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Trump authorised ‘hush money’ payment, testifies his former lawyer

Prosecutors have accused Trump of falsifying business records related to hush-money payments made before the 2016 election, which he won….reports Asian Lite News

Michael Cohen, the former lawyer of Donald Trump’s hush-money case testified against the former US President on Monday (local time) in the New York City courtroom and admitted that he “lied and bullied” on behalf of his former boss, Al Jazeera reported.

“It was what was needed in order to accomplish the task,” said Cohen, a key prosecution witness in the case on Monday, one of the most widely anticipated days in court since the start of the trial.

Prosecutors have accused Trump of falsifying business records related to hush-money payments made before the 2016 election, which he won.

The prosecution’s case hinges on a USD 130,000 payment Cohen made to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the vote, in an effort to keep her from speaking publicly about a 2006 sexual encounter she says she had with Trump, Al Jazeera reported.

However, the former president has denied any such encounter taking place. He also has rejected the charges against him as “politically motivated.”

Trump continues to campaign seeking his return to the White House.

Cohen (57) testified that it was fair to describe his role as being a “fixer” for Trump, testifying that he took care of “whatever he wanted”.

Rather than work as a traditional corporate lawyer, Cohen reported directly to Trump and was never part of the general counsel’s office for the Trump Organization.

Cohen also told jurors that Trump was “furious” that Daniels, the adult film star, was “shopping” a story about the sexual encounter she says she had with the ex-president.

“He (Trump) said to me, ‘This is a disaster, a total disaster. Women are going to hate me,'” Cohen testified. “‘Guys, they think it’s cool, but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign.'”

This came during a critical moment for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. An audio recording was leaked from the TV show Access Hollywood, in which Trump bragged about “grabbing women’s genitals”, according to Al Jazeera.

The tape left the Trump campaign scrambling to contain the damage only weeks before Election Day in November 2016.

Cohen also provided detailed testimony about the hush-money payment that he made to Daniels, which is at the heart of the prosecution’s case.

Cohen said Trump urged him to delay sending payment to Daniels’s lawyer until after the election, telling him that the story would no longer matter. In October 2016, with Daniels’s story about to come out, Cohen said Trump told him to finally pay up.

“He expressed to me: Just do it,” Cohen testified, saying Trump advised him to meet Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg and figure it out. But, since Weisselberg baulked at paying, so Cohen decided to come up with the money himself, Al Jazeera reported.

“I ultimately said, ‘OK, I’ll pay it,'” Cohen testified adding that Trump promised him, “You’ll get the money back.”

Cohen testified that — at a meeting in 2015 with Trump and David Pecker, then-publisher of the National Enquirer — the trio discussed using the supermarket tabloid to boost Trump’s candidacy while attacking his rivals.

According to the testimony, Trump told Pecker to let Cohen know if he became aware of negative press that might arise, and the three men agreed that Pecker would try to suppress any such stories.

Notably, Trump’s defence team is expected to challenge Cohen’s credibility during cross-examination later this week and paint him as a “liar who cannot be trusted”, according to Al Jazeera.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal charges related to the hush-money payments, as well as for lying to Congress. He was sentenced to three years in prison. (ANI)

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