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Lawyer describes shock at possible role in Trump’s victory in 2016 US elections

The attorney is seen as a vital building block for the prosecution’s case that Trump and his allies schemed to bury unflattering stories in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

TrumpNEW YORK: A lawyer who negotiated a pair of hush money deals at the centre of Donald Trump’s criminal trial recalled Thursday his “gallows humour” reaction to Trump’s 2016 election victory and the realisation that his hidden-hand efforts might have contributed to the win.

“What have we done?” the attorney Keith Davidson texted the then-editor of the National Enquirer, which had buried stories of extramarital sexual encounters to prevent them from surfacing in the final days of the bitterly contested presidential race.

“Oh my god,” came the response from Dylan Howard.

“There was an understanding that our efforts may have in some way—strike that—our activities may have in some way assisted the presidential campaign of Donald Trump,” Davidson told jurors.

The testimony from Davidson was designed to directly connect the hush money payments to Trump’s presidential ambitions and to bolster prosecutors’ argument that the case is about interference in the 2016 election rather than simply sex and money.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has sought to establish that link not just to secure a conviction but also to persuade the public of the significance of the case, which may be the only one of four Trump prosecutions to reach trial this year.

“This is sort of gallows humour. It was on election night as the results were coming in,” Davidson explained.

“There was sort of surprise among the broadcasters and others that Mr. Trump was leading in the polls, and there was a growing sense that folks were about ready to call the election.”

Davidson is seen as a vital building block for the prosecution’s case that Trump and his allies schemed to bury unflattering stories in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

He represented both porn actor Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal in negotiations that resulted in the rights to their claims of sexual encounters with Trump being purchased and then squelched in exchange for money, a tabloid industry practice known as “catch-and-kill.”

He is one of multiple key players testifying in advance of Michael Cohen, the star prosecution witness and Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer, whom Davidson has depicted as determined to protect Trump at all costs.

Trump’s lawyers sought to blunt the potential harm of Davidson’s testimony by getting him to acknowledge that he never had any interactions with Trump—only Cohen.

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