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US: House Speaker appears at Trump's Stormy Daniels trial

May 14, 2024

Mike Johnson is the latest Republican to lend public support to presumptive presidential nominee Donald Trump, who is standing trial for trying to hide an extramarital affair with a porn star.

Mike Johnson (center in striped tie) and a crowd of political supporters stand behind Donald Trump (blurred in the foreground in yellow tie) at a criminal court in New York City, New York, on Tuesday
New York is the place to be: Johnson and vice presidential hopefuls Byron Donalds, Doug Burgum and Vivek Ramaswamy became the latest Republicans to join Trump at court Image: Curtis Means/dpa/picture alliance

Speaker of the House Mike Johnson traveled to New York on Tuesday to attend the trial of ex-President Donald Trump.

Johnson is the third most powerful politician in the US government and the highest-ranking Republican to show up in support of Trump.

The former president is on trial for attempting to cover up a potentially damning political scandal by paying "hush money" to Stephanie Clifford, an adult film star better know by her screen name Stormy Daniels, then falsifying business records to hide the payment.

Trump allies attending the trial

Johnson was joined by several other Republicans Tuesday, including vice-presidential hopefuls Representative Byron Donalds of Florida, former North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy.

GOP Senators Rick Scott of Florida, Tommy Tuberville of Arkansas and JD Vance of Ohio have previously accompanied Trump, at this, the first of four current criminal cases against him to go to trial. 

US Republicans name Mike Johnson speaker of the House

Johnson repeated Trump claims about the US justice system, calling it "corrupt" and the business records falsification case against Trump a "sham." He then accused prosecutors of doctoring evidence against the real estate-mogul-turned-politician.

Johnson, a family-values conservative Christian, also attacked the credibility of witness Michael Cohen.

Former Trump lawyer Cohen organized the payments to hide the affair with porn-star Daniels — which allegedly occurred shortly after Trump's wife Melania had given birth to their son Barron — as well as orchestrating the cover-up in his capacity as Trump's "fixer" in the heat of the 2016 presidential election.

Johnson called him, "a man who is clearly on a mission for personal revenge."

Trump has been barred from speaking about witnesses such as Cohen according to a gag order issued by the presiding judge.

Trump gets good, bad news in separate legal battles

What Trump said about Johnson

Speaking outside the court Tuesday, Trump, who puts great stock in the loyalty of others, said: "I do have a lot of surrogates, and they're speaking very beautifully. And they come... from all over Washington. And they're highly respected, and they think this is the greatest scam they've ever seen."

When the Speaker recently traveled to Trump's Florida home, Mar-a-Lago, in an attempt to save his job as leader of House Republicans, the ex-president said Johnson was "doing a very good job." 

Since winning the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, Trump has wielded nearly total control over the party, dictating policy and personnel decisions almost single-handedly.

Now Trump has all but wrapped up the party's 2024 nomination and is preparing for a rematch with President Joe Biden, to whom he lost in 2020.

Trump insisted that the election was "rigged."

The former president faces state and federal cases for election interference, the mishandling of classified documents and attempting to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Current polling has running him neck and neck with Biden. 

US: 'Hush money' trial against Donald Trump begins

js/rt (AP, dpa)