Crime showdown in the Trump trial: key witness Cohen probably before testifying

Formerly Trump's right-hand man, now bitter adversary: ​​Michael Cohen is the central witness in the hush money trial against the ex-president. But there is a problem.

In the criminal trial against Donald Trump in connection with hush money payments to a porn actress, the former US President is to meet key witness Michael Cohen for the first time in the trial. As US media consistently reported, Trump's former personal lawyer is scheduled to testify in New York today. Cohen is seen as a central figure in establishing a direct link between the now 77-year-old and hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Cohen is also a risk for the public prosecutor's office: The defense is likely to try to portray the person convicted of making false statements as untrustworthy. It has not been officially confirmed that Cohen will testify. The New York court does not publish the witness schedule in advance for security reasons.

The prosecution in New York accuses Trump of wanting to improve his chances of winning the 2016 US presidential election by paying $130,000 in hush money to the porn actress Daniels. Although the transaction itself was not illegal, Trump falsified business documents when returning the money to Cohen in order to conceal the actual purpose.

This is the first criminal trial against an ex-president in US history. Trump faces several years in prison, which could also be suspended, or a fine. The case could influence the US election campaign. Trump wants to be re-elected president in November. He has pleaded not guilty.

Convicted liar as key witness

Cohen is at the center of the proceedings. He once became known as Trump's legal cleaner, but has turned against him in recent years. Cohen claims that Trump directly instructed him to pay the hush money. During the opening arguments, Trump's defense portrayed him as someone driven by a desire for revenge who had already lied under oath.

Cohen, now 57, had already pleaded guilty in 2018 for his role in the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels – and served a prison sentence for, among other things, making false statements. In 2018, Trump was still US President and was not prosecuted by the public prosecutor. Important witness David Pecker initially testified at the trial in New York. The former editor of the Trump-affiliated newspaper “National Enquirer” confirmed the prosecution's narrative that Cohen and he were supposed to suppress negative reports on Trump's behalf before the 2016 US election by buying the rights to them. Last week, porn star Daniels herself took the stand and gave an unflattering and detailed statement about sexual intercourse with Trump.