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Melania Trump Was Apparently Behind Access Hollywood–Tape Spin

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Melania Trump was the one who suggested that the infamous Access Hollywood tape, in which her husband, Donald Trump, bragged about sexual assault, be spun as nothing more than “locker-room talk” during the 2016 election, his former fixer Michael Cohen claimed on Monday. The revelation came during Cohen’s testimony at the former president’s criminal hush-money trial in Manhattan.

Cohen, who was once Trump’s right-hand man, alleges that the then-candidate directed him to pay $130,000 to adult-film star Stormy Daniels to bury the story of her sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier. Prosecutors allege that Trump paid Cohen back and later falsified his business records to disguise the reimbursement. The deal came in the final days of the 2016 election as an embattled Trump faced backlash for both the Access Hollywood tape and the subsequent wave of sexual-assault allegations against him.

“The spin he wanted put on it was that this is locker-room talk,” Cohen testified, “something that Melania had recommended, or at least he told me that’s what Melania had thought it was and use that in order to get control over the story and to minimize its impact on him and his campaign.”

When the tape was made public in October 2016, Trump released a statement saying, “This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago.” Melania also played into the narrative and defended her husband at the time, claiming that he had been “egged on” by then–Access Hollywood host Billy Bush to engage in “boy talk” and say “dirty and bad stuff.”

On Monday, Cohen testified that, not long after the tape’s release, he learned that Daniels was trying to sell the story of her affair with Trump. Cohen claims that once Trump found out, the candidate directed him to bury the affair with Daniels, as he feared it’d cost him the White House. Trump’s attorneys have argued in their defense that he wanted the deal to protect his family. In her testimony, former Trump aide Hope Hicks said that he valued Melania’s opinion. “She doesn’t weigh in all the time, but when she does, it’s really meaningful to him and he really, really respects what she has to say,” she said. Hicks also testified that Trump was concerned his family would be “hurt or embarrassed” by the mounting scandals during the campaign.

But during his testimony, Cohen suggested that his former boss didn’t particularly care about protecting his family. He said he asked Trump what Melania would think about the scandal. “He goes, ‘How long do you think I’ll be on the market for? Not long,’” Cohen said. “He wasn’t thinking about Melania. This was all about the campaign.”

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Andrea González-Ramírez , 2024-05-13 22:31:55

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