Michael Cohen returns as final witness in NYC AG Bragg’s criminal prosecution of Trump

Defense attorneys for former President Trump are expected to continue their cross-examination of Michael Cohen when court resumes Thursday morning. Cohen is said to be the star witness and will give the final testimony in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against the former president. Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump falsified business records 34 times to conceal a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, a pornographic performer, in the lead-up to the 2016 election to silence her about an alleged affair with Trump in 2006.Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges and maintains his innocence.TRUMP ALLIES POUR INTO NYC COURTHOUSE TO ‘SUPPORT THEIR FRIEND,’ SAY THEY’RE NOT COORDINATING WITH CAMPAIGNSo far, Cohen has testified he personally made the $130,000 payment to Daniels using a home equity line of credit in an effort to conceal the payment from his wife. Cohen said he did this because Trump told him to “handle it” and prevent a negative story from coming out ahead of the election.Cohen testified that he was “reimbursed $420,000” for the $130,000 he paid to Daniels. Cohen said former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg suggested he “gross up” the payments and that Trump knew the details of the reimbursement.MICHAEL COHEN TESTIFIES HE SECRETLY RECORDED TRUMP IN LEAD-UP TO 2016 ELECTIONThe prosecution presented Cohen with 11 checks totaling $420,000. Cohen confirmed that they were all received and deposited. The checks had a description of a “retainer,” which Cohen said was false.Under cross-examination by Trump attorney Todd Blanche, Cohen testified he apologized to Congress, the country and to his family for lying to them in 2017 and “acting in a way that suppressed information that the citizenry had a right to know in order to make an informed decision about an individual who was seeking the highest office in the land.”Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to campaign finance violations, making false statements to Congress and tax evasion. He was sentenced to three years in prison.Blanche grilled Cohen about his negative past statements online and to the media about Trump.Over the course of the investigation, Cohen made more than 20 television appearances. He has recorded hundreds of podcast episodes — four total episodes a week annually — since the investigation for this trial started. Cohen agreed Trump has been mentioned in every podcast.SPEAKER JOHNSON TO ATTEND TRUMP TRIAL IN MANHATTAN IN SHOW OF SUPPORTBlanche also asked Cohen if he was obsessed with Trump.”I don’t know if I would call it obsessed,” Cohen said. “I admired him tremendously.”Under cross-examination, Cohen also admitted to meeting with former New York prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who resigned in 2022 when Bragg took over the Manhattan DA’s probe of Trump after Pomerantz signaled he was uninterested in bringing charges against the former president.Cohen in 2021 testified he wanted the DA’s office to publicly acknowledge he was cooperating with its investigation because he was hoping to have his sentence lessened. Cohen, at the time, was serving his sentence but was moved from prison to home confinement.Ultimately, there was no letter or public announcement made by the DA about his cooperation.Cohen’s expected continued testimony Thursday comes a day after Robert Costello, a lawyer who formerly advised Cohen, testified on Capitol Hill that Cohen was a serial liar. Costello testified before Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s grand jury in March before Trump was indicted and recalled interactions with Cohen. Costello said Cohen told him during their meetings he “took care” of the Stormy Daniels payments “himself” and said he did not get any money from Trump for the arrangement. Trump is not permitted to speak about witnesses or court staff due to the gag order imposed upon him by Judge Juan Merchan.The former president appealed the gag order, arguing it violated his First Amendment rights. But as Cohen testified Tuesday, the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court denied Trump’s appeal of the gag order.Now Trump’s attorneys will have the opportunity to appeal to the New York Court of Appeals.
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