Hush-Money Trial How Trump's Lawyer Attacked Michael Cohen

The legal team of former President of the United States, Donald Trump have sought to dismantle the credibility of the star witness in the ex-president’s criminal trial, Michael Cohen.

During the cross-examination, Mr. Trump remained silent as his attorney painted Cohen as a man harbouring personal grudges against his former employer.

Cohen remained calm throughout the legal showdown weeks in the making.

He also said he hoped Mr. Trump would be found guilty of fraud in the hush-money case.

Africa Today News, New York reports that Cohen was on the stand for a second day of blockbuster testimony. He was called by prosecutors to testify about making a $130,000 (£104,300) hush-money payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election, to prevent her from telling a story about an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump.

Mr Trump now faces 34 counts of business fraud for allegedly disguising reimbursements for the payment to Cohen as legal expenses. The former president pleaded not guilty to the charges and denies having sex with Ms Daniels.

Read Also: ‘I Would Be Very Proud To Go To Jail,’ Trump Declares

At one point Mr Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche asked bluntly if Cohen wanted to see Mr Trump convicted in the case.

After being pressed, Cohen responded: “Sure.”

Over the course of two hours, Mr Blanche tried to undermine Cohen, who was imprisoned after pleading guilty to tax evasion, fraud and campaign finance violations. He brought up his guilty plea for lying to congress, and sought to portray Cohen as being motivated by hate and fame. He also sought to show that Cohen seeks to profit from the legal woes of a man he blasts daily in public.

Mr Blanche dredged up Cohen’s prolific social media posts, podcasts, and media appearances attacking his former boss, often in unprintable language.

At the start of the cross-examination, Mr Blanche asked about a comment Cohen made about him on social media.

Is it true, Mr Blanche asked, that Cohen had called him a “crying little [expletive]”.

Cohen quickly replied: “Sounds like something I would say.”

Justice Juan Merchan swiftly struck the answer from the official record, but the exchange set the tone for the afternoon.

Mr Blanche later displayed some of Cohen’s podcast merchandise, including a t-shirt that showed Mr Trump in an orange jumpsuit, handcuffed.

But by the close of Tuesday’s session, Mr Blanche had not cross-examined Cohen on the most damaging testimony he had given prosecutors: that he had kept Mr Trump informed at every stage of the payment to Ms Daniels, and that Mr Trump had approved the allegedly fraudulent reimbursement plan.

Despite previous witnesses testifying to Cohen’s belligerent nature, Cohen remained composed under cross-examination.

Jeffrey Levine, an attorney who represents Cohen, said in a statement that “my understanding is Mr Cohen came across credibly.”

His testimony will continue when court is back in session on Thursday.

Prosecutors took a risk calling Cohen, given his online posts and criminal record. But as the man who actually carried out the hush-money payment to Ms Daniels, his testimony was crucial for the New York district attorney’s case.

Prosecutors also hope he will help prove another part of their case – that allegedly covering up the payment was election interference.

In a pivotal moment, prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen why he made the payment.

“To ensure that the story would not come out, would not affect Mr Trump’s chances of becoming president of the United States,” he told the court.

Ms Hoffinger asked on whose behalf he committed that crime.

“On behalf of Mr Trump,” Cohen replied.

Although Cohen said he didn’t regret working for Mr Trump or his organisation, he said he had “violated my moral compass” in order to do Mr Trump’s bidding.

The FBI raided Cohen’s apartment in April 2018. He spoke to then-President Trump, who told him “stay tough, you’re going to be OK.”

“I felt reassured because I had the president of the United States protecting me,” Cohen testified.

But it was the last direct conversation between the two men. Cohen – who once said he would “take a bullet” for Mr Trump – testified that, after speaking to his family about being targeted by a federal investigation, he decided not to continue lying on behalf of his most famous client.

After court wrapped up on Tuesday, Mr Trump told reporters that his team had “a very good day” and criticised a gag order limiting what he can say publicly about the judge’s family and others involved in the case.

A number of Mr Trump’s Republican allies and possible running mates for November’s election have attended the trial this week.

House Speaker Mike Johnson, currently the top Republican in the US government and in line to succeed the president after the vice-president, was present on Tuesday and spoke to reporters outside.

Former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and Representative Byron Donalds of Florida also attended the trial.

Prosecutors indicated during arguments on Tuesday that Mr Cohen would be the last witness they call.

Mr Trump has indicated that he wants to take the witness stand to testify in his own defence – but whether he actually does so remains to be seen.

Africa Today News, New York

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