Former Trump Attorney Michael Cohen Grilled by Defense at Trump Trial

Former President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and arch-enemy Michael Cohen went under fierce cross-examination Tuesday at the presumptive GOP nominee’s trial, as senior Republican allies added a political element to the proceedings by showing up in support of him.

Trump is running to regain the White House and was joined by a high-profile group of supporters, including pro-Trump politicians and House Speaker Mike Johnson, who are vying to be on the defendant’s vice-presidential shortlist.

Outside the court, Johnson gave a speech that reiterated Trump’s consistent claim that the justice system was “weaponized” against the GOP candidate.

Cohen allegedly served as the “fixer” for Trump for several years and previously described himself as “knee-deep into the cult of Donald Trump,” is the star witness for the prosecution at the first criminal trial the former president is facing.

Donald Trump is accused of falsifying business records for reimbursing Cohen for a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election, when he claims that a sexual encounter with Trump could have derailed his campaign.

The prosecution asked Cohen if he had received 11 checks — most signed by Trump — in exchange for 11 false invoices he submitted to be reimbursed for the payment, to which Cohen answered “yes.”

Cohen said he made payments “to ensure that the story would not come out, would not affect Mr. Trump’s chances of becoming president of the United States.”

The prosecutor then asked Cohen if he would have paid the money if it wasn’t for the campaign.

Cohen responded, “No,” and added he broke the law “on behalf of Mr. Trump.”

The courtroom faceoff is happening ahead of the November presidential election, during which Trump is looking to avenge his 2020 defeat by Joe Biden. Cohen answered questions lodged by prosecutors for over five hours Monday and was then turned over to Trump’s defense lawyers for a combative cross-examination.

Todd Blanche, the defense lawyer, seemed to take Cohen by surprise as he sought to portray the disgraced attorney as a one-time Trump disciple now out for revenge against him.

“At that time, I was knee-deep into the cult of Donald Trump,” said Cohen. “I was not lying; that’s how I felt.”

Fifty-seven-year-old Cohen is crucial to the Manhattan district attorney’s case, and Trump’s attorneys have spent the first week of the trial undermining his credibility.

Cohen spent time in prison and under house arrest for committing crimes and lying

Cohen spent 13 months in prison and another year and a half under house arrest after pleading guilty in 2018 to committing financial crimes and lying to Congress.

He claimed the former president reassured him after FBI agents raided his office and hotel room in April 2018, looking for evidence of the bank payments and fraud at the heart of the case.

“Don’t worry, everything’s going to be fine, I’m the president of the United States,” said Cohen, recalling what Trump was allegedly saying.

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

Monday, Cohen walked jurors through how he arranged the Daniels payment to prevent her from going public about her 2006 alleged affair with a married Trump, a revelation that could have been a catastrophe for his bid for the White House.

Cohen told the jury how Trump’s campaign would seek to purchase unflattering stories in a practice commonly known as “catch and kill,” which is what is alleged to have happened with Stormy Daniels.

Daniels and Trump — under the pseudonyms David Dennison and Peggy Peterson — were parties in a nondisclosure agreement prepared by Michael Cohen that has emerged in court filings.

Last week, Daniels testified about the alleged sexual encounter and said claimed to have had with Trump at a Lake Tahoe celebrity golf tournament, followed by the financial settlement. 

For his part, the former president has denied having sex with Daniels, and last week, his attorneys unsuccessfully asked Judge Juan Merchan for a mistrial, arguing Daniels’ testimony was prejudiced.

Even if convicted in the case, Trump could still be elected president in November and sworn in as president.

On Tuesday, an appeals court ruled against Trump’s challenge of a gag order that has stifled his ability to speak about the jury, witnesses, and family members of the prosecutor and judge.

In addition to the trial in New York, Trump has been indicted in Georgia and Washington on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

The former president has also been charged in Florida with taking and storing secret documents illegally when he left the White House.