Star witness Michael Cohen arrives at Trump ‘hush money’ trial for long-awaited testimony

NEW YORK — The star prosecution witness in Donald Trump’s hush cash trial is about to take the stand Monday with testimony that might assist form the end result of the primary legal case in opposition to an American president.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and private fixer, is by far the Manhattan district legal professional’s most vital witness within the case, and his anticipated look alerts that the trial is getting into its last stretch. Prosecutors say they could wrap up their presentation of proof by the top of the week.

Cohen is predicted to testify about his position in arranging hush cash funds on Trump’s behalf throughout his first presidential marketing campaign, together with to porn actor Stormy Daniels, who instructed jurors final week that the $130,000 that she acquired in 2016 was meant to stop her from going public a couple of sexual encounter she says she had with Trump in a lodge suite a decade earlier.

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen arriving at Manhattan Criminal Court for the trial of former US President Donald Trump in New York City, May 13, 2024
Former Trump legal professional Michael Cohen arriving at Manhattan Criminal Court for the trial of former US President Donald Trump in New York City, May 13, 2024. AFP through Getty Images

He additionally issues as a result of the reimbursements he acquired kind the premise of the fees — 34 felony counts of falsifying enterprise data — in opposition to Trump. Prosecutors say the reimbursements have been logged as authorized bills to hide the funds’ true function.

Defense attorneys have teed up a bruising cross-examination of Cohen, telling jurors throughout opening statements that the fixer-turned-foe is an “admitted liar” with an “obsession to get President Trump.”

The testimony of a witness with such intimate information of Trump’s actions may heighten the authorized publicity of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee if jurors deem him sufficiently credible.

But politically, prosecutors’ reliance on a witness with such a checkered previous — Cohen pleaded responsible to federal expenses associated to the funds and to mendacity to Congress — may very well be a boon for Trump as he fundraises off his authorized woes and paints the case because the product of a tainted legal justice system.

Either method, his position as star prosecution witness additional cements the disintegration of a mutually useful relationship that was as soon as so shut that Cohen famously mentioned he’d “take a bullet for Trump.”

After Cohen’s dwelling and workplace have been raided by the FBI in 2018, Trump showered him with affection on social media, praising him as a “fine person with a wonderful family” and predicting — incorrectly — that Cohen wouldn’t “flip.”

Michael Cohen departs for Manhattan Supreme Court.
Michael Cohen departs for Manhattan Supreme Court.

Months later, Cohen did precisely that, pleading responsible that August to federal campaign-finance expenses by which he implicated Trump.

By that time, the connection was irrevocably damaged, with Trump posting on the social media platform then generally known as Twitter: “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!”

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Cohen later admitted mendacity to Congress a couple of Moscow actual property undertaking that he had pursued on Trump’s behalf through the warmth of the 2016 Republican marketing campaign. He mentioned he lied to be in line with Trump’s “political messaging.”

Prosecutors are anticipated to elicit detailed testimony from Cohen about his previous crimes in hopes of blunting the affect of protection attorneys’ questioning and exhibiting that they’re not attempting to cover his misdeeds.

But it’s unclear how efficient that will probably be, on condition that protection attorneys will probably be ready to take advantage of all of the challenges that accompany a witness like Cohen.

Michael D. Cohen and a woman walking on a sidewalk in New York
A gag order was positioned on Coehn to cease him from speaking about Trump.

In addition to portray Cohen as untrustworthy, they’re additionally anticipated to solid him as vindictive, vengeful and agenda-driven.

Since their fallout, Cohen has emerged as a relentless and typically crude critic of Trump, showing as lately as final week in a live Tik Tok carrying a shirt that includes a determine resembling Trump together with his arms cuffed, behind bars.

The decide on Friday urged prosecutors to inform him to chorus from making any extra statements concerning the case or Trump.

“He has talked extensively about his desire to see President Trump go to prison,” Trump legal professional Todd Blanche mentioned throughout opening statements. “He has talked extensively about his desire to see President Trump’s family go to prison. He has talked extensively about President Trump getting convicted in this case.”

No matter how his testimony unfolds, Cohen is indisputably central to the case, as evidenced by the truth that his identify was talked about within the jury’s presence throughout opening statements greater than 130 occasions — greater than every other particular person.

Other witnesses, together with former National Enquirer writer David Pecker and former Trump adviser Hope Hicks, have testified at size concerning the position Cohen performed in arranging to stifle tales that have been feared to be dangerous to Trump’s 2016 candidacy.

And jurors heard an audio recording of Trump and Cohen discussing a plan to buy the rights to a narrative of a Playboy mannequin, Karen McDougal, who has mentioned she had an affair with Trump.

During an enormous rally on Saturday within the southern New Jersey resort city of Wildwood, Trump revived his criticism of the case, wrongly blaming President Joe Biden for orchestrating the New York expenses, calling the case a “Biden show trial.”

That argument ignores the fact that the hush cash case was filed by native prosecutors in Manhattan who don’t work for the Justice Department or every other White House workplace. The Justice Department has mentioned the White House has had no involvement within the two legal circumstances in opposition to Trump introduced by particular counsel Jack Smith.

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