At Donald Trump's trial, lawyer Michael Cohen admits to having lied for his ex-client, who became his sworn enemy

He was the faithful lieutenant, but he swore his downfall: Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former lawyer, claimed Monday, May 13, to have lied and intimidated people on behalf of the former President of the United States, in a face-to-face -tense face-to-face at the trial of the Republican presidential candidate for hidden payments to a porn star, Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford)

At Donald Trump's trial, lawyer Michael Cohen admits to having lied for his ex-client, who became his sworn enemy

He was the faithful lieutenant, but he swore his downfall: Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former lawyer, claimed Monday, May 13, to have lied and intimidated people on behalf of the former President of the United States, in a face-to-face -tense face-to-face at the trial of the Republican presidential candidate for hidden payments to a porn star, Stormy Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford).

After Ms. Clifford's crude account last week of a 2006 sexual encounter with Donald Trump (which the billionaire denies), this testimony from Mr. Cohen, which began around 9:30 a.m. local time (3:30 p.m. of Paris), is the other crucial moment of this historic trial with heavy political stakes.

Called to the stand, a nervous-looking Michael Cohen, 57, was questioned by a prosecutor about whether he had ever “lied” and “intimidated” people. The witness answered clearly “yes” twice. “This is what had to be done to accomplish the desired tasks,” the former lawyer said under oath. Mr. Cohen also admitted to pressuring journalists. If “[reporters] said something that (…) made [Donald Trump] angry, I would contact [them] and let [them] know the need to shorten or retract the article, or we would take action action against them.”

During the testimony of his ex-collaborator, Donald Trump kept his eyes closed, and remained without any reaction, according to the media CNN. Mr. Cohen, a loyalist among the faithful at the time, nicknamed Donald Trump's "pitbull", paid the actress $130,000 to buy her silence on this sexual relationship, at the end of the presidential campaign in 2016.

According to the prosecution, when Michael Cohen was reimbursed in 2017 by the then US president, these expenses were disguised as "legal fees" in the accounts of the Trump Organization holding company, to hide that the money had been used to cover up a scandal.

A stubborn hatred

When the affair was revealed by the Wall Street Journal in 2018, Michael Cohen initially claimed to have paid Stormy Daniels on his own initiative, without informing his boss. Caught by the law, the man who once prided himself on being ready “to take a bullet for Donald Trump” turned against the latter, claiming to have acted under his orders.

Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to tax evasion, making false statements to the US Congress and violating campaign finance laws, the latter offense being directly linked to the payment to Stormy Daniels. Sentenced to three years in prison, he spent about a year behind bars.

Michael Cohen and Donald Trump now have a tenacious hatred for each other. On Friday, Donald Trump's lawyers again deplored videos on TikTok where Michael Cohen appears wearing a t-shirt on which the former president is standing behind bars. Judge Juan Merchan asked the witness to stop such attacks, Donald Trump himself being prohibited from speaking about witnesses or jurors. Since the start of the debates, the jurors have been treated by several witnesses to an unflattering portrait of Michael Cohen, capable of mishandling or cajoling his interlocutors to get what he wanted.

They were also able to hear an audio recording of a private conversation in which Michael Cohen discusses with Donald Trump a payment to obtain the silence of another woman, the model Karen McDougal, who also claimed to have had a relationship with the billionaire. At 77, the Republican candidate for the White House faces the first criminal conviction of a former president in the history of the United States.