Trump lawyers aim to discredit Michael Cohen as hush money grilling continues

New York, New York - Donald Trump's attorneys pressed his former fixer Michael Cohen again on Thursday when he took the stand to testify for the second time in the historic hush money trial.

Donald Trump's one-time fixer and key witness Michael Cohen (l.) testified for the second time on Thursday in his former boss's hush money criminal trial.
Donald Trump's one-time fixer and key witness Michael Cohen (l.) testified for the second time on Thursday in his former boss's hush money criminal trial.  © Collage: IMAGO / UPI Photo

The defense team has sought to cast Cohen as a disgruntled ex-employee out for blood at a trial, which is being heard just six months before election day when Trump hopes to retake the White House.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche kicked his second round of questioning off by emphasizing Cohen's history of lies – a bid to dissuade jurors from believing Cohen's account that he broke the law at Trump's behest.

In addition to listing Cohen's past lies, the defense also played clips of the witness's podcast episodes that frequently discussed the former president.

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"You better believe I want this man to go down," he said in one 2020 episode.

Cohen has said repeatedly, under both direct and cross-examination, that he takes "responsibility" for his actions and has faced consequences.

Trump, the first former US president to be tried criminally, has complained his current campaign for another White House term is being stymied by the court proceedings, which he has to attend every day.

The former president is accused of falsifying business records to reimburse Cohen for a $130,000 hush-money payment to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election when her account of a sexual encounter with the then-Republican nominee could have doomed his campaign.

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Former President Donald Trump (c.) sitting in the courtroom at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Thursday, May 16, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump (c.) sitting in the courtroom at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Thursday, May 16, 2024.  © IMAGO / UPI Photo

Prosecutors have indicated Cohen (57) is their last witness in the case.

His story has generally lined up with both Daniels and David Pecker, the tabloid boss who said he worked with Trump and Cohen to suppress negative coverage during his 2016 White House run.

After the prosecution rests, the defense has the opportunity to present a case, though they have not specified whether they will.

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Trump's lawyers have also remained vague on whether their client will testify.

The businessman famously considers himself his own best champion – but analysts believe he could be a liability on the stand.

When the jury begins deliberating, the weeks of oft-salacious testimony will likely linger in front of mind, but they'll also have stacks of documents to pore over. The charges hinge on financial records, and whether falsifying them was done with the intent to sway the 2016 presidential vote.

Prosecutors this week walked Cohen and the jury through the issue of 11 checks – most signed by Trump – in return for invoices Cohen said were falsified to cover up the reimbursement with Trump's knowledge.

Cohen spent 13 months in jail after pleading guilty in 2018 to lying to Congress and committing financial crimes.

Under direct questioning, he told the court that Trump had reassured him after FBI agents, seeking evidence in the case, raided his hotel room and office in April 2018.

"Don't worry, everything's going to be fine, I'm the President of the United States," Cohen recalled Trump saying.

Cover photo: Collage: IMAGO / UPI Photo

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