Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

A tense day at the Trump trial: From the Politics Desk

By 37ci3 May17,2024



Welcome to the online version of From the policy deskevening bulletin that brings you the latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill from the NBC News Politics team.

In today’s episode, we get the latest news from a busy day at Trump’s trial and what to expect next. Plus, top national politics reporter Jonathan Allen explains why Biden’s debate woes show he’s worried about where his body will stand in 2024.

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‘It was a lie!’: Trump lawyer fumes during Michael Cohen interrogation

Adam Reiss, Gary Grumbach, Jillian Frankel, and Dareh Gregorian

Michael Cohen is back on the witness stand Thursday in Manhattan Criminal Court For intense cross-examination by defense attorneys who tried to paint Donald Trump as a dishonest and unreliable storyteller whose claims could not be believed.

Key point: In a heated exchange, defense attorney Todd Blanche pressed Cohen on details of an Oct. 24, 2016, phone call he said he had with Trump about a $130,000 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. Cohen testified that he had contacted Trump through his bodyguard, Keith Schiller, to “discuss the Stormy Daniels matter and its resolution.”


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Blanch noted that the call was made at 8:02 p.m. and lasted 90 seconds, and at 8:04 p.m., Cohen texted Schiller the phone number of the 14-year-old, who she complained was prank-calling her. He shouted that it was “a lie!” that Cohen had spoken to Trump that night. The real talk was about the teenager, Blanche insisted. Cohen said he “believed he was telling the truth” based on the records and documents he reviewed.

“We don’t ask for your faith. This jury doesn’t want to hear what happened to you,” Blanche said.

Timeline: Prosecutors told Judge Juan Mercana this week that Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, is their final witness in the often sensational trial that began April 15.

Blanch did not finish her cross-examination by the end of the day Thursday, so Cohen will return to the witness stand on Monday. There is no court Friday so that Trump can attend his son’s high school graduation.

It is not yet clear whether Trump will file a defense claim. Blanche told the judge this week that she could offer some expert testimony if she had to.

Another possible witness is Trump himself, but Blanche said Thursday that she did not know if her client would take the stand. If he doesn’t, the judge said both sides should be ready to make their closing arguments on Tuesday.

Trump’s team: Trump appeared again along with some high-profile allies. His contingent on Thursday included Republican Reps. Matt Gaetz of Florida, Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Bob Goode of Virginia.

Read more from the 18th day of the Trump trial β†’


What Biden’s debate woes reveal about the state of his campaign

By Jonathan Allen

Sometimes a politician tells us something without saying it directly.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden told the political world he was worried about his re-election campaign.

He, a. he did so by freeing fast and interesting video Against Trump’s call for a debate. Trump quickly agreed, and on Biden’s terms, looks like they will meet in June and September.

If Biden felt he was leading the race, there would be no reason to risk running into Trump.

It’s not that Trump will necessarily win the debates against Biden. The first in 2020 was an epic failure for Trump, and many viewers concluded that the then-president was a non-presidential candidate.

But Biden clearly doesn’t like standing on stage with Trump. When he had the chance to cancel one of their debates in 2020, he jumped at it. More importantly, the debate is one of the few opportunities a candidate has to shake up the race. If Biden thought he was on the right track, he wouldn’t want to do it.

Of course, Trump has said for months that he would debate Biden anywhere, anytime, but Trump often defies conventional political behavior, both to his advantage and his detriment. His aides had to do everything but physically restrain him so he wouldn’t argue with the rans trying to wrest the Republican nomination from him.

Trump may suffer from overconfidence, but he wants to challenge Biden because he and his allies believe Biden will weaken β€” not because he thinks he’s losing.

Ultimately, it would be difficult for Biden to avoid the debates without seeming intimidated by Trump. So perhaps this outcome was inevitable. But the timing of the decision and the call for the June debates to be held earlier than usual were not. The meeting earlier this summer suggests that Biden wants time to recover if Trump wins against him.

It should come as no surprise that both campaigns see this as a tight race. But it’s the first indication Biden has given that he’s not excited about where he currently stands.

Read more about how Biden and Trump refined their messages before the first debate β†’



πŸ—žοΈ The best stories of the day

  • πŸ™… Privileged: Biden claimed executive privilege to prevent the release of tapes of his interview with Robert Hur, the special counsel investigating the president’s handling of classified documents. More β†’
  • 🌳 In weeds: The Justice Department has formalized efforts to reclassify marijuana, which Biden described as “an important step toward addressing long-standing inequality.” More β†’
  • πŸŽ“ Campus Clash: The Morehouse College faculty voted to award Biden an honorary doctorate during the upcoming commencement ceremony, when he is scheduled to deliver the commencement address. But dozens of people either voted against the honor or abstained. More β†’
  • πŸ’² Yes (we can collect money): Former President Barack Obama is raising funds to boost Democratic Senate candidates next month. More β†’
  • πŸ—ΊοΈ Bayou Buzz: Louisiana’s congressional map will include two majority-Black districts this year after the Supreme Court’s decision on Wednesday. The decision increases the chances of the Democrats to win the seat. More β†’
  • 🀝 Oscar and Felix Paging: Connecticut’s Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy and Utah’s Republican Gov. Spencer Cox, a bipartisan odd couple, are teaming up for a roundtable discussion to tackle loneliness. More β†’
  • 🎟️ Raise your hands now: New financial disclosures have revealed that BeyoncΓ© gave Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband two tickets to her concert in Maryland last year. More β†’

For now, that’s it from The Politics Desk. If you have feedback – like it or not – send us an email politicsnewsletter@nbcuni.com

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