All the Key Witnesses We May See in Trump’s Hush-Money Trial

Donald Trump’s hush-money trial in New York City is sure to draw out a cast of characters from Trumpland, from allies to ex-associates who’ve gone rogue on the former president.

Jury selection wrapped last week, with prosecutors and defense attorneys combining to weed out potentially-biased jurors. In doing so, they put together a list of 41 potential witnesses who may be called on to testify.

Below is a list of the most interesting names from that list—and how they may factor into the highly-anticipated trial.

Michael Cohen

Michael Cohen, wearing a suit and tie, photographed while speaking.

Once a close ally, Michael Cohen has become a pain in Donald Trump’s side.

Reuters/Eduardo Muñoz

Michael Cohen’s place atop this list likely won’t come as surprise to those who’ve followed Trump’s hush-money scandal. The former Trump fixer and attorney is a central piece in the trial, having been the one who allegedly delivered a payment of $130,000 to the porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016 to keep her quiet about an affair she had with Trump a decade prior. Once one of Trump’s main confidants, the pair’s relationship soured amid the hush-money scandal. Cohen pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges related and spent three years in a prison for his role in the affair cover-up. After his release in 2021, he was involved in a pair of lawsuits against Trump—both as a plaintiff and defendant—that were both ultimately dropped, making the current criminal case against the former president perhaps one of his last opportunities to hit back at his former boss. Cohen has already testified against Trump in his civil fraud trial last year, and he’s shown he’s eager to testify against Trump again if called upon—something that’s nearly a certainty.

Stormy Daniels

Stormy Daniels speaks into a podium filled with reporters’ microphones outside a courthouse.

Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, speaks to reporters outside a courthouse in 2018.

Reuters/Lucas Jackson

Like Cohen, Stormy Daniels is central to the case against Trump. Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she was paid by Cohen in October 2016 to keep quiet about a sexual encounter she had with Trump a decade prior, when he was in his first year of marriage with Melania. Trump has both vehemently denied the encounter with Daniels and suggested it indeed did occur, posting to Truth Social last year that the affair “happened a long time ago.” While there’s been conflicting statements on the affair itself, Trump has remained steadfast that his payment to her—via Cohen—was personal and unrelated to an affair. Should Daniels take the stand as expected, she could divulge a slew of details about the alleged affair.

David Pecker

David Pecker holds a microphone while speaking on stage.

David Pecker was allegedly part of a scheme to buy the rights to unsavory stories about Donald Trump and have them buried.

Reuters

David Pecker, the former National Enquirer publisher, was called on to testify early in Trump’s trial. He took the stand Tuesday, saying he was the “eyes and ears” during the then-presidential candidate’s White House bid, where he led a “highly, highly confidential” effort to bury negative stories about Trump and highlight negative ones about his rivals. Prosecutors have said Pecker, a longtime pal of Trump, met with him and Cohen at Trump Tower in Aug. 2015 to discuss using the National Enquirer to suppress negative stories about Trump by buying the exclusive rights to them and never publishing them. Pecker discussing those details on the stand, revealed just how much his former publication—known for its equally scandalous and unreliable scoops—worked to shield Trump.

Karen McDougal

Karen McDougal walks in a dress away from a car and into an event.

Karen McDougal is a former playboy model who was photographed alongside both Donald Trump and Bill Clinton.

Getty Images

Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model, is another woman who’s claimed to have had an affair with Trump. Her link to Trump’s hush-money case stems from a $150,000 payment she received herself in 2016 to allegedly sign away the exclusive rights to her story to the National Enquirer about a 10-month affair she she had with Trump in the mid-2000s. That story never saw the light of day at the gossip magazine, however, after Pecker refused to publish it once obtaining the rights—part of a scheme prosecutors have called a “catch and kill” strategy to keep unsavory Trump stories from going public. Trump has denied having an affair with McDougal and he doesn’t face charges related to her alleged payment, but prosecutors have indicated her testimony will give jurors context about Pecker, Trump, and Cohen’s strategy to shell out hundreds of thousands to have stories buried.

Hope Hicks

Hope Hicks walks in front of the U.S. Capitol in a blue dress.

Hope Hicks resigned from the Trump Administration in its final weeks.

Reuters/Leah Millis

Hope Hicks was the Trump campaign’s press secretary who later transitioned into a role his first White House communications director. She remained in Trump’s good spirits for much of his campaign, but the duo had a falling out after the 2020 election when she refused to parrot lies about election fraud—a rift so significant, she resigned from her White House role during Trump’s final weeks in office. A search warrant released in 2019 showed that Hicks had been involved with Cohen, sitting in on calls between him and the president where they allegedly discussed the hush-money payment. Her testimony could shed light on the way talks between Trump and Cohen went down.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump makes a face while pointing forward on stage at a campaign event.

Donald Trump has appeared in court each day and has indicated he plans to testify in his own defense.

Reuters/Sam Wolfe

Even the ex-president himself may become a witness in his own trial. He’s signaled that he wants to testify in his own defense—a move that’s considered a significant risk by many experts, as the bombastic Trump has regularly shown he doesn’t respond well to critical questions or being in situations where he’s not entirely in control. Trump isn’t required to testify, but if he does take the stand, he’ll likely try to explain to jurors that, even if he did break the law, he didn’t mean to do it—something prosecutors must prove to secure a conviction.

Dino Sajudin

A door man stands at the entrance to Trump Tower.

Trump Tower was Donald Trump’s primary residence at the time of the alleged hush-money payment, which was carried out in Oct. 2016.

Reuters

Dino Sajudin is a former doorman at Trump Tower who, like McDougal, was said to have received a hush-money payment for handing over a story to the National Enquirer that was subsequently buried. His story alleged that Trump had secretly fathered a child out of wedlock—claims that were quickly silenced by Pecker, who bought the exclusive rights to the story and again never ran it. Sajudin is expected to take the stand to detail how he was approached and paid to give the National Enquirer the story rights. His potential testimony may also spill the details on his scandalous claims about Trump, should Judge Juan Merchan allow it.

Kellyanne Conway

Kellyanne Conway speaks to reporters in front of the White House.

Kellyanne Conway was Donald Trump’s campaign manager during his successful run for office in 2016.

Reuters

Kellyanne Conway was Trump’s campaign manager in 2016, making her one of the former president’s top advisers at the time the hush-money payment was allegedly made to Daniels. It’s unclear what Conway knew about the alleged payment, but her position appears to make her a prime witness in the case as prosecutors attempt to peel back what those in Trump’s orbit knew about his involvement. In a memoir penned by Cohen in 2020, he claimed he called Conway after cutting a check to Daniels, confirming the deal was complete and that the president could be notified. That memoir didn’t accuse Conway of brokering the deal, but said she agreed to “pass along the good news” of the payment to Trump. Conway has remained largely quiet about her former boss’ growing list of legal woes, remaining loyal to him while others, like Cohen, have done everything in their power to take him down.

Allen Weisselberg

Two men escort a handcuffed Allen Weisselberg out of court.

Allen Weisselberg was sentenced to prison in New York City a second time earlier this month.

Reuters/Brendan McDermid

Allen Weisselberg, the ex-CFO of the Trump Organization who was sentenced to five months behind bars earlier this month, is expected to be a regular feature of Trump’s trial. He’s been accused of making the arrangements for Trump to reimburse Cohen for the hush-money payment and cover the entire ordeal. He’s remained loyal to Trump, despite the allegiance being partially to blame for 76-year-old Weisselberg’s recent five-month sentence on New York’s infamous Rikers Island Jail—his second stint there in as many years.

Dylan Howard

Dylan Howard poses for a camera without smiling against a plain background.

Dylan Howard was editor in chief of the National Enquirer in 2016.

Reuters

Dylan Howard was the National Enquirer’s top editor at the time of the alleged hush-money payment. He was tasked with carrying out whatever Pecker ordered regarding Trump coverage, and was said to have been in repeated talks with Cohen about securing the rights to McDougal’s affair claims regarding Trump. Like others above, his time on the stand could shed light on the “catch and kill” strategy used by the National Enquirer to shield Trump from bad press.


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