Trump trial live: Michael Cohen gives testimony in hush money trial

Trump trial live: Michael Cohen gives testimony in hush money trial
Hush money trial ‘weaponised’ against Trump, speaker Johnson claims

Donald Trump’s New York hush money trial continues at Manhattan Criminal Court with further testimony from the defendant’s estranged former “fixer” Michael Cohen after the pair came face to face in Judge Juan Merchan’s courtroom on Monday.

Cohen is the attorney who made the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels at the heart of the case in the hope of buying her silence about a sexual encounter she claims she had with Mr Trump in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in July 2006.

Today, Cohen’s testimony has turned to the heart of the case — the falsification of invoices, checks, and ledger entries to cover up his reimbursement.

The former president denies the affair and the 34 felony counts brought against him by Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg, who accuses him of falsifying business records to hide the payout.

Ms Daniels herself took to the witness stand last week to deliver some highly explicit and embarrassing evidence against Mr Trump and more than held her own in response to hostile cross-examination from the defence, which worked hard to discredit her.

Alex Woodward and Kelly Rissman are covering the trial for The Independent from Manhattan Criminal Court.


Another message from Costello sent on 14 June 2018, is a link to a YouTube video.

The subject line: “Giuliani on possibility of Cohen cooperating, Mueller probe – YouTube”

Cohen emailed back: “Why send this to me?”

Costello’s intense response followed, in part:”

“The answer to your question will be found in watching the video. It seems clear to me that Trump and Giuliani are trying to discredit you and throw you under the bus to use your phrase. I think you are wrong because you are believing the narrative promoted by the left wing media. … The whole objective by the SDNY … is to drain you, financially, emotionally.”

Cohen testifies: “This is part of the pressure campaign that, ‘everyone is lying to you, that you are still regarded, the president still supports you, do not speak, do not listen to what the journalists or anyone is saying, and stay in the fold. Don’t flip, don’t cooperate.’”

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 17:04


Costello to Cohen on June 7: “To prove to you that Rudy Giuliani called me and I did not call him, I photographed the pages from my iPhone which I am attaching.”

“I had not retained Costello or advised him that I was going to be retaining him,” Cohen says.

Another message from Costello:

What you do next is for you to decide, but if that choice requires any discussion with my friend’s client, you have the opportunity to convey that this evening but only if you decide.

“I must tell you quite frankly that I am not used to listening to abuse like today’s conversation. You have called me numerous times over the last month to discuss issues and I have always tried to be as helpful as I could. You told me back in April that I was part of the team and I have acted accordingly on your belief. When suggested that we meet and discuss a strategy following this news you suddenly took a new approach and stated: ‘That’s not going to happen.’”

Cohen asked what this was about:

“Mr Costello again pressuring me … and he wanted to absolutely be retained to represent me in this manner. I stated to him that I was speaking to someone at a boutique firm and we were still not ready for the engagement. He was angered … I had had enough, and I told him.”

Cohen sighs heavily each time he is shown a new document, takes a breath and then reads what it is before reading.

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 16:58


On April 21: Costello emailed Cohen again.

“I just spoke to Rudy Giuliani and told him I was on your team. Rudy was thrilled and said this could not be a better situation for the President or you.”

“He said thank you for opening this back-channel line of communication.”

Again on April 21:

Subject: Giuliani

“I spoke with Rudy – very, very positive. You are loved. If you want to call me I will give you the details. … Rudy said this communication channel must be maintained. … Sleep well tonight. You have friends in high places.”

And then “p.s. Some very positive comments about you from the White House.”

On the same day, Trump posted a tweet defending Cohen.

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 16:45


Michael Cohen testifies as a Wall Street Journal article is displayed on a screen in Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday, 14 May 2024
Michael Cohen testifies as a Wall Street Journal article is displayed on a screen in Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday, 14 May 2024 (AP)

Cohen was connected with attorney Robert Costello to represent him after the raid, and was told he is “close” with Rudy Giuliani.

Costello told him he’s “as close as you can imagine” to Giuliani, which would be “very beneficial” to Cohen.

Giuliani was “spending a tremendous amount of time” with Trump at the time, Cohen was told.

That could open a “backchannel” line of communication “to the president in order to make sure that you’re still good and you’re still secure.”

Cohen said there was something “sketchy and wrong” about Costello.

Cohen also feared that anything he said to Costello would get to Rudy, and then get back to Trump.

Costello sent Cohen an email on April 19 2018, telling him that Giuliani’s appointment to Trump’s legal team would be “very, very” beneficial to Cohen.

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 16:44


Court resumes after morning recess

Judge Juan Merchan is back on the bench and Michael Cohen returns to the stand.

Trump walked into the courtroom at 11:30 a.m. and briefly waved to the cameras. He did not respond to the following shouted questions:

  • Mr. Trump, did you pressure Michael Cohen?
  • Are you keeping your eyes closed on purpose?
Oliver O’Connell14 May 2024 16:38


Cohen interpreted those tweets to mean “Stay in the fold. Stay loyal. I have you. You’re a fine person. Don’t flip.”

“They reinforced my loyalty and my intention to stay in the fold.”

Some gentle overflow room laughter when Cohen said: “Don’t flip”.

He interpreted Trump’s tweet to mean “not to provide information to the government”.

Court breaks for the morning recess.

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 16:16


The following tweets from Trump are shown to the court:

Oliver O’Connell14 May 2024 16:14


Cohen says:

I received a phone call from President Trump in response to me leaving a message. I wanted him to know obviously what was taking place.

He said to me, Don’t worry. I’m the president of the United States. There’s nothing here. Everything’s going to be OK. Stay tough. Everything’s going to be OK.

Have you spoken to him since then?

He said it was “extremely important” to have Trump’s support.

“I was scared. First time in my life anything like this – and I wanted some reassurance that Mr Trump had my mind, especially as it dealt with issues that were related to him.”

He wanted to stay “in the camp,” or “in the fold,” with Trumpworld.

Messages from Trump’s circle to him: “You are loved. Don’t worry. He’s got your back. Most powerful guy in the country if not the world. You’re going to be OK.”

Alex Woodward14 May 2024 16:13


Happening now: Appeals court rejects Trump’s attempt to throw out gag order in hush money trial

On Tuesday, a New York appeals court rejected Mr Trump’s request to throw out the gag order saying Justice Juan Merchan “properly determined that petitioner’s public statements posed a significant threat to the integrity of the testimony of witnesses and potential witnesses”

Ariana Baio and Alex Woodward report:

Oliver O’Connell14 May 2024 16:10


We hear about the March 2018 FBI raid on Cohen’s home.

There was a “knock on the door, and I looked through the peephole and saw a ton of people in the hall. I saw a badge. I opened the door. They identified themselves as the FBI and asked me to step into the hall. I did.”

How did you feel about the raid?

He pauses and sighs. “How to describe your life turning upside down. Concerned, despondent. Angry.”

Were you frightened?

Yes ma’am.

Alex Woodward & Kelly Rissman14 May 2024 16:08