22.3 C
New York
Friday, May 24, 2024

Hope Hicks Shares How the ‘Access Hollywood’ Tape Upset Trump’s Campaign

Hope Hicks, a former top aide to Donald Trump, testified on Friday that staffers on his 2016 presidential campaign were alarmed when they learned that a tape in which he made lewd comments about women was about to be made public.

Hicks testified there was a clear consensus the tape of Trump’s comments on the “Access Hollywood” TV show was damaging and that its release would be a crisis.
“Everyone was just sort of absorbing the shock of it,” she said. She said Trump was upset, but also played down the comments. “Mr. Trump felt like this wasn’t good, but it was also just like two guys talking, locker-room talk,” she testified.

Hicks’ testimony gave jurors an inside view of damage-control efforts in the final days of the 2016 election, when Trump weathered widespread criticism from fellow Republicans as he faced multiple accusations of unflattering sexual behavior.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who was threatening to go public at that time with her story of their 2006 sexual encounter, an alleged liaison that he denies.

Trump sat expressionless at the defendants’ table during her testimony.

Hicks is the first person who worked directly for Trump to testify in the 11-day-old trial.

Hicks began working for Trump, then a New York businessman, starting in 2014 and served as spokesperson during his first campaign for president and later as communications director in the White House.

She told jurors she was surprised by his entry into politics. “One day he said, ‘We’re going to Iowa,’ and I didn’t really know why,” she testified.

She said she thought Trump was joking when he asked her to be the campaign’s press secretary. “I wasn’t sure if I should take it seriously,” she said.

Former National Enquirer tabloid publisher David Pecker testified at the trial that Hicks was in a 2015 meeting where Pecker promised to serve as “eyes and ears” for the Trump campaign and help suppress unflattering news stories that could have threatened his presidential prospects.

Hicks testified that she heard Trump praise Pecker multiple times for the National Enquirer’s negative reporting on his rivals for the Republican presidential nomination.

The 12 jurors and six alternates have yet to hear from the main players in the case, including Daniels and Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who arranged the payment.

Along with Pecker, they have heard from Daniels’ former lawyer Keith Davidson, who testified he arranged the payment with Cohen. Under questioning from Trump’s defense team, he acknowledged pursuing similar cash-for-dirt deals with other high-profile people.

The defense argues the hush money payment was made to spare Trump’s family embarrassment, not to protect his presidential campaign.

Trump says the case is an attempt by Democrats to undercut his chances of defeating Democratic President Joe Biden in the coming Nov. 5 presidential election.

The case features sordid allegations of adultery and secret payoffs, but it is widely seen as less consequential than the other three criminal prosecutions Trump faces. The others charge him with trying to overturn his 2020 presidential defeat and mishandling classified documents after leaving office. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all of those also.

Still, a guilty verdict could hurt Trump’s presidential bid, Reuters/Ipsos polling has found.

Latest Posts

Don't Miss

Stay in touch

To be updated with all the latest news, offers and special announcements.