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4 takeaways from day 17 of Trump’s secret trial

During two days of testimony at former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen detailed Donald Trump’s broad involvement in an alleged scheme to hide negative information about him- even to voters in the run-up to the 2016 elections.

On Tuesday afternoon, defense attorneys began their efforts to convince jurors not to believe a single word Cohen said.

Cohen’s cross-examination quickly turned combative, with defense attorney Todd Blanche emphasizing Cohen’s animosity toward his former boss, whom Cohen called a “crass cartoon misogynist,” a “dusty cartoon villain.” of Cheeto” and “asshole dictator”.

The cross-examination focused on Cohen’s actions and remarks since his release from prison in 2020, leaving more in-depth cross-examination about Cohen’s conduct related to the case until Thursday, when proceedings resume.

Trump is on trial for allegedly falsifying business records to hide repayment of a secret payment Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to improve Trump’s electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election The former president has denied any wrongdoing.

Here are four important takeaways from Day 17 of the trial.

Defense questions Cohen’s motives

Defense attorney Todd Blanche began an aggressive cross-examination to highlight Cohen’s alleged “obsession” with Trump.

Cohen acknowledged that he often references Trump in his media appearances and that he has earned at least $3.4 million from his two books about Trump, while Blanche suggested that Cohen has been making his living since 2018 taking advantage of Trump.

Blanche delved into Cohen’s use of TikTok, referencing ABC News’ initial coverage in her questioning.

“Are you hoping to make money from this too?” » asked Blanche.

“I make some money from it, but it’s not significant,” Cohen said.

Blanche also highlighted Cohen’s past praise and admiration for Trump.

“Are you actually obsessed with President Trump?” Blanche asked, continuing a line of inquiry he drew attention to in the defense’s opening statement.

PHOTO: Michael Cohen testifies during the criminal trial of former President Donald Trump in Manhattan State Court in New York, May 14, 2024, in this courtroom sketch.

Michael Cohen testifies during the criminal trial of former President Donald Trump in Manhattan State Court in New York, May 14, 2024, in this courtroom sketch.

Jane Rosenberg via Reuters

“I don’t know if I would call it obsessive,” Cohen said. “I don’t remember using that word, but I can’t say it would be a mistake.”

Blanche asked if Cohen was “knee-deep in the cult of Donald Trump” when he said flattering things about Trump in the past.

“That’s how I felt,” Cohen said.

“Is it fair to say that you admired President Trump when you worked for him? » » asked Blanche.

“Yes sir,” Cohen said.

Cohen recounts White House meeting

Cohen recounted a February 2017 meeting with Trump at the White House, during which prosecutors allege Trump personally discussed terms of repaying hush money Cohen had paid to Stormy Daniels.

“So I was sitting with President Trump and asked me if I was OK. He asked me if I needed any money. And I said no, I’m fine. He said: ‘I can get a check.’ I said, no, I’m fine,” Cohen said of the conversation.

“He said okay, just make sure you deal with Allen,” Cohen said, referring to Allen Weisselberg, then the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer.

“Did he say anything about something waiting for you?” » asked prosecutor Susan Hoffinger.

“Yes, there would be a check for January and February,” Cohen said, then going through each of the fraudulent invoices he submitted and the checks he received from Trump.

Cohen said he last spoke with Trump in April 2018 after the FBI raised Cohen’s office and hotel room.

“I received a phone call from President Trump in response to a message leaving a message for him to call,” Cohen said. “I obviously wanted him to know what was going on. He said, don’t worry, I’m the president of the United States, there’s nothing here. Everything will be fine. Stay tough. You’re going to be d ‘agreement.”

Cohen said Trump’s statements at the time “reinforced my loyalty and my intention to stay in the fold.”

Cohen describes Trump’s pressure campaign

Cohen told jurors that Donald Trump orchestrated a pressure campaign in 2018 to prevent him from cooperating with federal investigators.

“Mr. Trump did not want me to cooperate with the government, and certainly not to provide information or turn around,” Cohen said.

Jurors saw a series of emails between Cohen and attorney Robert Costello, who told Cohen that his representation “would be a great way to have a line of communication with the president to ensure that you are always good and always safe,” Cohen testified.

Jurors saw an email in which Costello told Cohen: “Sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places.” »

“The friend in high places was President Trump,” Cohen testified.

Cohen said he ultimately declined Costello’s offer to represent him, although Cohen said Trump’s message was clear.

“Don’t turn around. Don’t talk. Don’t cooperate,” Cohen said.

Cohen tells jurors why he turned around

After spending a decade working for Donald Trump, Cohen said that in 2018 he decided to begin cooperating with authorities at the request of his family.

“My family — my wife, my daughter, my son — all said to me, ‘Why do you keep this loyalty? What are you doing? We’re supposed to be your first loyalty,'” Cohen testified.

“So what decision did you make?” » asked prosecutor Susan Hoffinger.

“It was time to listen to them,” Cohen said. “To my wife, my son, my daughter, in the countryside.”

Cohen said he pleaded guilty to federal charges in August 2018.

“I will no longer lie for President Trump,” Cohen said.

While Cohen said he had a “great time” working for the Trump Organization, he testified that he regretted many of the things he did in Trump’s name.

“I regret doing things for him that I shouldn’t have done. Lying. Intimidating people in order to achieve a goal,” Cohen said. “But in order to stay loyal and do the things he asked me to do, I violated my moral compass and suffered the penalty, as did my family.”

ABC News

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