Trump Lawyers to Launch Final Blows at Michael Cohen in Hush-Money Trial

Trump Lawyers to Launch Final Blows at Michael Cohen in Hush-Money Trial

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Donald Trump’s lawyers are expected to launch their final blows at the credibility of Michael Cohen, the ex-lawyer and fixer who facilitated the $130,000 hush-money payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels, as the criminal case against Trump resumes on Monday.

The defense team has already taken several steps to undercut the testimony from Cohen, which is at the heart of the case, The Guardian reported.

It had him affirm last week that the hush-money was part of a bona fide settlement agreement, in an attempt to counter the prosecution’s claim that it was fraudulent to record the payment as legal expenses.

Cohen was also confronted with accusations that he has lied whenever it has suited his needs: lying to Congress about a Trump real estate deal in Moscow, to a federal judge in 2018, and in his testimony to prosecutors about Trump’s involvement in the hush-money deal – the latter of which he denied.

When Cohen returns to the stand for more cross-examination in the first criminal trial of a US president, it will be his fourth and likely final day of testimony. After Cohen is done, the prosecution is expected to rest its case.

Whether Trump testifies in his own defense remains uncertain, even if Trump has suggested he wants to take the stand. Should Trump not testify, closing arguments in the case could come on Tuesday. With the court not in session on Wednesdays, the jury might start deliberating on Thursday.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of felony falsification of business records. Prosecutors must prove Trump authorized what he knew to be hush-money repayments to be falsely labelled as “legal expenses” in the Trump Organization’s records, with an intent to commit a second crime.

The criminal case against Trump stems from his attempts to suppress negative stories about alleged sexual encounters he had with Daniels and others for fear that they could negatively affect his campaign just weeks before the 2016 election.

Cohen has been perhaps the most crucial witness for the prosecution, as he remains the only person to have tied Trump directly to the hush-money deal. But he is a far from ideal person to provide evidence, because of the fertile ground for the defense to question his honesty and motivations.

The motivation for Cohen to lie in his trial testimony, Trump’s lead defense lawyer Todd Blanche suggested, was to see Trump go to jail after the then president abandoned him when federal prosecutors charged him with felony tax evasion and false statements six years ago.

Blanche suggested that Cohen lied at trial about several things from the time of the hush-money deal: that he didn’t want a White House job, which they said contradicts his private messages at the time, and that he didn’t want a pardon, when he asked his lawyers to look into such a possibility.

Blanche also accused Cohen of lying about a key bit of testimony: Cohen’s assertion that when he called Trump’s then bodyguard Keith Schiller on October 24, 2016, it was to apprise Trump that he was moving forward with paying hush-money to Daniels.

But Blanche offered an alternative explanation. Relying on Cohen’s texts to Schiller, Blanche suggested Cohen actually dialed Schiller to complain about prank calls from a 14-year-old, and that the phone was too short – one minute and 30 seconds – for him to have told Trump about the deal.

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