will you believe Michael Cohen?

will you believe Michael Cohen?
will you believe Michael Cohen?

As Donald TrumpManhattan’s silent trial reached its final chapter Tuesday, as the former president took what has become his usual morning walk to the center of a downtown courtroom, running his eyes through the rows of reporters who had been studying his looks for five weeks. . He was followed by members of his family (Don Jr., Eric, And Tiffany, But no Melania, Ivanka, Or Barron) who arrived during the final arguments; his usual cohort of assistants and advisors (Jason Miller And Boris Epshteyn); and, right behind him, his main lawyer Todd Blanche, who was to offer the last word in his client’s defense.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal a payment to the porn star. Stormy Daniels for remaining silent about her claim that they had sex. Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen organized the hush money deal in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election — in an effort, prosecutors say, to stem scrutiny of Trump’s relationships with women that followed the release of the ‘affair. Access Hollywood tape – and he was the final witness in the prosecution’s case. The problem was personnel, Blanche suggested as she began her speech. “You should want and expect more than Michael Cohen’s testimony,” he told the jury, and “something beyond the word of a woman who claimed something happened in 2006 “.

But Blanche also made a point that has sometimes been lost amid the focus on the boldfaced names involved in the trial. “The case is about documents,” the lawyer said. “It’s a paper affair. In other words, it’s not “a meeting that President Trump has repeatedly and unequivocally denied,” he continued, or even the payment to Daniels.

As Blanche’s statement began, Trump turned to his lawyer, toward the jury. However, as throughout the trial, the jurors and the former president never appeared to make eye contact. Alvin Bragg, The Manhattan district attorney, whom Trump has repeatedly defamed over the last year, has been absent from the trial since his opening statements more than a month ago. He sat in the second row of the courtroom Tuesday.

Blanche isn’t exactly charismatic, nor particularly fluid, but he projects an imploring ruggedness. “The words that Michael Cohen spoke to you on the stand,” he told the jury, “they matter.” Cohen’s admitted history of lying was the dominant motive. And if, as promised, Blanche’s remarks revolved around the dry details of the business cases in question, they also touched on a more human element. “At the end of the day, what the government has done over the last five weeks,” Blanche said, “is asking you to believe the man who testified two weeks ago. » (Or, as one of the titles of his slideshow puts it, “The affair turns Cohen on.”)

This is ultimately the defining tone of Blanche’s summary once he goes through the records. He displayed incredulity, addressing the intricacies of the prosecution’s case in a somewhat disjointed manner and seeking to poke holes wherever he could. Falsifying business records would amount to a misdemeanor without a second element of the charges that elevates the allegations to misdemeanors: the records were distorted to conceal another crime. “The recordings weren’t even fake,” Blanche said. But even if that were the case, he continued, “Every campaign in this country is a conspiracy,” meaning there was nothing nefarious about the arrangement to silence Daniels’ claims. And even if there was a conspiracy, as the prosecution claims, between Trump, Cohen and the former National investigator editor David Pecker to suppress negative stories about the candidate and promote embarrassing coverage of his rivals, “Is this what they came up with?” »

A little over three hours after starting, Blanche concluded her speech. He did not appeal, as defense lawyers sometimes do, to a general sense of justice or history. In addition to referring to the defendant as “President Trump,” he only mentioned the issues of the trial in passing, reminding jurors that the proceedings did not amount to a referendum on their political views. His voice was loudest, diminishing almost to a scream, as he recalled Cohen’s memory of a call he said he had with Trump. “It was a lie,” Blanche shouted.

The prosecution is expected to present its summary in the afternoon.

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