Former Trump aide Hope Hicks, witness for the prosecution, undermines DA Bragg's case

 May 5, 2024

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg may have just significantly undermined his criminal case against former President Donald Trump via the testimony of one of the prosecution's own witnesses.

One legal expert said the testimony from Hope Hicks, a top communications aide for Trump during his 2016 campaign and subsequent presidency, "backfired spectacularly" on Bragg by supporting one of the defense's key arguments, Newsweek reported.

Bragg has asserted that "hush money" payments to silence allegations of affairs ahead of the 2016 election were intended solely to protect Trump's campaign, but Hicks raised reasonable doubts about that when she testified that Trump wanted to keep those claims quiet to protect his wife and family from being "hurt or embarrassed."

Purpose of payments was to protect family from embarrassment

In an op-ed for Fox News, pro-Trump legal analyst and former defense attorney Greg Jarrett wrote, "In an epic miscalculation that backfired spectacularly, prosecutors in the Manhattan hush money trial of Donald Trump called Hope Hicks to the witness stand. The moment cross-examination began, their misbegotten case against the former president began to collapse."

The key moment came when Hicks was asked if the purpose of "suppressing salacious stories" was to protect his wife, former first lady Melania Trump, to which Hicks replied, "Absolutely … I don’t think he wanted anyone in his family to be hurt or embarrassed about anything on the campaign. He wanted them to be proud of him."

Jarrett explained that Hicks' testimony was devastating to DA Bragg's argument that the hush money payments were primarily intended to benefit his campaign and influence the election by "unlawful means," because that argument only stands if it can be proven that there were no other reasonable purposes for the silencing of the accusations from other women.

The legal analyst went on to assert that the alleged crimes at the heart of Bragg's prosecution were a "mystery," but said, "There is, however, no mystery behind Alvin Bragg’s politically driven prosecution of Trump. Out of thin air, the DA conjured up expired misdemeanors, dumped them into a Cuisinart, tossed in a garbage state statute that doesn’t apply to a federal election, hit the 'puree' button, and then poured out an absurd concoction of faux felonies."

"The only crime here is Bragg’s grotesque abuse of the law," Jarrett added. "The legal wrangling between two lawyers who executed a legal contract on behalf of their respective clients is what attorneys do every day. It was booked in Trump’s private business records as 'legal expenses' because that is what they were. Nothing was falsified, as Bragg claims in his indictment. But the D.A. wants to put Trump in prison for following his attorney’s legal advice."

Hicks undercuts Bragg's case, Cohen's credibility

Fox News' Jarrett wasn't the only one to view Hicks' testimony as being beneficial to former President Trump's defense, despite being a witness for the prosecution, as Politico reported similarly that Trump's former top communications aide helped him tremendously by portraying him as a "family man," poking holes in Bragg's arguments, and further undermining the credibility of the prosecution's star witness, ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen.

She did seem to help the prosecution somewhat by acknowledging that the negative impact of affair allegations on the campaign was a concern for staffers and Trump, but then countered that by noting that Trump was "concerned how it would be viewed by his wife."

"President Trump really values Mrs. Trump’s opinion, and she doesn’t weigh in all the time, but when she does it’s really meaningful to him," Hicks testified. "He really, really respects what she has to say. I think he was just concerned about what her perception of this would be."

Hicks also disparaged Cohen by recalling she "didn’t know Michael to be an especially charitable person or selfless person," contrary to the portrayal put forward by the prosecution, and said at one point with a laugh, "I used to say that he liked to call himself a fixer or Mr. Fix It, and it was only because he first broke it that he was able to fix it."

Ongoing trial appears to impact polling

In Jarrett's Fox News op-ed, he observed, "If polling data is correct, Americans are offended by this big top spectacle. They resent seeing the leading candidate for president taken off the campaign trail and tied up in court by a partisan enemy. Bragg’s legally anemic case only accentuates the injustice."

The polling data seems to support that, as the RealClearPolling average of polls shows that while former President Trump and President Joe Biden were virtually tied throughout the first half of April, Trump's support has climbed dramatically since the trial began and he now holds 1.3-point lead -- a lead that jumps to 2.9 points when other left-leaning independent or third-party candidates are added into the mix.

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