Defense Lawyer Again Aims to Paint Trump’s Main Accuser as a Liar

May 20, 2024 by Tom Ramstack
Defense Lawyer Again Aims to Paint Trump’s Main Accuser as a Liar
Michael Cohen leaves his apartment building on his way to Manhattan criminal court in New York, Monday, May 20, 2024. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

NEW YORK — Former President Donald Trump’s lead attorney once again depicted the prosecution’s star witness as a chronic liar during the criminal trial that continued Monday in New York.

In response to questions about whether he mishandled money, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen admitted to misconduct.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche asked Cohen about a reimbursement he paid to the owner of Red Finch, a tech company that had done work for the Trump Organization.

Cohen asked the Trump Organization for $50,000 to pay Red Finch. He kept $30,000 for himself but paid $20,000 to Red Finch.

“You stole from the Trump Organization, correct?” Blanche asked.

“Yes, sir,” Cohen said.

He acknowledged the total amount of money he embezzled was $60,000. He also admitted that he never repaid the embezzled money.

As Trump looked at Cohen from his seat nearby, Trump shook his head and pursed his lips.

Questions about misappropriating money were only part of the reason Blanche grilled Cohen about his misbehavior.

Indirectly, he was trying to show Cohen was untrustworthy in many of his statements, including his accusations that Trump paid hush money to two women with whom he had sex and then covered it up with falsified business records.

Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to payments to former adult film actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Daniels says she received $130,000. McDougal says she received $150,000.

Cohen, known in the media as Trump’s “fixer,” says he made the payments to the women.

The Wall Street Journal reported on the hush money for Daniels in 2018.

“You told multiple people when it first leaked that President Trump knew nothing about the payment, correct?” Blanche asked.

Cohen confirmed he had.

Later he changed his story, saying Trump made the payments to him and listed them as “legal expenses” to protect his 2016 campaign for president. Cohen said he then passed on the money to the women in checks he signed made payable through a bank account he set up to hide the source of the payments.

Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 after he admitted as part of a plea bargain that he lied to Congress about a real estate deal the Trump Organization tried to arrange in Moscow. He also admitted lying under oath to other federal charges that included tax fraud and campaign finance violations.

Blanche mentioned during the cross-examination of Cohen his statements on social media in which he said he wanted revenge against Trump, hopefully getting him thrown in jail.

After Cohen testified, the prosecution rested its case. The defense then called the first of its two witnesses.

First was a paralegal who testified about cellphone records he compiled for presentation in court. Second was Robert Costello, a former legal advisor for Cohen who told a congressional committee last week that Cohen distorted some of his testimony during Trump’s trial.

Costello said Monday in the New York court that he told Cohen he could resolve many of his legal problems by providing “truthful information” to investigators.

The court session was interrupted when Judge Juan Merchan cleared the courtroom to reprimand Costello for his personal behavior.

Costello said “ridiculous” and “jeez” in a protest of the judge’s ruling on a prosecutor’s objection over a procedural issue. He also appeared to be trying to stare the judge down.

After the judge reconvened the trial, Costello discussed how he met Cohen and his concerns about taking him on as a client. His testimony is scheduled to continue Tuesday morning.

Trump continued his tradition as he left the courthouse at the end of the day of criticizing the judge and President Joe Biden. He blamed them for conducting a political “witch hunt” against him.

“This case should be dropped by the judge,” Trump said.

He added, “The prosecutor should be prosecuted.”

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