Michael Cohen's testimony in Trump trial enters its 3rd day

The fifth week of Donald Trump’s criminal trial in New York will end as it began: with the former president’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen on the stand.

Cohen, the key witness in the case against Trump, was questioned for a day and a half by prosecutors for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg before Trump attorney Todd Blanche got a crack at him on Tuesday afternoon.

Blanche confronted Cohen with his own foul-mouthed statements about Trump and his lawyers.

Blanche targeted his motivations and credibility, with Cohen dryly parrying the attacks. Confronted with recent statements in which he called Blanche a “crying little s–t” and Trump a “dictator d—–bag,” Cohen replied: “Sounds like something I would say.”

Asked about a series of times when he effusively praised Trump in 2015, Cohen said he was “knee deep into the cult of Donald Trump.”

Blanche also forced Cohen to acknowledge a track record of lying under oath, and of changing his tune about his dealings with Trump. Blanche implied that Cohen became cooperative with authorities investigating Trump while seeking a reduced prison sentence in 2019. Cohen pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2018 and ultimately served 13 months in prison. 

Under earlier questioning from prosecutor Susan Hoffinger, Cohen said he hoped Trump would protect him from charges if he remained loyal and lied about a $130,000 “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election. Cohen has testified that Trump approved of a plan to reimburse Cohen for the payment over the course of the following year.

Before Cohen’s cross-examination, prosecutors walked jurors through the 34 business records they say were falsified to cover up the payment to Daniels, showing the invoices, vouchers and checks that correspond to each felony charge Trump faces. The former president has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors said in court on Tuesday that Cohen will be their last witness. Blanche told the judge, Juan Merchan, that he is not sure if Trump will testify on his own behalf, or if they’ll call any witnesses at all. The court is not meeting on Friday.

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