13 May 2024

Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen testifies at hush money trial

Donald Trump’s former lawyer, who has become the main witness against him in his hush money trial, has told the court in New York that his job was to do “whatever” Mr Trump wanted.

Michael Cohen has claimed that Mr Trump directed him to pay more than £100,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels in order to buy her silence.

Donald Trump, who’s denied 34 charges of fraud, was in court to hear the testimony.

Take a bullet

Cohen once said he’d take a bullet for the president. The prosecution is hoping he will be their silver bullet. They believe Cohen can prove Donald Trump is guilty of concealing hush money payments, something he once again denied in his regular morning slot outside the courtroom.

“I should be out campaigning now instead of sitting in a very cold courthouse all day long. This is a Biden prosecution. It’s election interference,” Trump said.

Yet it is Trump accused of election interference. Cohen was Trump’s personal lawyer who paid the adult film star Stormy Daniels to not divulge having sex with Trump, which the former president denies. A cheque, paid by Trump, is said to be a reimbursement for Cohen for the payments he made towards Daniels.


With Cohen on the stand, the prosecution hopes that he can prove something vital: intent. That Trump knew the money was not for legal services, and that he did this to ensure the story did not get out before the 2016 election and thus damage his chances of winning.

In court, the prosecution tried to show how close the pair were and that Trump always knew what Cohen was up to. Cohen consistently said he reported “just to Mr Trump,” and that in the run-up to the election they spoke every day. Asked whether Trump was a “micromanager,” Cohen said “yes, ma’am.”

“Did you at times lie for him?” the prosecutor asked. “Yes,” Cohen replied.

‘Take care of it’

He told the court he regularly suppressed negative stories at Trump’s request, being told “make sure it doesn’t get released.” So when Cohen asked whether he should take care of the Stormy Daniels accusation, Trump said: “Absolutely. Do it. Take care of it.”

This is the latest chapter in the Cohen-Trump saga. Friends turned foes now battling in court, for Cohen was once dubbed Trump’s sixth child. The fixer who said he was the guy who stops the leaks and would never walk away from the president. But then he testified to the US Congress in February 2019.

“I am ashamed because I know what Mr. Trump is. He is a racist. He is a con man. And he is a cheat,” Cohen said.

The leaks came pouring out because when reports first emerged of the hush money payments, Trump denied it all and washed his hands of Cohen.

Cut loose

Cohen was cut loose, eventually spending nearly three years in prison for breaking campaign finance laws and tax evasion. He became embittered, testifying before Congress against Trump and turning to TikTok to implicate the president.

Trump’s defence will cast Cohen as a liar and felon simply out for revenge. A rogue actor who caused problems – he didn’t fix them. With the trial now in its fifth week, how is this all being interpreted by the other jury: the American public who vote this November? Trump himself was buoyed by new poll numbers coming out of the swing states and read the results aloud outside the courtroom Monday.

“Leading in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Arizona, Michigan, Georgia and Nevada,” he said.

A sign, perhaps, that while this is the greatest test yet of Trump’s ability to be immune from prosecution, the bigger test is yet to come for American democracy.