Convicted perjurer Michael Cohen weaves a new tale during his testimony in Day 16 of the Trump trial.

Convicted perjurer Michael Cohen weaves a new tale during his testimony in Day 16 of the Trump trial.


 

In this report:

Michael Cohen, a convicted perjurer and serial liar, took the stand on day 16 of Donald Trump’s trial. This day was filled with Cohen’s direct testimony, with no cross-examination yet. It’s expected that cross-examinations will occur on days 17, 18, or 19. Before the day’s proceedings began, Trump entered the Manhattan courtroom with his legal team, including Todd Blanche and Alina Habba. Trump underscored his significant lead in various states, as reported by the New York Times, and reiterated his claim that the trial is a politically motivated witch hunt.

The Start of Day 16

As the trial commenced, Judge Merchan informed the courtroom that the jury instructions proposed by the government had been received but not yet reviewed. He also ruled out the admission of the separation agreement of Allen Weisselberg, the CFO currently in jail, as evidence. The prosecutor called Michael Cohen to the stand, who provided background information about his upbringing on Long Island and his career, including his work in personal injury law and his eventual involvement with Trump properties.

Cohen’s Role and Responsibilities

Cohen explained how he became Trump’s personal lawyer, earning a salary of $375,000 with bonuses, and occupying Ivanka Trump’s former office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower. He detailed his responsibilities at the Trump Organization, which included negotiating bills, handling legal issues related to Trump University, and resolving disputes with vendors. Cohen admitted to threatening lawsuits on Trump’s behalf and managing public relations to minimize negative press. He highlighted his close working relationship with Trump, with multiple daily interactions, either in person or via cell phone. Cohen confirmed that Trump avoided using email to prevent leaving a digital trail and maintained an open-door policy, allowing Cohen to update him regularly.

The Fixer for Trump

Cohen acknowledged that he lied for Trump and bullied people to keep Trump happy, embracing the title of Trump’s fixer. He discussed his cell phone usage, revealing that he provided the prosecution with two cell phones and had over 30,000 contacts synced with Trump’s IT staff.

Interactions with David Pecker and AMI

Cohen’s testimony delved into his interactions with David Pecker of the National Enquirer, highlighting the publication’s role in the catch-and-kill strategy for negative stories about Trump. Cohen detailed how AMI, the National Enquirer’s parent company, acquired the rights to Karen McDougal’s story for $150,000, providing her with 24 penned articles and two cover stories to prevent the story from being published elsewhere.

The Recorded Conversation

The prosecution played a recorded conversation between Cohen and Trump, discussing the need to create a company to transfer information regarding “our friend David,” aiming to keep it away from Trump. The audio, cut abruptly by an incoming call, revealed Cohen’s plans to handle sensitive information discreetly. Cohen explained the necessity of creating separation to protect Trump and discussed payment methods, emphasizing that paying with a check from a Trump entity would defeat the purpose of keeping it separate.

Managing Trump’s Image

Cohen’s testimony continued with explanations of his communications with various individuals involved in managing Trump’s image, including discussions about suppressing stories through financial arrangements. He described a specific instance involving Karen McDougal, detailing how AMI bought her story to prevent it from being published elsewhere. Cohen highlighted Trump’s approval of these arrangements and the coordination efforts with Pecker and others to manage the fallout from potentially damaging stories.

Suppressing Negative Stories

The prosecutor presented various emails and messages illustrating Cohen’s efforts to control the narrative and suppress negative stories about Trump. Cohen’s interactions with Keith Davidson, the lawyer representing Stormy Daniels and McDougal, were scrutinized. Cohen detailed his creation of LLCs to handle payments and the strategic delays intended to push potentially harmful stories past the election.

Access Hollywood Tape Scandal

Cohen’s involvement in the Access Hollywood tape scandal was also discussed. He was in London celebrating his daughter’s birthday and his anniversary when the tape was released. Cohen coordinated with Trump’s team, including Steve Bannon and Jason Miller, to manage the media response. Messages with Chris Cuomo revealed the urgency in controlling the narrative, with Cohen noting that Trump was “dying right now” due to the tape’s impact.

Personal Frustrations and Ambitions

The trial session touched on Cohen’s personal frustrations and ambitions. He expressed disappointment at not being considered for the roles of Chief of Staff or Attorney General, instead aiming to be Trump’s personal attorney. Cohen believed this position would open doors and allow him to monetize his access to Trump. He described his efforts to ensure repayment for the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, outlining complex financial arrangements and bundling various payments and bonuses.

Implications of Cohen’s Testimony

Cohen’s testimony provided an in-depth look at the inner workings of the Trump Organization and efforts to manage and suppress negative stories. His detailed account of his role and interactions with Trump and others painted a picture of a coordinated effort to protect Trump’s public image during the election campaign. As the trial progresses, Cohen’s credibility and the implications of his testimony will remain focal points in the courtroom drama.

Conclusion

Michael Cohen’s return to the witness stand as the star witness in Donald Trump’s trial brings significant attention to the case. His detailed testimony about his role as Trump’s fixer and his efforts to manage negative stories offers a glimpse into the Trump Organization’s inner workings. However, Cohen’s history as a convicted perjurer and serial liar raises questions about his reliability. As the trial continues, the forthcoming cross-examination will likely focus on these inconsistencies and the motivations behind Cohen’s cooperation with prosecutors.

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