Trump trial star witness accused of lying about hush money phone call

By John Mercury May 18, 2024

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former “thug” and “pit bull”, has been accused of lying about a phone call he says he made to the former US president about payments to ex porn star Stormy Daniels.

Cohen, a lawyer who worked for the Trump Organisation from 2006 to 2017, has been giving evidence in the case about hush money payments to Ms Daniels – in an attempt to cover up an alleged sexual encounter in 2006.

Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, called into question an important detail – a phone call made by Cohen to Trump’s assistant, Keith Schiller, on 24 October 2016.

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Cohen, 57, has maintained that during that call he spoke to Trump (who was either given the phone by Mr Schiller or placed on loudspeaker – we don’t know which) and told him he had paid Ms Daniels $130,000 in hush money on his behalf.

But Mr Blanche called this into doubt – showing the jury a number of interactions suggesting Cohen was in contact with Mr Schiller about a different issue at the same time, namely that he was receiving harassing phone calls and texts from a 14-year-old child.

“That was a lie – you did not talk to President Trump on that night, you talked to Keith Schiller about what we just went through,” Mr Blanche said.

Cohen said that, based on his records, he believes he spoke to Trump about the Stormy Daniels matter.

“We are not asking for your belief,” Mr Blanche said. “This jury does not want to hear what you think happened.”

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Pic: Reuters
Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attends trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 16th 2024 in New York City, U.S. Steven Hirsch/Pool via REUTERS
Donald Trump in court on Thursday. Pic: Reuters

That exchange was part of several hours of questioning which apparently sought to paint a picture of Cohen as someone who is eager to see his former boss behind bars.

Mr Blanche played jurors audio clips of Cohen saying the case “fills me with delight” and that imagining Trump and his family in prison made him feel “giddy with hope and laughter”.

“Does the outcome of this trial affect you personally?” Mr Blanche asked.

“Yes,” Cohen replied. He is due to return to the witness stand on Monday.

Michael Cohen (right) leaves his apartment building in New York on Tuesday. Pic: AP
Michael Cohen (right) was Donald Trump’s fixer. Pic: AP

Cohen worked as the former president’s fixer. He once described himself as Trump’s “spokesman, thug, pit bull and lawless lawyer”.

He once said he would take a bullet for his boss and admitted at the end of questioning on Tuesday that he “violated my moral compass” while working for Trump.

Hush money payouts are not illegal, but Trump is accused of falsifying business records to hide it – a claim he denies.


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