Thu. Jun 13th, 2024

Cohen testifies as finish line nears

By 37ci3 May17,2024

It is becoming increasingly clear that the end is near for the former president Donald TrumpA New York silence trial.

The defense is almost wrapped in it Cross-examination of Michael Cohen — Trump’s former lawyer and fixer and a key witness for the prosecution — will begin closing arguments in a Manhattan criminal trial early next week.

As the 18th day of Trump’s criminal trial ended Thursday afternoon, state judge Juan Mercan laid out the path ahead in the heavily scrutinized and historic trial.

“I’m doing everything possible to avoid major disruptions,” Merchan said, with Memorial Day weekend approaching.

Court is not in session on Friday and there will be no trial next Wednesday.

Hashing the rest of the schedule was just one of the big notes hit on Thursday. Here’s what you’re missing:

Fireworks over a phone call

The most interesting moment came when Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanch, became animated while discussing a phone call during his 2016 cross-examination of Cohen — much of which was devoted to portraying Cohen as a dishonest and unreliable witness. Relations with Trump nearly a decade ago.

In an October 24, 2016 phone call with Trump, Blanche repeatedly pressed Cohen about paying a $130,000 hush money to Stormy Daniels, an adult film actor whom Cohen had helped. Daniels claimed she had an affair with Trump in 2006 – which she denies.

Cohen testified that he contacted Trump through Trump’s bodyguard, Keith Schiller, to “discuss the Stormy Daniels matter and its resolution.”

Michael Cohen courtroom sketch
Michael Cohen testifies during a display of a Wall Street Journal article on a screen at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Tuesday. Elizabeth Williams / AP

Blanche noted the brief nature of the call, about 90 seconds, because Cohen texted Schiller about a teenager who she said was a prankster calling her — which Blanche said was the true subject of the call.

Raising her voice, Blanche called Cohen’s statement about speaking with Trump that night “a lie!” called it.

Cohen said he believed he was “telling the truth” based on the records and documents he reviewed.

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

Blanche also spoke out about the terms of Cohen’s 2018 guilty plea to a series of federal charges related to Daniels’ earnings, and suggested he blame others for his problems.

“You agree with me that if you plead guilty and lie, that’s not accepting responsibility, right?” Blanche asked.

“I have accepted responsibility and I am suffering the consequences,” Cohen said.

Trump’s allies fill the courtroom

After days of Trump’s potential running mates and even the speaker of the House arriving to attend the hearing, Thursday looked like the day most of the far-right House Freedom Caucus would show up to show support for Trump.

Among them were Republican representatives Matt Gaetz and Anna Paulina Luna of Florida, Loren Boebert of Colorado and Andy Biggs of Arizona.

RSC representative Ralph Norman, who previously supported former UN ambassador Nikki Haley for the presidency, was also there. So did Rep. Bob Goode, R-Va. and Senator John McGuire of Virginia was Goode’s primary opponent.

Meanwhile, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clarke is one of Trump’s defendants in the lawsuit The case of interference in Georgian elections, was seen sitting next to journalists in the overflow room. Both Clark and Trump have pleaded not guilty.

The end of the trial is near

Merchan asked for clarification on how long witness statements might take before both the defense and the prosecution proceed to closing arguments. He said he wanted to avoid any extended break between closing arguments and jury deliberations, noting that the court would be out of session for several days on the horizon.

Blanche said he would likely cross-examine Cohen as early as Monday morning, and said the defense would soon inform Merchan of any witness plans.

Blanche had said earlier that she could call an expert witness if she felt it was necessary. Former Federal Election Commission Chairman Bradley A. Smith is an expert witness for the defense, court documents show. Smith can talk about the federal election laws that apply to this case.

Blanche added that additional witnesses would not testify for a long time: “We expect to have a decision on at least any other witnesses very soon, today.”

Blanche promised to clarify one question soon: whether her client would testify. Trump said before the trial that “absolutely“, but he changed his tune and said that he would do it only when needed.

“[T]Hat is another decision we have to make,” said Blanche.

With that, Merchan told lawyers for both sides to be ready to begin their closing arguments on Tuesday.

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By 37ci3

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