NY v. Trump to resume with continued cross-examination of Michael Cohen as trial nears conclusion

Former President Trump’s criminal trial is expected to resume Monday with Michael Cohen on the stand for the third day of cross-examination by defense attorneys. Cohen, who previously served as Trump’s lawyer and described himself as the former president’s “fixer,” is set to take the stand again at 9:30 a.m. Monday in Lower Manhattan. NY V TRUMP: AS ‘STAR WITNESS’ MICHAEL COHEN TESTIFIES, TRUMP ALLIES FLOCK TO COURT TO ‘SUPPORT THEIR FRIEND’Cohen, who is said to be Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s “star witness,” first took the stand last week, answering questions from New York prosecutors as they seek to make their case against the former president and presumptive Republican presidential nominee. 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. “I didn’t violate any law,” Trump said after court on Thursday. “This is a scam.” Trump’s defense attorney, Todd Blanche, began his cross-examination of Cohen on Tuesday, which continued through the day Thursday. Court did not meet Friday so the former president could attend his youngest son Barron Trump’s high school graduation in Palm Beach, Florida.MICHAEL COHEN ONCE SWORE TRUMP WASN’T INVOLVED IN STORMY DANIELS PAYMENT, HIS EX-ATTORNEY TESTIFIESCourt does not meet on Wednesdays. So far, Cohen has testified that 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 claimed that Trump knew the details of that reimbursement. The 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. Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche was able to get Cohen to testify about the non-disclosure agreement signed by Daniels in October 2016. Cohen confirmed that the contract, which Trump never signed, was lawful, and he admitted that non-disclosure agreements are not unusual. The contract was signed using pseudonyms.Cohen also testified that he sent statements to reporters declaring that Trump was not a party to the Daniels payment. Blanche also has highlighted Cohen’s history of lying under oath dating back to 2017, including to Congress about a Trump Tower Moscow project and federal investigators from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.Under oath last October, Cohen said he lied under oath more than once in front of Judge William H. Pauley, who sentenced Cohen to three years in prison in 2018 after he pleaded guilty to charges that included campaign finance fraud and lying to Congress.Cohen agreed again Thursday that he did indeed lie under oath to Pauley. Blanche’s questioning also led Cohen to admit that he believes he shouldn’t have been charged with some federal crimes in 2018, including tax evasion, related to his investments in New York City taxi medallions.”You felt that you did not engage in tax fraud, but you had to plead guilty to protect your wife and family?” Blanche asked.”Correct,” Cohen responded.Blanche also said Cohen lied about speaking to Trump on Oct. 24, 2016. Cohen claimed he spoke to then-candidate Trump about the Daniels payment. MICHAEL COHEN TESTIFIES HE SECRETLY RECORDED TRUMP IN LEAD-UP TO 2016 ELECTIONBlanche again accused Cohen of lying and insists he never spoke with Trump that day.Cohen responded, “I always ran everything by the boss immediately.””That was a lie, you did not talk to President Trump,” Blanche said.”I’m not certain that’s accurate,” Cohen responded. Cohen maintains, based on the records that he was able to review, that he spoke with Trump’s former bodyguard Keith Schiller – but also believes he spoke with Trump about the Daniels deal.”We’re not asking what you believe,” Blanche responded.Cohen also admitted that he “took some credit” for Bragg’s indictment of Trump last year, which led to the historic and unprecedented criminal trial of a former U.S. president. Blanche played a clip in court of Cohen saying during a 2020 podcast interview, “I absolutely hope he ends up in prison…”Asked by Blanche whether he believes he played a role in Trump’s indictment from New York prosecutors, Cohen responded, “I took some credit.”Cohen also testified that he wanted to be considered for a top role in the Trump administration, like attorney general or chief of staff, for “ego purposes.” Blanche said the defense expects to wrap up cross-examination on Monday. Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger said she will have less than an hour on redirect questioning of Cohen. The defense anticipates reaching a decision on other witnesses soon, and said it’s reasonable that they could “get on and off” the stand on Monday.It is unclear, at this point, if Trump will testify in his own defense. 
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