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Spousal privilege: Can Melania be forced to testify against Donald Trump?

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NEW DELHI: As former President Donald Trump‘s criminal trial progresses, the question of whether former first lady Melania Trump will be called to testify has garnered significant attention. The trial, which centers on allegations that Trump falsified business records related to a hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, has listed Melania among potential witnesses.
The case involves a $130,000 payment made by Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen to Daniels to prevent her from disclosing an alleged affair with Trump ahead of the 2016 presidential election.Despite the high-profile nature of the trial and the extensive witness list, which includes Trump’s three adult children—Donald Jr, Ivanka, and Eric—it remains uncertain if Melania will take the stand.
Legal experts have noted that while it is possible for the prosecution to subpoena Melania, the likelihood of her testifying is low. “If Melania is subpoenaed by the prosecution, she would have to testify unless she can assert some sort of privilege,” explained former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani to Newsweek. The most relevant privilege here would be the spousal privilege, which protects confidential communications between spouses during their marriage.
Michael McAuliffe, another former federal prosecutor, emphasized that Melania’s direct involvement in the allegations is non-existent, as she is not connected to the underlying incidents with Daniels. “In fact, she’s the putative victim in the illicit sex part of the story,” he said, suggesting that forcing her to testify could potentially play into Trump’s narrative that the trial is more about sensationalism than legal accountability.
The trial in Manhattan also involves allegations related to payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, but the judge has limited discussions around the circumstances of those payments. Legal experts argue that compelling Melania to testify could unnecessarily sensationalize the proceedings.
Other high-profile figures listed as potential witnesses include Jared Kushner, Kellyanne Conway, Rudy Giuliani, and several former aides and campaign officials, reflecting the trial’s broad scope and its potential ramifications for Trump.
As jury selection continues, with seven jurors already chosen and efforts underway to complete the panel, the legal community and the public eagerly watch how the case unfolds and whether Melania Trump will indeed be called to testify against her husband.
(With inputs from agencies)

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