NEW YORK: Donald Trump’s one-time fixer and the star prosecution witness in the former president’s historic criminal trial testified on Monday that he lied and bullied for his former boss who looked on silently.

Michael Cohen’s testimony followed last week’s court proceedings in which adult film star Stormy Daniels gave toe-curling detail about her alleged sexual encounter with Trump which is at the heart of the case.

Trump, 77, is accused of falsifying business records to reimburse his lawyer Cohen for a hush-money payment to Daniels on the eve of the 2016 presidential election, when the story could have proved politically fatal.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen if, as a lawyer-fixer for the property tycoon, he lied and bullied people on behalf of Trump. “Yes... It was what was needed in order to accomplish the task,” said Cohen who periodically glanced over at Trump who was slouched in his chair at the defendant’s table.

Defence counsel painted the former fixer as a ‘pathological liar’ and ‘convicted criminal’

Cohen spent just over 13 months in jail and a year and a half under house arrest after he was sentenced to three years’ imprisonment for lying to Congress and financial crimes.

In the first weeks of the trial in New York, jurors have heard from witnesses that Cohen was a difficult character who cajoled others to get his way, while the defence counsel have painted him as a ‘pathological liar’ and ‘convicted criminal’.

On Monday, Cohen testified that he worked on both personal and corporate issues for Trump, who he claimed did not have an email address for fear of leaving a paper trail that could be used to prosecute him.

Daniels, who claims to have had sex with Trump in 2006, has denied she threatened him if he did not buy her silence for $130,000, a payment that prosecutors say Trump then covered up.

During testimony last week, jurors saw the 34 invoices, corporate ledger entries and checks that prosecutors say were falsified by Trump to obscure his reimbursement to Cohen.

A former Trump employee testified he had been told by Trump’s top financial officer that the reimbursements to Cohen were for expenses incurred during the campaign. That could undercut an argument made by Trump’s lawyers that the payments were for legal work.

The trial is taking place six months before the November election, when Trump will try to defeat Democratic President Joe Biden.

During nearly eight hours over two days last week, Daniels walked the jury through the one-night stand she said she had with Trump at a celebrity golf tournament, and then the financial settlement she says ensued.

Mistrial maneuvers

Trump had sat impassively for much of Daniels’s testimony, apparently cursing at times, and railing against proceedings in his comments to reporters as he entered and left the Manhattan courtroom.

Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2024

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