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Trump trial live updates: Michael Cohen to resume testimony in hush money trial

Michael Cohen returns to witness stand for second day of testimony in Trump hush money trial

Donald Trump’s longtime lawyer Michael Cohen is due back on the witness stand Tuesday for testimony that’s expected to delve into payments he said he received from the former president in return for hush money paid to adult film actor Stormy Daniels in the closing days of the 2016 campaign.

Prosecutors allege that Trump falsified business records relating to those payments by classifying them as legal services pursuant to a retainer agreement. Cohen testified Monday in New York City that no such retainer agreement existed.

Cohen is a pivotal witness in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against Trump. He told the jury during his first full day on the stand that Trump directly authorized him to pay Daniels the $130,000 and that Trump was involved in efforts to quash two other salacious stories that he feared could have damaged his candidacy.

“I was following his directions,” Cohen testified.

Read the full story here.

‘The benefit of Mr. Trump’: Longtime fixer Michael Cohen testifies in hush money trial. What you missed on Day 16.

Donald Trump’s longtime fixer and lawyer, Michael Cohen, testified Monday that he was acting at Trump’s behest when he made hush money payments to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

For weeks in Manhattan criminal court in New York City, Trump’s defense attorneys have sought to puncture Cohen’s credibility with the jury, and even witnesses have painted him as hot-headed, self-interested and untrustworthy.

“I didn’t know Michael to be an especially charitable person or selfless person,” said Hope Hicks, Trump’s former communications aide, when she was on the stand. Cohen’s former banker said he was assigned to him because of his “ability to handle individuals who are challenging.”

But on the stand for the first time, Cohen presented himself as cool-headed and recalled how he had worked at Trump’s behest to suppress stories that posed a threat.

Read the full story here.

Could we see any surprises? Today may be the day

Ginger GibsonSenior Washington Editor

The thing about anything involving Trump is there are few surprises — at least for the people who diligently follow his every move and the journalists who chronicle them.

The allegations at the heart of the trial are well known: Michael Cohen already pleaded guilty to paying the hush money and provided ample details when he entered the plea.

For many of the jurors in the courtroom, many of these details may be new. Most said they didn’t follow this story closely.

And throughout the trial, there have been small things that were unknown to even those who closely follow Trump — like that Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal’s phone numbers were saved in his phone.

Michael Cohen leaves his apartment building today.Seth Wenig / AP

Audio secretly recorded by Michael Cohen reveals Trump in 2016 discussing a payment to Karen McDougal before he was elected president.

Michael Cohen to testify about his interactions with Trump after he became president

As Trump counterprograms the trial today with help from Mike Johnson and friends, the direct examination is about to delve into the post-inauguration period in 2017, which is the most important time period for the charged crimes.

Cohen gave lots of testimony yesterday about Trump’s alleged intentional and knowing participation in the payments to Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actor Stormy Daniels with the primary goal of promoting his electoral chances. And his involvement in those payments themselves suggest a motive to cover them up with false business records.

But as for direct evidence that he falsified business records or caused others to do so? The closest Cohen has come to that was in describing a January 2017 Trump Tower meeting he had with Trump and Weisselberg in which Trump expressly agreed to pay Cohen $420k in 12 installments, beginning in February 2017, for “legal services rendered.”

We can expect to hear more today about how Trump allegedly completed or orchestrated false paperwork about the repayment scheme, including through a Feb. 8, 2017, Oval Office meeting between Cohen and Trump. But beyond that, there might not be much else in terms of direct evidence.

Vivek Ramaswamy says he’ll offer commentary

Lindsey Pipia and Isabelle Schmeler

Former Trump GOP primary rival Vivek Ramaswamy said he’s on the way to the courthouse in a post on X. He added that he’ll be writing more about the trial today.

“Great to see President Trump in good spirits this morning,” he wrote. “Headed to NYC courtroom now. Let’s see what’s going on down there, will share my thoughts over the day.”

Ramaswamy and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum followed Trump when he left for the courthouse.

Potential vice presidential contenders for Trump to appear in court today

Several prominent Republicans have appeared with Trump in the courtroom to show their support. In addition to House Speaker Mike Johnson, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who both ran against Trump in the GOP primary, will join the former president in court today, Trump senior adviser Jason Miller said.

Sens. JD Vance, R-Ohio, and Tim Scott, R-S.C., appeared in the courtroom with Trump yesterday. Ramaswamy, Burgum, Vance and Scott are considered potential vice presidential contenders for Trump.

Another potential running mate, Rep. Byron Donalds, and Rep. Cory Mills, both Republicans from Florida, also will be in court today, Miller said.

Trump has departed for the courthouse

Matt Johnson and Isabelle Schmeler

The former president has left Trump Tower for the courthouse downtown, where his lawyers could begin cross-examination of his one-time fixer, Michael Cohen.

House Speaker Mike Johnson to appear in court in a show of support for Trump

House Speaker Mike Johnson will appear this morning with Trump in the Manhattan courthouse where his hush money trial is taking place, a source familiar with the Louisiana Republican’s schedule confirms to NBC News. A number of prominent GOP elected officials have traveled to New York to show solidarity with the former president during the trial. 

Johnson recently survived a threat to his speakership from Trump ally Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga. Trump provided Johnson cover during the effort, which ultimately failed.

Punchbowl News was the first to report Johnson’s court appearance. 

Vivek Ramaswamy expected to be in court

Vivek Ramaswamy, Trump’s one-time GOP primary competitor and now a contender to be his running mate, will join the former president in court today, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Ramaswamy and Trump coordinated today’s plans directly, according to the source, who said Ramaswamy is expected to ride in the car with Trump and stay at court with the former president for the whole day.

Another VP contender, Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, was in the courtroom yesterday.

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