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Will Michael Cohen's testimony influence jurors in Trump's secret trial? | Donald Trump trial

Will Michael Cohen's testimony influence jurors in Trump's secret trial?  |  Donald Trump trial


Donald Trump's criminal trial is drawing to a close, with two questions looming: What will the jury decide and how will America respond?

After weeks of testimony, including porn star Stormy Daniels, National Enquirer boss David Pecker and former top Trump aide Hope Hicks, the trial reached an inflection point this week with its star witness. Michael Cohen, Trump's former fixer and lawyer who has since become a hawkish critic of his former boss, was on the stand for all three days the court sat this week. He delivered damning testimony, then faced a tough, if uneven, grilling from Trump's team.

Cohen is at the center of the criminal case as the man who struck a deal to pay Daniels $130,000 shortly before the 2016 presidential election to keep her from speaking about an alleged affair she allegedly had. had with Trump. Trump then allegedly reimbursed him for this amount, along with some additional money, once in the White House. Trump allegedly knowingly marked these payments as legal fees in order to conceal the paper trail, leading to the criminal charges he faces: 34 counts of falsifying business records.

What Cohen said

Cohen testified earlier this week that Trump directly asked him to pay Daniels to buy his silence, and that Trump approved a plan to reimburse Cohen while concealing the reason for the payments.

Cohen said that when Daniels' lawyer approached him in early October 2016 about a deal to keep Daniels quiet, Trump told him to just deal with it. He said he and Trump dragged their feet on paying Daniels because they hoped to make it through Election Day when his story wouldn't be as damaging to Trump. When Daniels threatened to go public if she wasn't paid, Cohen ultimately paid her himself.

Asked if he would have done it without getting Trump's approval, Cohen replied: No, because everything required Mr. Trump's approval, and on top of that, I wanted to get the money.

Cohen also testified that a senior Trump Organization official set up a plan to get that money back plus a bonus from him and that Trump himself approved the plan during a meeting in his Trump Tower office, then spoke with Cohen about the plot during a February meeting. to the White House. In 2018, after Daniels' story broke and the FBI raided Cohen's home, Cohen testified that Trump told him to stay tough and tried to keep him in the fold.

Importantly, Cohen said Trump was worried about the revelation of Daniels' story because of the impact it could have on his 2016 campaign, not his wife Melania's reaction. That's important because to charge Trump with felonies rather than misdemeanors, prosecutors must prove they did so to commit another crime in this case, New York state election law.

He wasn't thinking about Melania, Cohen said. It was all about the campaign.

Trump lawyers fight back

Trump's team sought to portray Cohen as a serial liar to get their hands on his former boss. They played clip after clip of Cohen explaining that he wanted Trump to go to prison.

Perhaps their strongest moment came when Trump lawyer Todd Blanche pressed Cohen's testimony that he had spoken to Trump in a late October 2016 call he made to the guard Trump body, Keith Schiller.

Cohen had said he called Schiller, who put him on the phone with Trump to discuss the Stormy Daniels affair. But Blanche showed text messages in which Cohen complained to Schiller about a 14-year-old who had insulted him. Cohen admitted he told Schiller about those calls during the 96-second phone call, but insisted he also told Trump about Daniels, which led Blanche, into an exchange heated, calling him a liar.

Blanche also forced Cohen to admit that he had committed perjury multiple times, and not just to protect Trump. Cohen admitted he lied to a federal judge about accepting responsibility in a 2018 plea deal in order to protect his wife from legal risk. The reason you lied to a federal judge was because the issues affected you personally? » asked Blanche. Yes, Cohen replied.

Support for Trump gathers in courtroom as case moves toward decision

As the trial draws to a close, Republicans have rallied behind Trump. Several lawmakers, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, gathered en masse at the Manhattan courthouse to show their support this week. Other attendees included vice presidential candidates including JD Vance, Doug Burgum and Vivek Ramaswamy.

Cohen will return to the stand on Monday, as Trump's lawyers finish their cross-examination and prosecutors will have a chance to seek follow-up action. Trump's team has still not said whether Trump himself will testify.

Judge Juan Merchan asked both sides to be ready to present their final arguments as early as Tuesday. Once these are packaged, all that remains is for the jury to deliberate and make its decision.

A full acquittal seems unlikely, but Trump only needs one juror to decide there is not enough evidence of his guilt to produce a hung jury, which would result in a mistrial . The jury could also complicate matters further by deciding that Trump is guilty of some but not all counts, or that he is guilty of falsifying business records but it should only be misdemeanor because prosecutors failed to prove it contributed to another crime.

Even if the jury convicts Trump, it's unclear what his punishment will be. He could theoretically face prison time, with each charge carrying a maximum sentence of four years, but that's not so common for minor, non-violent offenses.

While Trump faces charges in three other criminal cases, this could be the only one to go to trial before the 2024 presidential election, due to a series of legal delays, many of them created by delaying tactics Trump's teams, which slowed down his two criminal interferences in the elections. as well as his criminal case for mishandling classified documents.

Polls show that Trump's trial has so far not had a significant impact on his White House chances: Trump currently leads Biden by a single percentage point in the FiveThirtyEights national polling average, a single digit unchanged since the trial began a month ago. But there has been a slight increase in the number of Americans who believe he committed a crime.

A Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Tuesday found that 52% of Americans now believe Trump lied.[ied] business records to conceal a hush-money payment to a porn star, up slightly from 48% who reported it a month ago, when the trial had just begun.

Several polls have found that a small but significant number of Trump voters say they might reconsider their support if he were convicted of a crime.

The big question is: will these voters change as a result of this trial's verdict?




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