'It's About the Documents. It's Not About Michael'

Trump prosecutors expected to call their star witness today
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2024 6:24 AM CDT
One Challenge for Cohen: Keep His Temper in Check
2016: Donald Trump, with Michael Cohen behind him, during a visit to the Pastors Leadership Conference at New Spirit Revival Center, Sept. 21, 2016, in Cleveland.   (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci, File)

Stormy Daniels may have been the most sensational witness, but Michael Cohen is expected to be the most important one when he takes the stand against Donald Trump. Prosecutors in Trump's hush-money trial are expected to call his former attorney and fixer on Monday as the trial speeds along. Coverage:

  • Buildup: USA Today lays out how prosecutors have built to this moment. Cohen is expected to testify that he paid off Daniels and others at Trump's direction, that Trump reimbursed him in early 2017, and—the key part of the case—that Trump was involved in the plan to illegally hide the payments as run-of-the-mill legal expenses.
  • Risks: Cohen "is an unpredictable witness, prone to both tirades and charm, and since the trial began, the defense has labeled him a liar motivated by a deep-seated desire for revenge," per the New York Times. He has called Trump a "mob boss," while Trump calls him a "rat."

  • Temper: "The minute he shouts and loses his temper and gets angry ... he knows and I know that he loses and they win, after all these years," Lanny Davis, his former legal adviser, tells the Hill. "So he knows what he has to do."
  • Credibility vs. receipts: Cohen's credibility as a witness will be a focal point, and defense attorneys will be sure to note he's a convicted felon. But as Davis points out: "It's about the documents. It's not about Michael. The documents corroborate." USA Today has more details on these documents, including invoices submitted by Cohen to Trump's business.
(More Michael Cohen stories.)

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