NEW YORK—Former President Donald Trump told reporters after the first day of Michael Cohen’s testimony that he would be returning to court on Wednesday.
It was Mr. Cohen’s 2019 allegations that spurred the attorney general’s office to investigate President Trump. At the center of the case are the Statements of Financial Condition (SFC) for the Trump Organization from 2011 to 2021, several of which Mr. Cohen said on Tuesday that he personally altered together with Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg under the direction of his former boss.
Mr. Cohen, the one-time personal lawyer of President Trump and a former executive vice president of the Trump Organization, will continue to testify against his former boss in the ongoing civil trial in the case New York Attorney General Letitia James brought against the former president.
Ms. James is seeking $250 million in damages to be paid to the state of New York and the barring of President Trump and his adult sons, who are co-defendants in the case, from holding executive business positions in New York.
New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron had already ruled in a pretrial summary judgment on Sept. 26 that President Trump is liable for fraud.
Defense attorney Alina Habba picked up cross-examination of Mr. Cohen Wednesday morning.
Judge Won’t Dismiss Case—3:40 PM
Defense attorneys asked, again, for the case to be dismissed because Mr. Cohen is an unreliable witness.
“Absolutely denied. This case has evidence, credible or not, all over the place. There’s a 200-page complaint … with evidence all over the place,” the judge said, adding that he did not consider Mr. Cohen a key witness.
“There’s enough evidence in this case to fill this courtroom,” he said.
He asked attorneys on both sides to stay, and then dismissed everyone else, ending the trial for the day.
Prosecutors Try to Rehabilitate Witness—3:28 PM
“I think we’re trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. We’ve been spending hours and hours on the witness’s credibility or lack thereof,” the judge said, considering a document prosecutors wanted to enter into evidence.
“It’s an out of court statement. Are you introducing it to prove the truth of its contents?” the judge asked.
“No,” the prosecutor said, clarifying that she was entering it to rebut the cross-examination from the defense wherein Mr. Cohen lied in court.
Defense attorney Chris Kise argued that the prosecutors should not be allowed to enter the document into evidence and use it to bypass the fact that their witness lied in federal court, and admitted to doing so on the witness stand.
The judge called another off-record sidebar to hear from the prosecutors what statement they wanted to enter. Prosecutors said they will file a letter.
“Would you like to provide an explanation that you were previously not able to provide?” prosecutors asked.
Defense attorneys objected, but the judge allowed the question.
“When I was asked the question did he ask me to inflate the numbers, he did not specifically say ‘Michael, go inflate the numbers,'” Mr. Cohen said. He compared President Trump to a “mob boss,” and let you know what he wanted without stating it.
Mr. Cohen said that later in his 2019 testimony he talked about how President Trump wanted to rise in the Forbes list and that he testified that he understood the figures on the SFCs to be inflated.
Cohen Backtracks—3:10 PM
Mr. Cohen said that he was not lying to the Permanent Select Committee when he said “Not that I recall” when asked whether he was asked to inflate numbers; he said they never “overtly” said it that way.
This morning, he testified that he had lied to the committee.
“You’re now saying that Mr. Trump did not direct you to inflate the numbers on the statements of financial condition,” Mr. Saurez asked.
Mr. Cohen did not answer until the judge compelled him to.
“I stand with that response. ‘Not that I recall,'” he said.
“So Mr. Trump never directed you to inflate the numbers on the financial statements?” Mr. Suarez asked.
“Correct,” Mr. Cohen said, backtracking on what he said on Tuesday.
The judge then denied the defense’s request that the case be brought to an end.
Prosecutors then questioned Mr. Cohen about his prior convictions where he pleaded guilty, and tried to enter his plea document into evidence as a consistent prior statement.
The defense objected, arguing that their documents were entered as a foundation to impeach the witness, whereas the prosecution was trying to “rehabilitate” a discredited witness.
The judge criticized both sides for “micromanaging” little details when they had a big case to go through.
Cohen Explains Lying in Court—2:55 PM
Mr. Cohen’s cross-examination continued with defense attorneys questioning him about the times he lied under oath.
Trump attorney Jesus Suarez said the judge had asked Mr. Cohen 50 questions when he made his guilty plea to ascertain that Mr. Cohen understood that he could only make this plea if he was truly guilty. Mr. Cohen said he could not speak to the judge’s state of mind.
Justice Engoron then called an off-record sidebar with the attorneys.
“You lied more than once in federal court, correct?” Mr. Suarez asked.
“Correct,” Mr. Cohen said.
Trump Fined $10,000—2:40 PM
Mr. Kise objected to the fine imposed by Justice Engoron, arguing that sanctions should not be applied when an issue is in the gray zone and that there was no evidence that President Trump was referring to his clerk.
Ms. Habba then argued that Justice Engoron’s clerk, Allison Greenfield, had an influence on the bench. Ms. Greenfield regularly confers with the judge during the trial, and Ms. Habba added that she didn’t appreciate Ms. Greenfield rolling her eyes at her during questioning.
Justice Engoron said it was his decision, and joked “I guess I can’t consult now [with my clerk], that’d look terrible.”
He said the theory that the statement President Trump made of the “partisan” individual being Mr. Cohen “doesn’t make any sense to me.”
He added that the attorneys arguing about Ms. Greenfield’s influence on the trial only supported his belief that the statement must have been directed at her.
“The focal point was that he was dishonest, not that he was partisan,” he said of Mr. Cohen.
He said the fine of $10,000 stood.
“Don’t do it again or it’ll be worse,” he added.
Judge Puts Trump on Witness Stand—2:30 PM
After a closed-door meeting, Justice Engoron held a hearing regarding President Trump’s apparent violation of a gag order.
President Trump took the witness stand and was sworn in.
The judge read back the statement President Trump made.
“To whom were you referring when you said the person sitting alongside of him?” Justice Engoron asked.
“Michael Cohen,” President Trump answered.
He asked whether President Trump had ever made statements about his clerk, and President Trump said he did, but it was deleted when the judge told him to from Truth Social, and later the campaign website.
Justice Engoron asked whether anyone else wanted to question the witness, and then excused President Trump. Then he ruled that President Trump was not a credible witness, and he believed that President Trump was referring to his clerk.
He fined President Trump $10,000 to be paid within 30 days.
Trump Says Cohen Has Been Discredited—1:10 PM
During the lunch break, President Trump said that Mr. Cohen had been discredited as a witness.
“He admitted that he lied,” President Trump said. “That was very nascent moment, I hope you caught it.”
“He wasn’t working for me at the time that he lied,” President Trump elaborated in response to a question.
“I think this should be dropped, this should have never be started,” he said. “The judge is a Democrat but I do respect the judge.”
He was asked again about the House Speaker race, and he denied that he had attacked the judge’s clerk.
Trump Attorney Says Cohen Makes Money Off Attacking Trump—12:05 PM
“Do you make a career out of attacking President Trump?” Ms. Habba asked Mr. Cohen. She showed transcripts of Mr. Cohen talking about his podcast, where he said he talked about President Trump in every episode of his podcast. Both of Mr. Cohen’s books, “Disloyal,” and “Revenge” put the name Donald Trump on the cover. Mr. Cohen argued with Ms. Habba about how the books are about him, not President Trump.
“Do you make money off of President Trump’s name?”
Mr. Cohen has been an evasive witness, frequently responding to Ms. Habba’s questions with his own questions or statements that do not answer the question, irritating the judge as well. He did not answer how much money he has made from the books or from criticizing President Trump publicly, but confirmed that his main income stream comes from the platforms on which he attacks President Trump.
“The more outrageous your stories are about President Trump, the more money you make,” Ms. Habba said. “Prior, you stated that the majority of your income is from talking about President Trump.”
“Currently that’s a correct answer,” Mr. Cohen said.
She asked whether he had been promoting the trial by posting on social media and speaking to news media about it. He did not want to answer the question, and told the judge the issue was that he did not understand the word “promote” but confirmed he gave those interviews and made posts about it.
He also argued with Ms. Habba when she asked whether he criticized President Trump to stay relevant, saying that the “circumstances” made him relevant and his podcast touched on news events.
“Mr. Cohen, you have financial incentive to criticize President Trump, don’t you?”
Ms. Habba is trying to have Mr. Cohen impeached as a witness.
She showed articles where Mr. Cohen praised President Trump in interviews with the media, before he became a vocal critic of the former president and GOP frontrunner. As President Trump’s personal attorney, Mr. Cohen said he was speaking to reporters every day.
His comments about President Trump from that period were glowing endorsements, such as telling Sean Hannity “he’s the greatest negotiator on the planet, he’s presidential,” and a comment to Vanity Fair that he would “take a bullet” for him.
Ms. Habba showed a testimony under oath Mr. Cohen gave to the Permanent Select Committee in 2019, where he said he could not ever recall President Trump or Mr. Weisselberg asking him to inflate the numbers in the SFCs. Ms. Habba asked whether he told the truth under oath in that testimony.
Trump Speaks About Clerk, Judge Responds—11:55 AM
During a break, President Trump told reporters Mr. Cohen was “a convicted felon and a liar” and hr had confidence the facts were in his favor.
He also presumably spoke about Justice Engoron’s clerk, calling her “a person who is very partisan sitting alongside him, perhaps even more partisan than he is.”
When the trial resumed, Justice Engoron reminded the court of the gag order he issued on Oct. 3, prohibiting anyone from speaking about his staff.
“Why should there not be severe sanctions?” Justice Engoron said.
Trump attorney Christopher Kise said that his client was referring to Mr. Cohen sitting in the witness stand beside the judge, not the judge’s clerk.
“‘The person sitting alongside him,’ the way I would interpret those words is my principal clerk,” the judge responded.
President Trump did not respond in court.
“I’ll take the whole matter under advisement,” Justice Engoron said.
The judge called for an off-record sidebar with attorneys after Ms. Habba pointed out additional discrepancies in Mr. Cohen’s interview.
Mr. Cohen confirmed he worked on the 2015 SFCs, which showed President Trump had a net worth of $6.5 billion. Then Ms. Habba entered into evidence an interview Mr. Cohen gave with CNN two weeks after the 2015 SFC was finalized, where Mr. Cohen said he considered himself to be a real estate expert and claimed President Trump’s net worth was in excess of $10 billion, and his properties were “second to none.”
Mr. Cohen was evasive when being questioned by Ms. Habba about the CNN interview.
Justice Engoron asked Ms. Habba to not comment on the answers, and just ask questions.
In Mr. Cohen’s interviews with the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, the New York District Attorney’s staff was also present, he said.
“I gave them a roadmap,” Mr. Cohen said.
Trump Attorneys Accuse Michael Cohen of ‘Perjury’—10:15 AM
Ms. Habba continued to ask Mr. Cohen about his guilty plea. On Tuesday, he revealed during his testimony that he had lied to a judge when he pleaded guilty to his tax evasion charges. He said in court, and previously during his deposition, that he did not believe he was guilty at all and lied to the judge when he took the plea.
Ms. Habba characterized it as “perjury.”
Prosecutors objected to this line of questioning as irrelevant.
“There’s nothing wrong with calling a liar a liar,” said Trump attorney Christopher Kise. “Perjury is perjury. The attorney general is trying to cover for a defective witness.”
“Perjury implies a conviction,” Justice Engoron said, asking the attorneys to just say he lied.
Mr. Kise disagreed, saying perjury doesn’t require a conviction and that Mr. Cohen’s actions could lead to one.
Ms. Habba asked Mr. Cohen whether he and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg took pen to paper to the SFCs.
He said no.
Ms. Habba then pulled up Mr. Cohen’s deposition where he told Ms. Habba that he and Mr. Weisselberg did not edit the asset values on computers.
“It was handwritten,” he said in the deposition. He added that they would bring their edits directly to President Trump.
Ms. Habba continued to question Mr. Cohen, stopping each time he gave a different answer from what he said in his deposition, which was also given under oath. For instance, he previously said Mazars accountant Donald Bender would “continuously” be at the Trump Tower offices and was given the SFCs once they were finalized. On the witness stand, he said Mr. Bender was not at the offices “continuously,” but “regularly.”
The judge said the two “clearly” mean different things.
Trump Addresses Reporters—9:58 AM
Unlike Tuesday, President Trump spoke with the press at length before the trial, delaying his entrance into the courtroom to discuss the House Speaker race.
He then claimed the trial has only shown what a strong company he had built, revealing valuations are higher than what he originally claimed.
“It’s a witch hunt, it’s just a bad trial,” he said.
He also answered questions about the attorneys who have taken plea deals in the Fulton County, Georgia case against him. Sidney Powell pleaded guilty to six misdemeanors, and Kenneth Chesebro and Jenna Ellis each pleaded guilty to one felony. All avoided jail time and will serve probation instead, and cooperate with prosecutors.
He also commented on the recent ABC story claiming his former chief of staff Mark Meadows testified against him in return for immunity in a federal criminal case.
President Trump stood by his codefendants, saying they had been persecuted by partisan prosecutors for years, and pleaded out so they could avoid lengthy prison sentences.
“Some people would never make that decision, other people would,” he said.
“Mark Meadows always felt it was rigged, it was rigged and stolen,” he said.
Trump Warns of Republican Retaliation—8:15 AM
President Trump posted to social media Wednesday morning of his return to court, blasting the judge while saying he was “not allowed a jury trial under the statute they have chosen to use (for the very first time ever!).”
“The good news, that even the Fake News is seeing, is that the facts are ALL on my side! I BUILT A GREAT COMPANY, FAR BIGGER & STRONGER THAN ANYONE HAD ASSUMED! This is a RIGGED TRIAL, right out of a Banana Republic,” he added.
He also warned that retaliation could come with the next Republican administration.
“Sadly, it gives the Republicans the right to do the same thing when we assume office…And remember, Crooked Joe Biden is the most CORRUPT (and Incompetent!) President in the history of the U.S., VERY FERTILE GROUND THERE, but very bad for our Country! This unfair political Witch Hunt is causing companies to leave New York at a record pace. They don’t want this to happen to them!”
From The Epoch Times