Justice: Cohen under cross-examination – end of Trump trial in sight

A convicted liar as the main prosecution witness in the hush money trial against Donald Trump: During cross-examination, Michael Cohen is caught up in explosive false statements.

In the hush money trial against Donald Trump, the defense of the former US president put pressure on the key witness because of past false statements and questioned his credibility. Defense attorney Todd Blanche sharply questioned Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen on Thursday in New York about his repeated lies, including in a hearing of the US Congress, where Cohen was under oath as in court. In Trump's presence, the witness confirmed the false statements, as media present in the courtroom unanimously reported.

Blanche also played recordings from Cohen's podcast in which the former Trump confidant swore revenge on his ex-boss and expressed the hope that Trump would “rot” in prison. The defense tried to show the jury that the key witness in the trial was an opportunist and had no problem with lying as long as it helped him achieve his goals. US media described the 57-year-old as being somewhat more defensive than on Tuesday, when he had been somewhat belligerent.

Alleged one-night stand

The trial concerns the allegation that Trump wanted to improve his chances of winning the 2016 presidential election by paying porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to prevent her from going public about an alleged one-night stand with Trump.

The transaction itself, which neither party disputed, was not illegal. However, Trump, now 77 years old, is said to have manipulated documents when reimbursing the amount paid out by Cohen in order to conceal the real reason for the payment. From the prosecution's point of view, this was therefore illegal campaign financing. Trump has pleaded not guilty in this first criminal trial against a former president in US history.

Trump was wearing a red tie and a blue suit. During the hearing, he was reportedly more animated than on Tuesday and followed the questioning attentively at times. Even on what was probably the last day with Cohen in the witness stand, Trump brought an entourage of supporters with him to the courtroom. In addition to his son Eric, right-wing Republican representatives Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz were also present.

Process on the home stretch

Cohen is considered a problematic key witness because of many public lies in the past. The hush money payments to Daniels have been a concern for the US judiciary for years. Cohen was found guilty in this connection in 2018 and served a prison sentence for, among other things, giving false testimony. At that time, Trump was still president and was not being prosecuted by the prosecution. The current trial began in April with Cohen as the main witness for the prosecution. He had turned against Trump when Trump dropped him.

Meanwhile, the end of the trial is in sight: Cohen is the last witness for the prosecution. After that, it is up to the defense to call exculpatory witnesses before the closing arguments begin. That could happen next week at the earliest. The trial will pause on Friday because Trump wants to attend his son Barron's graduation party. At the end of the proceedings, the twelve jurors must reach a unanimous decision. Judge Juan Merchan would determine the sentence in the event of a conviction. Trump faces a prison sentence of several years, which could be suspended.