Donald Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen, is set to undergo a rigorous round of questioning from the former president’s lawyers on Tuesday. This comes after Cohen’s testimony implicated Trump in a hush-money scheme intended to suppress stories that could have jeopardized his 2016 campaign.

On Monday, Cohen, the prosecution’s star witness, provided straightforward testimony at the heart of Trump’s trial. “Everything required Mr. Trump’s sign-off,” Cohen stated, placing Trump at the center of the hush money scheme. Cohen testified that Trump had promised to reimburse the money Cohen had advanced for the payments and was continually updated on efforts to suppress damaging stories.

Cohen recounted a conversation with Trump regarding porn actor Stormy Daniels’ claim of a sexual encounter with Trump, saying Trump was anxious about its potential impact on his standing with female voters. Cohen also testified about a similar incident involving Playboy model Karen McDougal, who was paid $150,000 to keep her story quiet. “Make sure it doesn’t get released,” Cohen said Trump instructed him.

“What I was doing, I was doing at the direction of and benefit of Mr. Trump,” Cohen testified.

Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied both sexual encounters.

Cohen’s testimony, though lacking the dramatic flair of Daniels’ earlier appearance, directly linked Trump to the payments and helped clarify text messages and phone logs already presented to the jury. His intimate knowledge of Trump’s activities could increase the legal risk for the presumptive Republican presidential nominee if the jury finds him credible. However, Cohen’s own checkered past—he pleaded guilty to federal charges related to the payments—could also undermine his credibility with the jury and serve as a political advantage for Trump.

Inside the courtroom, Cohen and Trump had no visible interaction, a stark contrast to their previous courtroom encounter in October during Trump’s civil fraud trial. This time, Trump appeared disengaged, sitting with his eyes closed for long stretches as Cohen detailed his decade-long career with the Trump Organization.

Trump’s lawyers are expected to attack Cohen’s credibility, highlighting his disbarment, imprisonment, and guilty plea for lying about a Moscow real estate project on Trump’s behalf. The defense has characterized Cohen as an “admitted liar” with an “obsession to get President Trump.”

Prosecutors aim to counter these attacks by acknowledging Cohen’s past crimes and relying on other witnesses to support his testimony. Jurors have already heard about the tabloid practice of “catch-and-kill,” but Cohen’s direct communication with Trump about suppressing damaging stories is crucial to the prosecution.

Cohen’s testimony about the $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels is central to the 34 felony counts against Trump for falsifying business records. Prosecutors claim the reimbursements to Cohen were falsely logged as legal expenses to conceal their true purpose.

To demonstrate Trump’s involvement, Cohen testified that Trump promised to reimburse him and discussed the payments with Allen Weisselberg, former Trump Organization CFO. Cohen also recounted Trump’s desire to delay the payment to Daniels until after the election, believing it would be irrelevant post-election.

Cohen’s insider account also included negotiations with David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer and a close Trump ally, who kept a “file drawer or a locked drawer” of files related to Trump. This effort intensified after the release of the “Access Hollywood” recording in October 2016.

Cohen’s testimony aimed to portray Trump as a hands-on manager, detailing how he would instruct Cohen to lie and intimidate others, including reporters, to manage troubling matters. “When he would task you with something, he would then say, ‘Keep me informed. Let me know what’s going on,’” Cohen testified.



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