Donald Trump's Lawyer Rails Against Michael Cohen to Discredit Key Prosecution Witness's Testimony: 'It Was a Lie' - Latest Global News

Donald Trump’s Lawyer Rails Against Michael Cohen to Discredit Key Prosecution Witness’s Testimony: ‘It Was a Lie’

As Michael Cohen returned to the witness stand for cross-examination this morning, Donald Trump’s lawyer loudly accused him of lying about the nature of a phone call eight years ago that, according to Cohen, involved then-candidate Trump making a payout to the porn star to discuss Stormy Daniels.

“That was a lie,” Todd Blanche said, raising his voice. “You did not speak to President Trump that night.”

As evidence, Blanche pointed to text messages between Cohen and Trump’s bodyguard during the exact same time period, in late October 2016, about a completely different matter: a series of prank calls that Cohen received from a 14-year-old.

The moment was a highlight of today’s proceedings in the former president’s hush money trial.

Cohen was Trump’s former lawyer and so-called fixer. He testified Tuesday that he reached Trump by calling bodyguard Keith Schiller that day, Oct. 24, 2016, and that he spoke to Trump on Schiller’s phone to tell him that a deal with Daniels is imminent. Cohen said this afternoon that his recollection was based on a review of phone records provided by prosecutors. But he admitted that he only remembered the problem with the prankster when he saw the texts with Schiller today.

“I think I told Trump too —” Cohen began, referring to the 90-second call on Schiller’s phone.

“We’re not asking you to believe,” Blanche snapped, interrupting him. “This jury doesn’t want to hear what you think happened.”

The comment prompted objections from Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger. Shortly after this exchange, the proceedings adjourned for lunch.

On his second day of cross-examination, Cohen was confronted by more skeptical questions from Blanche about his character, his motives, his previous lying under oath and his penchant for talking about the man he once affectionately called “Boss” before anything legal Problems arose, some of which were related to the payment of $130,000 putting him behind bars.

Blanche had jurors listen to Cohen on a podcast last October saying, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Cohen said on the same podcast that he wanted Trump to go to prison, just like he did.

Prosecutors in New York say – and Cohen has testified – that Trump ordered Cohen to pay off Daniels in the home stretch of the 2016 presidential campaign to keep quiet about her allegation of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump years ago, who used fake business documents to secretly reimburse Cohen.

Blanche, facing numerous objections to the prosecution, repeatedly targeted Cohen’s testimony this week, apparently in an effort to damage his credibility with jurors – just as Cohen testified Tuesday that he never worked in the Trump White House wanted. Blanche confronted Cohen with conversations and correspondence that indicated his interest in becoming Trump’s chief of staff or attorney general.

Cohen reiterated today that he only wanted to be asked about those roles. “That was for my ego,” Cohen said.

Cohen admitted to lying under oath on previous occasions: He said he lied to a federal judge in 2018 when accepting his guilty plea on tax and bank charges.

Cohen said he should not have been prosecuted as a first-time tax evader, but felt pressured by federal investigators who threatened to also charge his wife – information that Cohen admitted he did not tell the judge.

“I think you still feel like you didn’t commit tax fraud, but you felt like you had to protect your wife and family,” Blanche said. “Right,” Cohen replied.

Cohen said he still believes that Justice William H. Pauley III, who died in 2021. worked with federal prosecutors in New York who targeted him on orders from the Trump White House. This is largely the thesis of Cohen’s book: Revenge.

Blanche said that far from accepting “responsibility” for his crimes – as he said he would under oath – Cohen at various points blamed his accountant, his banker, federal law enforcement officials or the Trump White House for his legal troubles held responsible.

“I don’t dispute the facts, but I should not have been prosecuted,” Cohen testified today.

Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress in 2017 about Trump’s business activities in Moscow. Today, Blanche reminded Cohen of the problems with a written statement Cohen made under oath to Congress two years later. Cohen stated during his appearance on Capitol Hill in 2019 that he would never ask for or accept a pardon from then-President Trump.

In fact, Cohen had previously instructed his lawyers to explore the possibility of a pardon. Cohen said today that his statement to Congress was true when he made it, but acknowledged that his lawyers had returned to Congress to correct the statement.

The prosecution’s case against Donald Trump is coming to an end in court, but the background noise surrounding the trial may be getting louder. As Trump entered the courtroom this morning, he picked Assistant District Attorney Matthew Colangelo, a former U.S. Department of Justice official, before joining the local prosecutor’s office and its Trump prosecution team.

Trump baselessly called Colangelo’s involvement evidence that President Biden is “leading this process.”

Trump still disputes the gag order imposed by Judge Juan Merchan: He has appealed to New York State’s highest court to overturn a restriction that had already given him a $10,000 fine and the threat of prison time for public comments about jurors, Witnesses and other participants in the process or their families were brought in.

On Tuesday, Trump supporters led by Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson — the administration’s third-highest-ranking elected official — stood with Trump in the hallway outside the courtroom and also held a news conference outside the courthouse to denounce the trial as a “sham.”

This morning’s entourage included Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz, Republican House members known for denigrating the former president’s critics and regularly making headlines for their own behavior. Boebert and Gaetz sat directly behind Trump in the gallery next to Trump’s eldest son Eric Trump.

One question this week is whether Trump will use proxies to get around Judge Merchan’s silence order and whether the Manhattan district attorney’s office will make a case out of it. A reporter covering the trial new York The magazine told MSNBC on Tuesday night that he saw Trump tagging a document with talking points from his allies outside the courthouse that day.

Merchan’s order prohibits Trump from criticizing trial participants or directing others to do so, but it is not clear whether prosecutors will again ask the judge to intervene and sanction the defendant.

Johnson was openly critical Tuesday of Merchan’s daughter, a Democratic campaign aide who is protected by the gag order but remains the unnamed source of Trump’s ongoing complaints about a “conflicted” trial judge. Sen. Tommy Tuberville, Republican of Alabama, told reporters he was “disappointed to see the American – supposedly American – citizens in this courtroom,” a comment widely interpreted as a dig at the jury.

Tuberville later clarified that he meant other people, not the jury, who are “trying to turn this country into something it’s not.” He also said he hoped to “overcome this obligation of silence.”

On Tuesday morning, as Trump entered the court, a reporter in the hallway asked whether he would direct deputies to speak on his behalf. “I have a lot of deputies and they speak very beautifully,” Trump replied.

Cohen, the former Trump lawyer and self-proclaimed “fixer,” spent Tuesday afternoon on the witness stand, quietly parrying questions from Blanche about his credibility. So far, the details of the prosecution’s case against Trump have not emerged during cross-examination.

The core allegation is that Trump attempted to illegally influence the 2016 election by using fake invoices, checks and pay stubs to disguise the repayment to Cohen as ongoing legal work. Trump disputes Daniels’ claim that they had sex at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in 2006, when he was married with a newborn son.

Trump’s lawyers are defending the nondisclosure agreement with Daniels as a routine matter and a legal exercise of his right as a candidate to ward off bad news in the heat of a political campaign.

Cohen is reportedly the prosecution’s final witness before the defense takes its turn in a trial that has moved more quickly than many observers expected. In a side conference with the judge Tuesday, out of earshot of the jury, Blanche said he still didn’t know whether his client would decide to testify.

The trial has become quieter in one respect: there have been little to no public protests in front of the courthouse since the testimony began. This morning, Trump blamed the tight security measures. “If you look from the outside, it looks like Fort Knox. There are so many police officers who don’t allow people to come. It’s not allowed to protest in a friendly way, we’re not allowed to have anything here.”

The park across from the courthouse is actually still open to protesters. But their numbers, initially small compared to the crowds that turned out for Trump’s impeachment last year, have plummeted to single digits or zero on any given day.

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