Prosecutors have recording of Trump speaking to witness in hush money criminal case

Prosecutors in Donald Trump’s criminal case in Manhattan have shared a recording of the former president speaking to a witness with Mr Trump’s legal team.

The witness hasn’t been identified, a document made public by the prosecutorial office on Friday stated, according to CBS News.

The document is known as an automatic discovery form and outlines the charges that a defendant is facing and also provides an overview of the evidence gathered against Mr Trump that’s set to be put forward at trial or at a preliminary hearing.

Both Mr Trump’s lawyers and the press had made several requests that an automatic discovery form be made public after Mr Trump’s 4 April arrest.

Mr Trump, the first ex-president in US history to be criminally charged, has pleaded not guilty to the 34 counts of falsifying business records in the hush money case. The 34 instances are alleged to have taken place between 14 February and 5 December 2017 during Mr Trump’s first year in the White House.

In the lead-up to the 2016 election, Mr Trump is alleged to have directed allies to make payments to women claiming to have had affairs with him. Former Trump fixer Michael Cohen paid off adult actor Stormy Daniels and the National Review paid for the story from former Playboy model Karen McDougal, only to never publish her account.

Part of the document recaps electronic evidence that will be handed over, in which a Manhattan prosecutor signalled that they have shared with the defence team a “recording of a conversation between defendant and a witness”.

That part of the discovery form also states that prosecutors are set to make public recordings of calls between witnesses and other individuals.

The form was finished on Tuesday, the same day as Mr Trump appeared virtually for a second hearing in the criminal case. Judge Juan Merchan allowed Mr Trump to appeal via video call to avoid the massive security measures required for his arraignment last month.

Judge Merchan has issued a protective order blocking Mr Trump from publishing or even having in his possession large parts of the evidence that’s set to be handed over. Mr Trump is also barred from speaking about or posting on social media any material from the case that hasn’t already been made public.

Part of the information, which prosecutors have labelled “Limited Dissemination Materials’’ will only be accessible to Mr Trump when his lawyers are present.

Judge Merchan told the former president that if he doesn’t adhere to the ruling, he can be fined or sanctions, “up to a finding of contempt, which is punishable”.

The trial has been scheduled for 25 March next year, in the middle of the Republican presidential primary.