Michael Cohen testifies in hush money trial that he lied to protect Trump: Live updates

Hush money trial ‘weaponised’ against Trump, speaker Johnson claims

Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial continues at Manhattan Criminal Court with further testimony from the defendant’s estranged former “fixer” Michael Cohen after the pair came face to face in Judge Juan Merchan’s courtroom on Monday.

Cohen is the attorney who made the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels at the heart of the case in the hope of buying her silence about a sexual encounter she claims she had with Mr Trump in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in July 2006.

Today, Cohen’s testimony focused on the heart of the case — the fraudulent invoices and checks to cover up his reimbursement. Cross-examination begins soon.

The former president denies the affair and the 34 felony counts brought against him by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, who accuses him of falsifying business records to hide the payout.

Ms Daniels herself took to the witness stand last week to deliver some highly explicit and embarrassing evidence against Mr Trump and more than held her own in response to hostile cross-examination from the defence, which worked hard to discredit her.

Alex Woodward and Kelly Rissman are covering the trial for The Independent from Manhattan Criminal Court.


Court breaks for lunch

With Cohen’s direct examination concluded, the court breaks for lunch and will resume at 2.15pm.

The defense will begin cross-examination after lunch and it is expected to be tough.

It is believed that lead attorney Todd Blanche will lead the cross-examination of Cohen, but it could also be Susan Necheles or Emil Bove, who have handled other witnesses earlier in the trial.

Oliver O’Connell14 May 2024 17:56


Hoffinger: “Do you have any regrets about your past work and association with Mr Trump?”

Cohen: “I do … I regret doing things for him that I should not have. Lying. Bullying people in order to effectuate a goal. I don’t regret working for the Trump Organization, as I expressed before. Some very interesting and great times. But to keep the loyalty and to do things that he had asked me to do, I violated my moral compass, and I suffered the penalty, as did my family.”

Hoffinger: “Nothing further.”

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 17:54


He invited Stormy Daniels on Mea Culpa. He thought it was time to do so; they had never met before. He wanted to apologize.

Hoffinger: “Do you continue to be on the receiving end of Trump’s public comments about you?”

We see Trump’s “horseface” post on Truth Social about Stormy Daniels.

Asked by Hoffinger about it, Cohen notes that Trump sued him for “half a billion dollars”

The impact was “financial” and “emotional.” Trump ultimately dismissed the case.

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 17:53


The prosecution seems to be trying to nip all of the future cross-examination questions about his credibility in the bud.

They’ve now gone into great detail about his guilty plea/previous lies made for Trump and “false statements” on invoices and are now touching on how he’s made money from his podcasts and books, in which he has discussed Trump (but not solely).

Kelly Rissman14 May 2024 17:49


Cohen also doesn’t own taxi medallions anymore, for the same reason. He also sold his real estate. He has a primary apartment and a second apartment.

How does he make his income now?

“Predominantly, it’s media and entertainment”

“While I was on home confinement I started my first podcast, Mea Culpa.”

“It was my responsibility, which I take, and the second because it was my initials.

He discusses “news of the day”.

Disloyal, which is a memoir … I wrote that while I was in prison … in order to pass the time.

“The book’s about many different things. My youth growing up, my wife and experiences working for Trump and the Trump Organization.”

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 17:48


We’re on Cohen’s two phones seized by law enforcement in 2018.

Questions from Trump’s team have suggested that they were manipulated because they had been turned on at some point. He didn’t get them back until 2020.

Cohen had forfeited his phones again to the Manhattan DA’s office in 2023. (Again, Team Trump previously argued that Cohen manipulated the phones.)

Cohen maintains that he shouldn’t have been charged for the tax violations. This came under intense scrutiny during the civil fraud case when Trump attorney Alina Habba was pacing around the court yelling at him.

He didn’t dispute the facts of the case against him but felt he was overcharged. Habba and Trump’s attorneys accused him of perjury.

Here prosecutors are anticipating the defense bringing this back up to undermine him, e.g., How can he be credible if he lied like that?

What did you mean when you said you lied to US District Judge William Pauley?

“I was going to take responsibility because the underlying fact, I never disputed, but it goes back again to the issue that I was given 48 hours to accept their plea offer or they were going to file an 80-page indictment that included my wife, and I was going to protect my wife.”

Are you still a practicing attorney?

“No ma’am. I lost my license as a result of this.” (Felony convictions)

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 17:45


Cohen is recalling how he was sent back to prison while awaiting ankle monitoring while on furlough.

Arriving at a federal prison facility, he was handed a two-page document that “didn’t look like a federal document” and was full of “typos” and “spelling mistakes.” It included a “broad paragraph of First Amendment violations – I’m not allowed to speak to the press.”

Did the agreement prevent you from speaking or writing publicly?

I asked them if he could tamp down the language – I was working on a book.

As a result of questioning it, were you sent back to prison?

“Back to solitary confinement.”

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 17:34


Cohen was ultimately sentenced to 36 months incarceration and 36 months supervised release and ordered to pay more than $1m restitution stemming from unpaid taxes from 2012 through 2016.

Questioning now moves on to Cohen’s bombshell testimony to Congress in 2019 which kicked off criminal and civil investigations in New York, and which is why he is testifying at Trump’s trial today.

In that congressional testimony, he outlined the monthly reimbursement payments.

“I apologized to Congress, I apologized to my family, I apologized to the country.”

He apologized to lawmakers for lying in his 2017 hearing, and to the public “for lying to them in a way that suppressed information that the citizenry had a right to know in order to make a determination on the individual seeking the highest position in the land.”

Cohen ultimately served 13 months of his 36-month sentence because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 17:23


Hoffinger: “What was that day like for you, pleading guilty to all of those crimes?”

Cohen: “Worst day of my life.”

The next day, now that Cohen was cooperating with the federal probe, Trump posted:

What message did that send to you?

“Certainly displeasure. That I am no longer, I guess, important to the fold.”

What effect did that have?

“It caused a lot of angst, anxiety.”

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 17:15


Did you work with AMI on Karen McDougal’s allegations to influence the election?

Why did you work with AMI?

“In order to ensure that the possibility of Mr Trump succeeding in the election, that this would not be a hindrance.”

“At whose direction and on whose behalf did you commit that crime?”

“I worked with Dylan Howard, I worked with David Pecker.”

And under whose direction?

“At the direction of Donald J Trump … for the benefit of Donald J Trump.”

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 17:13

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