Michael Cohen Testifies as Star Witness in Trump's Criminal Trial

Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, testifies in the criminal trial, alleging Trump's involvement in hush money payments to Stormy Daniels. Cohen's testimony is crucial to the prosecution's case, which accuses Trump of criminal conduct related to the payments.

Aqsa Younas Rana
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Michael Cohen Testifies as Star Witness in Trump's Criminal Trial

Michael Cohen Testifies as Star Witness in Trump's Criminal Trial

The criminal trial of former President Donald Trump for allegedly covering up hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels has entered a pivotal phase as Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and fixer, takes the stand as the prosecution's star witness. The trial, which began on May 13, 2024, in Manhattan Criminal Court, New York City, marks the first time in U.S. history that a former president has faced criminal charges.

Why this matters: This trial has significant implications for the rule of law and accountability in the United States, as it sets a precedent for holding former presidents accountable for their actions. The outcome of this trial could also influence the 2024 presidential election and shape the public's perception of political corruption.

Cohen, who has already served time in prison for several federal crimes, including campaign finance violations related to the hush money deals, is expected to provide crucial testimony connecting Trump directly to the alleged scheme. Prosecutors contend that Trump's repayment of Cohen in 2017 for the $130,000 payment to Daniels was criminal, as he listed the reimbursements as legal expenses in financial documents.

In his testimony, Cohen recalled Trump saying "Just do it" regarding the hush-money payment to Daniels. After Trump won the presidency, Cohen demanded reimbursement and met with Trump, who approved monthly payments. Trump then changed the subject, saying "This is going to be one heck of a ride in D.C."

Over nearly five hours of testimony, Cohen painted a damning portrait of his relationship with Trump, detailing their shady dealings and spotlighting the conduct at the center of the trial: the silencing of women who had stories of sex with Trump to tell and sell. The indictment, unveiled in April 2023, centers on the hush-money deal with Daniels but alleges a broader scheme to protect Trump's 2016 campaign.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing and accused prosecutors of targeting him for political reasons. His defense team, led by Todd Blanche, argues that Cohen was indeed being paid for legal services and "cannot be trusted." Blanche has highlighted Cohen's criminal history, including his guilty plea to making false statements to Congress and tax fraud.

The trial has drawn significant attention, with divided TV network coverage and the presence of Republican Senators Tommy Tuberville of Alabama and J.D. Vance of Ohio in the courtroom. Trump appeared frustrated in court on Friday, railing against his inability to comment on witness testimony due to a gag order.

As the trial progresses, the prosecution is expected to call two more witnesses and possibly rest their case by the end of next week. Trump's defense team may also call witnesses, but it remains unclear whether the former president will testify in his own defense. With Cohen's testimony at the heart of the prosecution's case, the trial's outcome could hinge on his credibility and the jury's perception of his motives.

Key Takeaways

  • Ex-President Donald Trump faces criminal trial for alleged hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.
  • Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, testifies as prosecution's star witness.
  • Cohen alleges Trump directed him to make hush money payments, contradicting Trump's denials.
  • Trump's defense team questions Cohen's credibility due to his criminal history.
  • Trial outcome may impact 2024 presidential election and political corruption perceptions.