Trump’s Lawyer Asks Jury to Question Michael Cohen’s Credibility


In the climactic end to the New York hush money trial, the defense for former President Donald Trump presented a carefully constructed closing argument, aiming to undermine the prosecution’s case and establish reasonable doubt among the jurors.

Speaking with a calm and systematic approach, defense attorney Todd Blanche walked the jury through crucial pieces of evidence, stressing that the prosecution, led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, relied heavily on the dubious testimony of Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen.

Former President Donald Trump speaks alongside his attorney Todd Blanche following the day’s proceedings in his trial on May 21, 2024, in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool Photo via AP)

“You cannot convict President Trump,” Blanche repeatedly told the jury, underscoring the gravity of their upcoming deliberations. He highlighted a crucial point: that Cohen was the sole witness brought forth by Bragg’s office who asserted that Trump was aware of the $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels.

“There is no way that you can find that President Trump knew about this payment at the time it was made without believing the words of Michael Cohen — period,” Blanche insisted.

“You cannot convict President Trump of any crime beyond a reasonable doubt based on the words of Michael Cohen,” Blanche added, criticizing Cohen’s credibility and noting that even the prosecution described him as a habitual liar.

Blanche’s defense strategy emphasized several key points. First, he argued that payments made to Cohen and the Trump Organization’s accounting practices were not illegal. He cited court transcripts and exhibits, including the Trump Organization’s business ledgers, to back this claim. He reminded the jury that the defense was not obliged to prove anything, stressing that “the burden is always on the government.”

Regarding allegations of election influence, Blanche dismissed the idea that Trump or David Pecker, the former CEO of American Media Inc., believed stories in the National Enquirer could affect the 2016 election. “The idea, even if there was something wrong with it, the idea that sophisticated people like President Trump and David Pecker believed that positive stories in the National Enquirer could influence the 2016 election is preposterous,” Blanche argued, noting the publication’s limited circulation of 350,000 at the time.

Blanche also challenged the prosecution’s narrative around a 2015 meeting at Trump Tower, saying there was no discussion of “catch and kill” strategies or financial arrangements. “It wasn’t even discussed at the time the conspiracy was formed. No financial discussion. No discussion about catch and kill. Think about that,” he urged the jury.

The defense further questioned the prosecution’s account of a 2017 Oval Office meeting where Cohen allegedly discussed hush money payments with Trump. Blanche noted the lack of corroboration for Cohen’s testimony and highlighted that just six days after the supposed meeting, Cohen did not know the exact amount of money he was to be paid. “That’s what he wants you to believe,” Blanche said sarcastically.

Blanche also introduced the Office of Government Ethics forms from 2017, which disclosed payments to Cohen, arguing there was no intent to defraud. He noted that the Trump Organization had appropriately reported these payments to the IRS. “How can it be that there was any intent to defraud by President Trump when he discloses it to the IRS, he tweets about it, and he submits it on his Office of Government Ethics forms?” Blanche asked.

Blanche emphasized that categorizing expenses from a lawyer as “legal expenses” was standard practice and not a crime. He reminded the jury that there was no evidence Trump was aware of the voucher system used by the Trump Organization to process these payments while he was president. “There is no evidence that President Trump knew anything about this voucher system. No evidence. Not a single word,” Blanche stated.

As the defense closed its arguments, some jurors focused intently on Blanche, while others watched monitors displaying testimonies and documents, according to CNN.

Throughout his argument, Blanche maintained that the prosecution had not met its burden of proof and that convicting Trump based solely on Cohen’s unreliable testimony would be unjust.

“President Trump is innocent,” Blanche declared. “He did not commit any crimes, and the district attorney has not met their burden of proof — period. The evidence is all in.”

Also present in the courtroom was Bragg, the elected Democratic district attorney. Trump was accompanied by several close allies, including his adult children Donald Trump Jr., Eric Trump, and Tiffany Trump, who made a rare appearance.

The court took a brief recess on Tuesday morning before Blanche resumed his closing argument ahead of a scheduled lunch break.

Kaelan Deese
Kaelan Deese
Supreme Court reporter covering the latest happenings at the nation's highest court and the legal issues surrounding Second Amendment rights, abortion, and religious liberties. He previously wrote breaking news as a fellow for The Hill during the 2020 election cycle. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma's Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communications program in 2019.

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