Defense Challenges Michael Cohen’s Credibility in Trump Hush Money Trial

Defense Challenges Michael Cohen's Credibility in Trump Hush Money Trial

NEW YORK (AP) – In the ongoing hush money case against Donald Trump, defense lawyers focused on discrediting the key witness, Michael Cohen, during Thursday’s proceedings. As the trial nears its conclusion, the defense is working to undermine Cohen’s testimony, which is pivotal to the prosecution’s case.

Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, took the stand for the third day, with the defense portraying him as a disgruntled ex-employee willing to say anything to incriminate the former president. Cohen is the prosecution’s final witness, and his cross-examination is a critical opportunity for the defense to weaken his credibility, which could significantly impact the trial’s outcome.

Under questioning from defense attorney Todd Blanche, Cohen admitted to lying under oath during his 2018 guilty plea for federal charges, including tax fraud, and to Congress about his involvement in a Trump real estate deal in Russia.

Over the course of his testimony, Cohen implicated Trump in a scheme to suppress damaging stories during the 2016 presidential campaign and subsequently falsify business records. Cohen stated that Trump was fully aware of the efforts to silence women who alleged sexual encounters with him, claims which Trump denies.

The defense argues that the payments to Cohen were correctly categorized as legal expenses, and Trump asserts that the prosecution is a politically motivated attempt to harm his campaign to regain the presidency.

In court, Trump was accompanied by several conservative supporters, including Rep. Matt Gaetz, who later posted a photo on social media, expressing his backing for the former president.

The defense’s strategy during the cross-examination has been to highlight Cohen’s past misdeeds and his current role as a fierce Trump critic, thereby attacking his credibility and motives. Blanche confronted Cohen with offensive social media posts, a podcast, and books he authored about Trump, forcing Cohen to admit that he has profited from criticizing the former president.

Cohen acknowledged that he has continued to criticize Trump, even during the trial. In a social media post referenced by the defense, Cohen used explicit language and nicknames to describe Trump.

The defense is expected to continue questioning Cohen until the end of Thursday’s proceedings. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has indicated that it will rest its case once Cohen’s testimony is complete, although it may call rebuttal witnesses if the defense presents its own witnesses.

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