Michael Cohen set to take the stand in Trump’s hush money trial

May 13, 2024
3,953 Views



Michael Cohen — the most pivotal witness in the Manhattan district attorney’s hush money case against Donald Trump — will take the stand Monday for what’s expected to be at least two days of testimony against his old boss in the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president.

In the witness box, Cohen will be seated just feet from Trump, whom he has repeatedly mocked on social media and in interviews, including since the start of the trial.

Cohen will be questioned by veteran prosecutor Susan Hoffinger, who has been preparing Cohen for his testimony for about a year. He’ll be cross-examined by Trump’s lead attorney, Todd Blanche.

The road for Cohen to reach this moment has been a long one. He has been speaking with prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office off and on for the past five years, with investigators from the DA’s office even visiting him three times while he was in federal lockup in Otisville, New York, in 2019 and 2020. 

His testimony is crucial to the prosecution. Cohen, who at one point worked as Trump’s self-described “fixer,” paid $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels in the closing days of the 2016 presidential campaign so that she would not go public with her claim that she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. He has previously said he made the payment at the direction of Trump.

Trump reimbursed Cohen in a series of payments in 2017, during the first months of his presidency. Prosecutors charge that Trump falsified business records relating to those payments by classifying them as legal services pursuant to a retainer agreement; the DA says no such agreement existed.

“Cohen was not being paid for legal services. The defendant was paying him back for an illegal payment to Stormy Daniels on the eve of the election,” prosecutor Matthew Colangelo said in his opening statement.

Daniels testified in the trial last week.

Blanche said in his opening statement that Cohen was indeed being paid for his legal services and “cannot be trusted.”

“You’ll learn that Mr. Cohen has misrepresented conversations where the only witness who was present for the conversation was Mr. Cohen and, allegedly, President Trump,” Blanche said.

“He’s a convicted felon. And he also is a convicted perjurer. He is an admitted liar,” Blanche added, referring in part to Cohen’s 2018 guilty plea to making false statements to Congress about a proposed project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Prosecutors said he’d lied in order to minimize Trump’s ties to Russia, which were being scrutinized by Congress and federal investigators at that time.

Cohen also pleaded guilty to a number of other criminal charges, including tax fraud, in what a federal judge referred to as a “veritable smorgasbord” of criminal conduct when he sentenced him to three years in prison.

Blanche also told the jury that Cohen is “obsessed” with Trump and blames him for “virtually all of his problems.”

Cohen has repeatedly mocked Trump on social media and in interviews, including since the start of the trial, leading the judge presiding over the trial to warn that Cohen could be excluded from the gag order that bars Trump from attacking witnesses if he kept it up.

In court Friday, Blanche asked Judge Juan Merchan to impose a separate gag order on Cohen for the remainder of the trial, noting that despite his public assurances that he would stop bashing Trump, Cohen recently wore a T-shirt with Trump behind bars in an orange jumpsuit during a TikTok stream.

Merchan did not grant the gag order request, but he ordered prosecutors to “communicate to Mr. Cohen that the judge is asking him to refrain from making any more statements about this case, about Mr. Trump, or about anything related to this case or the process.”

Trump has repeatedly trashed Cohen to reporters and on social media ever since 2018, when his former attorney began cooperating with authorities against him. Those comments and posts — in violation of the gag order — led to thousands of dollars in court fines against Trump.

Trump has watched Cohen testify against him before. During last year’s civil fraud trial against Trump and his company, Cohen was a key witness for the New York Attorney General’s Office. At one point, Trump stormed out during Cohen’s testimony.

Cohen’s testimony this week comes as the hush money trial is nearing the finish line. Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the judge on Friday that the DA only had two witnesses remaining, and said it was likely that the prosecution will rest by the end of this week.

Trial proceedings will be shortened this week — court is not in session on Wednesday, nor will there be any activity on Friday so that Trump can attend his sons high school graduation.

It’s unclear whether Trump will testify in his own defense. He is under no obligation to do so.



Source link

You may be interested

How to watch the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Dallas Mavericks NBA Playoffs game tonight: Game 3 livestream options
Top Stories
shares2,992 views
Top Stories
shares2,992 views

How to watch the Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Dallas Mavericks NBA Playoffs game tonight: Game 3 livestream options

new admin - May 26, 2024

Anthony Edwards #5 of the Minnesota Timberwolves looks at Kyrie Irving #11 of the Dallas Mavericks during the first quarter…

Air fryers predicted to replace ovens, according to Brits’ research
Lifestyle
shares2,874 views
Lifestyle
shares2,874 views

Air fryers predicted to replace ovens, according to Brits’ research

new admin - May 26, 2024

A poll of 2,000 adults found 53% of 18-24-year-olds predict the end is nigh for the kitchen centrepiece. This view…

How to watch the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race today: Livestream options, starting time, more
Top Stories
shares3,176 views
Top Stories
shares3,176 views

How to watch the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR race today: Livestream options, starting time, more

new admin - May 26, 2024

Kyle Larson, driver of the #5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Cup Series AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway…