Trump attorney tries to cast Michael Cohen as liar in cross examination – live | Donald Trump
Not surprisingly, Trump attorney Alina Habba is trying to cast Michael Cohen as a liar, as he’s the key witness in New York attorney general Letitia James’s civil fraud case against the ex-president.
She’s also tried to catch Cohen in a trap admitting to perjury. (Lying under oath, which is perjury, constitutes a crime.)
She specifically honed in on Cohen’s disavowal Tuesday of his guilt in several crimes he did, in fact, admit to five years ago.
“There was no tax evasion. At best, it could be characterized as a tax omission. I have never in my life not paid taxes,” Cohen had insisted, noting that he’d spoken out against this charge many times. Cohen said there were crimes he did plead guilty to that he committed, but not everything.
“I wanted to correct the record because when all of this started, it was overwhelming, the amount of misinformation, disinformation, mal-information about me was overwhelming and enormous,” Cohen said. He also disavowed arranging the payment to Karen McDougal, which he admitted to during his first plea proceeding.
“I acknowledged my complicity in the Stormy Daniels matter, but…I never paid Karen McDougal,” Cohen said Tuesday. “I was tasked to review documents to ensure that Trump was protected.”
Habba repeatedly asked Cohen whether he committed “perjury” during his guilty plea before the late Manhattan federal court judge William Pauley.
After lawyers on both sides went head-to-head about whether Habba could use the word ‘“perjury,” Engoron instructed them to proceed without the term. She eventually got her point across, without the linguistic showmanship.
“Yesterday was the first time you admitted, in open court, that you lied to Judge Pauley, correct?”
“In open court?” Cohen said. “Yes.”
Michael Cohen is back on the stand.
Trump lawyer Alina Habba, after wishing him “good morning”, said she reminded Cohen that he was still under oath.
“True,” Judge Arthur Engoron said plainly from the bench.
She’s asking Cohen about the many felonies he pleaded guilty to in 2018.
Within moments, the attorney general’s office took issue with these questions, as Habba on Tuesday repeatedly asked him about this.
“We did this yesterday,” Colleen Faherty, a lawyer for the attorney general, said.
Donald Trump has entered the courtroom. He looked forward as he walked and took his seat at the defense table without fanfare.
Court was called to order several moments before his arrival; lawyers have been discussing housekeeping matters with the judge.
Good morning from downtown Manhattan, where Michael Cohen is expected to soon return to the witness stand in Donald Trump’s New York state civil fraud trial.
Cohen’s testimony at the 60 Centre Street courthouse stems from New York attorney general Letitia James’s lawsuit against the ex-president. Her civil claim maintains that Trump unlawfully inflated values of his properties on financial statements when it suited him.
Cohen, the onetime Trump fixer who in 2018 pleaded guilty to a plethora of federal crimes related to his ex-boss, repeatedly implicated him in financial wrongdoing on Tuesday. When proceedings resume this morning, Trump attorney Alina Habba will continue her cross-examination.
Here are the key points of Cohen’s testimony against Trump on Tuesday.
Trump wanted to “reverse-engineer” his net worth.
Cohen testified that Trump wanted him and Weisselberg to figure out a way for him to have the net worth he wanted. Per Cohen: “I was tasked, by Mr Trump, to increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrary selected, and my responsibility, along with Allen Weisselberg predominately, was to reverse-engineer the various different asset classes, increase those assets, in order to achieve the number that Mr Trump had [requested].”
Cohen and Weisselberg altered financial statements “by hand” to give Trump his desired net worth.
During meetings when Cohen and Weisselberg discussed Trump’s financials, he would make demands about what they should be. Trump, Cohen said, “would look at the total assets and he would say, ‘I’m actually not worth $4.5bn, I’m really worth more like six.’
“He would then direct Allen and I to go back to Allen’s office and return after we achieved the desir[ed] goal.” Cohen said he and Weisselberg would go line-by-line on the financial statement and “mark it up by hand … in able to get the total asset number that Mr Trump asked us to achieve”.
Trump allegedly had final control over business operations
The New York attorney general’s office is working hard to prove that Trump and his inner circle conspired in defrauding lenders and insurers with inflated property valuations. Cohen’s testimony puts Trump at the center of making decisions that enabled this alleged wrongdoing. Trump, he said, made decisions about his desired net worth, how he’d present himself to insurers–and which of his underlings would carry out his wishes. “All the final decisions were done by Mr Trump,” Cohen said.
Proceedings will kick off around 9.30am ET. We will be providing live coverage as they progress.