NEW: Alvin Bragg’s Top Witness Backfires, Helps Trump With Testimony

If Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was pinning the outcome of his case on a former top aide to President Donald Trump, then an acquittal appeared more likely after her testimony.

Hope Hicks, who led President Trump’s communication team through the 2016 campaign and a year into his administration, testified on Friday that the burying of stories alleging affairs between Trump and two women was done primarily to protect the president’s family. Hicks’ read of the 2016 hush money payment is a blow to Bragg’s case, where he has charged President Trump with falsifying business records to conceal a campaign expense. If a story about adult film star Stormy Daniels were to come out eventually, she said, Trump had preferred it occur after the campaign, but that protecting former First Lady Melania Trump from the sordid details was most important.

“Absolutely…I don’t think he wanted anyone in his family to be hurt or embarrassed about anything on the campaign. He wanted them to be proud of him,” Hicks said according to Fox News. She added that Melania’s opinion about his campaign was extremely important to him. “President Trump really values Mrs. Trump’s opinion, and she doesn’t weigh in all the time, but when she does it’s really meaningful to him.”

“He really, really respects what she has to say,” she continued according to Politico. “I think he was just concerned about what her perception of this would be.”

Bragg has previously alleged that a $130,000 payment by former Trump attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen was an “unlawful means” to influence the 2016 election. Hicks also shared her thoughts about Cohen, a felon and star witness for the prosecution. “He used to like to call himself Mr. Fix-It, but it was only because he first broke it,” said told the jury.

Hicks recalled a conversation between Trump and Cohen following the payment to Daniels. “Mr. Trump was saying he had spoken to Michael and that Michael had paid this woman to protect him from a false allegation,” she testified. “And that Michael felt like it was his job to protect him, and that that’s what he was doing. And he did it out of the kindness of his own heart and he never told anybody about it.”

After the Wall Street Journal ran a story days before the election detailing a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and mentioning Daniels, Hicks said Trump was “concerned how it would be viewed by his wife,” asking her to ensure a paper was not delivered to his house that day. Going further, Hicks downplayed the effect that Trump believed such stories would have on his campaign; when the “Access Hollywood” tape was released, Hicks said, the former president acknowledged that it “wasn’t good” but was “pretty standard stuff for two guys chatting.”

Legal observers believe Bragg’s case may be the weakest among the criminal trials President Trump is expected to face this year. Hicks’ testimony – and the further strained credulity of Cohen, who now hosts a podcast where he comments on the trial – could be key elements of an acquittal or hung jury.

“There’s a risk for the prosecution because … a lot of this stuff is not criminal, and I disagree that some of this would be an in-kind campaign contribution because the Supreme Court’s holding in Citizens United did kind of move this outside of that,” former Trump attorney Tim Parlatore said according to the Daily Caller.

“And so if they spend too much time on this, especially right at the beginning, and an appellate court looks at it and say[s], ‘you’ve prejudiced this jury by presenting all this information that is salacious, amoral, but not criminal,’ then that is the type of thing that can improperly sway the jury to the other side.”