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Trump hush money trial highlights: Michael Cohen testifies about directed payment to Stormy Daniels

Cohen is testifying about a $130,000 payment made to adult film actor Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign to keep her quiet about her alleged affair with Trump.

Coverage on this live blog has ended. For the latest news on the Trump hush money trial, click here.

What to know about the trial today

  • Key witness Michael Cohen testified today about paying adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign to keep her quiet about her alleged affair with Donald Trump.
  • Prosecutors played an audio recording of Trump directing Cohen to use cash to buy Karen McDougal's story.
  • Prosecutors have been preparing Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and fixer, for this moment for more than a year.
  • Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide the reimbursement to Cohen for the $130,000 hush money payment he made to Daniels. Trump has denied the charges and the alleged affair.

Trump blasts judge in remarks outside courtroom

Trump delivered remarks in the courtroom hallway this afternoon, reading notes that appeared to include quotations from his allies, including Sens. JD Vance, R-Ohio and Tim Scott, R-S.C., who are widely viewed as potential vice presidential picks.

Trump also said he was citing opinions on his case from legal analysts.

"There's nothing illegal, a lot of people say that, they're all saying, that. The only person who won't say it is the judge because it's a rigged deal, he's conflicted," Trump said. "You ought to check that out. But everybody's saying there's no crime."

Cohen says Trump told him not to bill any legal work as his personal attorney

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen whether he discussed compensation with Trump after he gave him the title of personal attorney.

Cohen said Trump didn't discuss it and told him, “Take it easy on any bills," suggesting, he added, that there would be no compensation for any other work.

Cohen spoke with Allen Weisselberg and Trump about being paid monthly

Adam Reiss

Kyla Guilfoil

Adam Reiss and Kyla Guilfoil

Cohen testified that he and Weisselberg spoke with Trump about Cohen's being paid in monthly payments, rather than in a lump sum.

Cohen recalled that the conversation happened in Trump's office with Trump present. He said Weisselberg told him he would be paid $35,000 monthly over 12 months to cover a total payment of $420,000.

The payments were set to begin in February 2017, Cohen said, because there was "a lot going on" in January, including Trump's inauguration. Cohen said Trump approved the payment plan, saying, "This is going to be one heck of a ride in D.C.," after the approval. Cohen added that he would be getting paid as a legal service rendered as personal attorney for the president.

Cohen paid RedFinch CEO because he 'needed him for other things' involving Trump — but then pocketed some of the money

Cohen testified that he paid RedFinch Solutions LLC, a small tech firm, for its services, saying Trump "didn’t feel that he had gotten the benefit of what he wanted, which dealt with a ranking."

Cohen added that he knew the company's chief executive, who told him he was out of money.

"And so I said to him, I said, 'I’ll take care of it; I’ll take care of it,'" Cohen said. "I needed him for other things that I was working with him on for Mr. Trump’s benefit.”

When he was striking a deal with Cohen to repay him for the Daniels payment, Trump also agreed to pay him back for the RedFinch payment, Cohen testified. But while Trump reimbursed him for the full $50,000 that was owed, he didn't pay the whole amount to RedFinch, he said.

'I actually had to do a double take': Cohen was 'beyond angry' after his bonus was slashed at the end of 2016

Cohen testified that he was "angry, beyond angry," when he learned that Trump had slashed his year-end bonus by two-thirds in December 2016.

"I was truly insulted, personally hurt," Cohen said, especially after all he "had gone through in terms of the campaigning, as well as things at the Trump Organization, laying out $130,000 on his behalf to protect him."

"I actually had to do a double take," Cohen said.

Cohen discusses texts with daughter after being passed over for Trump's chief of staff

Cohen described texts he exchanged with his then-college-age daughter after he found out he was not being considered to serve as Trump's chief of staff in the White House.

He said his daughter was very concerned that he was upset for not being considered for the role. Cohen followed up, saying that there would be other opportunities and that he would explain them in more depth once they became closer to reality.

Cohen added that there was a hybrid attorney role he was hoping to land that would give him access to Trump while also being able to monetize his relationship with the president.

Hope Hicks sought input from Michael Cohen on responding to critical stories about Trump

Former White House communications director Hope Hicks, who appeared to disparage Cohen by testifying that he bugged staff by trying to insert himself into Trump's campaign, sought input from him about how to respond to the "Access Hollywood" tape and then the Wall Street Journal story, Cohen said.

Prosecutors displayed text messages showing Hicks communicated with Cohen about the incidents in October and November 2016.

Hicks had previously testified during the case that Cohen would annoy staff members by trying to involve himself in Trump’s campaign. “He liked to call himself a ‘fixer’ or ‘Mr. Fix-it,’ and it was only because he first broke it that he was able to come and fix it,” she testified this month.

Cohen didn't have a job after Trump won the 2016 election

Cohen said that after Trump was elected president in 2016, he described himself as not having a job — even after he pitched the president-elect on serving as his "personal attorney" in the White House.

“My service was no longer necessary, as I was special counsel to Mr. Trump, and he was president-elect," Cohen testified.

Asked whether there were discussions about a job for Cohen like assistant general counsel, Cohen said there weren't.

Cohen also said Trump didn't offer him the role of chief of staff.

“I didn’t want the role. I didn’t believe that the role was right for me or that I was even competent to be chief of staff. I just wanted my name to have been included," Cohen said. “It was more about my ego than anything.”

Cohen said he did suggest to Trump that he could serve as his personal attorney, a role most presidents fill with outside counsel to handle nongovernment legal issues.

Trump was 'angry' about Wall Street Journal's McDougal story, Cohen says

Trump called Cohen on his bodyguard Keith Schiller's phone after The Wall Street Journal published an article about McDougal's claims, Cohen testified.

Trump was "angry," Cohen said, "because there was a negative story that once again could impact the campaign as a result of women."

Cohen discusses what he did when WSJ broke story about AMI's payment to Karen McDougal

Cohen said that on Nov. 4, 2016, when The Wall Street Journal broke the story about AMI’s payment to Karen McDougal, he spoke to David Pecker and Hope Hicks, among others.

He said he spoke to them “to get control over the release of that article.”

Prosecutors then entered into evidence a call log of phone conversations between Hicks and Cohen, which showed they spoke to each other a dozen times that day.

Cohen confirms details of side letter agreement

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen about a side letter agreement, which Cohen said was a document that would identify who the pseudonym would be: David Dennison was Trump.

Asked who was listed, Cohen said both Keith Davidson and himself, counsel for both parties.

“The whole purpose of this transaction” was to keep it confidential, Cohen testified.

Cohen said the signatories on the side letter agreement were Stephanie Clifford, Keith Davidson and himself. He said Stephanie Clifford signed the agreement for Peggy Peterson and Cohen signed for both Essential Consultants, LLC, and David Dennison.

Prosecution is weaving together Cohen's and past witnesses' testimony to show Trump involvement

Kyla Guilfoil

Lisa Rubin and Kyla Guilfoil

Through the prosecution's examination, Hoffinger has taken Cohen through the banking documents and the negotiation and execution of the deal with Stormy Daniels in almost excruciating detail.

We have seen almost every one of these documents from other witnesses, including Gary Farro and Keith Davidson. But seeing this history juxtaposed against Cohen’s phone, text and email records, especially with respect to Weisselberg and Trump, provides a new gloss on these transactions.

The examination also gives the angle the prosecution needs the most: through Cohen’s retelling, we now see Trump and Weisselberg interspersed in these now-familiar and unquestionably involved events, provided Cohen’s testimony is credible.

Cohen confirms 'retainer' was actually Daniels hush money

Cohen confirmed under oath that a $130,000 payment he wired to Davidson on Oct. 27, 2016 that was marked "retainer" was actually money for Daniels as part of the hush money arrangement.

Hoffinger asked Cohen whether the stated purpose of the wire transfer was "truthful." He replied: "No, ma'am. It was in order to pay Stormy Daniels to execute the NDA and to obtain the story."

'Everything required Mr. Trump's sign-off,' Cohen testifies of approval to make payment to Stormy Daniels

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen if he would have made the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels without getting "sign-off" from Trump.

"No," Cohen said.

Asked why, Cohen said, "Because everything required Mr. Trump's sign-off" and in addition to that, "I wanted the money back."

Cohen admits he lied on bank form

Prosecutors asked Cohen whether the information he included on a "Know Your Customer" form he filed with First Republic Bank was true or false. He said it was false, adding he believed they would not have let him open the account which was ultimately used to pay Daniels had they known the true reason for opening it.

Cohen said he offered false information on the form "to hide the intent of the reason for opening Essential Consultants, which [was] to pay for a non-disclosure agreement."

Trump and one of his lawyers keep conferring

Trump is conferring with Emil Bove, one of his lawyers, fairly frequently during Hoffinger's line of questioning about the payments to Daniels.

Cohen recalls Pecker said paying Stormy Daniels could cost him his job

Kyla Guilfoil

Lisa Rubin and Kyla Guilfoil

Cohen testified that while he was trying to figure out how to make the payment himself, he also remembers talking to Pecker and Howard about the payment on Oct. 25.

Cohen said that Howard was telling him he had to get it done and Cohen asked Pecker if he could make the payment himself. Pecker said, “Not a chance,” explaining it could cost him his job.

Pecker testified to as much at the start of the trial — saying Cohen kept asking him to pay off Stormy Daniels and he flat-out refused.

'You will get the money back': Cohen says Trump was 'appreciative' he paid Stormy Daniels

Cohen testified that he and Allen Weiselberg spoke to Trump about paying off Daniels. Cohen said that he informed Trump that he would "front the money," and Trump was "appreciative" in turn.

"Good, good," Cohen recalls Trump saying. Trump also told Cohen: "Don't worry, you will get the money back."

Cohen says he denied Trump's behaviors in interview to help with publicity

Kyla Guilfoil

Gary Grumbach and Kyla Guilfoil

Cohen answered questions from the prosecution about an interview he did on the Wolf Blitzer show in October 2016, in which he spoke as a surrogate for the Trump campaign. He gave the interview days after the Access Hollywood video became public.

“I advocated for Mr. Trump in the best light possible," Cohen said of his actions during the interview.

"Denials as well as exclamations that I have never seen him act in this sort of manner before. I was doing everything that I could in which to change the topic," he added.

Melania Trump texted Cohen after he learned Daniels was taking story to Daily Mail

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss and Daniel Arkin

Cohen testified that he called Trump on Oct. 17, 2016 to let him know that Stormy Daniels was going to tell her story to the Daily Mail. The ex-fixer said he got Trump's voicemail, so he left a message.

The following day, Melania Trump texted Cohen: "Good morning Michael, can you pls call DT on his cell. Thanks."

Cohen wrote back: "Of course."

Cohen testified the two men did speak.

'Just pay it': Cohen says Trump told him friends advised him to pay off Stormy Daniels

Cohen testified that he had a conversation with Trump in Oct. 2016 in which Trump said he had "spoken to some friends, some individuals, very smart people, and that it’s $130,000, you’re a millionaire, just pay it."

"There’s no reason to keep this thing out there. Just do it," Cohen recalled Trump saying. “And he expressed to me, just do it. Meet up with Allan Weisselberg, and figure it out.”

Weisselberg asked Cohen if AMI would make the payment and Weisselberg suggested that it be paid as a credit on an invoice for a golf membership or for an event, Cohen said.

Cohen added that another option was a family affair like a wedding or bar mitzvah, paying money and then take a credit. He said it wasn't possible, however, because each entity had a Trump name.

Ultimately, Cohen decided he would pay it, and Weisselberg told him, “We’ll make sure you get paid back,” Cohen testified. Cohen and Weisselberg told Trump that Cohen would front the money, and Trump told Cohen, “Don’t worry, Michael. You will get paid back.”

Cohen says he was ‘very concerned’ after email from Stormy Daniels' lawyer

Cohen read aloud an email from Oct. 17, 2016, that he had received from Keith Davidson, attorney for Stormy Daniels, that he said made him "very concerned" that he and Trump were losing control over the settlement that would bury her story.

“My intent was to continue to delay it per Mr. Trump’s demand," Cohen testified about the payment to Daniels. "And I did not send funds to Mr. Davidson’s IOLTA” on this date, Cohen said.

An IOLTA is an account lawyers maintain to hold client funds in escrow.

Cohen was regularly talking with Trump through the final stages of the campaign

As the campaign was reaching its climax, Cohen said he was still in regular contact with Trump about the agreement with Daniels

The prosecution asked Cohen about the nature of the conversations he was having with Trump about the hush money agreement. Cohen said they took place both over the phone as he was campaigning and at their Trump Tower headquarters, where Trump spent most nights during his bid for office.

Cohen details emails trying to delay paying Stormy Daniels

Kyla Guilfoil

Lisa Rubin and Kyla Guilfoil

Cohen is testifying now about his email exchange with Keith Davidson in October 2016, in which Cohen was trying to hold Davidson at bay and delay making a payment to Stormy Daniels.

Cohen admits he even used the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur to delay, per Trump’s instruction, the payment.

In short, Cohen is testifying about the delays to say: Trump told him to string Stormy Daniels along as long as possible — preferably until after the election. Because if he could keep her holding on that long, the story would stay secret and if he won, then it wouldn't matter because the election was over. And if he lost, then he wouldn't care if the story became public.

The prosecution is zeroing in on this to make a key part of their case — that all of this was done to influence the election, not to keep it from Trump's wife or avoid family problems, something the defense has suggested they could argue.

Cohen testimony resumes

Adam Reiss

Everyone is back in the courtroom and the testimony is resuming.

Courtroom sketch of Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen is questioned today by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger before Justice Juan Merchan as former President Donald Trump sits with his eyes closed and New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg watches.Jane Rosenberg / Reuters

LISTEN: Michael Cohen audio recording reveals Trump talking Karen McDougal payment

Jurors heard this recording that Cohen made of Trump discussing paying the National Enquirer back for buying Karen McDougal's story.

Court breaks for lunch

Kyla Guilfoil

Trial proceedings have paused for a lunch break. The court will reconvene at 2 pm ET.

Cohen: 'I was following directions'

Cohen expressed that while Keith Davidson wanted an immediate wire transfer, he was trying to push the transaction past the election, as Trump had instructed him to do.

“I was following directions,” Cohen said when asked if he could have funded it earlier.

Cohen also said that he would not have funded the settlement after an expected 10 days but would have continued to try to delay.

Cohen recalls what Trump thought his wife Melania would feel about the Stormy Daniels story

Cohen recalled what Trump thought his wife Melania would feel about Stormy Daniels’ story resurfacing.

Cohen asked Trump, “How things gonna go upstairs?” referring to Melania Trump.

“Don’t worry. How long do you think I’ll be on the market for? Not long,” Trump said, according to Cohen.

Cohen interpreted that to mean he was not worried about Melania, but rather he was worried about the campaign.

Cohen says Trump was angry when Daniels' story resurfaced: 'I thought you took care of this!'

Cohen testified that Trump was angered to learn that Daniels' story had resurfaced with just weeks left in the 2016 campaign

"I thought you took care of this," Cohen recalled Trump saying when he informed the then-GOP presidential nominee. "I thought this was under control."

“Just take care of it,” Cohen said Trump told him.

"This is a disaster, a total disaster," Trump said, according to Cohen's testimony. "Women will hate me. Guys will think it’s cool, but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign."

Cohen says he and Keith Davidson spoke several times

Kyla Guilfoil

Jillian Frankel and Kyla Guilfoil

Cohen testified that he spoke with Keith Davidson, an attorney who represented Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels, several times in October 2016.

The prosecution asked Cohen about text messages between Davidson and Cohen, which began after Dylan Howard at the National Enquirer connected the two men about Daniels.

Cohen said the messages were about Cohen and Trump trying to buy Stormy Daniels' life rights to her story.

Michael Cohen testifies in a courtroom sketch
Michael Cohen testifies on the witness stand today.Elizabeth Williams / AP

Cohen says Trump instructed him to 'take care of it' when he told him about Stormy Daniels' story in 2011

Cohen said when he first heard about Stormy Daniels' story regarding Trump in 2011, he went to Trump's office and told him about the conversation he had with Dylan Howard and asked Trump if he knew who she was.

Cohen said Trump told him that he did know Daniels, and Cohen relayed the story about the 2006 golf outing in Lake Tahoe. Cohen said Trump instructed him to "take care of it."

Trump also told Cohen that he and Ben Roethlisberger met her and that she preferred Trump to “Big Ben," Cohen testified. Although Cohen asked Trump whether he had an encounter with Daniels, Trump would not answer him directly, saying only that she was “a beautiful woman.”

Trump allies rally to his defense outside the courthouse

In remarks outside of the courthouse, Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, expressed solidarity with Trump during a trial that he slammed as a political hit job aimed at hindering his presidential campaign.

Vance — who was joined by fellow Trump allies Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall — decried the hush money trial as a “sham prosecution,” argued that Trump should be on the campaign trail and sought to discredit Cohen’s testimony.

Vance echoed Trump’s claims that the trial is part of an election interference effort by Democrats, saying without evidence that “every single person involved in this prosecution is practically a Democratic political operative.”

“What’s going on inside that courtroom is a threat to American democracy,” he said.

From left, Sens. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y.
From left, Sens. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, and Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y.Stephanie Keith / Getty Images

Tuberville similarly criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, saying that he acts like the trial is “his Super Bowl” and painted Cohen as a “serial liar,” pointing to his previous prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to a number of criminal charges. The Republican senator also suggested that Democrats are trying to “beat Trump in the jury box because they can’t beat him at the ballot box.”

Malliotakis called the trial a “sham trial” based on a “convicted disbarred perjurer,” referring to Cohen, and said Bragg should focus on “actual crime” in New York City such as that committed by drug smugglers, career criminals and migrants.

Bird said she came all the way to New York City to show Iowa’s “strong support” for Trump after he won the Republican presidential nomination in its caucuses in January and decried what she observed in the courtroom today as a “travesty” because “politics has no place in a court of law.”

Marshall also slammed the trial as a “perversion of the criminal justice system,” saying the prosecution posed more questions about Cohen’s feelings rather than connecting him to any criminal offense, and echoed Trump’s claims that it’s an effort to keep him off of the campaign trail.

None of them took questions after making their statements to the press.

Cohen has started testifying about Stormy Daniels

Cohen's testimony just moved to one of the key issues at the heart of the trial: Stormy Daniels' story about a sexual relationship with Trump and his team's efforts to silence her ahead of the 2016 election.

Susan Hoffinger, the prosecutor questioning Cohen, referred to Daniels' claims and asked: "What, if anything, did you think about the potential impact that might have on the campaign?"

"Catastrophic," the ex-fixer replied, describing the porn star's story as "horrible for the campaign."

Cohen texted with CNN's Chris Cuomo after 'Access Hollywood' tape dropped

Prosecutors showed texts between Cohen and Chris Cuomo, then a CNN anchor, the day after the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape was released in a Washington Post story. The exchange highlights how high pressure the days after the tape's release were for Cohen.

Cuomo asked Cohen if he would be defending him. Cohen replied that he was in London and was not sure whether he would appear on any news programs, adding that he was asked "by everyone" to "do shows starting Tuesday."

"Will be too late," Cuomo said. "He is dying right now."

"Come on tomorrow? And Thursday?" Cuomo added 10 days later. "This is crunch time."

Cohen said he was appearing on a different CNN program that day.

Vance says he's falling asleep in court

Kyla Guilfoil

Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, who was in court today to support Trump, said in a post on X that he was "about to fall asleep" in court.

"I saw a media report a few days ago that Trump looked like he was falling asleep or bored or something. The obvious narrative they’re trying to sell is 'yeah Biden is mentally unfit but this other guy is bad too,'" Vance said in the post.

"It’s an absurd narrative. I’m 39 years old and I’ve been here for 26 minutes and I’m about to fall asleep," the post continued.

Cohen says it was Melania Trump's idea to dismiss 'Access Hollywood' tape as 'locker room talk'


Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss

When the "Access Hollywood" tape resurfaced in October 2016, Cohen said he was in London with his family and friends and stepped away from having dinner to take a call from Trump.

Cohen said Trump wanted him to reached out to his contacts in the media.

“And the spin that he wanted put on it was that this is locker room talk, something that Melania had recommended or at least he told me that’s what Melania had thought, and use that in order to get control over the story and minimize the impact on him and his campaign," Cohen testified.

Cohen explains real sale behind $125,000 'advisory' invoice

Confronted with an invoice from Investment Advisory Services (AMI employee Daniel Rotstein’s company) for $125,000 for an "agreed upon 'flat fee' for advisory services," Cohen confirmed that the invoice was really for Karen McDougal’s life rights.

But he further explained that Pecker called to say Trump would not have to pay it, and when Cohen asked why, Pecker said the McDougal cover of Men’s Health had sold extremely well, and that Cohen should rip up the agreement for the assignment of life rights. (This is not the explanation Pecker gave from the stand.)

Cohen says he arranged buying McDougal's story 'at the direction' of Trump

Kyla Guilfoil

Lisa Rubin and Kyla Guilfoil

Cohen's testimony is in line with Pecker's earlier testimony that Trump and Cohen would have paid $125,000 for Karen McDougal's life rights to the story because the remaining services for which she was being paid was worth roughly $25,000 to AMI.

"What I was doing, I was doing at the direction of and for the benefit of Mr. Trump," Cohen says in explaining that he personally had no intention of and no reason to owning the life rights to McDougal's story.

On Sept. 29, 2016, Cohen says, he updated Trump on a call lasting 7 minutes and 14 seconds; that was the day before he signed the deal.

Cohen describes going to Weisselberg to get money to buy McDougal story

Cohen testified in great detail about the steps he took to get the money from Trump's company to buy McDougal's story.

Her story isn't even the one at issue in this trial. But the exacting detail is an attempt to demonstrate to the jury that Cohen would have needed a lot of signoff to act. And that process would be mirrored when buying Stormy Daniels' silence.

Cohen says it's his voice that cuts off the recording of him and Trump


Adam Reiss

Kyla Guilfoil

Adam Reiss, Kyla Guilfoil and Lisa Rubin

Cohen testified that the voice that cuts off the recording of him and Trump is his own, as he was answering a different "important" call.

Cohen said was recording his conversation with Trump to gather proof for Pecker that Trump would pay him back $150,000. He testified that the recording ended because he thought he had enough proof and needed to take the new call.

“I didn’t want to record more," Cohen testified.

"I already had enough that I would have been able to show David Pecker as to convince him that he was going to receive the $150,000 back," he added.

The call Cohen said he answered was from Capital One bank, which, at that point, was where Trump did at least some of his banking and kept a checking account.

Political allies, Vance, Tuberville attend today's court session

Matthew Nighswander

Alabama Attorney General, Steve Marshall, second from left, Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, Eric Trump, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird and Sen. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y.,  listen as former President Donald Trump speaks ahead of court on May 13, 2024 in New York City.
Seth Wenig / Pool via Getty Images

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, second from left, Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, Eric Trump, Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Ala., Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, R-N.Y., listen as Trump speaks ahead of court.

Cohen discussed opening an LLC for exchanges with Pecker

Kyla Guilfoil

Lisa Rubin and Kyla Guilfoil

Cohen testified that he was discussing the possibility of opening a separate LLC to hold all of the information that Pecker was transferring to the Trump team.

He said the utility of the LLC was "to keep it away from Mr. Trump" for purposes of his privacy "and for the benefit of Mr. Trump."

Prosecution plays audio of September 2016 conversation between Cohen and Trump

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

The DA's office played the audio that Cohen surreptitiously recorded of his conversation with Trump at a September 2016 meeting.

"Told you about Charleston. I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend, David, you know, so that — I’m going to do that right away," Cohen is heard saying to Trump, who said, "Give it to me and get me a ... "

Cohen said he had spoken to Allen Weisselberg "about how to set the whole thing up with funding."

"So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty? Trump asked.

"Yes, and it's all the stuff," Cohen said. "All the stuff. Because ... here, you never know where that company, you never know what he's —"

Trump said, "Maybe he gets hit by a truck."

"Correct," Cohen said. "So, I’m all over that. And I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing, which will be —"

"Listen, what financing?" Trump asked.

"We'll have to pay him something" Cohen said.

"Pay with cash," Trump said, to which Cohen replied, "No, no, no, no, no, I got it."

"Check," Trump said.

Cohen says he taped September 2016 conversation with Trump about Karen McDougal


Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss

Lisa Rubin, Rebecca Shabad and Adam Reiss

Cohen testified that he recorded a September 2016 conversation he had with Trump about purchasing Karen McDougal's life rights — the only conversation with Trump that he taped, he said.

Asked why he taped it, Cohen said, “It was so I could show it to David Pecker, and that way he would hear the conversation, that he was going to be paying — that he was going to be paying him back.”

“And I also wanted him to remain loyal to Mr. Trump," he added.

Cohen testified that his cellphone was in his hand and that he used voice memo, hit record and walked in with his phone in his hand.

Trump and Cohen shared concerns about story files getting out

Kyla Guilfoil

Lisa Rubin and Kyla Guilfoil

Cohen testified that Pecker had expressed to him that there were a series of files on Trump in a locked file drawer, and that the tabloid executive was under consideration at the time for the CEO job at Time Inc. Cohen said he expressed concerns to Trump about the set of papers, which others might be able to get their hands on, especially if Pecker began working at a different publication.

Cohen said Trump shared that concern, which Cohen later passed on to Pecker.

Pecker responded, "You could technically buy them. We can figure out a way for you to take control of them," Cohen testified.

Those conversations were occurring in connection with Pecker's desire to be repaid by Trump for the McDougal story, Cohen added.

Pecker told Cohen he wanted Trump to pay him back $150K

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss and Daniel Arkin

Cohen testified that Pecker told him he wanted Trump to cover the $150,000 the Enquirer had spent on McDougal's life rights. It was too much money to hide from the CEO of the tabloid's parent company, Pecker told Cohen.

Pecker was "very" upset and angry about the money, Cohen testified. Trump assured Cohen that he would "take care of it."

Cohen recalls Enquirer publisher saying deal on Karen McDougal's story was 'bulletproof'

Cohen said after he learned that an agreement with regard to Karen McDougal’s story was finalized, he talked to David Pecker about the parameters of a deal to pay her $150,000 and provide 24 written articles, as well as her appearance on two covers of various magazines they owned.

Pecker told Cohen he felt the deal was “bulletproof” and that “the story has been effectively caught.”

Cohen then updated Trump about this conversation, including the detail that the deal was “bulletproof.” Trump’s reaction was, “Fantastic. Great job.”

Trump still has his eyes closed

Trump still has his eyes closed in the courtroom during the prosecution's line of questioning about Karen McDougal.

Cohen: Pecker worked with Trump to try to shut down McDougal story

In discussing the Trump team's reaction to the Karen McDougal story potentially going public, Cohen testified that Pecker expressly told Trump "we have this under control and we'll take care of this."

Cohen said Pecker stated that it would cost $150K "to control the story," to which Trump replied, "No problem; I'll take care of it."

Cohen went on to say that it was understood that AMI would lay out the funds, and that Trump would pay them back, although exactly how was not yet determined.

Cohen testified that he further let Pecker know he was present for that conversation.

Eric Trump is tweeting during Cohen's testimony

Eric Trump is sitting behind his father right now and tweeting about Cohen's testimony. "I have never seen anything more rehearsed," the former president's second-eldest son said in a post on X at 10:51 a.m. ET.

The court does not allow anyone in the courtroom to use their cellphones during proceedings.

Cohen outlines what he did to buy Karen McDougal's story

Cohen testified that he had met regularly with then-National Enquirer publisher David Pecker in an effort to stop Karen McDougal’s story from getting to an outside source.

After saying that AMI regularly updated him about negotiations regarding the story, Cohen said he would communicate with Pecker and Dylan Howard by phone, text, email or the Signal app.

Asked by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger why he used the Signal app, Cohen said it was because of the nature of the issue.

Cohen recounts Trump's reaction when he was informed about Karen McDougal's story

Cohen testified that in June 2016 he received a call from David Pecker and Dylan Howard. They said McDougal was a Playboy Playmate and had a story she was looking to sell to news outlets about her alleged relationship with Trump, Cohen said.

Cohen testified that he thought the impact on the campaign could be “significant,” and that he told Trump “immediately after I got off the phone with AMI.”

Cohen said he asked Trump about whether he knew McDougal, and Trump responded, 'She’s really beautiful.'”

"I said, 'OK, but there’s a story that’s right now being shopped,'” Cohen said, adding that Trump asked him to make sure the story didn’t get released.

Cohen recalls Trump telling him to 'handle it' in response to story about Trump Tower doorman

After Cohen heard the story about Dino Sajuddin, the doorman at Trump Tower, he testified that he notified Trump immediately and “to get his direction on what he wanted me to do,” which included providing him with all of the information about the employees involved, who were married to each other.

Trump told me to “handle it,” Cohen said, meaning to make sure the story did not get out. Cohen also recalled Trump asking him to speak to the employees and “let them know it’s been taken care of.”

When the deal was completed, Cohen said, he reviewed the terms and asked the National Enquirer's Dylan Howard to make changes.

Throughout the process, Cohen said, Howard would update him and he in turn would update Trump. He told Trump about the changes to "get credit" from his boss, Cohen testified.

Cohen email to former National Enquirer editor: Take out part about Trump's 'Penthouse Pet'

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger reviewed an exchange that was entered into evidence earlier in the trial in which Cohen emailed National Enquirer editor Barry Levine.

Levine sent an email saying the Enquirer would publish facts about Trump's life under the headline "The Donald Trump Nobody Knows!"

Levine said one of the things they would include would be, "Even one of his ex-girlfriends, Sandra Taylor, a former Penthouse Pet, has boasted that he's going to be a 'terrific president!'"

Cohen responded, “Yes. Take out the part of the penthouse pet Sandra as it offers nothing. Also, I would like to reword the part about Atlantic City. Let’s speak tomorrow.

Cohen breaks down David Pecker's role in Trump's publicity effort

Kyla Guilfoil

Lisa Rubin and Kyla Guilfoil

Cohen testified about the influence of the National Enquirer and how David Pecker helped provide positive publicity for Trump as he was beginning his campaign for the White House.

"What was discussed was the power of the National Enquirer being at the cash register of so many supermarkets and bodegas, that if we could place positive stories about Trump, that would be beneficial, and if we could place negative stories about some of the other candidates, that could be beneficial," Cohen said in describing Pecker's role with the campaign.

Cohen went on to say that Pecker offered to keep an eye out for anything negative about Trump. The tabloid executive also suggested that he could help the campaign know in advance if they would able to stop a negative story from coming out.

Cohen says Enquirer previewed negative stories about Hillary Clinton, Marco Rubio

Cohen testified that the National Enquirer's editors gave Trump a preview of some of the negative stories the tabloid planned to run about his opponents in the 2016 election.

By way of examples, Cohen said that Enquirer publisher David Pecker and editor-in-chief Dylan Howard offered up stories about Hillary Clinton wearing thick eyeglasses (as a way of suggesting she had a brain injury) and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., in a swimming pool with several men having "a drug binge of some sort."

Cohen says Trump warned him 'a lot of women' would come forward when his candidacy was announced

Cohen testified about discussions ahead of Trump's official announcement of his candidacy for president in 2016.

Asked if Trump expressed concerns about negative stories about his personal life, Trump said, “You know that when this comes out — meaning the announcement — just be prepared, there’s going to be a lot of women coming forward.” 

Cohen says he had a Trump campaign email address

Cohen said he maintained a campaign email address after explaining that he made public appearances on the news and offered comments to the press on different matters, noting that he leveraged his press connections to do so.

Cohen also told Trump that he noticed how white the campaign was and he advised Trump that if he was going to win, he would need a more diverse base of support. Cohen said he helped Trump develop support within the Christian evangelical community.

Cohen says he created website in 2011

In 2011, when Trump was contemplating running for president, Cohen said that 6% of poll-takers thought Trump should be president.

"So I took that article, and I brought it to Mr. Trump, and I said, 'What do you think?'" Cohen testified, adding that Trump said, "'It’s interesting. We should look into it.'"

Cohen said he then created a website, which he said many people came to, adding that Trump's name recognition was strong because of his reality TV show "The Apprentice."

AMI didn't pay to suppress Trump stories before 2015, Cohen says

Kyla Guilfoil

Lisa Rubin and Kyla Guilfoil

After introducing Cohen's relationship with David Pecker, the prosecution turned to ask Cohen if AMI ever paid to suppress stories about Trump before 2015.

Cohen answered "no," testifying that the suppression of stories only began after Trump had announced his campaign for president.

Cohen says he knew David Pecker before he knew Trump

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

Cohen said that he knew David Pecker "before I even knew Mr. Trump."

"We had mutual friends, and we had met at a function, out in Long Island many, many years ago," he said. "I then was reacquainted when David Pecker was the president and CEO of AMI, and more people know him for his magazines and newspapers.”

Cohen said that he would communicate with Pecker by phone and that he had his cellphone and work number in his phone contact list.

Asked if he spoke to Pecker using the encrypted app called Signal, Cohen said he did.

“Sometimes we thought that encryption and not having the event traceable would be beneficial," Cohen said.

Cohen says he had Trump's contacts saved into his phone

After prosecutor Susan Hoffinger established that he maintained two specific cellphone numbers, Cohen said he had Trump’s contacts saved into his phone so that he could make calls for his then-boss when they were traveling together.

This is the reason, Hoffinger established, Cohen had more than 30,000 contacts in his phone.

Cohen confirmed that he provided two cellphones to the district attorney’s office after being asked to do so last year.

Cohen accepts 'fixer' title

Adam Reiss

Kyla Guilfoil

Adam Reiss and Kyla Guilfoil

When the prosecution asked Cohen if being called a "fixer" was an accurate title to give himself, Cohen responded, "It's fair."

Cohen says he lied for Trump at times

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen if he lied to help Trump.

"I did," Cohen said. "It's what was needed to accomplish the task."

“The only thing that was on my mind was to accomplish the task to make him happy,” he added.

Cohen becomes more sentimental in his testimony

Kyla Guilfoil

Lisa Rubin and Kyla Guilfoil

Cohen's testimony turned to strike a different note than his usual criticism of Trump, instead reflecting sentimentally on his time working at the Trump Organization.

"Working for him — especially during those 10 years — was an amazing experience in many, many ways," Cohen testified.

"For the most part, I enjoyed the responsibilities that were given to me, I enjoyed working with my colleagues at the Trump Organization and his children . . . . It was a big family," he added.

While Cohen gave this testimony, Eric Trump was staring at him.

Cohen recalled Trump expected prompt answers from him or it 'wouldn't go over well'

Cohen testified that “if you had a matter that was troubling to him,” Trump expected prompt reports about progress or their resolution.

“If you didn’t immediately provide him with the information, that wouldn’t go over well for you,” he said.

Cohen says Trump never had an email address because 'prosecutors' can use them

Cohen said that "Mr. Trump never had an email address" and said Trump told him that “emails are like written papers, and he knows too many people who have gone down from using emails that prosecutors can use.”

Cohen says he spoke to Trump every day

Kyla Guilfoil

Jillian Frankel and Kyla Guilfoil

Cohen testified that while he worked for Trump, they were in constant communication.

In response to the prosecution's question about how often they spoke or met with each other, Cohen said, "Every single day, and multiple times a day.”  

He said Trump had an "open-door policy" that meant he could just walk into his office.

He added that they generally either spoke via cellphone or in person.

Cohen describes how he helped Trump shape his image in the media

Cohen described helping Trump shape his image in the media, placing stories “that would be advantageous in some way,” or working to minimize stories Trump did not like.

Cohen wasn't part of Trump Org. general counsel office but tasked by Trump with specific projects

Cohen said he was never part of the general counsel office at Trump Org.

Instead, he was often asked by Trump to renegotiate specific bills, including by law firms and vendors to Trump University, “which fell into trouble, and there were approximately 50 vendors that had not been paid.”

Although there was $2 million left, that would not have been nearly enough to pay each of them. Cohen offered 20% to all of them, he said, and all but two accepted and signed releases in exchange. The other two vendors “just went away” without payment.