Day 17 of Trump New York hush money trial (2024)

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7:06 p.m. ET, May 14, 2024

Key takeaways from the first day of Michael Cohen's cross-examination

From CNN's Jeremy Herb, Lauren del Valle and Kara Scannell

Donald Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche began his confrontation withMichael Cohenon Tuesday by throwing the former fixer’s language back in his face.

Blanche confirmed the two had never spoken, but asked Cohen whether he knew who he was already since Cohen “went on TikTok and called me a crying little sh*t” just before the trial began.

“Sounds like something I would say,” responded Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer.

The question set the tone for the cross-examination of the Manhattan district attorney’s key witness in thehush money trial. For roughly two hours, Blanche began a cross-examination to discredit Cohen’s allegations against Trump. Blanche confirmed his questioning will take most of the day when court picks up on Thursday.

Here are the key takeaways:

  • Blanche tries to use Cohen’s words to discredit him: Blanche’s opening question was just the first in a series of colorful quotes from Cohen that Blanche raised to try to paint Cohen as someone who hated Trump and who was hellbent on getting revenge while making money off the former president and trying to get his prison sentence reviewed. Blanche had plenty of material to work with. Cohen has written two books and recorded hundreds of podcasts. The upshot of the questioning was that Cohen was making a living off attacking Trump after he lost his law license following his 2018 guilty plea to charges including campaign finance violations linked to the hush money scheme.
  • Cohen's shifting views: Blanche pinpointed the shift from admiration to hatred of Trump in the summer of 2018 when Cohen turned on his former boss. Blanche read a list of compliments Cohen paid Trump publicly in 2015 and 2016, including calling Trump “a good man,” “a man who cares deeply about his family” and “a man who tells it straight.” Trump’s attorney pushed Cohen on his motivations since turning on the former president, suggesting Cohen is now driven by revenge and money.
  • Cohen walks jurors through his decision to cease being loyal to Trump: In the morning, prosecutors wrapped up their questioning of Cohen, walking him in detail through his decision to stop being loyal to Trump – and to stop lying for Trump – when he pleaded guilty to federal charges in 2018. Ultimately, Cohen said a conversation with his family in August 2018 convinced him to change his tune, plead guilty and tell the truth about Trump.
  • More Trump allies flock to court: Tuesday saw the biggest group of politicians making the trek to the Manhattan courthouse to show their support of Trump. The list included Trump’s onetime presidential-rival-turned-VP-hopeful North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, along with House Speaker Mike Johnson, Florida Reps. Byron Donalds and Cory Mills, and former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy.
7:00 p.m. ET, May 14, 2024

Analysis: Unlike Michael Cohen, other Trump associates got pardons when they faced prison time

Analysis from CNN'sZachary B. Wolf

After watching his former fixer Michael Cohen testify against him on Tuesday, former President Donald Trump is expected to attend a fundraiser in New York City co-hosted by Charles Kushner, his son-in-law’s father, whomhe pardoned in 2020.

Trying to intimidate his sister from testifying before a grand jury, the elder Kushner set up a sort of rogue sting operation in which he meant to videotape his sister’s brother with a prostitute and then send the tape to his sister.

At least those are the broad outlines of the tale as told byformer New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who was then the US attorney for the state who prosecuted the case.

Cohen is rare in the universe of Trump associates since he both turned on Trump and went to prison. Many other Trump aides and associates who faced jail eventuallygot pardons or clemency and still support the former president.

  • Paul Manafort is still in Trump’s camp despite spending years in jail. Manafort ran Trump’s 2016 campaign for a time, but then later, while Trump was president,Manafort – who made money as a foreign lobbyist – was convictedfor federal tax evasion, among other things. Manafort served two years and was ultimately pardoned before Trump left office.
  • Steve Bannon, the former Trump White House chief strategist turned right-wing provocateur, obtained a Trump pardon before he could be tried for allegedly defrauding donors of contributions intended to help build a wall on the US border with Mexico. He may still go to prison after failing to comply with a congressional subpoena after the pardon.
  • Trump commuted the sentence of his longtime friendRoger Stone, the political operative who was convicted by a jury of, among other things, obstructing the Russia investigation.
  • Retired Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump's first national security adviser who was charged with lying to investigators, also received a wide-ranging pardon. Flynn had entered a guilty plea and then tried to rescind it, and the yearslong legal saga hung over Trump’s presidency. Trumpissued the Flynn pardonshortly after losing the 2020 presidential election.
6:11 p.m. ET, May 14, 2024

Ohio senator says he was at Trump trial as a friend because it's "lonely to sit up there by yourself"

From CNN's Kit Maher

Ohio Sen. JD Vance said he attended Donald Trump's hush money trial on Tuesday to support the former president.

“I was there to support a friend,” Vance told Fox News.
“This is a very depressing way to spend five, six weeks of your life when you know that you're innocent, as Donald Trump knows that he is,” Vance said. “Recognizing that sometimes it's a little bit lonely to sit up there by yourself, I offered to come in and maybe just be a friendly face in the courtroom.”

Vance reiterated how he has “never spoken” to Trump about being his vice president. He said the running mate speculation did not come up when he appeared in court with Sen. Tommy Tuberville. Other potential vice president contenders, such as North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, were also in attendance.

“I see these same media reports thateveryone else does,” Vance said. “I certainly want to be helpful to the president, however, whatever form that takes, but I have never spoken to Donald Trump about becoming his vice president.”

Using the same language as Burgum, Vance described Trump’s ex-attorney Michael Cohen as a “serial perjurer.” He also argued that the gag order was an insult to Trump and the American people.

6:58 p.m. ET, May 14, 2024

What to know about the 3 other criminal cases involving Donald Trump

From CNN’s Devan Cole, Amy O'Kruk and Curt Merrill

Day 17 of Trump New York hush money trial (1)

The hush money criminal trial against former President Donald Trump is one offour criminal caseshe faces while juggling his presidential campaign.

The former president faces at least88 chargesover the four criminal indictments in Georgia, New York, Washington, DC, and Florida. Trump has pleaded not guilty to every charge in these cases.

Here's a recap of each case:

  • Hush money:Trump was first indicted in March 2023 by the Manhattan district attorney on state charges related to a hush-money payment to an adult film star in 2016. Prosecutors allege Trump was part of an illegal conspiracy tounderminethe integrity of the 2016 election. Further, they allege he was part of an unlawful plan to suppress negative information, including the $130,000 payment.
  • Classified documents:Trump was indicted in June 2023 by a federal grand jury in Miami for taking classified national defense documents from the White House after he left office and resisting the government’s attempts to retrieve the materials.The National Archives said in early 2022 that at least 15 boxes of White House records were recovered from the estate, includingsome that were classified. The charges were brought by special counsel Jack Smith. However,Judge Aileen Cannonhasindefinitely postponed thetrial, citing significant issues around classified evidence that would need to be worked out before the federal criminal case goes to a jury.
  • Federal election interference:Smith separately charged the former president last August with four crimes over his efforts to reverse the 2020 election results. The indictment alleges Trump and a co-conspirator "attempted to exploit the violence and chaos at the Capitol by calling lawmakers to convince them ... to delay the certification" of the election. That case is currently on holdas the Supreme Courtweighs Trump’s claims of presidential immunity in the matter. The court held a hearing on the issue of immunity in late April. Every day the court doesn’t issue a decision will play into Trump’s strategy of delay, jeopardizing the likelihood that Smith can bring his case to trial before the November election.
  • Fulton County:State prosecutors in Georgia brought a similar election subversion case against Trump and others. An Atlanta-based grand jury on August 14, 2023, indicted Trump and 18 others on state charges stemming from their alleged efforts to overturn the former president’s 2020 electoral defeat. A trial date has not yet been set in that case, and the Georgia Court of Appeals will consider an effort by Trump and his co-defendants to disqualify District Attorney Fani Willis from the case.

Read more aboutthe four criminal casesTrump faces.

5:39 p.m. ET, May 14, 2024

What happened in court: Trump’s defense goes after Michael Cohen during his second day on the stand

From CNN's Elise Hammond

Donald Trump’s lawyers began their cross-examination of Michael Cohen, a key witness in the hush money trial against the former president.

Before the defense began trying to poke holes in Cohen’s credibility, the prosecution finished its direct examination during which he described the moment he decided to stop lying for Trump.

Here’s everything you need to know about what happened today:

Prosecutors finish direct questioning:

  • Payments to Cohen: Cohen described emailing an invoice, which included two $35,000 payments for January and February, shortly after a meeting with Trump to confirm how he would be reimbursed for the payment he fronted for Daniels. The jury saw copies of a check sub from March that says the payment is for a retainer agreement, which Cohen testified was not true. The prosecution showed a check from April that was signed by Trump.
  • Reimbursem*nt paid out: After being paid out the installments equaling $420,000, Cohen says he was never paid any more money from Trump personally or the Trump Organization. He testified that he thinks he spent less than 10 hours on work for Trump in 2017 but did get other consulting clients.
  • Pressure to lie: Cohen confirmed that in 2018 he continued to pressure people like attorney Keith Davidson to lie about the deals with Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels. He said he continued to lie “out of loyalty and in order to protect him." He said he spoke with Trump about false statements he made to the media.
  • FBI raid: Cohen says he was “concerned, despondent, angry” when he wasraided by the FBI in April 2018. When he spoke to Trump about the raid, Trump said, “’Don’t worry. I’m the president of the United States,’” according to Cohen. He said he felt reassured after that conversation and continued to be in Trump’s camp.
  • Meeting Robert Costello: Cohen said he met criminal defense attorney Robert Costello who offered a “back-channel communication” to Trump that would use Rudy Giuliani as a middleman. Cohen said Costello’s emails were part of a “pressure campaign” to make sure he stayed loyal to Trump as there was concern he might retain another lawyer for the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • Turning from Trump: Cohen said he pleaded guilty after talking to his family and deciding he “would not lie for President Trump anymore.” He ticked off his guilty pleas — both related and unrelated to Trump — including tax evasion and campaign finance violations. He called one of the days he pleaded the “worst day of my life.”

Defense starts cross-examination:

  • Cohen’s social media posts: The cross-examination started with a fiery back and forth as Trump's attorney Todd Blanche asked Cohen about comments he made on social media, including one in which he said Trump belongs in a cage. Cohen said the trial was personally important to him and answered “sure” when Blanche asked if he wanted Trump to be convicted.
  • Financial benefits: Blanche also brought up instances where Cohen makes money — including podcasts and a TikTok account where he mentions Trump and has merchandise that features Trump. He also testified he made more than $3 million in sales of his two books.
  • Cohen’s salary: Cohen testified that he also represented Trump’s family, including his wife and one of his sons. He testified that his salary was about $375,000 plus an annual bonus of about $150,000. Remember: At the heart of the case is a series of payments equaling $420,000 to Cohen. He says it was to reimburse him for the hush money he fronted to Daniels.
  • Mueller investigation: Blanche walked Cohen through his interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. Cohen admitted he lied to Mueller’s teams to protect Trump before he decided to cooperate. The defense pointed out one of those instances, including when Cohen told the special counsel he did not recall speaking with Trump about the “Access Hollywood” tape, which goes against his previous testimony.
  • Feelings about Trump: Speaking about Trump, Cohen said he “admired him tremendously."Cohen later acknowledged that he changed his views about his former boss when Blanche pointed out Cohen’s 2019 comments to Congress that Trump had potentially committed a variety of financial crimes.

What’s next: Cohen will be the last witness to testify for the prosecution, according to the court transcript. Blanche said he expects the cross-examination of Cohen “will continue until the end of the day Thursday,” according to the transcript.Blanche also said it is not clear if Trump would testify.

Gag order: Trump’s latest attempt to end the gag order against him in the hush money criminal trial wasdeniedby a New York appeals court. Trumpsaidthat the gag order implemented by Judge Juan Merchan is unfair to him and should be lifted. The appeals court sided with Merchan, according to the order.

5:41 p.m. ET, May 14, 2024

"Why are you making this about yourself?": Judge asks Trump attorney after opening question, transcript says

From CNN's Elizabeth Hartfield

After Donald Trump's attorney Todd Blanche jumped right into his cross-examination of Michael Cohen with a question about an expletive-laden description Cohen had given of Blanche on social media, Judge Juan Merchan called the attorneys to the bench for a sidebar.

"Why are you making this about yourself?" Merchan asked Blanche, according to the transcript of the first part of the afternoon session just circulated by the court.
"I'm not making it about myself, your honor," Blanche replied. "I have a right to show this witness's bias, and he has expressed bias about the lawyers just because of who he represents," he said.

The parties continued a back and forth for a brief period, the transcript shows, with Merchan ultimately saying, "Just don't make it about yourself. I am going to sustain the objection and instruct the jury. Please, don't make it about yourself."

As CNN's court team previously reported, he then sustained the objection in the courtroom.

5:20 p.m. ET, May 14, 2024

See courtroom sketches of Michael Cohen's testimony today in the Trump trial

No cameras are allowed inside the Manhattan courtroom where Donald Trump's hush money trial is underway, but sketch artists are capturing the scenes as Michael Cohen testifies while his former boss listens nearby.

Day 17 of Trump New York hush money trial (2)
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5:12 p.m. ET, May 14, 2024

Trump said today was a "very good day" while repeating his complaints about the trial

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Former President Donald Trump said today was "a very good day" before he repeated his laments about the hush money trial that's in its fifth week.

Here's what he claimed while speaking to journalists in the Manhattan court hallway after the trial wrapped for the day:

  • The trial is preventing him from being on the campaign trail: This has been a consistent complaint he's made. However, Trump is free to campaign on days when court is not in session — weekends and Wednesdays. "Can you believe I've been here five weeks instead of campaigning?" he said. The whole process is expected to take 6-8 weeks.
  • The freezing room: He complained about the temperature in the court room, calling it an "ice box."
  • The gag order forbids him to speak about "big portions" of the case: Judge Juan Merchan’s gag order, which narrowly restricts his out-of-court speech, does not broadly prevent Trump from talking. He is permitted to speak to the media, speak at campaign events, attack President Joe Biden and other political opponents, and even attack Judge Juan Merchan and the Manhattandistrict attorney behind the case. His gag order prevents him from speaking publicly or directing others to speak publicly about known or foreseeable witnesses, jurors, prosecutors, members of the district attorney’s staff and the court staff, or family members of any of these people, if those statements are made with the intent to interfere with the case.
4:48 p.m. ET, May 14, 2024

Blanche believes he can finish cross-examination by the end of the day Thursday

Todd Blanche says he still believes he will finish cross-examination by the end of the day on Thursday.

"If I finish, it’s the end of the day I anticipate, your honor," the attorney for Donald Trump says.

Judge Juan Merchan responds, "No rush, take your time, do what you need to do."

Blanche also references their expert witness and asked the judge if they could discuss what is admissible in light of the judge's pretrial rulings.

Merchan says he will take it up at 4 p.m. ET on Thursday.

Day 17 of Trump New York hush money trial (2024)
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