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michael cohen

Donald Trump's former lawyer says he lied on his behalf in opening testimony to hush money trial

Trump, 77, is accused of falsifying business records to reimburse his lawyer Michael Cohen for making a hush payment.

DONALD TRUMP’S ONE-TIME fixer and the star prosecution witness in the former president’s historic criminal trial has testified that he lied and bullied for his former boss who looked on silently.

Michael Cohen’s testimony followed last week’s proceedings in which adult film star Stormy Daniels told the court about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump which is at the heart of the case.

Trump, 77, is accused of falsifying business records to reimburse his lawyer Cohen for a hush-money payment to Daniels on the eve of the 2016 presidential election, when the story could have proved politically fatal.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen if, as a lawyer-fixer for the property tycoon, he lied and bullied people on behalf of Trump.

“Yes… It was what was needed in order to accomplish the task,” said Cohen who periodically glanced over at Trump who was slouched in his chair at the defendant’s table.

Cohen spent just over 13 months in jail and a year and a half under house arrest after he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for lying to Congress and financial crimes.

In the first weeks of the trial in New York, jurors have heard from witnesses that Cohen was a difficult character who cajoled others to get his way, while the defense counsel have painted him as a pathological liar and convicted criminal.

Cohen testified today that he worked on both personal and corporate issues for Trump, who he claimed did not have an email address for fear of leaving a paper trial that could be used to prosecute him.

Daniels, who claims to have had sex with Trump in 2006, has denied she threatened him if he did not buy her silence for $130,000, a payment that prosecutors say Trump then covered up.

The trial is taking place six months before the November election, when Trump will try to defeat Democratic President Joe Biden.

During nearly eight hours over two days last week, Daniels walked the jury through the one-night stand she said she had with Trump at a celebrity golf tournament, and then the financial settlement she says ensued.

Trump had sat impassively for much of Daniels’s testimony, apparently cursing at times, and railing against proceedings in his comments to reporters as he entered and left the Manhattan courtroom.

Trump has denied having sex with Daniels, and his lawyers asked the judge for a mistrial on the grounds her testimony was “extremely prejudicial” in what is essentially a financial records and election-related case.

Judge Juan Merchan denied two mistrial requests last week.

Merchan has imposed a gag order on Trump prohibiting him from publicly attacking witnesses, and the ex-president — who has traded insults with Daniels for years, calling her “horseface” and other crude slurs — has not commented directly on her testimony.

Trump spoke at a rally on a beach in New Jersey on Saturday and condemned the judge as “conflicted” and the prosecutor in the case, Alvin Bragg, as a “radical Democrat.”

But he appeared to heed the gag order and avoided naming any witnesses in the case, including Cohen.

In addition to the New York case, Trump has been indicted in Washington and Georgia on charges of conspiring to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

He has also been charged in Florida with allegedly mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House but that case has been postponed indefinitely

© AFP 2024