Will Melania testify against Donald Trump?

Donald Trump, left, looks ahead with a frowning facial expression, while Melania, right, with wavy blonde hair, turns her head right to look at him with a faint smile.

Will Melania testify against Donald Trump?

Giorgio Viera/AFP via Getty Images

As the opening remarks of Trump's 'hush money' trial looms, many are wondering who will be called to the witness stand, but one name keeps popping up: Melania Trump.

Speculation around the former President's wife being called the witness stand has been building, but how likely is it that Melania will be called as a witness?

Trump's criminal trial centres around the hush money payment case, in which the 77-year-old is facing 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The case involves many high-profile figures, including adult film actress Stormy Daniels, former Trump fixer Michael Cohen and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

During the first day of trial, Judge Juan Merchan read the names of possible witnesses, instructing prospective jurors on Monday to advise the court if any of those individuals might affect their ability to be fair and impartial. That list included three of Trump's adult children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. But it also included former First Lady Melania Trump.

Whilst it's still unclear on whether Melania will be called to testify, legal experts told Newsweekshe could be forced by the prosecution.

"If Melania is subpoenaed by the prosecution, she would have to testify unless she can assert some sort of privilege," former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani explained.

In this case, the obvious privilege is spousal privilege, which is codified in New York law and "protects the confidential communications between spouses during the course of the marriage."

However, even though there is a possibility of Melania being a trial witness, it seems that it is unlikely to actually happen. "The likelihood of that occurring is extremely low to non-existent," former federal prosecutor and elected state attorney Michael McAuliffe told Newsweek.

This is because Melania has no involvement in Trump's affair with Daniels.

"In fact, she's the putative victim in the illicit sex part of the story," McAuliffe said.

The case focuses on Daniels allegedly being paid $130,000 hush money set up by Cohen to keep her alleged affair with Trump a secret leading up to the 2016 election. Prosecutors claim Trump falsified business records by paying Cohen $420,000 as reimbursement for that payment and other expenses but labelling it as a legal fee.

But experts say the real aspect of the case that will make it unlikely for Melania to be called to the witness stand is the optics surrounding subpoenaing the former First Lady, according to McAuliffe.

"Any government attempt to force her to be present as a potential witness would just feed Trump's preferred narrative that the case is about airing salacious rumors instead of holding Trump accountable for crimes," he said.

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