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Highlights: Trump fixer Michael Cohen faces grilling from defense in hush money trial

Cohen says Trump directed him to pay adult film actor Stormy Daniels $130,000 to quash her allegation of a 2006 sexual affair with the former president.

What to know about the trial today

  • Michael Cohen returned to the witness stand today for more cross-examination from former President Donald Trump's lawyers in the hush money trial.
  • Cohen grew combative Tuesday under cross-examination from the defense, which has tried to depict him as untruthful and biased against Trump. There will be no trial tomorrow so that the former president can attend his son Barron Trump's high school graduation.
  • Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide the reimbursement to Cohen for the payment he made to adult film actor Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about her alleged affair with Trump. The former president has pleaded not guilty to the charges and denies the affair.

Merchan goes over scheduling of rest of trial

Judge Merchan discussed scheduling, telling both sides that it's not ideal to have a big gap between summations and the jury charge.

Blanche said he intends to finish his cross of Cohen before the morning break Monday, and there is a possibility both sides will be done with the presentation of evidence on Monday.

But Blanche left open the possibility of both Trump and a mystery witness until the next day; he told them to be prepared to sum up Tuesday.

Jurors are excused for the day, Cohen back on the stand Monday

Kyla Guilfoil

Judge Merchan has excused the jurors for the day.

Cohen is scheduled to return to the stand Monday for further testimony.

Court is out of session on Friday so that Trump can attend his son Barron's high school graduation.

Trump team shows Cohen statement about FEC complaint to jury

The defense team entered into evidence a statement from Cohen regarding a Federal Election Commission complaint, and Trump lawyer Todd Blanche highlighted the last paragraph.

“Just because something isn’t true doesn’t mean that it can’t cause you harm or damage. I will always protect Mr. Trump," the paragraph read.

Cohen apparently recorded calls with reporters in 2018 in which he pitched them on that statement.

Robert Costello says he is available and willing to testify

Robert Costello told NBC News that he is available to testify.

He said that while testifying is always a possibility, he so far has not been asked to take the stand.

Costello said that if needed, he is prepared with his contemporaneous notes from the time.

Michael Cohen confirms Trump didn't sign NDA

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche asked Cohen to confirm that the former president had never signed the nondisclosure agreement.

“That’s correct,” Cohen said.

Cohen says a retainer agreement wasn't needed when he was at the Trump Organization

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche asked Cohen if he lacked a retainer agreement with Trump and his family members at the time he was working for the Trump Organization.

Cohen agreed it was not necessary when he worked for Trump's company, and Blanche elicited that Cohen’s failure to execute a retainer agreement with Trump in 2017 was nothing out of the ordinary.

Cohen testifies that ABC offered cash for Stormy Daniels' story

During cross-examination, Cohen told the jury that ABC offered cash for Stormy Daniels' story.

Keith Davidson, Daniels' former lawyer, testified earlier in the trial that ABC had offered the adult film star a spot on the TV show "Dancing With the Stars."

Cohen says he had concerns about identity theft

Kyla Guilfoil

Lisa Rubin and Kyla Guilfoil

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche is walking Cohen through an instance when he was in a meeting with Trump to discuss using financing or cash for shutting down the Karen McDougal story — and recording the conversation — but abruptly answered a phone call in the middle of it.

Cohen testified that he is not completely sure what the call was for, but said he believes Capital One bank was calling him because of an identity theft issue. Cohen said that's why he believes he answered the phone while in the middle of recording his meeting with Trump.

Trump lawyer tries to differentiate between Trump's use of the word 'cash' and actual dollar bills

Reporting from Manhattan criminal court

Blanche is trying to imply that when Trump talked on that recording about paying cash, he didn’t mean actual dollar bills but that he was distinguishing between paying his own money and financing.

Cohen is resisting that characterization while acknowledging that he frequently told the world that Trump paid “all cash” for real estate.

Michael Cohen says Trump didn't ‘initially’ think Karen McDougal story would hurt him

Speaking about the story that came out about the detail with McDougal, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche asked, “President Trump, at least initially, did not think it would hurt him, correct?”

"Initially, yes," Cohen said.

Cohen confirmed that one of the things Trump was worried about with that story was his wife and children.

Trump lawyer tries to cut into key plank of prosecution's argument

Blanche appears to be trying to undercut the prosecution’s argument that Trump’s team orchestrated the hush money payments to influence the 2016 presidential election. Blanche has already gotten Cohen to confirm under oath that Trump was worried about the Karen McDougal story getting out in part because of his wife and children.

Sen. Joe Manchin says the hush money case 'doesn't make sense'

Kyla Guilfoil

Kyla Guilfoil and Kate Santaliz

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., told reporters today that Trump's criminal trial "doesn't make sense."

When asked whether he believes Trump should be convicted in any case, Manchin responded that "there are two really solid cases: Jan. 6 and Georgia."

"Everything else doesn't really make sense," he added as a reporter directly asked about the hush money case in New York.

Blanche questions Cohen on relationships with news reporters

Blanche is asking Cohen to testify about his ties to news reporters who covered Trump's campaigns and presidency, including Maggie Haberman of The New York Times and Katy Tur of MSNBC.

Cohen confirmed under oath that he communicated with reporters over the phone and via text, and he would occasionally record phone calls with members of the press, including former CNN chief Jeff Zucker.

He said he sometimes gave scoops to Haberman, who has covered Trump extensively for years and wrote a biography of him.

Cohen says he would have lost his job had he not consulted Trump before talking to reporters

Kyla Guilfoil

Jillian Frankel and Kyla Guilfoil

Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche turned his questions to what Cohen would do when journalists reached out to him regarding stories about Trump.

Cohen responded by explaining that journalists would often tell him what their story focused on and their deadline, which Cohen would then take to Trump to discuss in order to craft a response.

Blanche asked Cohen if he always spoke to Trump before giving responses to reporters, to which Cohen answered that he made it his practice to check with Trump for two reasons.

"One, it would cause him to blow up at me, and two, it would probably be the end of my job," Cohen said.

Prosecution asked that Trump's guests with security detail not be able to come in and out during examinations

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Earlier this morning, prosecutor Susan Hoffinger raised an issue with Judge Merchan saying that on Tuesday, some of the defense guests filed into the courtroom in the middle of direct examination with their security detail.

"And I noticed that some of his guests are already here today with their security detail," Hoffinger said, according to the released transcript. "But we would just ask that they not be allowed to file in, in the middle of Mr. Blanche’s cross-examination."

Merchan said, "I would advise that that not happen."

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche said, "Your Honor, I have less than zero control over what is happening on anything or anyone that’s behind me when I am crossing a witness."

Some of the guests Trump has had included members of Congress such as Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., who had a security detail. North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, who also has a detail, attended the trial the other day, too.

Blanche gets into Cohen's text message exchanges with 14-year-old harasser

Reporting from Manhattan criminal court

Blanche has now admitted into evidence Cohen’s texts with a 14-year-old harasser, which occurred on Oct. 24, 2016, until roughly 7:24 p.m., when Cohen wrote: “Please have your parent or guardian contact me before secret service reaches out them.”

Trump's lawyer tamps down earlier exchange that DA was upset with

Reporting from New York

Blanche began his afternoon session by “rehabbing” his earlier exchange with Cohen over his discussion with a detective in the DA’s office about the Trump indictment. Essentially, he removed the inference that the DA gave Cohen advance information ahead of a New York Times story breaking it.

The DA was very upset about the original line of questioning and sought to have it removed just before the jury returned.

Michael Cohen returning to the witness stand

Before the lunch break, Blanche's questioning was getting significantly more fiery. Let's see if that continues.

Trump is back in his seat at the defense table

Merchan is at the bench.

'It's kinda sad': Sen. Fetterman mocks Trump allies attending court

Sarah Mimms

Frank Thorp Vproducer and off-air reporter

Sarah Mimms and Frank Thorp V

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., took a shot at the rolling cast of VP wannabes and MAGA House members attending Trump’s trial over the past several days, saying each was trying to out-“simp” the others. (Simping refers to someone who is overly submissive or doting in a way that’s often not reciprocated.)

“It was like ‘The Hunger Games’ of simp,” Fetterman said of the string of Trump allies showing up in Manhattan. “It’s like, ‘I’m gonna simp’ and, like, ‘I’ll simp harder.’ … And, of course, they all have a uniform and it’s kinda sad.”

(On Tuesday, several of Trump's supporters all arrived in blue suits with red ties, similar to a style that Trump often sports.)

Asked if he plans to follow that playbook and attend the ongoing trial of fellow Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez, Fetterman retorted: “Well I don’t have a blue suit.”

Fetterman, who has repeatedly called on Menendez to step down or be expelled over federal bribery charges he faces, added: “I’m not going to show up dressed in a blue suit and a red tie or I’m not going to represent gold bars, you know, like it’s perfectly normal to have them in our mattress.” (Menendez has pleaded not guilty).

“Both are sad testaments to our culture here,” he said.

Merchan calls for lunch recess as Trump lawyer gets fired up

Right when Trump lawyer Blanche began getting into his most fired-up moments during the trial thus far, Judge Merchan called for a lunch recess until 2:15 p.m.

'That was a lie!': Trump lawyer gets heated, Michael Cohen keeps his cool

Blanche forcefully pressed Cohen to say under oath that his description of a 2016 phone call was false — but the ex-fixer did not give an inch.

"You said you had a recollection of a phone call on Oct. 24 at 8:02 p.m., and you called Schiller and he gave the phone to President Trump and you gave Trump an update and he said, 'OK, good.' That was a lie! You did not talk to President Trump on that night. You talked to Keith Schiller about what we just went through," Blanche said.

Cohen remained calm, saying in part: "I'm not certain that is accurate." He later added in part: "I believe I spoke to Mr. Trump about the Stormy Daniels matter."

Blanche shot back with an icy retort: "We are not asking for your belief. This jury does not want to hear what you think happened."

Pro- and anti-Trump protesters stir up chaos at congressional members' press conference

Chaos ensued when elected officials who joined Trump in New York for his hush money trial rallied to his defense in remarks issued outside of the courthouse.

Several demonstrators — both pro- and anti-Trump — crowded in with reporters inside the protest area designated by the New York Police Department as several of Trump’s allies in Congress made their statements.

One man shouted at the elected officials throughout their appearance, deriding their support for the former president and calling out some members by name.

Another group shouted in support of the Congress members’ message. Toward the start of the presser, a man with a sign reading “GTFO of NYC” on one side and “Bootlickers” on the other was forcibly removed by police from behind the speakers.

One man approached Rep. Lauren Boebert and handed her a “Beetlejuice” program, and asked for her to sign it. But the man — who appeared to poke fun at Boebert getting kicked out of a performance of the musical in Denver last year for alleged disruptive behavior — was blocked by security.

Across the street, someone else could clearly be heard yelling “Matt Gaetz is a pedophile,” at one point drawing a smirk from the Florida congressman. (The Justice Department launched into an investigation into Gaetz amid sexual misconduct allegations involving him. Ultimately he wasn't charged with any crimes upon the DOJ ending its investigation last year.)

Trump lawyer grows increasingly animated

Reporting from inside the courtroom

Blanche is raising his voice for the first time this morning. He appears to be fired up about the text messages with Schiller.

Trump lawyer casts doubt on Michael Cohen's testimony about an October 2016 call to Trump

Reporting from Manhattan criminal court

Blanche is placing Cohen’s prior testimony about his calling Trump on Oct. 24, 2016, into doubt by showing Cohen a variety of texts that day suggesting that he was really calling Keith Schiller that night not because he wanted to reach Trump but, rather, because he had been receiving harassing texts and wanted the campaign to deal with it.

If the jury is convinced that Cohen mixed up or purposefully misrepresented when he spoke to Trump, Blanche can potentially cast doubt over a broader swath of Cohen’s testimony about the substance of calls at other times.

Blanche's line of questioning started off very confusingly, but it could have a decent payoff.

Michael Cohen discusses when a 14-year-old kept prank-calling him

Trump lawyer Blanche is placing Cohen’s prior testimony about calling Trump on Oct. 24, 2016, into question by showing Cohen a variety of texts from that day, suggesting that he was really calling Keith Schiller that night.

Cohen said he was contacting Schiller not because he wanted to reach Trump, but instead because he had been receiving harassing texts and wanted the campaign to deal with it.

Cohen confirmed that he told the caller that their number had been sent to Secret Service.

Cohen confirmed when Blanche said the caller texted him, “I didn’t do it. I’m 14, please don’t do this."

Cohen said when they expressed to him that they were 14, he said he felt it was improper.

Reps. Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert call the Trump trial a scam outside the courthouse

Kyla Guilfoil

Isabelle Schmeler

Kyla Guilfoil and Isabelle Schmeler

The group of Trump's House allies present at court today spoke outside the courthouse, calling the charges against Trump a "scam" and pledging their support to the former president.

"This is a made-up crime," Gaetz said during the short news conference.

"No other American in the country would be charged with this type of crime. It's like the Mr. Potato Head doll of crimes where they had to stick together a bunch of things that did not belong together," he continued.

Boebert said that the trial is a "scam, a sham and a show."

Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks in front of Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.,
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., speaks in front of Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., and other House Republicans today.Michael M. Santiago / Getty Images

"President Trump is not going anywhere," the congresswoman said. "He's coming back for another four years. And we are not going anywhere either, we are here to stand with him as he stands up for you, the American people."

Gaetz and Boebert spoke alongside Reps. Bob Good, R-Va.; Andy Biggs, R-Ariz.; Anna Paulina Luna, R-Fla.; Mike Waltz, R-Fla.; Andy Ogles, R-Tenn.; Diana Harshbarger, R-Tenn.; Eli Crane, R-Ariz.; Ralph Norman, R-S.C.; and Michael Cloud, R-Texas.

Trump lawyer finally arrives at allegations at the heart of the case

Reporting from Manhattan criminal court

After nearly five hours of cross-examination, Blanche has finally moved to an area of questioning related to the allegations of this case: how Cohen reached Trump via Keith Schiller’s phone on Oct. 24, 2018, during which Cohen testified he told Trump that the Stormy Daniels matter was resolved and that Trump had authorized his funding the settlement.

Michael Cohen is cross-examined by defense lawyer Todd Blanche
Michael Cohen is cross-examined today by defense lawyer Todd Blanche.Jane Rosenberg / Reuters

Trump lawyer presses Cohen on which jobs he wanted in Trump administration

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

Trump attorney Todd Blanche pressed Cohen about which positions he wanted in the Trump administration.

Cohen, for example, confirmed that he told his daughter he was disappointed when he heard in November 2016 that Trump had picked Reince Priebus to be White House chief of staff.

Asked if he told people that he wanted to be attorney general, Cohen said he doesn't recall that or recall telling that to Keith Davidson.

Cohen then said it was correct that there was discussion about him working in the White House counsel's office. He added that he spoke with Trump about still being personal attorney to the president but with the title of special counsel to the president.

"My daughter may have called it special counsel to the president," Cohen said. “The role that I had been asking President Trump for, was personal attorney for the president.”

Trump lawyer tries to portray Cohen as vindictive

Blanche has worked a lot of angles in his attempt to portray Cohen as a bitter also-ran who was hellbent on revenge after Trump ascended to the White House, most recently by pressing him on whether he dreamed of being named Trump's chief of staff or U.S. attorney general.

But the ex-fixer is holding his ground so far, denying that he was gunning for either one of those jobs. If anything, he testified, he was hoping to remain personal attorney to the former president.

Michael Cohen testifies about efforts to secure early release

Blanche asked Cohen to confirm under oath whether he has made "several attempts to be released from supervised release early," and Cohen confirmed that was the case. When asked by Blanche how many times he made that appeal, Cohen replied: "Three, maybe four."

Blanche's retort: "None of those have been successful."

Cohen's response: "No, sir."

No court next Wednesday due to juror conflicts

Adam Reiss and Summer Concepcion

Judge Merchan said jurors have indicated that they cannot work next Wednesday.

“So that’s off the table,” he said.

Jeffrey Clark, ex-Trump DOJ official, is spotted in the courtroom

Jeffrey Clark, a former Justice Department civil lawyer central to Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results, was spotted in the overflow room — but not in the seats where Trump's allies have been sitting.

Days before the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, Trump had considered appointing Clark as acting attorney general. But Trump ultimately stopped short of going through with Clark’s appointment after top officials in his own Justice Department threatened mass resignations.

Clark faces potential disbarment over boosting false claims of a rigged 2020 presidential election. A D.C. Bar panel this month found that Clark likely violated ethics rules for pushing those conspiracy theories.

Clark has been charged in the Georgia racketeering case against Trump and his allies. He also appears to be a co-conspirator in the federal election case that special counsel Jack Smith brought against Trump.

Federal authorities searched Clark’s home in June 2022. He later surrendered to authorities and pleaded not guilty.

Michael Cohen answers questions about a possible pardon

In response to Trump lawyer Todd Blanche, Cohen said he never asked for a pardon from Trump.

“I spoke to my attorney about it because we had seen on television President Trump potentially pre-pardoning everybody to bring an end to this," Cohen said. “I reached out to my attorney to ask him whether or not this is legitimate.” 

Cohen then confirmed he has repeatedly said that he never asked for and wouldn't accept a pardon from Trump. However, asked if he remembers asking his lawyer to look into it because he was open to accepting one, Cohen said yes.

Cohen said he spoke to Robert Costello about the possibility of a pardon and he testified that he directed his lawyers to explore it because the potential for one was being dangled in his face.

Blanche pressed Cohen on disparities between his comments on the pardon, and Cohen resisted that there is any disparity. He said that he did not ask for it but that he wanted his lawyers to explore it.

Trump lawyer's cross-examination is becoming confusing

Reporting from Manhattan criminal court

Despite being steeped in the underlying history animating Blanche’s cross, that last stretch about the disparity between Cohen’s pardon-related statements had me confused. And if I am confused, I cannot imagine it was easily digested by the jurors.

Michael Cohen acknowledges he has a personal stake in the trial

Reporting from Manhattan criminal court

Blanche asked Cohen: “Does the outcome of this trial affect you personally?”

Cohen's simple reply: "Yes."

Trump lawyer's questioning seeks to undermine Michael Cohen's credibility

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche is using perhaps the best example of Cohen constantly shifting his story on a single constellation of facts: He said one thing when he pleaded guilty to tax evasion under oath in 2018, he said another in his public statements about that plea and in his testimony in the civil fraud trial last fall, and then tried out a third, middle ground starting Tuesday in this trial.

The underlying facts don’t matter at all; they are totally unrelated to Trump. In fact, they reinforce that Cohen has a criminal history separate and apart from his misdeeds for and in coordination with Trump — and could leave the impression that Cohen is a shifty, self-interested and self-righteous liar. 

Trump attorney seeks to highlight Michael Cohen's habit of shifting blame

Katy Tur

Reporting from inside the courtroom

Part of what Blanche is trying to do here is show Cohen's repeated failure to take responsibility. Even now in 2024, Cohen is saying he doesn't think he should have been charged with tax-related crimes.

The defense wants to show him as consistently shifting the blame.

House GOP prioritizes Trump trial over Biden probe

The House Oversight Committee was supposed to hold a hearing this morning to consider recommending contempt charges against Attorney General Merrick Garland, who has declined to produce a recording of President Joe Biden's interview with special counsel Robert Hur in a classified-documents investigation that resulted in no charges.

But the Trump trial took precedence over the Biden probe.

Several members of the panel made plans to show their allegiance to Trump by appearing at the courthouse today, forcing Chairman James Comer, R-Ky., to pull the plug on the 11 a.m. hearing and move it to 8 p.m.

While Trump no doubt appreciates their presence as political validators, the House members have no official role in the trial. As they skipped out of Washington for the day, Biden asserted executive privilege over the audio recording, complicating the contempt case.

Michael Cohen explains why he pleaded guilty to tax evasion, giving a false statement

Trump attorney Todd Blanche asked Cohen if anyone induced or threatened him to plead guilty to tax evasion and give a false statement.

After a long pause, Cohen responded, “As I stated previously, I was provided with 48 hours within which to accept the plea or the Southern District of New York was going to file an 80-page indictment that included my wife, and I elected to protect my family."

Jury has watched Michael Cohen testimony carefully but hasn't been taking notes for the most part

As Trump lawyer Todd Blanche presses Cohen on scenarios in which he lied or omitted information to authorities under oath, the jury has watched Cohen carefully this morning but hasn't been taking notes for the most part.

Prosecution has opportunity to lean on Michael Cohen's desire for revenge

Reporting from Manhattan criminal court

There is no question that Cohen is an interested, even retributive witness. But prosecutor Susan Hoffinger will also have an opportunity to rehabilitate Cohen by showing that as the only person involved in the campaign finance conspiracy to serve prison time, Cohen's desire for revenge is understandable.

After all, in addition to his prison term and payment of $1.3 million, his pleas cost him his law license and taxi medallions. And even after he was released to home confinement, Cohen was thrown back into jail — and solitary confinement — for nearly two months as retaliation for the exercise of his First Amendment rights in connection with his books, media appearances and podcast.

This is not hyperbole; a federal judge found that Cohen had been improperly returned to prison in a retaliatory move orchestrated by Trump’s Justice Department in this order.

Trump attorney gets Michael Cohen to concede he previously lied under oath

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss and Daniel Arkin

Blanche is hammering Cohen on instances in which he lied under oath in years past, including false statements he made to the House Select Committee on Intelligence and the special counsel's office during Robert Mueller's probe into Trump's links to Russia.

Michael Cohen says it 'sounds correct' that he called Trump 'Dumb--- Donald'

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche brought up a Truth Social post Trump shared in mid-March in which he called Cohen a "jailbird."

Blanche asked Cohen if he responded on X to Trump and if he called him "Dumb--- Donald."

"Sounds correct," Cohen said.

Defense plays clip from Michael Cohen's anti-Trump podcast

The defense is playing a clip from an episode of Cohen’s "Mea Culpa" podcast, during which a very excitable, bombastic Cohen said that the prospect of Trump going through the booking process filled him with both delight and sadness because it meant his former boss would get a taste of what the ex-fixer has experienced, but that it was tragic for the office of the presidency.

Trump is sitting through loud clips of Cohen’s podcast in which his former employee is talking about wanting to see the former president go to prison and otherwise suffer criminal penalties.

Blanche continues to push Cohen on leaked information question

Kyla Guilfoil

Lisa Rubin and Kyla Guilfoil

Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche is returning to a theme he had presented during Tuesday's cross-examination: the leaking of information relating to the investigation and/or this case.

Just as he had begun to attempt Tuesday, Blanche is pressing Cohen again today to admit the fact of if the indictment was confirmed to Cohen by Jeremy Rosenberg, a now-retired detective from the district attorney's office, before the DA had publicly filed the case and/or confirmed the indictment publicly.

Trump lawyer opens with line of questioning about retired detective

Reporting from Manhattan criminal court

Blanche begins today’s cross by raising the subject of Jeremy Rosenberg, a now-retired detective with the district attorney's office, who left the office after some controversy caused by his proximity to Cohen and Cohen’s former lawyer and erstwhile defender, Lanny Davis.

Remember: The defense has repeatedly implied — without overtly stating — that Cohen’s phones might have been tampered with between 2020, when they were returned to Cohen by the FBI, and early 2023, when they were first given to the DA’s forensic unit, after they were voluntarily surrendered by Cohen to Rosenberg.

Rep. Matt Gaetz refers to Trump's Proud Boys comment

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., shared a photo of himself standing outside the courtroom earlier on X, saying he was "standing back and standing by."

It was clearly a reference to when Trump told the Proud Boys to "stand back and stand by" during one of the presidential debates against Biden in 2020. That comment by Trump was widely criticized as being seen as encouraging the group, which ultimately participated in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Judge says the court may meet next Wednesday

Kyla Guilfoil

Jillian Frankel and Kyla Guilfoil

Judge Merchan said that the court may need to meet again next Wednesday, due to "holidays and conflicts" that break up the schedule.

Michael Cohen has taken the witness stand

Reporting from Manhattan criminal court

Trump's ex-fixer is wearing a yellow tie. He's set to be cross-examined for a second day.

Michael Cohen departs his apartment building
Michael Cohen departs his apartment building on his way to court today.Andres Kudacki / AP

Good — and plenty

Reporting from Manhattan criminal courthouse

Awkward dynamic among Trump’s surrogates today as the former president has both Rep. Bob Good, R-Va., and his primary opponent, Virginia state Sen. John McGuire, among his entourage.

The Good vs. McGuire primary has been a battle over loyalty to Trump as Good, chair of the House Freedom Caucus, initially endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign, backing Trump only after the governor ended his bid earlier this year.

Court begins with 19-minute bench meeting

Court opened today with an almost 20-minute bench meeting between Merchan, prosecutors and defense attorneys. Trump sat at the defense table for the whole meeting.

It's not clear what was discussed, but we expect to see a transcript of the meeting later today.

Reps. Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz appear to be staring at George Conway

Boebert and Gaetz, two of Trump's congressional allies in the courtroom today, keep turning around to stare at anti-Trump attorney George Conway.

Conway is married to former Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, though last year they announced plans to divorce.

Trump Organization exec Alan Garten is in the courtroom

Adam Reiss

Rebecca Shabadis in Washington, D.C.

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

Trump Organization executive Alan Garten is in the courtroom. The Trump defense team said earlier this week that it is no longer considering calling him as a witness.

Trump maintains there is 'no case' before heading into the courtroom

Before heading into the courtroom, Trump again maintained that there is “no case, no crime,” citing several conservative legal analysts who echoed his claims that the trial is part of an election interference effort by Democrats seeking to limit his availability on the campaign trail.

Trump repeated accusations, without evidence, that Judge Juan Merchan, who is presiding over the case, is “conflicted” and “should have nothing to do” with the hush money case. 

“It’s a shame what they’re doing, what they’re doing in terms of suppression and election interference has never been anything like that,” he said.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee also slammed the trial as a “Biden trial” and claimed without evidence that the White House and the Justice Department are behind his legal troubles.

“It’s very unfair,” Trump said. “I’d like to be in these various things where I should be campaigning like anybody else.”

Former President Donald Trump arrives at Manhattan criminal court in New York, on Thursday, May 16, 2024.
Mike Segar / Pool via AP

Trump dons usual 'uniform' in court today

Kyla Guilfoil

Allan Smith and Kyla Guilfoil

As he settles in for another day of the trial, Trump is wearing a navy suit and red tie — the same outfit his surrogates seemed to copy earlier this week.

Today, none of the surrogates seated behind him are wearing that “uniform," despite there being a notable group of his allies present in court.

Michael Cohen’s cross-examination resumes as Trump trial nears an end

Michael Cohen will be back on the witness stand in Manhattan criminal court today to resume facing off against Trump’s defense attorney as the historic criminal case against the former president nears an end.

Prosecutors told Judge Juan Merchan this week that Cohen, Trump’s former personal lawyer, is their final witness in the often-sensational trial, which began April 15.

It’s the first criminal trial involving a former president, but Trump lawyer Todd Blanche didn’t begin his cross-examination of Cohen on Tuesday in highbrow fashion.

“After the trial started in this case, you went on TikTok and called me a ‘crying little s---,’ didn’t you?” he asked.

“Sounds like something I would say,” Cohen responded.

Read the full story here.

Trump and his supporters take their seats

Adam Reiss

Adam Reiss and Daniel Arkin

Trump has arrived in a blue suit and red tie. He's joined by a large contingent of supporters, including Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., and Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla.

A combative Cohen, a 'crying little s---' exchange, and pressure to stay in the fold were part of Day 17

Defense attorney Todd Blanche grew annoyed and raised his voice as he tried to press Michael Cohen into calling himself a liar and Trump’s former fixer tried to skirt the question — it wasn’t quite the fireworks many had expected for the Tuesday cross-examination, but it did illustrate the tense questioning.

Cohen already testified that he had lied repeatedly for Trump.

“I regret doing things for him that I should not have — lying, bullying people in order to effectuate a goal,” Cohen said. “I violated my moral compass.”

But on cross-examination, Cohen became more recalcitrant.

“Was it a lie?” Blanche asked.

“It wasn’t a lie. It wasn’t truthful. If you want to call it a lie, we can call it a lie. I believe the information I gave them is inaccurate,” Cohen dodged.

“But you are not testifying it’s a lie?” Blanche responded.

“Sure, I’ll say it’s a lie,” he finally conceded, still keeping his cool and defying his well-earned reputation as a hothead.

Here’s what else you missed during Day 17.

Trump heads to court for more Michael Cohen testimony

Matt Johnson

The former president has left Trump Tower for the courthouse downtown, where his former fixer and lawyer will be cross-examined in more detail about the events surrounding the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels.

Expect Trump's lawyers to focus on Cohen's explanations for pleading guilty to tax evasion

When Michael Cohen testified in the New York attorney general’s civil fraud trial in October, he said that in pleading guilty to federal tax evasion charges, he had lied to spare his family.

But asked about that episode Tuesday, Cohen was more nuanced. Specifically, he acknowledged that in October he testified he lied in federal court when he pleaded guilty to tax evasion and bank fraud. But he tried to explain that testimony, noting that he took responsibility because “the underlying fact he never disputed” and that he pleaded guilty to protect his wife. That doesn’t quite explain why he testified he lied in pleading to those counts — something he has said publicly too.

Count on the defense team to return to this today and to exploit the various accounts Cohen has given about his plea to the counts that, by his own admission, do not involve crimes he committed in coordination with or at the direction of Trump.

And note that while his story about his plea to those tax evasion and bank fraud counts has shifted, it’s complicated. Why? Because his narrative about the campaign finance counts — which underlie the DA’s felony charges — haven’t moved at all.

Trump’s criminal hush money trial is also serving as an audition of sorts for potential vice presidential hopefuls who are flocking to fundraisers and gathering at the courthouse. NBC’s Peter Alexander reports for "TODAY."

What to expect in court today

Adam Reiss

Megan Lebowitz and Adam Reiss

Cohen returns to the witness stand today as the defense continues its cross-examination, which began Tuesday. Court was not in session yesterday.

The cross-examination will focus on Cohen’s prior lies under oath and his repeated lies about events from 2016 and 2017, according to a source with direct knowledge of the line of questioning.

Cohen is the prosecution's final witness. It's not yet clear whether Trump will testify in his own defense, and his lawyers have not said definitively whether they'll call any witnesses after the prosecution rests.

Depending on whether additional defense witnesses are called, closing arguments could start early next week. Court will not be in session tomorrow so that Trump can attend his son Barron Trump's high school graduation.

What you missed Tuesday

Trump's team began its grilling of Cohen during cross-examination Tuesday after prosecutors finished questioning their key witness in the hush money case.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche walked through a series of Trump investigations and implied that Cohen changed his story as he tried to get his sentence reduced.

Judge Juan Merchan admonished Blanche early on in the cross-examination after Blanche brought up Cohen calling him a "crying little sh---" on social media. Merchan instructed Blanche to not "make it about yourself."

Before cross-examination, the former Trump attorney-turned-critic told prosecutors that he had made a decision with his family not to lie for Trump anymore.

"We're supposed to be your first loyalty," Cohen recalled his family saying as they questioned why he held such deep loyalty to Trump.