Trump trial updates: Hope Hicks testifies about Trump’s reaction to 'Access Hollywood' tape, affair allegations

Courtroom sketch of Hope Hicks holding a tissue to her eye while on the witness stand.
Hope Hicks, a former top aide to former President Donald Trump, in a courtroom sketch. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

Former President Donald Trump’s former campaign aide and White House communications director Hope Hicks testified Friday about her efforts to knock down negative stories about her boss during the 2016 campaign. This is Yahoo News' succinct update on the criminal and civil cases against Trump. Here are the latest developments.

Hicks, an member of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and his White House team, gave at times emotional testimony about her efforts to help navigate negative stories about Trump's alleged extramarital affairs and his own comments about his ability to sexually assault women with impunity that were made public in the leaked “Access Hollywood” tape. Her remarks detailed her dealings with former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who prosecutors allege, at Trump's direction, paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 for her silence. Hicks's testimony bolstered the prosecution’s case that Trump’s team went to great lengths to bury negative stories about Trump during the 2016 campaign, but she also portrayed Cohen as a “rogue” actor, a claim that is at the heart of Trump’s defense.

Hope Hicks takes the witness stand: During questioning from prosecutors, Hicks made clear that Trump, who she said she had not spoken to since 2022, was highly involved in his 2016 presidential campaign: “Everybody that works there in some sense reports to Mr. Trump,” she testified, according to the New York Times, adding, “I reported to Mr. Trump,” and “Mr. Trump was responsible.” After being contacted by the Washington Post about a forthcoming story about Trump’s comments about assaulting women made during an off-camera portion of an interview with “Access Hollywood,” Hicks sent an email, shown to jurors, in which she told other staffers, “Deny, deny, deny," according to CNN. Hicks then told the jury, “The tape was damaging. This was a crisis."

Hicks also testified about her frequent communications with Cohen, especially three days before the 2016 election, regarding an article that had been published by the Wall Street Journal that detailed alleged affairs Trump had with Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal. "Everything we talked about in the context of this time period and this time frame was about whether or not there was an impact on the campaign,” Hicks testified.

Asked about her statement to the Journal that it was "absolutely, unequivocally" untrue that Trump had sex with Daniels, Hicks testified that she was told to say that by Trump. But Hicks also noted that Trump was “concerned” about how the story would look to his wife, Melania.

Hicks also testified that Trump had told her Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 “out of the kindness of his heart.”

Cross-examination and tears: As Trump’s lawyer Emil Bove began his questioning of Hicks, she was overcome by emotion and started to cry, leading Judge Juan Merchan to excuse the jury for a short break. Hicks, who earlier spoke glowingly about working for Trump, then testified that Cohen sometimes “went rogue” during the 2016 campaign and would “try to insert himself at certain moments,” adding, “He liked to call himself a fixer, or Mr. Fix-it, and it was only because he first broke it.” Those claims are at the heart of Trump’s defense in the case.

Monitoring Trump: Two other prosecution witnesses testified earlier on Friday — Douglas Daus, a forensic analyst with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, and Georgia Longstreet, a paralegal with the DA’s office assigned to track Trump’s social media posts. Daus wrapped up the account he began on Thursday about recordings extracted from Cohen’s phone that included conversations with Trump about a hush money payment to McDougal. Longstreet testified about Trump’s social media posts regarding the “Access Hollywood” tape and accusations of extramarital affairs.

The prosecution will resume its presentation in the trial on Monday at 9:30 a.m. ET.