Trump hush-money trial news: Michael Cohen begins 3rd day of testimony

Trump arrrives at hush money trial flanked by 14 surrogates in court

Donald Trump’s hush money trial is back underway in Judge Juan Merchan’s Manhattan courtroom, with the defendant’s former “fixer” Michael Cohen on the witness stand for further cross-examination by the defence.

During his previous appearance on Tuesday, Cohen was challenged about his evolving attitudes toward his ex-boss, a series of colourful insults dished out on podcasts and social media and the idea that he has profited from publicly attacking the former president through merchandise sales.

The witness remained calm and steadfast during his testimony, also walking the jury through the strategy allegedly employed by Mr Trump’s inner circle to delay making the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in October 2016 to buy her silence about the sexual encounter she claims he had with the politician in July 2006.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden capitalised on Wednesday’s recess day for the trial to challenge his predecessor to a pair of presidential debates, declaring: “Make my day, pal.”

Mr Trump readily agreed, responding: “Let’s get ready to Rumble!!!”, and the debates are now scheduled for 27 June on CNN and 10 September on ABC.

Alex Woodward is covering the trial from Manhattan Criminal Court.

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Matt Gaetz invokes Trump’s message to Proud Boys

Florida Rep Matt Gaetz is in court to show support to Donald Trump and in an X post invoked the former president’s infamous message to the Proud Boys during the run-up to the 2020 election.

During a debate against Joe Biden, Mr Trump told the far-right, neo-fascist militant organization that promotes and engages in political violence to “stand back and stand by”, leading to widespread condemnation.

Mr Gaetz just posted the following from the courtroom:

Oliver O’Connell16 May 2024 15:45

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Cohen is explaining how taxi medallions work in New York after Blanche suggests that Gene Freidman was his business partner.

He leased medallions. Cohen says it’s no different than a tenant/landlord relationship. He didn’t care about the business.

(Freidman was cooperating with the feds against him)

This came up in direct examination, and in the civil fraud trial, where Cohen was accused of perjury after pleading guilty in the tax case:

Cohen had “48 hours to accept the plea or the SDNY was going to file an 80-page indictment that included my wife, so I elected to protect my family.” He “never denied the underlying facts, I just did not believe I should have been criminally charged” for those two offences.

You felt that you were induced or put under pressure to plead guilty because you had just two days? A risk that your loved one would be indicted as well?

“That is what I was told’

Did the government ever tell you that?

“No, they spoke with my lawyer”

The only basis was your lawyer?

Blanche is once again suggesting that Cohen was lying to Judge Pauley when he told the judge that nobody had induced him to plead guilty.

Alex Woodward16 May 2024 15:41

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Donald Trump in court on 16 May 2024 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

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Blanche teeing up a mighty yes-only question tree before going in on Cohen’s first testimony to Congress, which he admitted to lying to:

“The oath that you took every single time, going back to all the depositions, the same oath you took on Monday morning? … Asked to do the same thing every time? Put your right hand up? Swear to tell the truth? … When there are times like now when your testimony lasts longer than a day… you’re still under oath? … So in addition to the times you testified under oath … you also met with federal agents I believe somewhere around 17 times, does that sound right? Each time you met with a federal agent, that each time you made a false statement that was a felony?”

“You lied under oath, and you lied, you committed another felony [prosecution objects, sustained], you lied when you met with the special counsel, correct?”

Cohen once again appears relatively relaxed, shoulders sunken, leaning forward just slightly towards the mic.

Again, this is all stuff he admitted to, under direct examination — prosecutors addressed this all head-on, but defense wants to remind jurors that he lied under oath and that should mean he is not trustworthy.

Blanche is doing a terrible job of establishing a timeline — We started in 2023, went back to 2017, then November 2018, and now August 2018.

Alex Woodward16 May 2024 15:29

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About Trump’s “horseface” post:

Blanche: You responded to this Truth [Truth Social post], didn’t you?

Cohen: “I’m not on Truth, sir.”

You don’t have a recollection of responding on X to that Truth?

You called President Trump a name right back, correct?

You called him dumbass Donald?

Cohen acknowledges that a paralegal has been assigned to monitor his social media.

“But that didn’t stop you?”

Reader, he did call him “dumbass Donald”:

Alex Woodward16 May 2024 15:24

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And we finally hear in court Cohen’s podcast voice. The defense entered into evidence a recording of him celebrating Trump’s indictment.

He thanks the Manhattan DA’s office and “fearless leader Alvin Bragg with whom I spent countless hours” laying out the hush money scheme, he says on the recording.

“He is about to get a taste of what I went through and I promise it’s not fun,” he says. Picturing Trump going through the booking process “fills me with delight and sadness all at the same time … what an embarrassment it is to the office of the presidency.”

(Cohen admits he never actually met with Bragg himself.)

In another podcast clip heard in court: “I truly f***ing hope this man ends up in prison … Revenge is a dish best served cold.”

He says he hopes Trump will “rot inside for what he did to me and my family.”

You said, did you not, that you believe the work you did played a large role in the prosecutors’ indictment of this case?

Yes, that’s what I believe.

Alex Woodward16 May 2024 15:16

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Stephen Colbert roasts Trump over Biden election debate: ‘Let’s get ready to ramble’

The late-night hosts, naturally enough, relished the chance to send up the news that the Republican and Democrat old guard will be squaring up on the debate stage in a matter of weeks.

Here’s Amelia Neath with Colbert’s take.

Joe Sommerlad16 May 2024 15:15

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It’s not in evidence but the exchange seems to be Rosenberg telling Cohen about the article, not about the indictment itself.

Blanche is trying to imply the DA’s office gave the newspaper and Cohen a heads-up before the indictment was unsealed to the public.

Alex Woodward16 May 2024 15:08

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Blanche is repeatedly trying to ask whether Rosenberg told Cohen that Trump was being indicted or that he confirmed his indictment after The New York Times reported it before it was unsealed.

Lots of sustained objections.

Blanche: May I approach, your honor?

Alex Woodward16 May 2024 15:06

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Blanche: The texts you just read … were around the time you testified in the grand jury in this case? … You saw texts just now where you were going to hold Trump accountable, correct?

Do you recall whether prior to the indictment being unsealed the public learned that President Trump was going to be indicted? Did you yourself learn that President Trump was going to be indicted? You learned from the New York Times?

And Detective Rosenberg confirmed to you that the New York Times article was accurate?

Did Rosenberg confirm that it was done, to you?

Cohen: “I’m sorry, I don’t understand your question.”

“He identified a newspaper article.”

Alex Woodward16 May 2024 15:04

Reference

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