Donald Trump’s trial: Michael Cohen returns to hot seat against former boss

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Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen returns to the witness stand on Tuesday for what is expected to be a tough grilling by the ex-president’s lawyers at his historic hush money trial.

Cohen, who served as Trump’s “fixer” for years but is now a bitter foe of his onetime boss, is the prosecution’s star witness at the first criminal trial of a former occupant of the White House.

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Trump is accused of falsifying business records to reimburse Cohen for a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election, when her claims of a sexual encounter with the Republican candidate could have doomed his campaign.

The dramatic courtroom faceoff is taking place six months ahead of the November presidential election in which Trump is hoping to recapture the White House from President Joe Biden.

Cohen answered questions from prosecutors for more than five hours on Monday and is expected to be turned over to Trump’s defense attorneys at some point on Tuesday for a likely combative cross-examination.

The 57-year-old Cohen is crucial to the Manhattan district attorney’s case and Trump’s lawyers have spent the first few weeks of the trial seeking to undermine his credibility.

Cohen spent 13 months in jail and another year and a half under house arrest after pleading guilty in 2018 to lying to Congress and committing financial crimes.

‘Protect my boss’

Cohen walked jurors on Monday through how he arranged the payment to Daniels to prevent her from going public about her alleged 2006 tryst with the married Trump, a revelation that could have been “catastrophic” to his White House bid.

“I was doing everything I could and more in order to protect my boss, which was something I had done for a long time,” Cohen said.

Cohen told the jury how the Trump campaign would seek to buy unflattering stories, a practice known as “catch and kill,” which is what is alleged to have happened with Daniels.

Daniels and Trump -- under the respective pseudonyms Peggy Peterson and David Dennison -- were parties to a nondisclosure agreement prepared by Cohen that has emerged in court filings.

During nearly eight hours over two days last week, Daniels testified about the sexual encounter she said she had with Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, and then the financial settlement.

Trump, 77, has denied having sex with Daniels, and his lawyers last week asked Judge Juan Merchan for a mistrial on the grounds that her graphic testimony was prejudicial in what is essentially a financial records and election-related case.

Trump could still run in the November election and be sworn in as president if he is convicted in the hush money case.

In addition to the New York trial, 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 mishandling classified documents after leaving the White House, but that case has been postponed indefinitely.

Read more:

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