The fourth week of former president Donald Trump's criminal trial...

The fourth week of former president Donald Trump's criminal trial in lower Manhattan was dominated by testimony from his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, who was questioned by a member of Trump's current counsel, Todd Blanche, about previous lies Cohen has told under oath. Above, Trump and attorney Emil Bove in court Tuesday. Credit: Mark Peterson

Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney and self-branded “fixer” for former President Donald Trump, consumed the entire fourth week of testimony in Trump’s hush-money trial, and is expected to return for more cross-examination on Monday, underscoring his significance as a witness.

As a prosecution witness, Cohen has provided recordings of telephone calls and first-hand accounts of discussions with Trump relating to the alleged 2016 hush money deal at the center of the case.

Trump’s legal defense team has portrayed Cohen as a witness with a history of lying under oath as they seek openings to attack the credibility of his assertions.

“He’s a flawed individual; on the other hand, to get at the truth, and ‘Trumpworld’, you need to speak with some imperfect individuals,” Hofstra University Law School Professor James Sample told Newsday.

Cohen, a Lawrence native who worked as Trump’s attorney for 10 years — with an office next to the former president at Trump Tower, testified that Trump was keenly aware of the $130,000 payment Cohen made to porn actress Stormy Daniels to silence her from disclosing a tryst she said she had with Trump. Cohen asserted Trump was aware of the plan to repay Cohen the money he fronted Daniels by classifying the repayment as Trump Organization legal expenses.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal the repayment to Cohen.

Here are five takeaways from the fifth week of Trump’s trial:

Making the campaign connection

A key part of the prosecution’s case against Trump is convincing jurors that the hush money deal with Daniels was arranged to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election by suppressing potential negative coverage.

Cohen repeatedly testified that the hush money deal was orchestrated out of concern for Trump’s standing in the 2016 race, and not concerns about how the allegations would impact Trump’s family, including wife Melania.

“He wasn’t really thinking about Melania, he was thinking about the campaign,” Cohen told prosecutors on Monday.

Cohen told prosecutors Trump was worried when the deal with Daniels seemed on the verge of collapsing.

“He said to me, ‘This is really a disaster, women will hate me. Guys may think it’s cool, but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign,’ ” Cohen said.

Cohen said he asked Trump about Melania’s response to the possibility of Daniels going public with her allegation, and Trump allegedly replied that he wasn’t worried: “How long do you think I’ll be on the market for? Not long.”

“He was not concerned. This was all about the campaign,” Cohen said.

Sample said prosecutors needed Cohen’s testimony “because he’s the only individual in the entire narrative of their case who is present from start to finish.”

Defense focuses on Cohen's past lies

Trump’s legal team sought to portray Cohen as a revenge-seeking former aide, who was upset that Trump never offered him a White House job.

Over the course of two days of cross-examination, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche questioned Cohen about the multiple previous instances that he lied under oath.

Cohen admitted to lying under oath when he testified before a congressional panel in 2017 about his work on a purported Trump real estate deal in Russia. Cohen also acknowledged lying under oath when pleading guilty to federal tax fraud charges in 2018.

Blanche also exposed other holes in Cohen’s record of public statements.

Cohen in 2017 testified before Congress that he was not seeking a pardon from then-President Trump, but Blanche presented Cohen with copies of text messages he sent his former attorney, Robert Costello, where he appeared to be open to the possibility of a Trump pardon.

“I reached out to my attorney to ask him whether or not this is legitimate,” Cohen said of news articles at the time that indicated others in Trump’s orbit were seeking pardons while he was in office.

Cohen was represented at the time by Costello, who had ties to Trump, and also served as a personal attorney to former Trump attorney and New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Blanche also sought to discredit Cohen’s testimony from Tuesday, when he testified to prosecutors that he spoke to Trump about the hush money deal on Oct. 24, 2016, by calling Trump’s bodyguard Keith Schiller, who passed the phone to Trump. Blanche presented Cohen with text messages from that day, indicating Cohen had reached out to Schiller about harassing phone calls, prompting Schiller to direct Cohen to call him.

Cohen said he addressed both the harassing calls and also briefly updated Trump that the hush money deal was complete in the 96-second call, but also noted he could not “recall telephone calls on a specific date going back to 2016.”

Trump allies flock to court

A parade of Trump political allies showed up at the lower Manhattan courthouse in the fifth week of the trial, providing the former president with surrogate voices who could rail against the trial.

Those in attendance included Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who are reportedly on Trump’s shortlist for vice president.

“I do have a lot of surrogates, and they are speaking very beautifully,” Trump said. “We have a lot of great people here to talk to you.”

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) headlined a news conference ahead of the day’s proceedings on Tuesday, where he repeated some of Trump’s longstanding claims that the trial amounts to “election interference.”

Other Republican lawmakers who appeared throughout the week included Rep. Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.).

White-collar criminal defense attorney Sterling Marchand told Newsday it remains to be seen whether Trump’s entourage of political supporters will have any bearing on the jury, but their presence “is intended to convey the same message to the jury as it does to the public – that Trump has their support and the support of the Republican Party.”

“In the jury’s case, [the lawmakers on hand] are serving as essentially silent character witnesses as a foil against another week of testimony on Trump’s personal conduct,” Marchand said. “Now whether that’s enough to rehabilitate Trump’s character and how the jury ends up weighing that against the factual evidence remains to be seen.”

Long Island mentions

Cohen’s testimony was peppered with some accounts of his ties to Long Island.

Upon taking the stand, prosecutors asked Cohen to tell the jury about his upbringing.

“I grew up in Lawrence, Long Island. It’s part of the Five Towns in Nassau County,” Cohen said, before noting his father was a Holocaust survivor who met his mother after moving from Canada to the United States.

Cohen also noted that he first met tabloid executive David Pecker, the former head of the National Enquirer, at a function on Long Island. Pecker, the prosecution’s first witness, testified last month that he, Cohen and Trump met at Trump Tower in 2015 to devise a “catch and kill” scheme to suppress potential negative stories about Trump, including allegations by Playboy playmate Karen McDougal that she had an affair with Trump. Trump has denied her allegations.

What’s Next

The trial will resume on Monday after a shortened week. New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan scheduled a recess on Friday so Trump could attend his son Barron’s high school graduation.

Trump’s defense is expected to resume its cross-examination of Cohen on Monday, and the prosecution will then have the opportunity to question Cohen once again. The prosecution is expected to rest its case in the coming week. Trump’s legal team is then permitted to call its own witnesses. Blanche indicated to Merchan that Trump’s team will likely call one expert witness, but they have not decided whether Trump will take the stand.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports. Credit: Newsday Staff

'Why am I giving up my Friday night to listen to this?' A Newsday analysis shows the number of referees and umpires has declined 25.2% in Nassau and 18.1% in Suffolk since 2011-12. Officials and administrators say the main reason is spectator behavior. NewsdayTV's Carissa Kellman reports.

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