Trump’s Former Personal Attorney Cohen Grilled by Defense at New York Trial

Wed May 15 2024
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NEW YORK, United States: Donald Trump‘s former personal attorney Michael Cohen underwent a grueling cross-examination on Tuesday as senior Republicans increasingly politicized the criminal trial by going to court to support the former president.

Trump, who is trying to recapture the White House, has been joined by his most respected entourage to date, including House Speaker Mike Johnson and political allies vying for a place on the shortlist for a vice presidential slot.

Johnson appeared before the court and repeated Trump’s constant assertion that the justice system was “armed” against scandals involving Republicans.

Cohen, who served as Trump’s “fixer” for years, is the prosecution’s star witness in the former White House’s first criminal trial.

Trump is accused of falsifying business records to reimburse Cohen for a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election, when her claims about a sexual encounter with Trump could have destroyed his campaign.

A prosecutor asked Cohen if he received 11 checks — most signed by Trump — in exchange for the 11 fake invoices he submitted to clear the payment, to which Cohen said “yes.”

Cohen said he made the payments “to ensure that the story would not come out and affect Mr. Trump’s chances of becoming President of the United States.”

The prosecutor then asked Cohen if he would have paid the money if it hadn’t been for the campaign.

“No,” Cohen said, adding that he broke the law “on behalf of Mr. Trump.”

The courtroom fight comes ahead of November’s presidential election, in which Trump hopes to avenge his 2020 defeat by Joe Biden.

Cohen answered questions from prosecutors for more than five hours Monday before being handed over to Trump’s defense attorneys for combative cross-examination.

Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche began by reminding Cohen that he had called his former boss an expletive, apparently catching Cohen by surprise.

“Sounds like something I’d say,” Cohen retorted.

The 57-year-old witness is crucial to the Manhattan district attorney’s case, and Trump’s lawyers spent the first weeks of the trial trying to undermine his credibility.

Cohen spent 13 months in prison and another year and a half under house arrest after pleading guilty in 2018 to lying to Congress and committing financial crimes.

He revealed that Trump reassured him after FBI agents searching for evidence of bank fraud and secret payments at the heart of the case raided his hotel room and office in April 2018.

“Don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine, I’m the president of the United States,” Cohen recalled Trump saying.

“I felt reassured because I had the president of the United States protecting me,” Cohen testified.

On Monday, Cohen told jurors how he arranged the payment to Daniels to prevent her from disclosing her alleged 2006 meeting with Trump, a revelation that could have been “catastrophic” for his White House bid.

Cohen told the jury how the Trump campaign would try to buy unflattering stories, a practice known as “catch and kill,” which is what allegedly happened with Daniels.

Daniels testified last week about a sexual encounter with Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe and then a financial settlement.

Trump, 77, has denied having sex with Daniels, and his lawyers unsuccessfully asked Judge Juan Merchan for a mistrial last week, saying her testimony was biased.

If convicted in the money laundering case, Trump could still run in the November election and take the presidential oath.

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