Infamous 'Access Hollywood' tape was 'catalyst' for Stormy Daniels hush payment, prosecutors say

The DA wants the tape to be admissible in Trump's upcoming hush money trial.

March 5, 2024, 3:06 PM

The public release of the now-infamous 2005 "Access Hollywood" tape before the 2016 presidential election "served as the catalyst" for Donald Trump's hush payment to Stormy Daniels and should be admissible at Trump's upcoming hush money trial, prosecutors argued in a court filing Tuesday.

Trump's defense team had asked the judge to keep the tape out of the trial, arguing it is "inflammatory" and of limited value.

On the tape, Trump can be heard saying that "when you're a star, you can do anything" to women, including "Grab them by the p----."

"I said it, I was wrong and I apologize," Trump said after the tape surfaced about a month before the 2016 election.

The Manhattan district attorney's office argued the tape "bears directly on defendant's intent and motive" for making the hush payment about three weeks later, then allegedly falsifying business records to hide the hush payment's true purpose from voters.

Trump in April pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment charging him with falsifying business records in connection with the hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 election. The former president has denied all wrongdoing.

"Indeed, the evidence will demonstrate that the release of the Access Hollywood Tape caused a panic within the campaign about defendant's electoral prospects and ultimately served as the catalyst for consummating the Stormy Daniels payoff," assistant district attorney Matthew Colangelo wrote in Tuesday's filing.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump arrives at a campaign rally, March 2, 2024, in Richmond, Va.
Steve Helber/AP

The district attorney's filing also opposed a defense request to keep Cohen from testifying at trial.

The defense argued prosecutors would be suborning perjury if they called Cohen to the witness stand, but prosecutors called the argument "intentionally inflammatory and totally meritless" since Cohen would be subject to cross-examination.

"In an argument that reads more like a press release than a legal filing, defendant makes the obviously unsupportable request that the Court preclude one of the People's witnesses from testifying at trial on the ground that defendant anticipates that he will disbelieve the witness's expected testimony," the filing said.

Cohen served time in federal prison for lying to Congress in 2017, but Judge Arthur Engoron, who presided over Trump's recent civil fraud trial in New York, found that Cohen "told the truth" when he testified that Trump directed him to inflate his net worth.

"And it is misleading for defendant to argue otherwise without even advising this Court that Justice Engoron found Cohen's testimony credible and truthful," Colangelo wrote in Tuesday's filing.

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