At the trial, the defense tries to shake up its former confidant – 05/15/2024 at 00:45

At the trial, the defense tries to shake up its former confidant – 05/15/2024 at 00:45
At the Trump trial, the defense tries to shake up its former confidant – 05/15/2024 at 00:45

Donald ’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, on May 14, 2024 in New York (AFP / TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

Donald Trump’s lawyers launched hostilities on Tuesday to try to shake his former confidant, Michael Cohen, a key witness for the prosecution who incriminated the former President the States at his trial for hidden payments to a porn star before the 2016 presidential election.

A sign of the heavy political stakes of this historic trial, the President of the House of Representatives, Republican Mike Johnson, came to the doors of the Manhattan Courthouse to denounce a “corrupt” trial and “electoral interference”.

He questioned the legitimacy of the court, less than six months before the November 5 election between Joe and Donald Trump.

“The system uses all the tools at its disposal to punish one president and cover up another,” declared this senior state figure, echoing the Republican champion who denounces “a witch hunt.”

In the courtroom on the 15th floor of the court, Michael Cohen, 57, who was Donald Trump’s confidant before swearing his loss, continued Tuesday to incriminate him, while recognizing that he ” had a real cult” when he worked alongside him.

During the prosecution’s interrogation, which lasted eight hours Monday and Tuesday, he said that Donald Trump had approved, at the very end of the 2016 presidential campaign, a payment of $130,000 to the film actress X Stormy Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford. In order to buy her silence on a sexual relationship that she claims to have had in 2006 with the businessman, already married to Melania Trump.

Donald Trump denies this relationship.

– T-shirts and mugs –

Former US President Donald Trump before the start of his trial hearing at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 14, 2024 in New York (POOL / JUSTIN LANE)

Michael Cohen, who paid Stormy Daniels, also claimed that Donald Trump had validated his reimbursement in 2017 – expenses disguised according to the accusation as “legal costs” in the accounts of the family real estate group, the Trump Organization.

A key testimony for prosecutors, because it is this alleged concealment which earned him the appearance for 34 crimes of accounting falsification and put him at risk of the first criminal conviction of a former American head of state. And in theory up to a prison sentence, which would not, however, prevent him from remaining the Republican candidate in November.

the accusation, Donald Trump’s lawyers launched hostilities against Michael Cohen, whom they want to describe as a pathological liar and obsessed with his thirst for revenge against the former president.

Lawyer Todd Blanche recalled that on his website, Michael Cohen sold t-shirts with the image of Donald Trump behind bars, or a mug wishing him prison rather than the White House.

“Do you want President Trump to be convicted in this case?” Todd Blanche said. “Of course,” replied Michael Cohen, who turned against his former boss in 2018, after being caught by the courts himself.

According to his testimony, after a resounding FBI search of his home in April 2018, Donald Trump reassured him, telling him: “Don’t worry, everything will be fine, I am the president of the United States.”

Stormy Daniels, leaving the Manhattan court, in New York, May 9, 2024 (AFP / Charly TRIBALLEAU)

But Michael Cohen had pleaded guilty to bank and tax fraud, lying before the US Congress and violating campaign finance laws, an offense linked to the payment to Stormy Daniels. Sentenced to three years in prison, he served 13 months behind bars.

– Invoices and checks –

The cross-examination continued on Tuesday without Michael Cohen really appearing in difficulty, and while Donald Trump had, most often, his eyes closed, slumped in his chair.

A little earlier, Michael Cohen had hit the nail on the head. If he paid Stormy Daniels in 2016, it was “to ensure that the story would not come out, and would not affect Donald Trump’s chances of becoming president of the United States.”

And he said he was acting “on behalf of Donald Trump”.

Former US President Donald Trump (c) arrives in court accompanied by his lawyer Todd Blanche (d) and the leader of the House of Representatives, Republican Mike Johnson, on May 14, 2024 in New York (POOL / JUSTIN LANE)

In a moment full of intensity, the prosecutor showed the court the invoices which made it possible to reimburse Michael Cohen, as well as 11 checks, most of them directly signed by Donald Trump.

The former lawyer calmly repeated that each time they were false invoices.

According to him, Donald Trump feared a “catastrophic” effect, even “hatred” from the female electorate, facing Hillary Clinton, during the 2016 presidential election.

Her testimony joins that of Stormy Daniels, who last week gave a raw account of the sexual relationship she claims to have had with Donald Trump in 2006.

There will be no hearing on and cross-examination will continue on Thursday.

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