Trump’s ex-fixer Michael Cohen describes quashing negative stories

Trump’s ex-fixer Michael Cohen describes quashing negative stories
Trump’s ex-fixer Michael Cohen describes quashing negative stories

Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen testified that he organized the suppression of negative news stories when his first employer mounted his first bid for the White House.

The testimony from Cohen, 57, on Monday is expected to be the linchpin of the “hush money” case brought against Trump by the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Cohen, whose relationship with Trump has since turned acrimonious, served prison time after pleading guilty to a litany of federal charges including tax evasion and campaign finance violations, and was found to have perjured himself in front of Congress.

The jury listened closely as Cohen explained that he was prepared for there to be “a lot of women coming forward” once Trump announced his candidacy for president in 2015.

Prosecutors say Cohen orchestrated a series of payments to people who were threatening to come forward with salacious stories about Trump, including using his own finances to hand $130,000 to Stormy Daniels, a porn actor who alleged an affair with the real estate mogul.

Trump is charged with criminally falsifying the business records behind the repayments to Cohen in order to keep the information from US voters. His lawyers, however, have said that the payments were for legal services.

Striking a sober tone that contrasted sharply with his vituperative social media posts and TikTok videos targeting Trump, Cohen kept his answers short and precise, rarely meeting the gaze of his former employer, who was sat a few feet away at the defense table, his eyes occasionally closed.

Cohen, who had become notorious for intimidating journalists on behalf of Trump, admitted to having frequently lied for the man he called “boss”, and to having bullied his detractors. “The only thing that was on my mind was to accomplish the task, to make him happy,” he explained.

The testimony came as the prosecution nears the end of its case against the presumptive Republican nominee for president, having called a dozen witnesses including Daniels, whose pay-off is at the heart of the alleged bookkeeping crimes. Last week, Daniels provided hours of embarrassing testimony about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump.

After Cohen, the Manhattan district attorney’s office will probably call one final witness before resting his case. Donald Trump had indicated that he would then testify in his own defense, but has appeared to waver from that commitment in recent comments to the press.

Trump — fresh from a weekend campaign rally in Wildwood, New Jersey — was joined in court by a coterie of Republican allies, including senators JD Vance and Tommy Tuberville, Staten Island congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis and attorneys-general from Iowa and Alabama.

On his way into court on Monday, Trump again called the case a “political witch hunt” and touted polls that show him leading in swing states. “This is a Biden prosecution,” he added. “It’s election interference at a level that nobody in this country has ever seen before.”

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