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Michael Cohen testifies against Donald Trump for a third day in New York: NPR

Michael Cohen, former personal attorney for former U.S. President Donald Trump, and attorney Danya Perry leave his building to walk to Manhattan Criminal Court on May 16, 2024 in New York.

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Michael Cohen, former personal attorney for former U.S. President Donald Trump, and attorney Danya Perry leave his building to walk to Manhattan Criminal Court on May 16, 2024 in New York.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

NEW YORK — Michael Cohen is back on the stand to testify against his former boss Donald Trump at a criminal trial in New York, and he’s confronting his own criminal history. Yet prosecutors, nearing the end of their case, say Trump committed 34 counts of falsifying business records — and Cohen is key to proving it.

Cohen testified earlier this week about his longtime relationship and falling out with the former president. In his testimony, he explained how he negotiated a deal with adult film star Stormy Daniels to remain silent about an alleged affair with Trump in the months leading up to the 2016 election. A $130,000 settlement was paid by Cohen, who he said was under Trump’s direction and then reimbursed by Trump. These reimbursements constitute the 34 falsified documents.

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche began his cross-examination Tuesday, questioning Cohen’s motives against Trump and his recent profits from merchandise promoting Trump and his imprisonment. On Thursday morning, Blanche walked through Cohen’s history of perjury, including his lies to Congress and federal investigators.

In 2018, when presented with a potential 80-page indictment that included his wife, Cohen said he decided to plead guilty to lying to banks, tax evasion and violating financial laws electoral campaigns. Cohen doubled down Thursday, saying that even if he had taken responsibility, he didn’t think he should have been charged with tax evasion.

Blanche questioned Cohen about previous testimony related to this case before Congress in 2019, under oath in the Southern District of New York and at Trump’s civil fraud trial in the fall. In these examples, Blanche highlighted Cohen’s changing statements.

“I accepted my responsibility and I suffered the consequences,” Cohen said, while recalling that he had declared in October that he had falsely pleaded guilty to the tax evasion charges.

Prosecutors spent weeks establishing Cohen’s corroboration of Trump’s knowledge of the 34 allegedly falsified documents. But they also presented him as optimistic, unsympathetic and self-interested. At the same time, the defense and Trump himself have long attacked Cohen’s credibility.

The jury has so far listened to four weeks of testimony, including that from Daniels herself last week. Jurors also heard from former National investigator editor Pecker, who was the first to testify about the details of agreements made to report potentially damaging stories about Cohen and Trump. And jurors heard from Keith Davidson, the lawyer who negotiated the nondisclosure agreements and settlement payments for Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal. McDougal should not be called to testify.

Trump pleaded not guilty and denied allegations of extramarital affairs

Several former and current Trump employees, both from his flagship company and his administration, testified about the process by which Trump received personal invoices and paid personal checks — including those used to reimburse Cohen.

Trump’s defense could begin making its case as early as next week.

Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.), Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fl.) and Bob Good (R-Va.) arrive May 16, 2024 in New York to attend. Trump’s criminal trial.

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Reps. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), Matt Gaetz (R-Fl.), Anna Paulina Luna (R-Fl.) and Bob Good (R-Va.) arrive May 16, 2024 in New York to attend. Trump’s criminal trial.

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New guests come to support Trump

Trump’s special appearances increased during the week of Cohen’s testimony, with groups of members of Congress coming to watch, particularly those from his new home state of Florida and the House Congressional Freedom Caucus.

On Thursday, Reps. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla., and Bob Good, R-Va., sat in the row directly behind Trump as the debates began .

Earlier in the week, House Speaker Mike Johnson, Rep. Byron Donalds, R-Fla., Rep. Cory Mills, R-Fla., North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, a vice presidential hopeful , and former GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy were at their side. the former president.

Trump calls them his surrogates, and although his campaign denies inviting them, they all talk about the larger goal of electing Trump in November. He also received support from Republican officials in Texas, Iowa and New York.

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