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Michael Cohen testimony: Trump’s hush-money trial day 18 Michael Cohen cross-examination: what happened at a glance
(about 4 hours later)
Trump’s former fixer will return to stand to be cross-examined by ex-president’s lawyers in his historic criminal trial Trump’s former fixer was questioned by defense team in historic criminal trial
Donald Trump is the first US president to be tried on criminal charges – and could face prison if convicted. Trump allegedly falsified the financial transaction behind the $130,000 hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. He denies 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in spring 2023.Donald Trump is the first US president to be tried on criminal charges – and could face prison if convicted. Trump allegedly falsified the financial transaction behind the $130,000 hush-money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels. He denies 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in spring 2023.
Here’s what you need to know about the case and what’s happening today: Here’s what you need to know about the case:
16 May: what’s happening today 16 May: what happened today
Michael Cohen, once one of Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenants and enforcers, will return to the stand this morning to be cross-examined by the former president’s lawyers in his historic criminal trial. He is the the star witness in the case against Trump. Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former fixer and lawyer, returned to the stand on Thursday for the third day. Trump was joined in court by his son Eric Trump and Republican congressional allies including Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz and Bob Good, chair of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus.
Earlier in the week, Cohen testified that Trump instructed him just weeks before the 2016 presidential election to bury Stormy Daniels’s account of an alleged sexual liaison, demanding that he “just take care of it”. Gaetz posted a photo of himself standing behind Trump in court, with the words: “Standing back, and standing by, Mr President.” The phrase echoed one that Trump used for the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys in a 2020 presidential debate.
Cohen is core to the case against Trump, because prosecutors allege that the former president cast reimbursement for a $130,000 hush-money payment to Daniels as legal expenses for Cohen, constituting falsification of business records. The defense, led by Trump lawyer Todd Blanche, resumed attacking Cohen’s credibility in an effort to undermine the testimony of the prosecution’s star witness.
Cohen and Trump’s relationship soured after Trump won the US presidential election in 2016 and did not offer Cohen a role in his administration. Cohen conceded that he had previously lied to protect Trump because it affected the stakes for him personally, and that he lied to the federal judge when he was prosecuted for tax evasion and false statements.
The entire hush-money case is likely to succeed or fail on whether jurors believe Cohen’s account, or the defense claims that he is an “admitted liar” motivated by publicity and attention. These admissions could prove problematic for prosecutors, as they portray Cohen as an unreliable narrator who lied with ease and abandon to achieve whatever aim he was pursuing at that moment.
Court is scheduled to begin at 9.30am ET and end at 4pm today. Blanche suggested Cohen’s latest objective was to see Trump go to jail, seeding the possibility that he might have also lied about the extent of Trump’s involvement in the hush-money scheme with Stormy Daniels.
Michael Cohen, once one of Donald Trump’s most loyal lieutenants and enforcers, will return to the stand this morning to be cross-examined by the former president’s lawyers in his historic criminal trial. He is the the star witness in the case against Trump. Blanche played clips from Cohen’s podcast Mea Culpa, including when Cohen said “thinking about Trump in Otisville prison makes me giddy with joy”. He also got Cohen to concede that he believed he played a large role in the indictment being brought against Trump and bragged about it.
Earlier in the week, Cohen testified that Trump instructed him just weeks before the 2016 presidential election to bury Stormy Daniels’s account of an alleged sexual liaison, demanding that he “just take care of it”. The defense dug into Cohen’s previous lies under oath and how he seemingly lied about details big and small. When Cohen testified to Congress in 2017 about a Trump real-estate deal in Moscow, Blanche elicited, Cohen lied about how many times he had spoken to Trump about the deal.
Cohen is core to the case against Trump, because prosecutors allege that the former president cast reimbursement for a $130,000 hush-money payment to Daniels as legal expenses for Cohen, constituting falsification of business records. Blanche also directly accused Cohen of lying in his trial testimony. Cohen testified earlier in the week that when he called Trump’s then bodyguard, Keith Schiller, on 24 October 2016, it was to apprise Trump that he was moving forward with paying hush money to Daniels. Blanche suggested Cohen phoned Schiller primarily about a series of prank calls from a 14-year-old, arguing that he could not have had enough time in a one-minute, 30-second call to tell Trump about the Daniels deal.
Cohen and Trump’s relationship soured after Trump won the US presidential election in 2016 and did not offer Cohen a role in his administration. Cohen acknowledged telling Mark Pomerantz, who had previously led the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation of Trump, that he felt Daniels and her then lawyer, Keith Davidson, were extorting Trump in seeking a $130,000 payment for her silence on an alleged sexual encounter.
The entire hush-money case is likely to succeed or fail on whether jurors believe Cohen’s account, or the defense claims that he is an “admitted liar” motivated by publicity and attention. Cohen has concluded his testimony for the week, and will return to the stand when court resumes on Monday morning. There will be no court this Friday so that Trump can attend the high school graduation of his youngest son, Barron.
Court is scheduled to begin at 9.30am ET and end at 4pm today. It is unclear whether Trump will testify next week, when the defense will have the opportunity to present its case. Before the trial, Trump said he would testify, but Blanche has since said Trump has yet to decide whether to do so.
Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former fixer and lawyer, returned to the stand on Thursday for the third day. Trump was joined in court by his son Eric Trump and Republican congressional allies including Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz and Bob Good, chair of the hard-right House Freedom Caucus.
Gaetz posted a photo of himself standing behind Trump in court, with the words: “Standing back, and standing by, Mr President.” The phrase echoed one that Trump used for the far-right extremist group the Proud Boys in a 2020 presidential debate.
The defense, led by Trump lawyer Todd Blanche, resumed attacking Cohen’s credibility in an effort to undermine the testimony of the prosecution’s star witness.
Cohen conceded that he had previously lied to protect Trump because it affected the stakes for him personally, and that he lied to the federal judge when he was prosecuted for tax evasion and false statements.
These admissions could prove problematic for prosecutors, as they portray Cohen as an unreliable narrator who lied with ease and abandon to achieve whatever aim he was pursuing at that moment.
Blanche suggested Cohen’s latest objective was to see Trump go to jail, seeding the possibility that he might have also lied about the extent of Trump’s involvement in the hush-money scheme with Stormy Daniels.
Blanche played clips from Cohen’s podcast Mea Culpa, including when Cohen said “thinking about Trump in Otisville prison makes me giddy with joy”. He also got Cohen to concede that he believed he played a large role in the indictment being brought against Trump – and bragged about it.
The defense dug into Cohen’s previous lies under oath and how he seemingly lied about details big and small. When Cohen testified to Congress in 2017 about a Trump real-estate deal in Moscow, Blanche elicited, Cohen lied about how many times he had spoken to Trump about the deal.
Blanche also directly accused Cohen of lying in his trial testimony. Cohen testified earlier in the week that when he called Trump’s then bodyguard, Keith Schiller, on 24 October 2016, it was to apprise Trump that he was moving forward with paying hush money to Daniels. Blanche suggested Cohen phoned Schiller primarily about a series of prank calls from a 14-year-old, arguing that he could not have had enough time in a one-minute, 30-second call to tell Trump about the Daniels deal.
Cohen acknowledged telling Mark Pomerantz, who had previously led the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation of Trump, that he felt Daniels and her then lawyer, Keith Davidson, were extorting Trump in seeking a $130,000 payment for her silence on an alleged sexual encounter.
Cohen has concluded his testimony for the week, and will return to the stand when court resumes on Monday morning. There will be no court this Friday so that Trump can attend the high school graduation of his youngest son, Barron.
It is unclear whether Trump will testify next week, when the defense will have the opportunity to present its case. Before the trial, Trump said he would testify, but Blanche has since said Trump has yet to decide whether to do so.
Key characters and factsKey characters and facts
Trump hush-money trial status: Trump pleaded not guilty; the trial began on 15 April 2024.Trump hush-money trial status: Trump pleaded not guilty; the trial began on 15 April 2024.
Charges: 34 felony charges of falsifying business records.Charges: 34 felony charges of falsifying business records.
Hush-money case summary: The case involves a hush-money scheme during the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to the adult film star Stormy Daniels to quash her story about having an extramarital affair with the former president. Trump has denied the affair took place. Prosecutors accuse the former president of illegally reimbursing Cohen for the hush-money payment by falsely classifying the transaction, executed by the Trump Organization, as legal expenses. Hush-money case summary: The case involves a hush-money scheme during the 2016 presidential election. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to the adult film star Stormy Daniels to quash her story about an alleged extramarital affair with the former president. Trump has denied the affair took place. Prosecutors accuse the former president of illegally reimbursing Cohen for the hush-money payment by falsely classifying the transaction, executed by the Trump Organization, as legal expenses.
Verdict before election? Likely.Verdict before election? Likely.
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Stay up to date on all of Donald Trump’s trials. Guardian staff will send weekly updates each Wednesday – as well as bonus editions on major trial days.Stay up to date on all of Donald Trump’s trials. Guardian staff will send weekly updates each Wednesday – as well as bonus editions on major trial days.
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Key moments in the trial so farKey moments in the trial so far
14 May: Michael Cohen, the star witness in hush-money trial walked through key elements of the case as defense lawyers sought to undermine his credibility. 14 May: Michael Cohen, the star witness in the hush-money trial, walked through key elements of the case as defense lawyers sought to undermine his credibility.
13 May: Michael Cohen testifies that Trump was intimately involved in hush-money deal and received real-time updates on Stormy Daniels. 13 May: Michael Cohen testified that Trump had been intimately involved in the hush-money deal and received real-time updates on Stormy Daniels.
10 May: Trump appeared frustrated in court while possible Cohen testimony looms. 10 May: Trump appeared frustrated in court while possible Cohen testimony loomed.
9 May: Trump attorneys sought to cast doubt on the account of alleged tryst – but Stormy Daniels refused to concede any inconsistencies. 9 May: Trump attorneys sought to cast doubt on the account of the alleged tryst – but Stormy Daniels refused to concede any inconsistencies.
7 May: Stormy Daniels undercut some of Trump’s defenses as his lawyer suggested Daniels has a propensity to embellish. 7 May: Stormy Daniels undercut some of Trump’s defenses as his lawyer suggested Danield has a propensity to embellish.
6 May: prosecutors moved on to the alleged falsification of business records to cover up hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, after previously calling witnesses who described a conspiracy to kill the story. 6 May: Prosecutors moved on to the alleged falsification of business records to cover up hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, after previously calling witnesses who described a conspiracy to kill the story.
3 May: Hope Hicks took the stand, describing 2016 Trump campaign staffers’ panic when a recording emerged in which Trump bragged about groping women and the former president’s complete control over the campaign.3 May: Hope Hicks took the stand, describing 2016 Trump campaign staffers’ panic when a recording emerged in which Trump bragged about groping women and the former president’s complete control over the campaign.
2 May: Keith Davidson, a lawyer who negotiated payments, testified.2 May: Keith Davidson, a lawyer who negotiated payments, testified.
30 April: Trump fined $9,000 over gag order violations as judge warns of jail time. 30 April: Trump is fined $9,000 over gag order violations as the judge warned of jail time.
26 April: Pecker’s testimony presented a granular look into a hush-money scheme that prosecutors allege was meant to sway the 2016 election in the real estate mogul’s favor.26 April: Pecker’s testimony presented a granular look into a hush-money scheme that prosecutors allege was meant to sway the 2016 election in the real estate mogul’s favor.
25 April: Pecker testified about his role in buying a story from the model Karen McDougal about an alleged affair with Trump.25 April: Pecker testified about his role in buying a story from the model Karen McDougal about an alleged affair with Trump.
23 April: David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher, said he was Trump’s “eyes and ears” during the 2016 election campaign.23 April: David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher, said he was Trump’s “eyes and ears” during the 2016 election campaign.
22 April: In its opening statement, the prosecution said Trump “orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election” in his efforts to cover up an alleged affair with the adult film star Stormy Daniels.22 April: In its opening statement, the prosecution said Trump “orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election” in his efforts to cover up an alleged affair with the adult film star Stormy Daniels.
19 April: The court finally chose all 18 jurors.19 April: The court finally chose all 18 jurors.
18 April: Twelve jurors were selected for after two seated jurors were removed earlier in the day. 18 April: Twelve jurors were selected after two seated jurors were removed earlier in the day.
15 April: Trump’s hush-money trial begins. He is the country’s first president to face a criminal trial. 15 April: Trump’s hush-money trial began. He is the country’s first president to face a criminal trial.
14 May: Michael Cohen, the star witness in hush-money trial walked through key elements of the case as defense lawyers sought to undermine his credibility. 14 May: Michael Cohen, the star witness in the hush-money trial, walked through key elements of the case as defense lawyers sought to undermine his credibility.
13 May: Michael Cohen testifies that Trump was intimately involved in hush-money deal and received real-time updates on Stormy Daniels. 13 May: Michael Cohen testified that Trump had been intimately involved in the hush-money deal and received real-time updates on Stormy Daniels.
10 May: Trump appeared frustrated in court while possible Cohen testimony looms. 10 May: Trump appeared frustrated in court while possible Cohen testimony loomed.
9 May: Trump attorneys sought to cast doubt on the account of alleged tryst – but Stormy Daniels refused to concede any inconsistencies. 9 May: Trump attorneys sought to cast doubt on the account of the alleged tryst – but Stormy Daniels refused to concede any inconsistencies.
7 May: Stormy Daniels undercut some of Trump’s defenses as his lawyer suggested Daniels has a propensity to embellish. 7 May: Stormy Daniels undercut some of Trump’s defenses as his lawyer suggested Danield has a propensity to embellish.
6 May: prosecutors moved on to the alleged falsification of business records to cover up hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, after previously calling witnesses who described a conspiracy to kill the story. 6 May: Prosecutors moved on to the alleged falsification of business records to cover up hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels, after previously calling witnesses who described a conspiracy to kill the story.
3 May: Hope Hicks took the stand, describing 2016 Trump campaign staffers’ panic when a recording emerged in which Trump bragged about groping women and the former president’s complete control over the campaign.3 May: Hope Hicks took the stand, describing 2016 Trump campaign staffers’ panic when a recording emerged in which Trump bragged about groping women and the former president’s complete control over the campaign.
2 May: Keith Davidson, a lawyer who negotiated payments, testified.2 May: Keith Davidson, a lawyer who negotiated payments, testified.
30 April: Trump fined $9,000 over gag order violations as judge warns of jail time. 30 April: Trump is fined $9,000 over gag order violations as the judge warned of jail time.
26 April: Pecker’s testimony presented a granular look into a hush-money scheme that prosecutors allege was meant to sway the 2016 election in the real estate mogul’s favor.26 April: Pecker’s testimony presented a granular look into a hush-money scheme that prosecutors allege was meant to sway the 2016 election in the real estate mogul’s favor.
25 April: Pecker testified about his role in buying a story from the model Karen McDougal about an alleged affair with Trump.25 April: Pecker testified about his role in buying a story from the model Karen McDougal about an alleged affair with Trump.
23 April: David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher, said he was Trump’s “eyes and ears” during the 2016 election campaign.23 April: David Pecker, the National Enquirer publisher, said he was Trump’s “eyes and ears” during the 2016 election campaign.
22 April: In its opening statement, the prosecution said Trump “orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election” in his efforts to cover up an alleged affair with the adult film star Stormy Daniels.22 April: In its opening statement, the prosecution said Trump “orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election” in his efforts to cover up an alleged affair with the adult film star Stormy Daniels.
19 April: The court finally chose all 18 jurors.19 April: The court finally chose all 18 jurors.
18 April: Twelve jurors were selected for after two seated jurors were removed earlier in the day. 18 April: Twelve jurors were selected after two seated jurors were removed earlier in the day.
15 April: Trump’s hush-money trial begins. He is the country’s first president to face a criminal trial. 15 April: Trump’s hush-money trial began. He is the country’s first president to face a criminal trial.