Trump New York trial: Cohen gets animated after defense frames him as serial liar


Lawyers for former President Donald Trump, during his New York hush money trial on Thursday, challenged Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen over Cohen’s past lies in sworn testimony — casting the prosecution’s witness as a serial liar.

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche spent the better part of the 18th day of the trial working to paint a picture for the 12-member jury of Cohen as a proven liar who pleaded guilty to crimes associated with those lies and used his cooperation as part of those pleas to obtain a shorter prison sentence. Cohen was measured at first, but courtroom reporters noted that he began to get animated under cross-examination on Thursday.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche stands making the “swearing in” hand gesture when cross-examining Michael Cohen, as Donald Trump, left, looks on with Judge Juan Merchan presiding, Thursday, May 16, 2024, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

“When you plead guilty to a crime, one of the things you get — one of the benefits you get — is a little time off your sentence … correct?” Blanche asked. Cohen agreed he would get a reduction, to which Blanche replied, “You got that credit even though you lied.”

Cohen has admitted some responsibility for the 34-count felony hush money charges Trump now faces in New York, but he has suggested that he should not have been charged in 2018 for campaign finance violations tied to the payment in 2016 he made to porn star Stormy Daniels, who was threatening to come forward with allegations of an affair with Trump back in 2006. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denies the affair.

Blanche also challenged Cohen’s past statements that he never asked for nor would have accepted a pardon from Trump, calling that a lie as well.

“So, when you said you never asked for and would never accept a pardon, that was a lie, wasn’t it?” Blanche asked. 

“At the time it was accurate,” Cohen said, before admitting from the stand that he did explore a pardon from Trump with his lawyers, contrary to what he told Congress in 2017 while under oath.

Cohen’s voice at one point became more animated when he explained why he felt he should not have been charged as a first-time tax evader in 2018. He blamed a variety of people for his actions, including his accountant, federal prosecutors, and the bank, according to CNN.

Notably, some reporters in the room said that Trump appeared to perk up when Cohen was seemingly under duress. Trump at times has been closing his eyes in court, although not necessarily sleeping, as testimony proceeds.

Cohen also confirmed he had a practice of asking certain people to delete their communications with him at times, including former publisher of the National Enquirer David Pecker, who helped to silence negative stories about Trump before the 2016 election.

Blanche also hit out on how Cohen was never given a cooperation agreement by any prosecutors — not by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, not by special counsel Robert Mueller, and not by the Manhattan district attorney.

Cohen said it was “correct” that he was meeting with and providing information to prosecutors.

“But ultimately that did not result in a cooperation agreement?” Blanche asked.

“That’s correct,” Cohen answered.


The exchange appeared to be an effort by the defense to illustrate that no prosecutors saw Cohen as trustworthy enough to enter a cooperation deal with him.

Cross-examination is expected to continue into Thursday afternoon.

Related Content

Related Content