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Michael Cohen to face bruising cross-examination

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New York, May 14: Donald Trump’s fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen awaits a bruising round of questioning from the former president’s lawyers on Tuesday after testimony linked their celebrity client to all aspects of a hush money scheme that prosecutors say was aimed at stifling stories that threatened his 2016 campaign.
Trump, the first former US president to go on trial, was joined at the courthouse by an entourage that included House Speaker Mike Johnson, who claimed the case was politically motivated by Democrats.
It was a remarkable moment in American politics as the second in line to the presidency used the office’s powerful pulpit to attack the US judicial system, and sought to turn his political party against the rule of law by declaring the trial illegitimate.
Trump was also joined by North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Florida Reps. Byron Donalds and Cory Mills and his former GOP rival Vivek Ramaswamy. Burgum and Donalds are considered potential vice presidential contenders.
“I do have a lot of surrogates, and they’re speaking very beautifully,” Trump said outside the courtroom as they stood in the background.
Their presence Tuesday as Cohen, the prosecution’s star witness, returns to the stand was a not-so-subtle show of support meant not just for Trump but also for voters tuning in from home and for the jurors who are deciding Trump’s fate.
Cohen resumed testifying Tuesday, saying he discussed the repayment plan with Trump in the Oval Office when he visited the White House in February 2017.
“I was sitting with President Trump, and he asked me if I was OK,” Cohen told jurors. “He asked me if I needed money, and I said, ‘All good’ because I can get a check.”
On Monday, Cohen delivered matter-of-fact testimony that went to the heart of the former president’s trial. “Everything required Mr Trump’s sign-off,” Cohen said.
He placed Trump at the centre of the hush money scheme, saying he had promised to reimburse money the lawyer had fronted for the payments and was constantly apprised of the behind-the-scenes efforts to bury stories feared to be harmful to the campaign.
“We need to stop this from getting out,” Cohen quoted Trump as telling him in reference to porn actor Stormy Daniels’ account of a sexual encounter with Trump a decade earlier. The then-candidate was especially anxious about how the story would affect his standing with female voters.
A similar episode occurred when Cohen alerted Trump that a Playboy model was alleging that she and Trump had an extramarital affair. “Make sure it doesn’t get released,” was Cohen’s message to Trump, the lawyer said. The woman, Karen McDougal, was paid USD 150,000 in an arrangement that was made after Trump received a “complete and total update on everything that transpired.” “What I was doing, I was doing at the direction of and benefit of Mr. Trump,” Cohen testified.
Trump has pleaded not guilty and has denied both sexual encounters. (AP)

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