Trump Defense Team Attacking Michael Cohen Credibility, Motives As Trial Resumes

Former U.S. President Donald Trump with attorney Todd Blanche speaks to the media during his trial for allegedly covering up payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 16, 2024, in New York City. (Steven Hirsch/Pool/Getty Images/TNS)

NEW YORK (New York Daily News/TNS) — Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s longtime fixer-turned-foe, faced a contentious cross-examination Thursday as the former president’s legal team sought to undermine his credibility and motives as the historic trial centered on an alleged falsifying records concerning payment to suppress negative information during the 2016 presidential election.

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche repeatedly questioned Cohen about his 2018 conviction, specifically the tax evasion count — related to taxi medallions, not hush money — and public complaints about the case. Cohen said that he committed the crimes he pleaded guilty to, but his criticism was that he didn’t think his prosecution was fair.

Blanche sought to frame that as perjury.

Blanche challenged Cohen’s previous claims that he never asked for or would accept a pardon from Trump, asking, “That was a lie, wasn’t it?” Blanche said representations his attorneys made behind closed doors refuted that.

“At the time, it was accurate,” Cohen said of his public statements on the matter.

Blanche, who’s sought to portray Cohen as vengeful, pressed him repeatedly about his desires to come with Trump to the White House and whether he really wanted the job he got as personal attorney to the president.

He repeated his previous testimony that he wanted to be Trump’s chief of staff for ego-driven reasons.

“I may have expressed frustration” at not being considered for the top job, Cohen conceded at one point, acknowledging he told his daughter he was disappointed.

Trump, the presumed GOP nominee in this year’s election, 77, has pleaded not guilty to 34 felonies that allege he covered up reimbursement to Cohen — masking it as payment for legal fees — to disguise an underlying scheme to hide information from the voting public.

Earlier Thursday, Trump arrived around 9:20 a.m. with another entourage of Republican supporters. He strolled into Judge Juan Merchan’s courtroom with Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, his son, Eric Trump, and an army of lawyers.

“In fact, a lead person from the DOJ is running this trial,” he said before entering the courtroom for the day — possibly treading into dangerous territory in violation of a gag order with a reference to prosecutor Matthew Colangelo, formerly a senior official at the U.S. Department of Justice. “So, Biden’s office is running this trial.”

During more than nine hours in the witness box on Monday and Tuesday, Cohen, 57, told jurors he hadn’t spoken to Trump since the feds raided his residences in 2018, leading to his conviction for violating campaign laws when he made payments to suppress the negative information.

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