Cohen incriminates Trump

Crown witness parries wild cross-examination with humor

15.05.2024 11:49

In the hush money trial against former US President Donald Trump, the defense has attempted to portray key witness Michael Cohen as an untrustworthy and vindictive liar. The cross-examination on Tuesday turned into a confrontational exchange of blows.

"Mr. Cohen, my name is Todd Blanche," Trump's lawyer began the questioning and added: "You called me a crying little son of a bitch on TikTok just before this trial started?"

Cohen replied, "Sounds like something I would say." Later, Cohen also admitted that he wanted to see Trump behind bars, as journalists present in the New York court unanimously reported.

Cohen heavily implicates Trump
During his previous questioning by the prosecution, the key witness had established a direct link between Trump and a payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, which the Republican is said to have unlawfully booked.

The prosecution accuses Trump of having wanted to improve his chances of success in the 2016 presidential election by paying 130,000 dollars to the porn actress. The transaction itself, which has not been disputed by either side, was not illegal. However, the now 77-year-old is alleged to have manipulated documents when reimbursing the amount laid out by Cohen in order to conceal the true reason for the payment. From the prosecution's point of view, it was therefore illegal campaign financing.

Cohen confronted with his own words
Blanche repeatedly confronted Cohen with his sharp attacks on Trump. He painted a picture of a man who has been obsessed with revenge against his former boss ever since he dropped him. In response to Blanche's questions about the fact that the prosecution had asked Cohen in several conversations not to comment on the case on TV shows, Cohen replied that he could not remember several conversations on the subject.

Why is this important?

  • This is the first criminal case against a former president in the history of the United States.
  • Trump is facing a prison sentence of several years, which could also be suspended, or a fine.
  • The proceedings could also have an impact on the election campaign in the USA. Trump, who is seeking re-election as US President in November, has pleaded not guilty.

Blanche took this alleged memory lapse as an opportunity to question Cohen's detailed recollections of phone calls with Trump eight years ago. The cross-examination is due to continue on Thursday, with the trial paused on Wednesday.

Laughter in the courtroom
Some US commentators expressed the opinion that lawyer Blanche had not succeeded in discrediting Cohen's accusations, at least in the first part of the cross-examination. At times during the questioning, he jumped from one topic to the next so quickly that it was not easy to follow him. Cohen's sometimes very blunt answers, who repeatedly replied "Sounds like something I would say", were amusing. The "New York Times" noted that the jurors were obviously amused.

Cohen is considered a problematic witness because of repeated lies in his past. He became known as Trump's "cleaner" with a close relationship and direct access to his boss, for whom he cleared up legal hassles. Cohen once said he would even take a bullet for Trump.

The culmination of years of litigation
The hush money payments to Daniels have been keeping the US judiciary busy for years. Cohen was found guilty in this context back in 2018 and served a prison sentence for making false statements, among other things. At the time, Trump was still president and was not prosecuted by the public prosecutor's office. The current trial was opened in April.

At the trial in New York, key witness David Pecker testified first. The former publisher of the Trump-affiliated tabloid "National Enquirer" confirmed the prosecution's account that Cohen and he were commissioned by Trump to suppress negative reporting before the 2016 US election by buying the rights to publish the respective stories.

Porn star went into detail
Last week, porn star Daniels herself took the stand and made an unflattering and very detailed statement about the alleged sexual intercourse with Trump. Cohen finally established a direct link between the hush money payments and the former president.

The prosecution let it be known that Cohen was their last witness. Trump's lawyers could be finished with the cross-examination as early as Thursday. After that, it would be up to the defense to call exculpatory witnesses before the closing arguments. The twelve jurors must then reach a unanimous decision. Judge Juan Merchan would determine the sentence in the event of a conviction.

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