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Trump defense lawyers set to attack Michael Cohen’s credibility as hush money trial resumes: live updates


Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime fixer-turned-foe, is slated to face a full day of cross-examination Thursday as the former president’s legal team seeks to poke holes in his story and the historic hush money trial centered on alleged payments to porn star Stormy Daniels nears its conclusion. 

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche got off to a bumbling start on Thursday, accidentally posting the wrong exhibits and calling Cohen the “defendant.” Justice Juan Merchan sustained several objections in the first few minutes of testimony.

Trump arrived around 9:20 a.m. Thursady with another entourage of Republican supporters. He strolled into Merchan’s courtroom at around 9:20 a.m. Thursday with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, his son, Eric Trump, and an army of lawyers. 

“In fact, a lead person from the DOJ is running this trial,” Trump said before entering the courtroom for the day — possibly treading into dangerous territory with a reference to prosecutor Matthew Colangelo, formerly a senior official at the U.S. Department of Justice. “So Biden’s office is running this trial.”

During more than nine hours in the witness box on Monday and Tuesday, Cohen, 57, told jurors he hadn’t spoken to Trump since his residences were raided by the feds in 2018, leading to his conviction for violating campaign laws when he paid off porn star Stormy Daniels and cementing their bitter feud. 

From the day of his 2007 hiring at the Trump Organization until the feds closed in, Cohen said he answered to one person: Trump. He told the court he lied, bullied, or threatened anyone who got in the way of the task at hand to make his micromanager boss happy and acted as a campaign “surrogate” when Trump announced his first presidential run. 

US Representative Matt Gaetz (C R), Republican of Florida, listens as former US President Donald Trump spekas to the press before his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 16, 2024.

ANGELA WEISS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Rep. Matt Gaetz listens as former President Donald Trump speaks to the press before his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday morning. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

The presumed GOP nominee in this year’s election, 77, has pleaded not guilty to 34 felonies that allege he covered up hush money reimbursement to Cohen — masking it as payment for legal fees — to disguise an underlying scheme to hide information from the voting public.

He faces three other criminal cases in Florida, Washington D.C., and Georgia, but the Manhattan case is the only one expected to be resolved before the election. 

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Cohen said he felt abandoned once Trump won the White House, expecting to get a top role in his administration but instead receiving an empty one as personal attorney to the president. 

The former Trump lawyer said he worked all of 10 hours in that position in 2017 and that monthly checks he received for $35,000 were instead reimbursement for paying Daniels into silence 11 days before the 2016 election about her alleged claims of an extramarital tryst with Trump. 

A handwritten note calculating how much Cohen was owed was introduced as evidence by the prosecution.
A handwritten note calculating how much Cohen was owed was introduced as evidence by the prosecution.

Cohen said the payment came more than a year after he, Trump, and former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker devised a scheme to identify and bury any negative information that could come to light about Trump, buttressing Pecker’s testimony earlier in the trial. 

The former fixer alleged the reimbursement plan was orchestrated by Trump’s convicted former finance chief Allen Weisselberg, now serving jail time for perjury, and got the green light from Trump at a January 2017 Trump Tower meeting. He said Trump confirmed he was getting paid back weeks later during a conversation inside the Oval Office. 

Trump lawyer Blanche, who began his cross-examination late Tuesday, hammered the loyal one-time lawyer with questions about his public jabs at Trump, including “dictator douchebag,” “boorish cartoon misogynist, and “Cheeto-dusted cartoon villain, and suggested he was motivated by money and getting revenge against Trump. 

Trump’s lawyers, who have sought to paint Cohen as a liar whose role as fixer was to fix problems he made, have claimed Cohen went rogue in paying off Daniels and that Trump believed he was paying him for legitimate lawyering. 

Michael Cohen, former U.S. President Donald Trump's former attorney, arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court for Trump's hush money trial on May 16, 2024 in New York City.

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Michael Cohen arrives at Manhattan Criminal Court on Thursday morning. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

Prosecutors must prove Trump aided or caused his company honchos to reimburse Cohen for the hush money payoff to secure a conviction. 

When they begin their deliberations, the jury will have copies of invoices, checks, and ledger entries documenting the reimbursement to Cohen and a bank statement reflecting the hush money transaction to Daniels with handwritten notes by Trump’s finance chief calculating how much Cohen was owed. 

Check back for updates from the courtroom. 

 

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