'We love Trump!': Supporters gather as hush money trial continues

Credit: AP

Donald Trump was met by roars of "we love Trump" and "USA" from supporters ahead of his appearance in court on Thursday.

His visit came before his return to court to give his witness testimony as his hush money trial enters a third day.

Fans had crowded at a union workers' construction site in New York City.

At the same time the US Supreme Court also discussed whether Mr Trump should be immune from prosecution for actions he took during his time as president.

The Supreme Court seemed highly skeptical of his claim of absolute immunity from prosecution, but it’s less clear that the justices are headed for a quick resolution.

Chief Justice John Roberts was among at least five members of Thursday's court who appeared likely to reject the claim of absolute immunity that would stop special counsel Jack Smith's prosecution of Trump on charges he conspired to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Activist outside the Supreme Court as the justices prepare to hear arguments. Credit: AP

At the hush money trial in Manhattan, Mr Trump is accused of falsifying internal Trump Organisation records as part of a scheme to bury damaging stories he feared could hurt his 2016 presidential campaign.

The allegations centre on payoffs to two women, adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said they had extramarital sexual encounters with Mr Trump years earlier.

It also focuses on a Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have a story about a child he alleged Mr Trump had out of wedlock.

Credit: AP

Mr Trump says none of these supposed sexual encounters occurred.

But there is evidence of payments having been made.

Mr Trump's former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 (£104,000) and arranged for the publisher of tabloid newspaper National Enquirer to pay McDougal $150,000 (£120,000) in a practice known as “catch-and-kill”.

This is where a publication pays for exclusive rights to someone’s story with no intention of publishing it, either as a favour to a celebrity subject or to gain leverage over the person.

Former publisher of the newspaper David Pecker took to the stand on Monday and Tuesday, and said his longtime friendship with Mr Trump culminated in an agreement to warn his personal lawyer about stories that could damage the then-White House hopeful's 2016 campaign and help quash them.

Prosecutors say Mr Trump's company reimbursed his lawyer, Mr Cohen and paid him bonuses and extra payments.

They say he obscured the true nature of those payments and falsely recorded them as Trump Organisation legal expenses.

Mr Cohen has separately pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance law in connection with the payments.

Mr Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records - a charge punishable by up to four years in prison - though it’s not clear if the judge would seek to put him behind bars.

A conviction would not prevent Mr Trump from becoming president again, but because it is a state case, he would not be able to pardon himself if found guilty.

He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.

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