'Chicken scratch' notes, Trump's book, and a 2006 picture: See evidence in hush money trial (2024)

By time Donald Trump's hush money trial concluded its fourth week, witness testimony swung drastically from accounting processes to Stormy Daniels' blockbuster story about sex with Trump.

Trump has been indicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records. Prosecutors say he covered up reimbursem*nts to Cohen, who paid Daniels $130,000 to keep her story under wraps ahead of the 2016 election. More than a dozen people have taken the stand, and they all come with tidbits of evidence to explain to the jury.

Prosecutors appear to be using that evidence to show jurors Trump's approach to business and how that led him to signing checks to Cohen himself, while also propping up Daniels' alleged sexual encounter with the former president in 2006. (Trump denies it happened).

Coupled with courtroom sketches, transcripts of the trial and on-the-ground reporting from USA TODAY, the following evidence gives insight into what the jurors are seeing and considering:

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The paper trail: Michael Cohen's checks and 'chicken scratch' numbers

Who introduced the evidence: The prosecution. The checks and accounting documents form a central part of the case as prosecutors try to show Trump was reimbursing Cohen for the $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels and falsifying records to cover it up. The defense has denied the payments were reimbursem*nts.

Associated witness: The paperwork has come into play across a few testimonies, as prosecutors try to show the jury the accounting processes behind Trump's organization approving and issuing checks. The documents above were verified by Jeffrey McConney, the former controller at the Trump Organization and Deborah Tarasoff, an accounts payable supervisor at the Trump Organization.

Testimony: McConney calculated how the $130,000 allegedly netted out to $35,000 monthly payments for Cohen's for a "retainer." The $130,000 paid to Keith M Davidson Associates PLC, plus $50,000 paid for technology services, doubled to pad for taxes, plus a $60,000 bonus, equaled $420,000. At a monthly rate, McConney testified, that came to $35,000. Tarasoff testified the check from Trump's personal account was signed by Trump.

Trump Organization junior bookkeeper Rebecca Manochio and former presidential aide Madeleine Westerhout later testified about how checks were signed in 2017, once Trump was in the White House. They had to send them via FedEx back and forth.

Quote from the transcript: "Allen (Weisselberg) said we had to get some money to Michael, reimburse Michael. He tossed a pad towards me, and I started taking notes on what Allen said," McConney said of his "chicken scratch" notes during a January 2017 meeting.

He also testified the hand writing on the bottom left of the First Republic Bank account statement belonged to Weisselberg, the former Trump organization CFO convicted of tax fraud and falsifying business records.

'I sign all my own checks, so I know where my money's going'

Who introduced the evidence: The prosecution.

Associated witness:Sally Franklin, a senior vice president and executive managing editor in publishing at Penguin Random House.

Testimony: Franklin read loud several portions of Trump's books, in which Trump outlines his approach to business, which includes closely checking invoices and checks. The defense team raised the fact that he used a ghostwriter in cross examination.

Quote from the transcript: "As I said before, I always sign my checks, so I know where my money's going," Trump wrote in his book "Trump: Think Like a Billionaire." "In the same spirit, I also always try to read my bills to make sure I'm not being overcharged"

Photos of Trump and Stormy Daniels at Lake Tahoe golf tournament, 2006

'Chicken scratch' notes, Trump's book, and a 2006 picture: See evidence in hush money trial (2)
'Chicken scratch' notes, Trump's book, and a 2006 picture: See evidence in hush money trial (3)

Who introduced the evidence: The prosecution.

Associated witness: Stormy Daniels, the adult film star who allegedly had sex with Trump in July 2006 at a Lake Tahoe golf tournament.

Testimony: Daniels testified she met Trump while she was working for adult film company Wicked Pictures, a sponsor for the tournament. Trump has denied a sexual encounter between them ever occurred. These photos demonstrated that the two were at least in the same place at the same time.

Transcript excerpt: "So, Wicked sponsors one of the holes on the golf course, which, yes, I know it's very funny. We are an adult film company sponsoring one of the holes," Daniels said on the stand, before describing being introduced to Trump, along with several other golfers. "The owner of the company was like...'this is my contract star and director Stormy Daniels.' And that's when he acted like, oh, you actually direct too? You must be the smart one. And there is a picture and they moved on."

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Stormy Daniels book and merchandise

Who introduced the evidence: The defense.

Associated witness: Stormy Daniels.

Testimony: Defense lawyerSusan Necheles pressed Daniels on how she has profited from telling her story. Daniels confirmed a post on social media saying that she made $1 million from her 2018 book "Full Disclosure," which covered her life story, including the interaction with Trump. Daniels also has other themed merchandise for sale like a candle and a comic book, she confirmed on the stand. Necheles suggested Daniels made up the story of having sex with Trump.

"If that story was untrue, I would have written it to be a lot better," Daniels shot back. "I didn't have to write this one."

Contributing: Aysha Bagchi, Bart Jansen

'Chicken scratch' notes, Trump's book, and a 2006 picture: See evidence in hush money trial (2024)


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