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Trump’s Attorney Made Swiss Cheese Out Of Michael Cohen’s Testimony, Raising Questions Of Perjury

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Former President Donald Trump’s defense attorney rebutted Michael Cohen’s testimony during a brutal cross-examination Thursday, which has legal commentators raising the possibility Cohen again committed perjury.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche confronted Cohen on his past lies under oath, including to Congress and a federal judge, asking him whether he took the same oath before testifying then as he did to testify in this trial: a pointed question aimed to raise doubts about his current claims. Cohen’s prospects took a turn for the worse in the final few minutes before lunch break, when Blanche point-blank accused Cohen of lying when he testified Tuesday that he had called Trump’s bodyguard, Keith Schiller, on Oct. 24, 2016, to discuss the matter of paying porn star Stormy Daniels.

“That was a lie!” Blanche nearly shouted at Cohen. “You did not talk to President Trump on that night,” Blanche said. “You talked to Keith Schiller.”

Blanche pointed to text messages Cohen sent minutes before the call asking how he should handle a 14-year-old’s harassing phone calls to him, to which Schiller responded “call me.”

Cohen said he believed he also spoke to Trump. Blanche pushed back, asking how that was possible on a call that only lasted just a minute and 36 seconds.

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley noted the portion of Cohen’s testimony was a possible point of perjury.

Blanche pressed Cohen on a number of inconsistencies, large and small, in his testimony and prior statements. Cohen stated while thanking Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on his podcast in 2023 that he spent “countless hours” with him laying out Trump’s crimes, though he admitted to Blanche that he has never met Bragg.

The jury heard a portion of the podcast, where Cohen also said “picturing Donald Trump being led through the booking process, getting fingerprinted, having his mugshot taken” fills him with “delight.”

Blanche pressed Cohen on his desire to work in the White House, which Cohen denied he wanted, stating he only wanted to be considered for the position “for ego purposes.” He highlighted text conversations with his daughter and others where he complained about being overlooked, asking if he was embarrassed he was left being “nothing more” than Trump’s personal attorney after all the work he did for Trump.

“That’s the role that I wanted,” Cohen said.

Keith Davidson, the former attorney for Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, testified earlier in the trial that he thought Cohen would “kill himself” after he received a call from him airing frustration about not having a spot in the Trump administration.

“‘Jesus Christ, can you fucking believe I’m not going to Washington, after everything I have done for that fucking guy, I can’t believe I’m not going to Washington,’” Davidson recalled Cohen saying.

Cohen testified Thursday that he did not recall telling Davidson that he wanted to be the attorney general.

In the afternoon, Blanche walked chronologically through the testimony Cohen gave on Monday, exposing inconsistencies with each point.

A major point of contention was a June 16, 2016, phone call with Trump Cohen testified about. Cohen told Blanche he had “no specific recollection” of the call, but said later documents he had looked at “jogged” his memory.

Blanche questioned how Cohen could possibly remember the contents of specific calls from 2016, given he was, as Cohen agreed, receiving around 14,000 a year.

Cohen said the phone calls he testified about were things he has been talking about for six years, noting they were “extremely important” and “all-consuming.” Though he did not remember exact times, he said he remembered their content.

Blanche asked Cohen how often he recorded conversations, including with reporters, and whether he told them about it. He pressed Cohen about whether he remembered “on several occasions” being asked if he was recording and saying no on the recording.

“I don’t remember that specifically,” Cohen said. “It’s not illegal in New York.”

Blanche also pointed out it is unethical for a lawyer to record his client, referencing a recording Cohen made of Trump related to the purchase of former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story of an alleged affair.

“Just so I understand, you surreptitiously recorded your client so you could play privileged recorded communication…with a third party?” Blanche asked.

“That’s correct,” Cohen said.

Blanche concluded Thursday with questions about a statement Cohen issued in 2018 following a Federal Election Commission complaint about the Daniels payment, in which Cohen said he used his personal funds for the payment and that neither the “Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign” were party to the transaction. He told the judge he anticipates finishing his cross-examination with Cohen by the morning break on Monday.

Merchan told attorneys to be prepared for closing arguments on Tuesday.

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