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Michael Cohen testifies in New York criminal trial against Trump : NPR

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Michael Cohen testifies in New York criminal trial against Trump : NPR
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Michael Cohen leaves his residence constructing on his technique to Manhattan legal court docket on Monday.

Julia Nikhinson/AP


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Julia Nikhinson/AP

Michael Cohen leaves his residence constructing on his technique to Manhattan legal court docket on Monday.

Julia Nikhinson/AP

NEW YORK — Settlement funds, nondisclosure agreements and measures taken to guard Donald Trump had been on the middle of Michael Cohen’s testimony on Monday.

Cohen, identified for being Trump’s ex-lawyer, took the stand within the first legal trial in opposition to the previous president. As soon as generally known as his “fixer,” Cohen testified to wanting to guard Trump and his popularity and that he required Trump’s approval for a $130,000 settlement to maintain an grownup movie star quiet about an alleged affair.

After a number of weeks of testimony, jurors heard Cohen affirm two key particulars on the stand: Trump knew in regards to the settlement negotiation and Trump directed Cohen to make that cost due to the election. However Trump’s attorneys will seemingly attempt to debunk Cohen’s testimony and resurface his personal convictions for mendacity beneath oath.

Cohen additionally testified that forward of the 2016 election he labored to maintain damaging tales about Trump out of the media and labored to cut back the impression of the Entry Hollywood tape. Cohen mentioned Trump on the time was polling poorly with ladies voters and Stormy Daniels, an grownup movie star, was going to come back out with a narrative she had an affair with Trump.

“He advised me to work with [David Pecker of American Media Inc.] and get management over this … and purchase the life rights,” Cohen mentioned, including that Trump advised him to “do what you could do to cease this getting out.”

Prosecutors confirmed the jury textual content messages and telephone name data paired with Cohen’s testimony that he had spoken with then-candidate Trump about payoffs to a former Playboy mannequin and Daniels — each whom alleged that they had affairs with Trump. Trump has denied the affairs.

Cohen mentioned to Trump “this was all in regards to the marketing campaign” and “he wasn’t considering” about his spouse, Melania. Trump has mentioned the funds to Daniel had been made with the intention to defend his household.

Prosecutors for the Manhattan district legal professional allege that Trump falsified enterprise data to repay Daniels as part of a bigger scheme to affect the 2016 election.

Trump faces 34 felony counts alleging that reimbursements to Cohen for paying Daniels violated marketing campaign finance regulation. Trump, who pleaded not responsible, claims the trial itself is “election interference” due to how it’s disrupting his 2024 bid for president. He should be current in court docket daily and thus is not capable of marketing campaign when he’s.

That is the second trial that Cohen through which he has testified in opposition to Trump in entrance of Trump. Final fall he testified in a civil fraud trial, alleging that Trump inflated the worth of his property to land higher enterprise offers.

Cohen testified to a number of offers the jury has heard about

Whereas on the witness stand on Monday, Cohen testified to the deal brokered between Trump, Cohen and the management at American Media Inc., to collaborate on constructive tales about then-candidate Trump. He additionally testified to listening to about two allegations about Trump — an unsubstantiated allegation that Trump had fathered an illegitimate little one and an allegation that he had an affair with former Playboy mannequin Karen McDougal.

A former Trump doorman was paid $30,000 to maintain quiet in regards to the little one out-of-wedlock story, Cohen mentioned, and Cohen reviewed the settlement. Then he testified about buying McDougal’s story.

“We would have liked to amass the story,” Cohen testified. Jurors considered textual content messages between Cohen and management on the Nationwide Enquirer tabloid, and name data, and Cohen testified he spoke to Trump about “the Karen McDougal matter.”

He then testified to negotiating the cost for Daniels. The $130,0o0 settlement was negotiated, however the payout was slow-walked, he mentioned,

Cohen testified to numerous conversations he allegedly had with the previous president in regards to the offers. And he additionally testified to how Trump and different executives on the Trump Group promised to pay him $420,000, which coated reimbursement for the cost to Daniels, $50,000 for some know-how companies, a $60,000 bonus, plus some further to cowl taxes, paid out over a yr. Cohen says Trump accepted it, then testified the previous president mentioned, “that is going to be one heck of a journey in D.C.”

The jury has heard a lot of this earlier than. Cohen’s testimony comes simply days after Daniels took the stand in opposition to the previous president. McDougal will not be anticipated to be referred to as to testify.

Jurors have additionally heard from former Nationwide Enquirer writer Pecker, who first testified to the small print of the offers made to flag doubtlessly damaging tales to Cohen and Trump. And jurors heard from Keith Davidson, the lawyer who negotiated the nondisclosure agreements and settlement funds for McDougal and Daniels.

Davidson additionally testified to believing Cohen was slow-walking the payout, a suspicion Cohen confirmed on the stand.

“I used to be instructed to push it till after the election,” Cohen mentioned of Trump. “I used to be following instructions.”

A number of former and present Trump staff, each from his flagship firm and his administration, testified to the method through which Trump obtained private invoices and paid private checks — together with these used to pay Cohen again.

Cohen’s testimony continues on Tuesday

Cohen’s testimony continues on Tuesday when he’s prone to face questions from Trump’s protection crew about his personal legal previous.

Throughout opening statements, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche hung out attempting to discredit Cohen, who has a historical past of perjury. This has allowed the Trump crew, and Trump himself, to go after Cohen as a witness with out credibility.

“When are they going to take a look at all of the lies that Cohen did within the final trial?” Trump mentioned within the courthouse corridor in March. Prosecutors argued this assertion amounted to a gag order violation.

Weeks earlier than the trial started, New York Choose Juan Merchan issued a gag order on Trump that particularly bars him from making or directing others to make public statements about potential witnesses, jurors, court docket workers or relations of workers.

Final week, Merchan directed prosecutors to additionally ask Cohen to cease speaking in regards to the case and about Trump.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump and legal professional Emil Bove attend his trial for allegedly protecting up hush cash funds at Manhattan Felony Courtroom on Might 13, 2024 in New York Metropolis.

Steven Hirsch/Getty Photographs


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Steven Hirsch/Getty Photographs

Former U.S. President Donald Trump and legal professional Emil Bove attend his trial for allegedly protecting up hush cash funds at Manhattan Felony Courtroom on Might 13, 2024 in New York Metropolis.

Steven Hirsch/Getty Photographs

Background on the case

In 2019, Cohen advised Congress that he mentioned “reimbursements” for the hush cash, with Trump, early in his presidency, on the White Home.

“And he says to me one thing to the impact of, ‘Don’t be concerned, Michael. Your January and February reimbursement checks are coming,'” Cohen advised Congress. “They had been FedEx’d from New York. And it takes some time for that to get by means of the White Home system.'”

Jurors have been offered with a photograph, a gathering memo, copies of FedEx receipts. The prosecution and the protection this week might be locked within the battle over whether or not Cohen is an unrepentant liar, as Trump claims, or whether or not he has lied, however on this case is telling the reality.

Cohen’s journey from somebody who as soon as mentioned he’d “take a bullet” for Trump to somebody who has emerged as a key witness in opposition to the previous president has been lengthy.

In 2018, the 2 males had a falling out in 2018 amid a federal investigation into Cohen’s monetary dealings and particular counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump marketing campaign’s potential ties to Russia through the 2016 presidential race.

Previous to that, Cohen did Trump’s soiled work: stiffing distributors, intimidating reporters, making secret offers. However after the Daniels’ story blew up in 2018, Trump stopped paying Cohen’s authorized payments, and Cohen grew to become what Trump very publicly referred to as “a rat.” The Daniels case is on the coronary heart of the legal case in opposition to Trump in New York.

In late 2018, Cohen pleaded responsible to a raft of federal fees, together with marketing campaign finance violations associated to hush cash payouts to 2 ladies in change for his or her public silence about their private relationships with Trump. He mentioned he did that “on the path” of Trump.

In February 2019, Cohen testified earlier than the Home Oversight Committee.

“Mr. Trump is a cheat,” Cohen advised lawmakers on the time. “It was my expertise that Mr. Trump inflated his complete property when it served his functions, comparable to attempting to be listed amongst the wealthiest individuals in Forbes, and deflated his property to cut back his actual property taxes.”

Trump has lengthy argued that he has executed no fallacious and has repeatedly solid Cohen as untrustworthy. That has executed little to discourage prosecutors who’ve made Cohen’s account of working for Trump a cornerstone of their case in opposition to the previous president. He’s anticipated to be one of many final prosecution witnesses in opposition to Trump this week.

Cohen’s testimony to Congress may very well be a harbinger of what the court docket may hear from him within the coming says. A few of his testimony to Congress has already been corroborated. Hope Hicks, the previous Trump communications aide, testified about how involved the marketing campaign was after the discharge of the Entry Hollywood tape earlier than the 2016 election.

“I do not assume anyone would dispute this perception that after the wildfire that encompassed the Billy Bush tape, {that a} second comply with as much as it will have been nice,” Cohen advised Congress in 2019. “And he was involved with the impact that it had had on the marketing campaign, on how ladies had been seeing him, and in the end whether or not or not he would have a shot within the basic election.”

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