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Michael Cohen Testifies, House Speaker Johnson Watching

Michael Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger during former U.S. President Donald Trump’s criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in Manhattan state court in New York City, U.S. May 13, 2024 in this courtroom sketch. 

Jane Rosenberg | Reuters

Michael Cohen will resume testimony Tuesday against his ex-boss turned enemy Donald Trump, after delivering a damning account of the former president’s involvement in hush money payments to a porn star and a Playboy model during his 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump will be joined at his criminal trial by House Speaker Mike Johnson, NBC reported. The Louisiana Republican is the latest in a string of GOP members of Congress who have traveled to the courthouse in lower Manhattan to show solidarity with the party’s 2024 presumptive presidential nominee.

On Monday, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer told jurors that Trump had complained, “This is a disaster!” when he learned that adult film actress Stormy Daniels wanted to go public shortly before Election Day 2016 with her account of having sex with Trump one night in 2006.

Eight years later, the same story might once again be a disaster for Trump.

A prosecutor used Cohen’s testimony Monday to give jurors extensive direct evidence for the first time of Trump’s alleged awareness that his reimbursement to Cohen for paying Daniels $130,000 was not a payment for “legal services.” Instead, it was to pay Cohen back for having neutralized a threat to his 2016 electoral chances.

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-LA) hold a press conference at Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate on April 12, 2024, in Palm Beach, Florida. 

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

Cohen testified that Trump told him to, “Just do it,” to keep Daniels quiet. As Cohen spoke, the former president sat just a few feet away from him at the defense table.

“Meet up with Allen Weisselberg, and figure out this whole thing,” Trump said, according to Cohen.

Weisselberg was the long-time chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, the real estate company that is the foundation of Trump’s empire.

Cohen also testified about he kept Trump apprised of efforts by the publisher of The National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid, to buy the silence of Playboy model Karen McDougal about her alleged affair with Trump.

“Fantastic,” Trump said after being told that effort had succeeded, keeping another woman quiet about claims that could harm his 2016 campaign, Cohen testified.

Trump is accused of nearly three dozen felony counts of falsifying Trump Organization business records, which claimed that his and the company’s reimbursements to Cohen for the Daniels payment were for legal expenses.

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While legal commentators were impressed Monday that the often-excitable and talkative Cohen kept a cool composure under direct examination from assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger, Trump’s defense lawyer Todd Blanche is certain to try to get under Cohen’s skin during cross-examination, which could begin later Tuesday.

Cohen has a track record of lying, and a federal criminal record that relates in part to his involvement in the payouts to Daniels and McDougal.

Trump, who denies having sex with Daniels or McDougal or committing any crime, railed against the case Monday afternoon after jurors were dismissed for the day, with Cohen still in the middle of direct examination by Hoffinger.

“There’s no crime here,” Trump told reporters. “This is four weeks of keeping me from campaigning.”

The former president called the trial’s judge, Juan Merchan, “corrupt,” saying Merchan “ought to let us go out an campaign and get rid of this scam.”

Trump has fumed for weeks that Merchan has forced him to be in court every day during the trial, which normally takes a break only on Wednesdays. He claims that Merchan, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, and others are trying to harm his chances against President Joe Biden in November’s election.

This is developing news. Check back for updates.

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