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Trump trial live updates: Cohen cross-examination gets off to combative start

Written by on May 14, 2024

(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York City, where he is facing felony charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. It marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president has been tried on criminal charges.

Trump last April pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment charging him with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels in order to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

Here’s how the news is developing:

May 14, 3:35 PM
Cohen questioned about Trump phone call

Defense attorney Todd Blanche, cross-examining Michael Cohen, sought to cast doubt on Cohen’s testimony about calling Trump following the release of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in 2016.

Blanche showed Cohen notes from Cohen’s interview with the special counsel who investigated Cohen in 2018.

“You told them you didn’t recall speaking with President Trump about the tape?” Blanche asked.

Cohen responded that he was still being “loyal” to Trump at the time, in August 2018.

But by 2019, “you had changed your views about President Trump, correct?” Blanche asked.

“Correct,” Cohen responded.

“You now said President Trump was a conman and you were ashamed?” Blanche asked.

“I said that, yes,” Cohen answered.

May 14, 3:27 PM
Cohen struggles to say when an untruth is a lie

During an extended back-and-forth, Michael Cohen struggled to admit that he lied to the special counsel in 2018 about Trump’s involvement in a Trump Tower project in Moscow.

“Yes, the information I have was not accurate,” Cohen said.

“Is it a lie?” Defense attorney Todd Blanche asked.

“It was inaccurate, yes,” Cohen said.

“Was it a lie?” Blanche asked.

“I don’t know if I would characterize it as a lie. It was inaccurate,” Cohen said.

“How are you distinguishing that in your head?” Blanche asked.

“It wasn’t truthful,” Cohen said. “If you want to call it a lie, it was a lie.”

After a long pause, Cohen said, “Sure, I will say it’s a lie.”

May 14, 3:20 PM
Defense presses Cohen on past admiration for Trump

“You’re actually obsessed with President Trump?” Blanche asked, pursuing a line of inquiry that he drew attention to in the defense’s opening statement.

“I don’t know that I would characterize obsessed,” Cohen said. “I can’t recall using that word, but I can’t say it would be wrong.”

Blanche asked if Cohen was “knee-deep in the cult of Donald Trump” when he said flattering things about Trump in the past.

“That’s how I felt,” Cohen said.

“Fair to say you admired President Trump when you were working for him?” Blanche asked.

“Yes sir,” Cohen said.

Blanche questioned Cohen about Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal,” which Cohen has read more than once. Blanche noted that Cohen has publicly called the book a “masterpiece.”

Cohen replied, “I viewed it as an excellent book.”

“You’ve actually called it a masterpiece?” Blanche asked.

“Yes, a masterpiece,” Cohen said.

As Blanche asked Cohen about his past praise of the former president, Trump quickly grabbed a stack of Post-it notes from the counsel table, jotted down a note, and passed it to attorney Emil Bove, who Trump poked to get his attention.

May 14, 3:13 PM
Defense asks Cohen about anti-Trump T-shirt

Jurors were shown a series of items that Michael Cohen sells.

“This is a $32 shirt that has a picture of President Trump in an orange jumpsuit behind bars?” Defense attorney Todd Blanche asked.

“That’s what the picture shows,” Cohen answered.

“You actually wore that T-shirt on your TikTok last week?” Blanche said.

“I did,” Cohen said.

Defense lawyers asked for the judge to order Cohen to stop commenting about Trump last week after they flagged Cohen wearing the shirt on a TikTok live stream, ABC News reported on Friday.

May 14, 3:05 PM
Cohen says he wants to see Trump convicted

Under cross-examination, Michael Cohen conceded he wants to see Trump found guilty.

“Have you regularly commented on your podcast that you want President Trump to be convicted in this case?” Blanche asked.

“Yes, probably,” Cohen said. “I don’t specifically know if I used those words but, yes, I would like to see that.”

Blanched pressed for a definitive answer.

“I would like to see accountability. That’s not for me. That’s for the jury and this court,” Cohen said.

Blanche pressed, asking, “Do you want President Trump to get convicted in this case?”

Cohen ultimately responded: “Sure.”

May 14, 3:01 PM
Defense presses Cohen on TikTok, pointing to ABC News coverage

Defense attorney Todd Blanche homed in on Michael Cohen’s use of TikTok, referring to ABC News’ initial coverage in his questioning.

He accused Cohen of using it as an outlet to “make money.”

Cohen responded that he uses it to “build an audience.”

“What’s the goal of doing that?” Blanche asked,

“Build an audience, create a community,” Cohen responded. “To really vent because I’m having a difficult time sleeping. So I found an outlet.”

“You are also hoping to make money on that?” Blanche asked.

“I do make money on that, but it’s not significant,” Cohen said.

“One of the reasons you do it is to make money?” Blanche later asked.

“Yes,” Cohen said.

Cohen also conceded that he mentions Trump on most if not all of his TikTok streams.

May 14, 2:49 PM
Cohen admits DA asked him not to discuss case

Defense attorney Todd Blanche tried to get Cohen to admit that the Manhattan district attorney’s office advised him to stop making media appearances in March 2023 because he was “unwittingly helping President Trump by going on TV.”

Cohen repeatedly testified that he could not recall such a conversation, prompting Blanche to question how Cohen could vividly recall conversations with Donald Trump in 2016.

Cohen subsequently conceded that the DA’s office advised him approximately five times not to talk about the case.

Blanche, highlighting how often Cohen has publicly spoken about the case, including on television appearances and podcasts, asked, “It’s more than 200, correct?”

“Yes,” Cohen responded.

“Would you agree that you have talked about President Trump in every single one?” Blanched asked.

“I would say he’s mentioned in every single one,” Cohen said.

May 14, 2:38 PM
Defense asks Cohen if he leaked info about the case

Defense attorney Todd Blanche asked Michael Cohen if he leaked information about the DA’s investigation into the Stormy Daniels payment, or discussed the case in detail during television appearances in February 2021, despite promising his lawyer he would no longer comment on the case.

“You were going on TV talking about the investigation?” Blanche asked.

“I go on TV often so I am not sure what the topic was,” Cohen said.

“Would it surprise you to learn that you were on TV talking about the investigation in February 2021?” Blanche asked.

“No, it does not surprise me,” Cohen said.

The jury is seeing a slightly more defensive and combative witness than the Michael Cohen they saw on direct examination.

May 14, 2:33 PM
Defense questions Cohen about disparaging Trump

Restarting his cross-examination, defense attorney Todd Blanche asked Michael Cohen if he had been following the progress of the trial.

“I have made comments about the jury selection,” Cohen said.

“On April 23, so after the trial started, you said that you had actually heard what a witness had testified about?” Blanche asked.

“Possible yes,” Cohen replied.

“Do you recall saying on TikTok on April 23 and that’s when Mr. Pecker was still on the stand that from everything you have heard David Pecker has corroborated everything you have been saying for six years?” Blanche asked.

“Somebody called me and told me that Mr. Pecker had corroborated what I’d been saying for a long time,” Cohen said.

Under questioning, Cohen conceded that, while the trial has been ongoing, he has said disparaging things about former President Trump.

“You referred to President Trump as a dictator douche bag, didn’t you?” Blanche asked.

“Sounds like something I said,” Cohen answered.

Blanche asked Cohen if he commented that Donald Trump belongs in a “little cage … like a f—— animal.”

“I recall saying that,” Cohen said.

Trump, at the defense table, has been leaning back in his chair and listening with his eyes closed.

May 14, 2:25 PM
Cohen cross-examination gets off to a combative start

With court resuming after the lunch break, Michael Cohen has retaken the stand for cross-examination by the defense.

Questioning has gotten off to a combative start.

“You know who I am, don’t you?” defense attorney Todd Blanche asked Cohen.

“I do,” Cohen said.

“In fact on April 23 you went on TikTok and called me a crying little s— didn’t you?”

“Sounds like something I would say,” Cohen said, prompting some laughter in the overflow room.

The prosecution objected, prompting a conference at the bench.

The question was stricken from the record and cross-examination resumed.

May 14, 1:04 PM
‘I regret doing things’ for Trump, Cohen tells jury

Michael Cohen testified about the fallout from his work for Trump, telling the jury he is no longer a lawyer.

“I lost my law license as a direct result of this,” he said.

He said he wrote his book, “Disloyal,” to “pass the time” in prison, then wrote his second book, “Revenge,” which he described as a “forensic dissection of the prosecution … against a critic of the president.”

The jury then saw a 2023 social media post by Donald Trump about “convicted liar and felon” Michael Cohen.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger questioned Cohen about Trump suing him in Florida for half a billion dollars — and for the first time in a while, Trump, at the defense table, opened his eyes, took notes, and passed them to his attorney Todd Blanche.

Cohen told the jury that he regrets what he did for Trump.

“I regret doing things for him that I should not have. Lying. Bullying people in order to effectuate a goal,” Cohen said. “I don’t regret working with the Trump Organization, as I expressed before some very interesting great times.”

“But to keep the loyalty and do things that he had asked me to do — I violated my moral compass, and I suffered the penalty, as has my family,” Cohen said.

Trump appeared to have his eyes closed for the majority of Cohen’s last answer. The prosecution completed its direct examination of Cohen, and the court recessed the lunch.

May 14, 12:51 PM
Trump listens as Cohen describes prison sentence

Michael Cohen said that after he pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges related to the Stormy Daniels payment — as well as other tax charges — he served 13 months in federal prison before being sent to home confinement during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump, sitting at the defense table, had his eyes closed as Cohen testified about his time in prison.

Cohen then testified that he was sent back to prison after he declined to sign an agreement that would have prohibited him from speaking or writing publicly.

“Didn’t seem like a federal document,” Cohen said, adding that it did not include any numbers and included several typos.

Cohen suggested he was sent to solitary confinement around the time he was writing his book, prompting a sustained objection from defense lawyers.

Asked about the tax charges, Cohen told jurors that while he agrees his tax filings had an “error,” he believes he was treated unfairly by prosecutors.

“I have constantly maintained that I did not dispute the fact there was an error in the taxable amount — in the tax that was due,” Cohen said.

“What I did dispute, and I continue to dispute, is for a first-time offender … never having been audited, that this would go immediately to a criminal charge. From the day that we found out, I was given 48 hours within which to plead guilty” — or face an eighty-page indictment that would have included charges against his wife, he said.

“And I was going to protect my wife,” Cohen said.

May 14, 12:36 PM
‘Worst day of my life,’ Cohen says of 2018 guilty plea

Michael Cohen told the jury about his 2018 guilty plea for campaign finance violations related to the Stormy Daniels payment, as well as other tax evasion charges.

“What was that day like for you?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked.

“Worst day of my life,” Cohen said.

The jury then saw the tweets that then-President Trump posted in August 2018 following Cohen’s guilty pleas.

“If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!” one said.

“It caused a lot of angst, anxiety,” Cohen said about the tweets.

Asked to describe his understanding of Trump’s message, Cohen said, “Certainly displeasure. That I no longer was important to the fold.”

Trump, at the defense table, leaned forward to read his own tweets as they appeared on the monitor.

Cohen told jurors that he reported to federal prison on May 6, 2019. He told the jury he was sentenced to three years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.

“I apologized to Congress, I apologized to the country, I apologized to my family” in congressional testimony in February 2019 before he reported to prison, because “the citizenry had a right to know in order to make a determination about the individual who was seeking the highest office in the land,” he said.

May 14, 12:25 PM
Cohen says hush payments were to ensure Trump’s election

“Did you admit that you paid that money to Stormy Daniels in order to influence Mr. Trump’s electoral prospects?” Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen after he finished testifying about his decision to plead guilty to campaign finance and related charges in 2018.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche objected, prompting a sidebar. Judge Merchan sustained the objection.

Cohen reiterated that he paid Stormy Daniels “on behalf of Mr. Trump” to influence the election.

“To ensure that the story would not come out — would not affect Mr. Trump’s chances of becoming president of the United States,” Cohen said.

“Why did you work with AMI to pay off Karen McDougal?” Hoffinger asked.

“In order to ensure that the possibility of Mr. Trump succeeded in the election — that this would not be a hindrance,” Cohen said.

May 14, 12:20 PM
‘I would not lie for President Trump any longer,’ Cohen testifies

Michael Cohen testified that in the summer of 2018, then-President Trump carried out a “pressure campaign” on him through Cohen’s then-attorney Robert Costello.

“You are making a very big mistake if you believe the stories these ‘journalists’ are writing about you. They want you to cave. They want you to fail. They do not want you to preserve and succeed,” Costello wrote in an email to Cohen that was shown to the jury. “If you really believe you are not being supported properly by your former boss, then you should make your position known.”

Cohen summarized Trump’s message as “Don’t flip. Don’t speak. Don’t cooperate.”

Cohen testified that he “didn’t trust” Costello.

“I believed based upon all of our conversations that he would immediately run back to Mr. Giuliani and that communication would be divulged to Mr. Trump,” he said.

“My family — my wife, my daughter, my son — all said to me, ‘Why are you holding onto this loyalty? What are you doing? We’re supposed to be your first loyalty,” Cohen testified.

“So what decision did you make?” asked prosecutor Susan Hoffinger.

“That it was about time to listen to them,” Cohen said. “To my wife, my son, my daughter, to the country,” Cohen said in emotional testimony.

Cohen testified that he pleaded guilty to federal charges in August 2018.

“I would not lie for President Trump any longer,” Cohen said.

May 14, 12:06 PM
Cohen says he didn’t want info getting back to Trump

Jurors saw an April 21, 2018, email where Michael Cohen’s attorney at the time, Robert Costello, told Cohen, “Sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places.”

“The friend in high places was President Trump,” Cohen testified.

“It let me know that I was still important to the team, and stay the course, that the president had my back,” Cohen said about Costello’s emails.

Jurors then saw another email from Costello dated June 13, 2018.

“Since you jumped off the phone rather abruptly, I did not get a chance to tell you that my friend has communicated to me that he is meeting with his client this evening and he added that if there was anything you wanted to convey, you should tell me and my friend will bring it up for discussion this evening,” Costello wrote.

According to Cohen, the aforementioned client was Donald Trump.

Asked about the vagueness of the email, Cohen testified that it was “sort of to be covert — it is all back channel. Sort of eye spy-ish. Didn’t want to put anybody’s name.”

Jurors then saw a June 2018 email between Cohen and Costello that suggested their relationship had begun to fray.

“I must tell you quite frankly that I am not used to listening to abuse like today’s conversation,” Costello wrote, referencing an “unfortunate outburst” by Cohen.

“Please remember if you want or need to communicate something, please let me know and I will see that it gets done. I hope I am not wrong but it seems to both Jeff and I that perhaps we have been played here,” Costello wrote, referencing the back channel to Trump.

Cohen told the jury he was concerned about his communications with Costello making their way to Trump, and he began looking for other lawyers.

Cohen said Costello was “again pressuring me as he had done with constant calls and sending me emails and so on. He wanted to absolutely be retained to represent me in this matter. He was angered that I was willing to sit down with another attorney but not sit down with them, so I had enough.”

May 14, 11:54 PM
Cohen questioned about attorney Robert Costello

Following the mid-morning break, prosecutor Susan Hoffinger resumed her direct examination by asking Cohen about attorney Robert Costello, who represented him in 2018.

Cohen testified that Costello told him “this would be a great way to have a backchannel of communication to the president in order to ensure you’re still good and still secure”

Cohen said that Costello also touted his relationship with Rudy Giuliani, who was close with Trump at the time.

Costello suggested his representation would be “very beneficial for you going forward with this matter.”

Cohen said he was skeptical of Costello because he seemed “really sketchy and wrong.”

Cohen also said worried that “anything I said to him was going to be spoken and told to Rudy Giuliani.”

Jurors saw an April 2018 email from Costello to Cohen, which Cohen said was sent to “reinforce the whole concept of the back channel.”

“I am sure you saw the news that Rudy is joining the Trump legal team. I told you my relationship with Rudy which could be very useful to you,” Costello wrote in the email.

May 14, 11:36 AM
Cohen recounts 2018 FBI raid on hotel room, office

Michael Cohen testified about the April 9, 2018, FBI raid on his hotel room and office as part of a federal investigation related to the Stormy Daniels matter. At the time, Cohen’s apartment was flooded, so he was residing in a hotel.

“At 7 o’clock in the morning, there is a knock on the door and I look through the peephole and I see a ton of people out in the hallway. I saw a badge … they identified themselves at the FBI,” Cohen said.

Cohen told jurors that the FBI seized two phones, a series of tax books, and other records.

“I found out that simultaneously they had also raided my apartment that was under construction, my law office, and my bank that had a safety deposit box I had just opened in order to hold valuables in because I didn’t want to keep them in the hotel,” he testified.

“How would you describe your life being turned upside down?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked.

“Concerned. Despondent. Angry,” Cohen said, describing his response to the raid.

“Were you frightened?” Hoffinger asked.

“Yes, ma’am,” Cohen said.

Cohen said that he left a message for Trump after the raid, and received a phone call from Trump.

“I received a phone call from President Trump in response to me leaving a message for him to call,” Cohen said. “I wanted obviously for him to know what was taking place. He said, don’t worry, I am the president of the United States — there is nothing here. Everything is going to be OK. Stay tough. You are going to be OK.”

Cohen said Trump’s statements at the time” reinforced my loyalty and my intention to stay in the fold.” At the time, the Trump Organization was paying his legal fees.

Cohen said this was the last time he spoke to Trump.

Jurors then saw an April 21, 2018, tweet from then-President Trump that referenced the possibility Cohen might “flip” — i.e., decide to turn on him.

Cohen said he understood those tweets as being directed “to me” — meant to indicate, “stay in fold, stay loyal, I have you … don’t flip.”

“Mr. Trump did not want me to cooperate with the government, certainly not to provide information or flip,” Cohen said.

May 14, 11:10 AM
Appellate Court denies Trump’s challenge to gag order

In a ruling related to the ongoing criminal trial, a panel of New York appellate judges has denied Donald Trump’s challenge to the limited gag order in the case.

In April, Trump filed an Article 78 petition to challenge the constitutionality of the limited gag order, which prevents public statements about witnesses, jurors, lawyers in the case other than Alvin Bragg.

Trump argued that the limited gag order overstepped on his First Amendment rights.

In their ruling today, the appellate judges acknowledged that while Trump does not surrender his First Amendment rights once he enters the courtroom, those rights “may be subordinated” by the issues that arise during the trial.

“We find that Justice Merchan properly weighed petitioner’s First Amendment Rights against the court’s historical commitment to ensuring the fair administration of justice in criminal cases and the right of persons related or tangentially related to the criminal proceedings from being free from threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm,” the decision said.

May 14, 10:59 AM
‘I will always protect Mr. Trump,’ Cohen said in 2018

Jurors saw a statement that Michael Cohen released to the press in 2018 about the Stormy Daniels payment and the related FEC complaint.

“Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump,” Cohen read to the jury from his 2018 statement.

The jury also saw a Signal message from then-Trump attorney Jay Sekulow to Michael Cohen that read, “client says thanks for what you do.”

“The client here is President Trump, and for what you do, it dealt with the statement that I was putting out to the press,” Cohen testified.

“To deny his involvement?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen.

“Yes,” Cohen responded.

May 14, 9:52 AM
Cohen says Trump said payment was forthcoming at WH meeting

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, picking up where he left off yesterday, recounted a meeting with Trump in Feb. 17, 2017, at the White House — a key moment where prosecutors allege Trump personally discussed the repayment scheme.

“So I was sitting with president Trump and asked me if I was OK. He asked me if I needed money. And I said no, all good. He said, ‘I can get a check.’ I said, no I’m OK,” Cohen recounted of the conversation.

“He said all right, just make sure you deal with Allen,” Cohen continued.

“Did he say anything about anything that would be forthcoming to you?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked.

“Yes, there would be a check for January and February,” Cohen said.

The jury was shown a photo of Cohen in the White House briefing room, backing up that the meeting occurred.

May 14, 9:44 AM
Cohen is back on the stand

Michael Cohen has taken the stand for his second day of testimony.

He appeared to glance in the direction of Trump as he made his way to the stand, but the two did not appear to make eye contact.

May 14, 9:37 AM
Proceedings are underway

Judge Juan Merchan has gaveled in the day’s proceedings.

“Good morning, Mr. Trump,” he said in his usual fashion.

May 14, 9:25 AM
Trump, prosecutors have arrived

Prosecutors have arrived in court for today’s proceedings. Unlike yesterday, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg is not currently in the courtroom.

Donald Trump has arrived at the courthouse with members of his entourage.

May 14, 8:53 AM
North Dakota governor to join Trump at trial: Sources

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Florida Reps. Byron Donalds and Cory Mills are planning to come with former President Trump to court today, in addition to House Speaker Mike Johnson, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The group is expected to be in court as former Trump attorney Michael Cohen resumes his testimony this morning.

May 14, 8:10 AM
House Speaker Mike Johnson to attend court, says source

House Speaker Mike Johnson is going to criminal court in New York with former President Trump this morning, a source with direct knowledge confirms to ABC News.

Johnson will commute with Trump in his motorcade from Trump Tower to the lower Manhattan courthouse, and is expected to be in the courtroom for the morning session.

May 14, 7:22 AM
Stormy Daniels wore bulletproof vest to court, lawyer says

An attorney for Stormy Daniels told CNN that Daniels wore a bulletproof vest to court before her testimony last week.

“She was concerned about the security coming into New York,” attorney Clark Brewster said. “She wore a bulletproof vest every day until she got to the courthouse.”

Brewster said that Daniels was concerned about a rogue actor targeting her due to her testimony in the trial.

“Before she came on Sunday, I mean she cried herself to sleep,” Brewster said. “She was paralyzed with fear.”

Daniels testified over two days last week that she and Trump had a sexual encounter in 2006 and that she was subsequently paid $130,000 for her silence. Trump has denied all allegations of a sexual encounter.

May 14, 7:12 AM
Michael Cohen to return for 2nd day of testimony

Ex-Trump attorney Michael Cohen is set to resume his direct examination this morning in former President Trump’s criminal hush money trial.

Across six hours of testimony yesterday, Cohen laid out the trial’s most incriminating testimony so far regarding Trump’s involvement in a scheme to hide information from voters by falsifying business records in order to disguise a hush money payment to Stormy Daniels just days before the 2016 election.

Cohen testified that he helped coordinate a “catch and kill” scheme with David Pecker of the National Enquirer, making a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in exchange for her silence about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump, then devising a reimbursement arrangement with then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg in 2017. Trump, who has steadfastly denied Daniels’ allegations, has denied all wrongdoing.

Cohen told jurors that Trump approved the Daniels hush money payment in October 2016, and that Cohen wired the money from a shell company he funded using a home equity line of credit.

He then recounted a 2017 meeting with Trump and Weisselberg in Trump Tower just days before the inauguration where Trump agreed to the plan to reimburse Cohen for the hush money payment.

“He approved it,” Cohen said of Trump. “What I was doing, I was doing at the direction and for the benefit of Mr. Trump.”

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