Trump's former lawyer details how he covered up his sex scandals

If the porn actress Stormy Daniels was last week the star media witness of Donald Trump's first criminal trial in New York, this morning it was the turn of the most valuable witness in the case, the former lawyer and right-hand man of the magnate during a decade, Michael Cohen, now converted into his declared public enemy.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
13 May 2024 Monday 04:24
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Trump's former lawyer details how he covered up his sex scandals

If the porn actress Stormy Daniels was last week the star media witness of Donald Trump's first criminal trial in New York, this morning it was the turn of the most valuable witness in the case, the former lawyer and right-hand man of the magnate during a decade, Michael Cohen, now converted into his declared public enemy.

His relationship with the basis of the accusation could not be more direct: he was in charge of making the payment of $130,000 during the 2016 election campaign to buy the actress's silence about the relationship she had had with Trump a decade earlier in a resort on the shore of Lake Tahoe (Nevada). A year later, from the White House, the former president reimbursed him the money, falsely recording it as legal expenses of his company and incurring, according to the prosecution, in a scheme of document falsification, which is aggravated because it served the commission of another crime. , violation of campaign finance laws.

Trump, who is accused of 34 crimes related to that bribery, has attacked his former lawyer and squire in numerous statements and publications on social networks, with whom he fell out after he confessed in 2018 to the existence of the payment to silence Daniels and was sentenced for this to three years in prison. Cohen already testified last October in another trial against the former president, the civil case of fraud with the Trump Organization, for which he was sentenced to pay, along with his sons Donald Jr. and Eric, 450 million dollars.

The witness explained how in 2016, months after Trump presented his candidacy, they devised, together with the editor of the National Enquirer magazine, David Pecker, a plan to sell positive stories about the candidate and bury those that could harm him electorally, something that the The accusation considers that he pursued the goal of "adulterating" the elections. This strategy – which is called catch and kill – goes beyond Stormy Daniels: they also sent checks to a Trump Tower doorman to prevent him from talking about an alleged secret son of Trump and allegedly bought his silence. from other lovers, like playboy model Karen McDougal.

In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to trying to influence the election in violation of election laws. The judge considered those bribes as illegal contributions to the campaign, since they benefited the candidate's image, but were not declared as such. He was sentenced to three years in prison, of which he spent thirteen months behind bars and a year and a half under house arrest. When he served his sentence, in 2021, he launched an aggressive campaign against the former president, whom he wants to see in jail because it was he who gave him the order to make those illegal payments.

With an office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower, the witness became Trump's personal lawyer in 2007, although he ended up being much more than that. She was his “bully” and his “fixer,” as he defined himself in his two published books, podcasts, television interviews, and a series of recent posts on TikTok. “The only thing he thought about was completing the task, making him happy,” he declared this morning, describing his servile attitude towards the then candidate.

In addition to the plan to silence sexual scandals, Cohen – who had daily communication with the tycoon, whom he called “the boss” – was also in charge of reaching a series of occasional agreements, for example, to build a Trump Tower in Moscow, a plan that never materialized.

In one of his books, Disloyal (2020), he claims that he threatened a company to get thousands of liters of free paint for Trump's golf complex in Miami; that he hired a computer programmer to rig a CNBC online poll to make Trump emerge as one of the “most influential” businessmen in the US; that he organized social media smear campaigns against Trump's declared enemies, such as actress and celebrity Rosie O'Donnell; or that he helped his youngest son find a private school, that he called Trump's wife, Melania, to convince her that he had not been unfaithful and that he helped raise money for the campaign, even though he had no position. formal.

The lawyer, guided by the prosecution's questions, referred to some of these episodes during this Thursday's testimony, before moving on to the body of the accusation: the payment to Stormy Daniels and Trump's reimbursement. During the session, the assistant prosecutor in charge of the interrogation, Susan Hoffinger, showed an email dated October 2016, in which Cohen told the editors of the National Enquirer that Daniels' story, which he threatened to tell to the media, It would be “catastrophic” for the Republican's campaign and would have to be “taken care of.”

“We had to prevent the story from being published in any way possible,” Cohen said from the stand, noting that Trump was furious with the possibility of Daniels speaking publicly: “postpone it as long as you can, beyond the election, because if I win "I will be president, and if I lose, I won't care," Cohen recalled Trump telling him during the 2016 campaign.

Trump's strategy, who cannot deny the payment because there is abundant evidence, is based on defending that it was not produced to "adulterate" the elections, as the prosecution claims, but to avoid the shame that would have been for his family, since the The relationship occurred a year later after the tycoon's wedding. “I wasn't thinking about Melania: everything had to do with the campaign,” Cohen said, trying to dismiss that argument.

Trump's former lawyer has explained that he first tried to make the payment through Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's accountant, who was convicted last year in a separate case of tax fraud. "Just do it. “Meet with Allen and resolve this issue,” Trump said, according to Cohen. But Weisselberg refused to make the payment, so the mogul pressured Cohen to do it himself, and he agreed after Trump assured him that he would return the money after the election.

“I was doing everything I could and more to protect my boss, as I had done for so long,” said Cohen, who was also in regular contact with Daniels' lawyer, Keith Davidson, who wanted to make sure the payment was going. to be done quickly.

As it did last week during Daniels' testimony, the mogul's defense has gone out of its way to describe Cohen as a "compulsive liar" who "has an obsession with Trump" and who seeks to benefit financially from the case. The lawyer who leads the Republican's legal team, Todd Blanche, charged that he "has spoken at length about his desire to see President Trump and his family in prison." The latest example occurred last week, when Cohen went live on TikTok dressed in a t-shirt with the image of Trump with his hands handcuffed and behind bars.

The judge presiding over the trial, Juan Merchan, asked the lawyer to refrain from commenting on the case. He also asked Trump repeatedly, but he ignored the gag order up to ten times, for which he will have to pay a fine of $10,000. The magnate has attacked the judge, prosecutor Alvin Bragg, Daniels, Cohen and other prosecution witnesses on his social network (Truth Social). Of Cohen, he said that he is a “rat,” a “traitor,” and a “vengeful.”

Cohen, whose testimony opens the fifth week of the trial, is the last big name of the twenty that the prosecution has called to testify. Throughout this week, it is expected that they will begin to declare the calls by the defense and, when that process ends, after the final arguments of the parties, the twelve members of the jury must reach a verdict that could lead for the first time in the story sent a former president of the United States to prison.