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Trump’s Hush Money Trial: Publisher’s Testimony Shifts Focus

The hush money trial of Trump, in which Pecker, a central witness, takes the stand in the midst of legal hurdles and political machinations prior to the approaching elections is under way.



U.S. Former President Donald Trump
U.S. Former President Donald Trump. Credit | AP

United States: The criminal hush money trial of Donald Trump will be resumed on Thursday, with a former tabloid publisher providing eyewitness testimony about allegedly helping Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign by burying unfavorable stories, including an extramarital affair with a former Playboy model.

Former National Enquirer publisher, 72-year-old David Pecker, is a key witness in the case against the former president’s alleged misdemeanor for falsifying business records related to the USD 130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels to silence her about an affair she claimed was between them in 2006, as reported by Reuters.

Pecker’s Testimony on “Catch and Kill” Practices

Pecker, who has not been convicted of any offense, testified on Tuesday that the Ariena paid two people for sex stories of Trump’s alleged sexual misbehavior but not published them – a practice that is known as “catch and kill.”

He was also expected to be out again on Thursday to testify about a similar fund to the former Playboy model Kristen McDougal, who said she had a one-year affair with Trump in 2007 and 2006.

McDougal is also anticipated to be present in the courtroom, next to Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, who admits that he organized the payment to American model Daniels and was later reimbursed by Trump.

Trump’s Defense and Legal Challenges

Trump responded with not-guilty pleas to 34 felony counts, and he claimed that there was no affair between him and Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford. In addition to that, he is refuting the allegations of having an affair with McDougal.

Trump’s personal lawyers suggest that it was Trump’s own money, not related to the campaign, that was being used for hush money payment to Stormy Daniels and, therefore, not illegal to do.

America’s attorneys said that this payment was a political expense that was undisclosed and that with the Enquirer’s help, they had duped the voters by putting a stop to stories about alleged extramarital affairs when Trump was faced with allegations of sexual misconduct.

The trial itself is the first to be mounted against a former US president, and fighting it is a dangerous political move for Trump, who has not only to contest the re-election with President Joe Biden but also to protect himself against three other criminal indictments, which he has also denied.

On Wednesday, he was brought in as an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal Arizona case that indicts 18 people for trying to disrupt the 2020 election results in that state.


Heads of the US Supreme Court case schedule are Thursday in Trump’s arguments of President immunity from criminal prosecution for actions he performed in office, an appeal that has postponed his prosecution on charges relating to his attempts to reject the 2020 election outcome.

Just like the deposition, Trump was required to be present in New York during the trial, and Juan Merchan, the justice, adjudged his request to attend the Supreme Court arguments.

“We have a big case today; the judge isn’t allowing me to go,” Trump said Thursday morning while visiting a construction site.

Trump has been complaining that the trial is taking place during election season, preventing him from campaigning. He even uses his regular appearances at the courthouse as mini-rallies or stump speeches.

Trump’s Supreme Court Appeal

Through his gag order on Trump, Merchan ordered the president to avoid public criticism of the witnesses, jurors, and all other persons close to the case, including the families of the court staff.

The prosecution is suggesting that Merchan decides to sentence Trump by USD 1000 for each of the ten posts which violated the order; among them are the ones in which he said that Daniels and Cohen were sleazebags, as reported by Reuters.

Trump’s Campaign Impact

Trump asserts that the gag order amounts to restricting his right to freedom of speech, and he accuses Merchan of giving him special treatment.


Hunter Biden’s Ex-Wife to Testify in Firearm Possession Case

The trial will involve whether Hunter Biden falsely stated about his drug use in a bid to buy a pistol: witness accounts from his former wife and former girlfriends.




Hunter Biden's Ex-Wife Kathleen Buhle

United States – Hunter Biden’s ex-wife is set to testify about what the young Biden’s drug habits were as a defense claim in a case that suggests he lied about them to possess a firearm.

On charges of possession of a firearm by a user of a controlled substance, prosecutors said they would prove that Hunter Biden allowed his anti-drug screening test to come back clean when he purchased a revolver in October 2018, knowing that he was a drug user, as reported by Reuters.

The jurors viewed the text messages, banking records, and some clips of the audiobook of the Then Hunter Biden memoir that the prosecutors say show the client was habitually using crack at the time he bought the gun, one day after the purchase.

“Addiction is not a crime. Lying is,” prosecutor Derek Hines said.

Hunter Biden, 54 years old, has not quit guilty to three felonies, charging him with filing false information while purchasing the gun and possession of the prohibited firearm for 11 days.

The trial comes in the wake of another precedent setting case; the criminal indictment of former President of the United States, Donald Trump, who became the first US president to be convicted of a felony last week. Trump is the Republican candidate for president against Joe Biden of the Democratic party in the Nov. 5 poll.

Something was not mentioned at Hunter Biden’s trial regarding that aspect, but the prosecution used the phrase “no one is above the law.

Testimonies and Defense

Hines said that jurors would hear Kathleen Buhle, Hunter Biden’s ex-wife, and his former girlfriend, Zoe Kestan, and Hallie Biden, who was his brother, Beau Biden’s wife. They all can testify about Hunter Biden’s problems with drugs and alcohol throughout the years, Hines noted.

Prosecution’s Evidence and Statements

Lowell, who has represented Hunter Biden in an ongoing grand jury investigation, noted that his client contradicted these claims in his memoir titled “Beautiful Things,” published in 2021. Hunter Biden’s lawyer insisted that the evidence would demonstrate the subject was sober when purchasing the firearm and viewed himself as ‘not a user’ at the time.

Context and Political Backdrop

Trump is expected to be sentenced on July 11th after he was convicted by a jury in the state court in New York last Thursday of 34 felonies of presenting fake documents to conceal payments made to a pornographic actor ahead of a sex scandal that might have had an impact on the build-up to the 2016 U. S. election, as reported by Reuters.

He has denied the allegations in three other ongoing criminal charges, two against him for his attempts to overturn his 2020 defeat by Biden and one for keeping top-secret materials at his Florida estate after his presidency in 2021.

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FDA Debate Looms Over MDMA Therapy’s Role in PTSD Treatment

The FDA on MDMA therapy for PTSD is going to usher a new era in the therapeutic management of mental health with implications in treatment for millions of patients with the disorder.




FDA Debate Looms Over MDMA Therapy's Role in PTSD Treatment

United States – An important meeting on the approval of a new treatment using one of the substances considered hallucinogens is to be held on Tuesday as the advisers to the US Food and Drug Administration are set to deliberate on the therapy based on MDMA for PTSD.

The session, conducted by the independent experts of the agency, is the closest that a drug based on MDMA, commonly referred to as ecstasy or molly, has ever gotten within the FDA procedure for approval, as reported by Reuters.

Addressing Mental Health Needs

This comes after several similar efforts have been pursued by supporters claiming that substances such as MDMA are effective in the treatment of mental health and millions also have other uses that are not related to drug use in society.

The treatment is a capsule containing or containing pure MDMA manufactured by the public-benefit corporation Lykos Therapeutics and to be taken in combination with hourly, full-spectrum sessions of talk therapy by a licensed, entheogenic mental health provider.

Promising Results and Concerns

MDMA, in combination with consultation, has indicated lower PTSD scores in trials with over 190 patients in contrast to placebo.

However, the FDA’s staff reviewers voiced concerns on Friday about how patients suffering from PTSD in the clinical trials knew whether they were given MDMA or a placebo due to the mind-altering effects of the drug.

A Step Towards Innovation

“I don’t think that is as much of a concern because even if it is an enhanced placebo effect, people are still getting better,” said David Olson, director of the UC Davis Institute for Psychedelics and Neurotherapeutics.

“But the bigger question is, what is the risk to those individuals?”

PTSD is among the largely prevalent mental health disorders, which impacts 13 million people within the United States of America and is prevalent among war veterans. This indicates that there is still a big gap in the development of new treatments for PTSD in this regard since the other drugs do not affect every person.

Lykos treatment is one treatment out of many psychedelic drugs given to patients with untreatable mental disorders, including Compass Pathways’ (CMPS. O) drug, which is derived from magic mushrooms.

The agency’s staff discussed restrictions on its use and oversight in briefing documents delivered on Friday. The FDA also pointed out the increase in both blood pressure and pulse in the trials and instances of hepatic toxicity.

According to Olson, the approval could provide “a new way to attack the problem, but as a single agent, it is not going to be a large driver” because of the cost and logistical challenges associated with it, as reported by Reuters.

“It’s important because it would be the first in this class of molecules, but I don’t think it will be the last; it will be replaced by compounds that have superior properties to MDMA.”

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British Tech Pioneer Faces Fraud Charges in HP Acquisition Trial

The fraud trial of Lynch is a follow-up on the disastrous HP-Autonomy interface, which has been a significant turning point on the technology as well as corporate governance.




British Tech Pioneer Faces Fraud Charges in HP Acquisition Trial

United States – Jurors at the trial of British tech pioneer Mike Lynch may hear closing arguments in San Francisco on Monday in the fraud case regarding Hewlett-Packard’s (HPE. N) acquisition of Lynch’s software company Autonomy for USD 11.2 billion in 2011.

The Cambridge University-educated businessman testified for the defense at the trial, explaining that he had no criminal intentions and that HP performed the merger poorly, as reported by Reuters.

HP then proceeded to write down the value of Autonomy by USD 8.8 billion in one year since the acquisition.

Lynch and the former Autonomy finance executive Stephen Chamberlain have been charged with fraud and conspiracy for planning to artificially increase the company’s revenue starting in 2009, in part to attract a buyer.

Allegations of Fraud

Prosecutors claimed the two inflated Autonomy revenue through back-dated transactions and ‘round-trip’ transactions, where money was paid upfront by the customer through a fictitious contract.

During the trial, which started mid-March, the jurors were presented with over thirty government witnesses, including Leo Apotheker, the former HP chief who was dismissed just a few weeks after the purchase of Autonomy was declared.

Lynch’s legal advisors prepared the trial, stating that HP wanted to acquire Autonomy ahead of potential competitors, so the due diligence was performed quickly before the sale was closed.

Lynch Denies Involvement in Accounting Decisions

Taking the stand, Lynch denied that he was involved directly with the accounting decisions at issue and asserted that he was more concerned with technology issues at the time, leaving the finance-related matters in the hands of Sushovan Hussain, Autonomy’s former chief financial officer.

Hussain was convicted in 2018 in the same court in another trial. He was released from U. S. prison in January following his five-year imprisonment term.

Lynch was identified as one of the UK’s leading tech enablers in a bracket that included Steve Jobs of Apple and Bill Gates of Microsoft.

Fallout from Controversial Acquisition Continues

The Autonomy deal was one of the largest British technology deals that was supposed to boost HP’s software segment. Rather, it gave rise to a chain of cruel and costly court proceedings, as reported by Reuters.

Lynch and Hussain were found liable for the defamation in a civil trial in London in 2022, though the amount of the damages remains unconcluded. The company is requesting 4 billion US Dollars in total funding.

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