NY v Trump: Prosecutors to resume questioning Michael Cohen after testimony on Stormy Daniels payment

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Prosecutors will continue their questioning of Michael Cohen on Tuesday after the ex-Trump attorney spent a full day on the stand Monday testifying against former President Trump in his criminal trial.

Cohen is said to be the star witness for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his team as they try to prove the former president falsified business records related to a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Bragg charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all charges and maintains his innocence.

Cohen, who once famously said he would “take a bullet” for Trump, his former longtime boss and friend, testified against him about his role in arranging the alleged hush-money payment to Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election in an effort to keep her allegations of a sexual encounter with Trump in the early 2000s from becoming public. 


A split images of Michael Cohen and Donald Trump

Michael Cohen and Donald Trump

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger led the questioning.

Cohen testified Monday that working at the Trump Organization was “fantastic” and working for Trump “was an amazing experience.”

Cohen testified that he spoke to Trump multiple times a day and often lied for his boss, saying he did so because “it was needed in order to accomplish the task.”

“The only thing on my mind was to accomplish the task and to keep him happy,” Cohen said. 

Hoffinger asked Cohen if it was accurate to describe himself as a “fixer” for Trump, to which he replied, “It’s fair.”

But as for the payment to Daniels, Cohen testified that in October 2016, he told Trump that Daniels must be paid to quiet her claims ahead of Election Day the following month.

When Daniels emerged, Cohen said Trump was “really angry with me.”

Michael Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger during former U.S. President Donald Trump's criminal trial

This courtroom sketch shows Michael Cohen on the stand during former President Trump’s criminal trial in New York City on May 13, 2024. (Reuters/Jane Rosenberg)

Cohen recalled Trump telling him: “’I thought you had this under control, I thought you took care of this.’” 

Cohen said he explained to Trump that he had taken care of Daniels’ allegations as far back as 2011, but as the story resurfaced, Trump directed Cohen to “just take care of it,” calling the situation a total disaster and reasoning that it would hurt the campaign’s chances with women voters.


The ex-Trump attorney testified that he spoke with Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg about how to fund the payment, with Weisselberg saying he was not in a position to initially foot the bill.

“I ultimately said, ‘OK, I’ll pay it,’” Cohen testified, noting the urgency behind the matter as the election was just days away. Cohen described to the court that Daniels’ claims would have been “catastrophic to Mr. Trump and the campaign” if he did not take control of the situation and iron out the NDA and payment to Daniels. 

Weisselberg, according to Cohen, said, “Don’t worry, we’ll make sure you get paid back.” 

Cohen said he did not discuss the matter with his wife and decided to gather funds through a home equity line of credit instead of drawing the money from his personal account.

“My wife was CEO of the household, [she] would not understand $130,000 missing from our joint account,” he said.

Michael Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger during former U.S. President Donald Trump's criminal trial

In this courtroom sketch, Michael Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger during former President Trump’s criminal trial in New York City on May 13, 2024. (Reuters/Jane Rosenberg)

Cohen and Weisselberg informed Trump that Cohen would be using personal funds to front the payment, to which Trump responded, “cGood, good,” according to the testimony. 

Cohen said he was “doing everything that I could and more in order to protect my boss, which is something I had done for a long time. But I would not hand out a 130k NDA for somebody else.”

He also said he would not have proceeded with a payment to Daniels without Trump’s approval first, saying that “everything required Mr. Trump’s sign-off … on top of that, I wanted the money back.”

Stormy Daniels and lawyer

Stormy Daniels and her lawyer, Clark Brewster, pose for a photo in the witness room at Manhattan Supreme Court on May 7, 2024. (Brewster & De Angelis Law Offices)

The ex-Trump lawyer went on to say he opened a bank account with First Republic Bank to transfer the funds to Daniels, but he testified that when he did so, he fraudulently described the account as one that would deal with “management consulting.”

Cohen further testified that he was not truthful regarding the intent of the account as he did not believe the bank would allow him to proceed if they knew it would be used to pay a former pornography actress.

The prosecution introduced call logs from Oct. 26, 2016, showing that Cohen called Trump twice to get his “sign-off” and to ensure he had Trump’s approval for the deal.


Cohen ultimately wired the funds to Daniels’ attorney, Keith Davidson, telling the court that he marked the payment as a “retainer” even though it was “to execute the NDA” and to obtain exclusive rights to Daniels’ claims.

The funds were wired on Oct. 27, 2016.

Cohen went on to explain that he used “DD” as the initials for Trump’s pseudonym, David Dennison, in the nondisclosure agreement paperwork with Daniels. He said the fake name was needed because “the purpose was to make sure his name did not appear anywhere.”

Former U.S. President Donald Trump sits with his eyes closed as Michael Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger during Trump's criminal trial

This courtroom sketch shows former President Trump sitting with his eyes closed as Michael Cohen testifies during Trump’s criminal trial in New York City on May 13, 2024. (Reuters/Jane Rosenberg)

Also during testimony Monday, Cohen admitted to secretly recording conversations with Trump without his permission ahead of the 2016 election. The conversation was about a $150,000 payment to former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker after he worked to silence ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal and her claims of an affair with Trump.

Pecker had pressed Cohen that Trump needed to pay him back, with Cohen secretly recording Trump on Sept. 6 of the election year as proof Trump planned to pay Pecker, according to the testimony. Cohen added that in addition to easing Pecker’s mind that he would be repaid, he also made the recording to keep Pecker “loyal” to Trump.

David Pecker is questioned by prosecutor Joshua Steinglass during former U.S. President Donald Trump's criminal trial

This courtroom sketch shows David Pecker being questioned by prosecutor Joshua Steinglass during former President Trump’s criminal trial in New York City on April 26, 2024. (Reuters/Jane Rosenberg)

The recording was played for the jury, which included Cohen telling Trump that he needed to “open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” referring to Pecker.

“So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?” Trump is heard saying.


Cohen argued in his testimony that Trump knew Pecker had purchased the rights to McDougal’s claims of an affair and agreed to pay $150,000.

“He already knew based upon conversation with David, which is why he mentioned the number 150,” Cohen said.

Cohen testified that he recorded the exchange on his iPhone while sitting across a desk from Trump, who was unaware he was being recorded.

Also Monday, Cohen testified that he “didn’t want that role” of chief of staff but had “wanted my name included … to at least be considered.”

“It was more about my ego,” he said.


After turning down an offer to be assistant general counsel in the White House, Cohen said he personally pitched Trump on the possibility of being named the personal attorney to the president.

“I thought that he would need it because there were still outstanding matters we were dealing with, and every president has a personal attorney,” he said.

Cohen said he presented the idea to Trump, who a day or two before the inauguration officially made Cohen the title of personal attorney to the president.

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