Trump’s Former Attorney, Michael Cohen, to Play Key Role as Witness in Hush Money Trial

Michael Cohen Hush Money Trial
Michael Cohen, once staunchly loyal to Donald Trump, now finds himself at the forefront of the former president’s criminal trial regarding hush money payments made to a porn star. Cohen, who previously stated he would go to great lengths to protect Trump, is now positioned as a pivotal witness for the prosecution.

This trial, a historic first involving a former U.S. president, commenced on Monday in a New York state court in Manhattan. Michael Cohen’s journey from being Trump’s lawyer and “fixer” to becoming a vocal opponent reaches its pinnacle in this courtroom drama.

In a 2017 interview with Vanity Fair, Michael Cohen famously declared, “I’m the guy who would take a bullet for the president.”

The case revolves around Cohen’s $130,000 payment to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election, aimed at securing her silence about a previous encounter with Trump. Michael Cohen, who transitioned from a high-ranking executive in Trump’s real estate empire to his personal lawyer, asserts that Trump instructed him to make the payment.

Trump, currently a defendant in the trial and a Republican presidential candidate in the upcoming election, maintains his innocence against 34 charges of falsifying business records to conceal the payment. He vehemently denies any encounter with Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, and dismisses Michael Cohen as a “serial liar.”

Michael Cohen’s loyalty to Trump began to wane during Trump’s presidency, particularly as federal investigators delved into the Daniels payment and other related matters. In a pivotal moment in 2019, Cohen testified before a U.S. congressional committee, condemning Trump as a “racist,” “con man,” and “cheat.”

Following Trump’s indictment in 2023, Michael Cohen emphasized his commitment to “speaking truth to power,” telling Reuters in an interview that if opposing Trump makes him an “archnemesis,” so be it.

This won’t be Cohen’s first time testifying against Trump. In a civil fraud case concerning the valuation of Trump’s real estate assets, Cohen revealed under oath that he manipulated property values to align with Trump’s directives. A judge later ordered Trump to pay hefty penalties after finding him guilty of misleading lenders and insurers.

Cohen’s journey to Trump’s inner circle began in 2007 when he was hired as the Trump Organization’s executive vice president and special counsel. Prior to that, Cohen, a Long Island native and son of a Holocaust survivor, practiced law and owned a fleet of taxis.

Despite being disbarred, Cohen maintained a close relationship with Trump throughout his presidency, although he never held an official White House position. In 2018, when news of the hush money payment surfaced, Cohen initially claimed to have made the payment using his own funds, denying any reimbursement from Trump or his affiliates.

However, he later pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance laws and testified before Congress, alleging that Trump directed him to make the payment and subsequently reimbursed him.

Michael Cohen’s admission of guilt led to a three-year prison sentence for various crimes, including tax evasion and lying to Congress. He served over a year in prison before his release.

Despite the risks associated with relying on Cohen’s testimony, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has chosen to utilize it in Trump’s trial. Cohen’s past history of false statements, notably his admission to lying under oath, poses challenges for the prosecution.

Cohen’s forthcoming testimony may offer fodder for Trump’s defense team during cross-examination. His admission of lying to a federal judge during his guilty plea raises questions about his credibility.

In a 2023 interview with Reuters, Michael Cohen, who is married with two children, acknowledged his past wrongdoing and attributed much of it to his unwavering loyalty to Trump. He anticipated attacks from Trump and his allies, viewing them as part of a familiar playbook.

As Cohen takes the stand, the courtroom drama surrounding Trump’s alleged misconduct reaches a climax, with Cohen serving as both a key witness and a symbol of the complexities of loyalty and accountability in politics.

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