Cohen’s Cross-Examination to Continue as Trump Trial Enters Homestretch

The eagerly anticipated cross-examination of Michael D. Cohen resumes Thursday morning, a crucial opportunity for the defense to poke holes in his testimony and perhaps trip up or provoke the state’s key witness. The questioning of Mr. Cohen, who was Donald J. Trump’s former fixer, is the beginning of the end of the trial, which began April 15 and could conclude before Memorial Day weekend.

On Tuesday, Mr. Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche came out swinging, suggesting that Mr. Cohen had referred to him personally on social media with a vulgarity. Mr. Blanche went on to ask about Mr. Cohen’s longtime habit of talking to reporters, his ignoring requests from prosecutors to stop speaking and his vitriol toward Mr. Trump. Mr. Cohen, who puts out podcasts and TikTok videos, has suggested that Mr. Trump belongs in a cage like an “animal” and referred to him as a “Cheeto-dusted cartoon villain.”

In court, Mr. Cohen responded calmly and matter-of-factly, avoiding any outbursts or gaffes that could hurt his credibility.

Mr. Cohen testified that Mr. Trump directed him to pay $130,000 in hush money to Stormy Daniels, a porn star, to suppress her account of a sexual rendezvous with the former president in a Lake Tahoe, Nev., hotel in 2006.

With no testimony scheduled for Friday, and Mr. Cohen expected to be the prosecution’s final witness, closing arguments in the case could begin as soon as Monday. The defense has not ruled out the possibility of Mr. Trump’s testifying, but that would seem to be a long shot, and would open him up to his own potentially damaging cross-examination.

Here’s what to know about the trial:

  • Mr. Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to the reimbursement of Mr. Cohen for the hush money, one for each of the documents involved: 11 checks, 11 invoices and 12 ledger entries. He has denied having had sex with Ms. Daniels and any wrongdoing related to the records.

  • Mr. Cohen testified about evidence that jurors have heard about already regarding the methods of the $130,000 payment, including phone logs, emails and text messages. Mr. Cohen’s testimony seemed to corroborate that of David Pecker, the former National Enquirer publisher, establishing a deal to suppress unflattering stories about Mr. Trump. Here are the takeaways from Tuesday’s court session.

  • The case has attracted a revolving door of Republican supporters of Mr. Trump, many stepping outside the courthouse to do what the defendant, bound by gag orders, cannot: rail against jurors, witnesses and Justice Juan M. Merchan’s daughter, a political consultant who has done work for Democrats.

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