silence

The alleged conspiracy also included 'catch and kill' efforts—this is the type of scheme in which damaging stories are bought and then kept from seeing the light of day.

Colangelo claimed that Trump made three of such transactions in order to boost his electoral chances, using American Media Inc. to quiet less-than-sterling press while he was actively seeking to undermine his political opponents.

This very strategy, the journalist claimed, involved Cohen and Pecker, who worked to keep Trump's alleged affairs and other potentially damaging personal revelations from public view. The trial was moving ahead, and Judge Juan Merchan had driven the point of impartiality home to the jurors, reminding them that their verdict had to go down based solely on the evidence presented.

The twelve jurors and six alternates listened attentively as the first of many complexities of the case was unveiled. Throughout Colangelo's opening, Trump—fully awake by now—sat bolt upright, no longer lolling casually, but assuming a facial expression reflecting concern for the whole business.

Donald Trump