Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen will testify in court

Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, convicted of perjury, testifies Monday in the first-ever criminal trial of a former US president.

Cohen, 57, worked for Trump, a New York real estate mogul, from the early 2000s before Trump became a politician.

Cohen once described himself as his client’s “authorized thug” and estimated in his congressional testimony that he threatened 500 people over several years at Trump’s behest.

In 2017, the first year of his presidency, Trump called Cohen “a very talented lawyer” and “a good attorney at my firm.”

Former President Donald Trump faces 34 counts of indictment.

The 46th president of the United States is accused of falsifying business records to conceal reimbursement of $130,000 in cash payments to porn actress Stormy Daniels in the form of monthly checks in 2017 to Cohen, who made payments to Daniels to keep her from publicizing an intimate relationship with Trump ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump denies the very fact that he had an intimate relationship with Daniels during a golf tournament at Lake Tahoe, Nevada, in 2016 and denies all other charges brought against him in the case. Trump claims to have been compensating Cohen for his legal work.

Lawyers defending Trump have suggested that the payments to the porn actress were made to keep information about Daniels’ relationship with Trump from his wife Melania, not to influence the outcome of the 2016 election. If convicted, he could receive probation or face up to four years in prison.

Cohen admitted that his deal with Daniels violated campaign finance rules. He also pleaded guilty to other offenses, including perjury when he lied to Congress about an alleged Trump real estate deal in Moscow, served 13.5 months in federal prison and a year and a half under house arrest.

Cohen’s name was mentioned almost daily throughout his three weeks of testimony in court. Prosecution witnesses often described him as a demanding, irascible and rude, but always dedicated attorney to his client – until he became a key witness for the prosecution against Trump.

Cohen is scheduled to testify today about how eight years ago, shortly before the election, he made money transfers to Daniels at Trump’s direction. Then, according to Cohen, a few weeks after Trump’s inauguration, he met with him in the Oval Office of the White House to discuss a reimbursement plan.

The former president’s defense also puts forward the theory that Cohen, without Trump’s knowledge, paid Daniels the money out of humane considerations. But one of Trump’s closest White House aides, Hope Hicks, said “that would be out of character for Michael.”

During document production last week, two employees in Trump’s payroll department testified about how they processed 11 invoices, 11 vouchers and 12 checks related to payments to Cohen in 2017, and that Trump himself signed most of the reimbursement checks to Cohen.

On Friday, the assistant prosecutor produced all 34 documents covering the charges against Trump.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan that the prosecution could wrap up its case presentation this week by hearing testimony from Cohen and another unnamed witness.

When the prosecution concludes its case, Trump’s team will have the opportunity to present its defense. Trump has repeatedly said he plans to testify in his own defense to refute Daniels’ statement about their alleged affair and the criminal charges against him.

However, it remains to be seen whether Trump will take the witness stand knowing that he will face cross-examination from prosecutors.

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