Trump trial updates: Fired White House aide Madeleine Westerhout wraps testimony as Michael Cohen expected to testify next week

Former President Donald Trump addresses the media before another day of testimony in his trial at Manhattan criminal court in New York.
Donald Trump with the media before testimony on Friday. (Victor J. Blue/Washington Post via AP, Pool)

This is Yahoo News’ succinct update on the criminal and civil cases against Trump. Here are the latest developments.

Madeleine Westerhout, a former executive assistant to then-President Donald Trump at the White House, returned to the witness stand for more cross-examination from Trump lawyer Susan Necheles. Necheles focused primarily on how mail — including Trump Organization checks — reached him at the Oval Office.

Prosecutors have alleged that Trump used alternatives to the White House mail system to conceal nefarious correspondence (such as reimbursements for hush money payments to a porn star). On Friday, Trump’s defense lawyers countered — and Westerhout agreed — that Trump simply wanted to get back to people quickly and was frustrated with the slow pace of mail at the White House.

After Westerhout left the stand, prosecutors summoned a parade of less-familiar witnesses to affirm basic facts about the case, according to the New York Times. They included an AT&T employee and a Verizon employee to validate phone records, as well as two paralegals at the Manhattan district attorney’s office to discuss data extracted from Michael Cohen’s phone and text messages between Stormy Daniels’s agent and the editor of the National Enquirer.

Before Friday's proceedings got underway, Judge Juan Merchan rejected a request by Trump's defense team to subpoena records from Mark Pomerantz, a former Manhattan prosecutor who "authored a book last year detailing tensions with District Attorney Alvin Bragg over whether to seek Trump’s indictment," the Associated Press reported.

Trump’s White House ‘gatekeeper’ details circuitous mail system: On Thursday, Westerhout testified that she communicated with Cohen, Trump’s former "fixer," to set up an Oval Office meeting in February 2017 — testimony that corroborates Cohen’s claim that he met with Trump in early 2017 to discuss being reimbursed for the $130,000 in hush money he previously paid to Daniels.

After that meeting, the Trump Organization began sending checks to Cohen that were labeled “legal expenses.”

Prosecutors are trying to prove that Trump broke the law by falsifying his business expenses to conceal his reimbursement payments to Cohen, and they have cited the circuitous path the checks took — they were first sent to the home address of Trump’s longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller, who then sent them back via FedEx after they were signed by the president — as evidence of a cover-up.

In her testimony Friday, Westerhout — who remains loyal to Trump despite being fired in 2019 — agreed with Trump’s lawyer Necheles that such an arrangement could have been “a workaround” to avoid delays caused by the crush of White House mail, according to the Times.

But Necheles also said Trump did not mention his family when railing against Daniels's claims — undercutting the defense’s argument that Trump was motivated to silence Daniels for personal rather than political reasons.

Georgia Longstreet and Jaden Jarmel-Schneider, two paralegals at the Manhattan district attorney’s office, served as what’s known as custodial witnesses, authenticating documents and events central to the prosecution’s case.

Longstreet testified about texts between Daniels’s agent in 2016, Gina Rodriguez, and the editor of the National Enquirer, Dylan Howard. In the texts, Rodriguez told Howard that Daniels had sex with Trump, which Trump has denied. Rodriguez added that Daniels would confirm her story on the record for $250,000.

Jarmel-Schneider testified that he was involved in the extraction of data from Cohen’s phone, including calls between Cohen and Trump. Jarmel-Schneider certified those calls, which were promptly entered into evidence — a sign that prosecutors will return to them when the trial resumes next week.

Daniel Dixon and Jennie Tomalin — who work for AT&T and Verizon, respectively — also served as custodial witnesses. They quickly authenticated phone records, including calls involving Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's former chief financial officer who is currently serving a five-month sentence at Rikers Island in New York City for perjury, and Keith Davidson, Daniels's former lawyer.

Former Trump "fixer" turned foe Michael Cohen — the prosecution’s key witness — is expected to take the stand and testify about his role in the alleged hush money scheme when court resumes Monday at 9:30 a.m. ET. He is expected to be on the stand for several days, according to NBC News.

Responding to a request Friday from one of Trump’s lawyers, Merchan asked prosecutors to tell Cohen that he is personally asking him to stop commenting on the case or Trump. “That comes from the bench,” Merchan said. Cohen has attacked his former boss on TikTok and elsewhere.

A prosecutor said Friday that he plans to call two witnesses next week — and it’s “entirely possible” the prosecution could rest by the time court adjourns next Thursday, according to CNN.