Michael Cohen Faces Further Questioning as Trump Hush Money Trial Nears End

Exploring high-level legal transparency and implications.

by Nouman Rasool
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Michael Cohen Faces Further Questioning as Trump Hush Money Trial Nears End
© Spencer Platt/Getty Images

With the hush money trial of ex-U.S. President Donald Trump in its last leg, all eyes turn again to Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, who is back on the witness stand for redirect cross-examinations. The Manhattan courtroom is being viewed as an important one, since this is the first hush money trial a U.S.

president has ever faced. Fraudulent practices being alleged, Trump faces 34 felony counts for uttering and entering false business records. Last week's testimony from Cohen directly implicated Trump in an alleged scheme to suppress damaging stories during his 2016 presidential campaign.

This week, the defense is continuing to try and make a case out of trying to discredit Cohen by shining a light on Cohen's criminal past and past deceptions. He was convicted of lying to Congress under oath and serving time for multiple federal charges linked to this case, including campaign finance violations.

The public seems to be following every nugget of the trial. This one marries the juicy narratives of s-x, money, and tabloid intrigue with gritty corporate record-keeping at Trump's companies. But at its core is a $130,000 payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, which prosecutors say was not a legitimate expenditure as reflected in the records but rather a reimbursement for her hush money.

Legal Stakes Escalate

Throughout, Trump has maintained his innocence, pleading not guilty to all charges. His lawyers, meanwhile, have insisted that nothing about the payment agreement with Daniels or Cohen's compensation ran "afoul of the law." But that doesn't mean the stakes aren't far-reaching in their implications for questions of transparency and legality at the very top.

The prosecution, led by Alvin Bragg, Manhattan district attorney, will most likely be resting the case this week right after Cohen's testimony concludes. That said, the prosecution's case can still be open for rebuttal witnesses, depending on whether or not Trump's defense team intends to offer any evidence or call any witnesses, which could even include Trump.

This strategy, instead, seems to be based on tactical involvement, the usual reluctance of subjecting one's clients to the vagaries of cross-examination that sometimes backfires. However, dynamics of this trial may undergo changes based on the testimonies and Judge Juan M.

Merchan's decisions on the admissibility and scope of expert testimonies. At the core of the strategy, the attorneys close to the case said, could be the testimony of Bradley A. Smith, the former Federal Election Commission official who will obviate government arguments as a specialist in campaign finance laws.

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