Michael Cohen testifies in Donald Trump’s hush money trial

Donald Trump’s defense team is planning to focus its cross-examination of Michael Cohen today on the alleged lies he has told in the past to try to undercut his credibility with the jury, people familiar with the matter said.

Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche is expected to focus on past statements Cohen has made, including under oath, to argue to the jury that he can’t be believed while he’s under oath now, the person said.

Another focus is expected to be to challenge Cohen’s testimony of conversations he says he had with Trump around the hush money payment and reimbursement, the person said.

The person said it will take “a long time to get through the lies.”

Remember: Cohen’s credibility is key because he is the only witness who has tied Trump to the $130,000 payment Cohen made to Stormy Daniels and the allegedly falsified documents that described the repayment to Cohen as a retainer. Prosecutors have shown the jury call logs and called witnesses to buttress Cohen’s account but his believability could be central to the case.

One of the areas Blanche is expected to go into involves testimony Cohen gave last year at Trump’s civil fraud trial. Then Cohen testified that he lied when he pleaded guilty to some charges, including tax fraud, before Judge William Pauley. Trump’s lawyers believe Cohen perjured himself. Cohen has also repeatedly said publicly that he didn’t commit tax fraud.

Earlier this week, prosecutor Susan Hoffinger sought to get ahead of this questioning when she asked Cohen about that testimony.

 “Did you admit under questioning that, yes, you told Judge Pauley that it was a lie when you agreed to plead guilty to those counts?” Hoffinger asked. 
“Yes,” Cohen said. “I have constantly maintained that I do not dispute the fact there was an error in the taxable amount and the tax that was due. What I did dispute, and I continue to dispute, is that for a first-time offender, who has consistently paid taxes on its due date and never having been, um, audited, that this would go immediately to a criminal charge.”