Michael Cohen, key witness against Trump, expected to testify today

Michael Cohen, who was among Donald Trump’s most trusted legal advisers before Trump was elected president in 2016, is expected to testify Monday against Trump, regarding the 34 alleged felonies the former president faces

Cohen’s appearance represents the near-culmination of the prosecution’s case in a criminal trial unlike any in U.S. history, with a former president sitting at the defense table. For the last three weeks, Trump has watched as 19 witnesses testified — many who were his employees.

Cohen is expected to testify that Trump knew of, and authorized, an alleged plan to represent a year’s worth of checks from Trump to Cohen as payments for ongoing legal work. Prosecutors say they were actually reimbursements for $130,000 that Cohen paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels, just before the 2016 election, to buy her silence about a sexual encounter she says she had with Trump, which Trump denies.

The prosecution’s first witness, former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, described Trump and Cohen’s desperation to keep stories like Daniels’ under wraps — believing voters might reject Trump if they knew.

Defense attorneys are expected to fiercely attack Cohen’s credibility. He entered a guilty plea in 2018 on federal charges related to the Daniels payment, as well as perjury for lying to Congress. Defense attorneys are expected to bring that up, as well as October testimony in a separate Trump civil case — in which Trump was found liable for fraud — when Cohen admitted to other instances of lying under oath.

They’re also expected to attack his motivations, as they did when Daniels was on the stand. Trump’s lawyers accused Daniels of profiting off the case, and they have indicated they’ll level the same allegation against Cohen — who in his books, podcasts, social media and television appearances has been a critic of Trump and a cheerleader of the cases against him.

When Daniels took the stand, lawyers confronted her with tweets she’d written that depicted Trump in crude ways. They’re expected to also challenge Cohen, who has for years used foul language when referring to Trump.

On Friday, they indicated they keep close tabs on Cohen’s social media, raising a TikTok video that Cohen posted on Wednesday — and asking Justice Juan Merchan to bar Cohen from speaking about the case. Merchan instructed prosecutors to tell Cohen not to talk about the case in the days leading up to his testimony

Trump is barred from speaking about Cohen during the trial, under a gag order that the judge has ruled he’s violated 10 times.

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