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Donald Trump’s fixer-turned-foe, Michael Cohen, directly implicated the former president in a hush money scheme Monday, telling jurors that his celebrity client approved hefty payouts to stifle stories about sex that he feared could be harmful to his 2016 White House campaign.

“You handle it,” Cohen quoted Trump as telling him after learning that a doorman had come forward with a claim that Trump had fathered a child out-of-wedlock. The Trump Tower doorman was paid $30,000 to keep the story “off the market” even though the claim was ultimately deemed unfounded.

A similar episode occurred after Cohen alerted Trump that a Playboy model was alleging that she and Trump had an extramarital affair. Again, the order was clear: “Make sure it doesn’t get released,” Cohen said Trump told him. The woman, Karen McDougal, was paid $150,000 in a hush money arrangement that was made after Trump was given a “complete and total update on everything that transpired.”

“What I was doing was at the direction of and benefit of Mr. Trump,” Cohen testified.

Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and personal fixer, is by far the Manhattan district attorney’s most important witness in the case, and his much-awaited appearance on the stand signaled that the first criminal trial of a former American president is entering its final stretch.

The testimony of a witness with such intimate knowledge of Trump’s activities could heighten the legal exposure of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee if jurors deem him sufficiently credible. But prosecutors’ reliance on a witness with such a checkered past — Cohen pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the payments — also carries sizable risks with a jury. In addition, it could be a boon to Trump politically as he raises money off his legal woes and paints the case as the product of a tainted criminal justice system.

Though jurors have heard from others about the tabloid industry practice of “catch-and-kill,” in which rights to a story are purchased so that it can then be quashed, Cohen’s testimony is crucial to prosecutors because of his proximity to Trump and because he says he was in direct communication with the then-candidate about embarrassing stories he was scrambling to prevent from surfacing.

Besides payments to the doorman and to McDougal, another sum went to porn actor Stormy Daniels, who told jurors last week that the $130,000 she received was meant to prevent her from going public about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in a hotel suite a decade earlier.

Cohen also matters because the reimbursements he received from that payment form the basis of the charges against Trump — 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Prosecutors say the reimbursements were logged, falsely, as legal expenses to conceal the payments’ true purpose.

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