Trump trial live updates: Defense set to resume cross-examination of Michael Cohen

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(NEW YORK) -- Former President Donald Trump is on trial in New York City, where he is facing felony charges related to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. It marks the first time in history that a former U.S. president has been tried on criminal charges.

Trump last April pleaded not guilty to a 34-count indictment charging him with falsifying business records in connection with a hush money payment his then-attorney Michael Cohen made to Daniels in order to boost his electoral prospects in the 2016 presidential election.

Here's how the news is developing:

May 16, 2:36 PM
Defense asks Cohen about positive publicity he received

Defense attorney Todd Blanche then transitioned the topic of the cross-examination to Cohen's involvement in encouraging Trump to run for president.

Cohen earlier told jurors he created the website to encourage Trump, and that the National Enquirer ran a positive story about Cohen's involvement in the campaign.

"You worked very hard during your time working for Trump to get positive stories into the press about President Trump and all the things you were doing?" Blanche asked Cohen.

"Yes sir," Cohen said.

"You worked very hard to make sure there were positive stories about you at times?" Blanche asked.

"Yes sir," Cohen said.

The testimony slightly cuts against one prong of the alleged conspiracy with the National Enquirer -- running positive stories about Trump -- to show that Cohen got some positive press too.

May 16, 2:31 PM
Jury sees text messages Cohen exchanged before calling Schiller

Jurors are now seeing the text message between Cohen and a 14-year-old prank caller that the defense says precipitated Cohen's call to Trump aide Keith Schiller on Oct. 24, 2016..

"This number has just been sent to secret service for your ongoing and continuing harassment to both my cell as well as to the organization's main line," Cohen wrote.

"It wasn't me," the teen responds.

"My friend told me to call," the teen wrote.

"I'm sorry for this," they wrote again. "I won't do it again."

"You will need to explain this to secret service as we have been receiving dozens of these harassing calls over the past 3 days. If you are a minor. I suggest you notify your parent or guardian," Cohen wrote.

"I DIDNT DO IT," the teen continues.

"I'm 14," they continued.

"Please don't Do this," they wrote.

"Please have your parent guardian contact me," Cohen responded. "Before secret service reaches out to them."

May 16, 2:24 PM
Cohen cross-examination resumes following break

The defense is now resuming its cross-examination of Michael Cohen following the lunch break.

A juror informed Judge Merchan that they have a scheduling conflict next Thursday, so Merchan said they'll try to work out a solution later today.

May 16, 1:01 PM
Defense accuses Cohen of lying about Trump phone call

Defense attorney Todd Blanche accused Michael Cohen of lying about a phone call Cohen testified he had with Donald Trump on Oct. 24, 2016.

Blanche read texts between Cohen and Trump aide Keith Schiller on that date, in which Cohen asked Schiller, "Who can I speak to about harassing calls to my phone and office?"

According to Blanche, Schiller asked Cohen to call him at 8:02 p.m.

"This is the call that you testified about on Tuesday that you had a conversation with President Trump?" Blanche said.

Cohen, who testified on Tuesday that he had called Schiller to speak with Trump, agreed.

Nearly shouting, Blanche alleged that Cohen lied during his testimony on Tuesday.

"That was a lie," said Blanche, adding that Cohen texted Schiller the phone number of the 14-year-old prank caller at 8:04 p.m.

"Part of it was the 14-year-old, but I knew that Keith was with Trump at the time," Cohen responded.

"That was a lie. You did not talk to President Trump that night," Blanche said, raising his voice. "You can admit it."

"No sir, I can't," Cohen said. "Because I'm not sure that's accurate."

"This jury doesn't want to hear what you think happened," Blanche said.

Trump, at the defense table, appeared engaged and furrowed his eyebrows.

The jury was then shown text messages from that evening between Cohen and Schiller, which Blanche suggested prosecutors omitted from their exhibit.

"Mr. Cohen, you just said that you don't recall a phone call ... on Tuesday you testified that you remembered the phone call," Blanche shouted, again growing animated and speaking quickly.

Cohen stood by his testimony, saying he spoke to both Trump and Schiller.

"Based upon what was going on and based upon the other messages regarding the Stormy Daniels matter, yes I believe I was telling the truth," Cohen said.

Judge Merchan subsequently recessed the court for lunch.

May 16, 12:44 PM
Defense begins questioning Cohen about facts of the case

After about five hours of cross-examination, defense attorney Todd Blanche now appears to be turning to the facts of the case and Cohen's earlier testimony.

Blanche asked Cohen's about his testimony regarding an Oct. 24, 2016 phone call with Donald Trump.

"We talked about the matter -- that it was resolved," Cohen said, referencing the Stormy Daniels payment.

Blanche suggested that Cohen never mentioned the phone call in earlier sworn testimony and in meetings with prosecutors.

"It was the first time that you recall having a conversation with President Trump on Oct. 24 at 8:02 p.m. when you testified two days ago," Blanche suggested.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger objected repeatedly to this line of questions.

Blanche suggested that around the same time as the Oct. 24 phone call, Cohen was receiving prank calls.

"You were receiving a bunch of ongoing and continuing harassment phone calls," Blanche asked. "Do you remember that?"

Blanche read text messages between Cohen and an apparent teenage prank caller. According to Blanche, Cohen said he would contact the Secret Service about the matter.

"I didn't do it. I am 14. Please don't do it," Blanche read from the texts.

May 16, 12:36 PM
Defense presses Cohen on fake legal citations

Michael Cohen was asked about the nonexistent AI-generated case law that was cited in court papers last year when he sought early termination of supervised release.

Cohen told jurors that he inadvertently provided his lawyer fake citation during his recent bid to end his supervised release.

“AI wants to please the user, and then I provided to my counsel these three cases that were directly on point why supervised release for me was not just and proper,” Cohen said. “Those situations were inaccurate.”

“The three cases that you gave to your attorney were not real cases, correct?" Blanche said.

“That is correct,” Cohen said.

May 16, 12:27 PM
Cohen, under questioning, remains calm on the stand

Michael Cohen, who has fielded questions about his lies, his criminal convictions, his ego, and his personal and professional failings -- in short, the darkest moments of his life -- has remained largely calm, candid, and polite on the stand.

Answering a long series of questions about the job he eventually got as personal attorney to President Trump. Cohen spoke slowly and evenly as he recounted how told his daughter he was "not the right person for Chief of Staff," even though he "would have liked to have been considered for ego purposes."

"But you were disappointed that after all the work you've done for Trump for nine and a half years, nobody, including President Trump offered you position in the White House?" defense attorney Todd Blanche asked.

"That's not accurate," Cohen replied.

"You were not embarrassed that after all the work you've done for him, you were left being his personal attorney and nothing more?" Blanche asked.

"That's the role that I wanted," Cohen said.

May 16, 12:18 PM
Defense suggests Cohen didn't get WH job he wanted

Defense attorney Todd Blanche is confronted Michael Cohen with past communications -- with friends and his daughter -- to suggest Cohen was vying to be chief of staff or attorney general after Trump was elected in 2016.

"You told your daughter were disappointed?" Blanche asked about Cohen's response after Reince Priebus was named Trump's chief of staff.

"That I wasn't considered -- yes sir," Cohen said.

Blanche also suggested that Cohen wanted to be attorney general or special counsel the president.

"You told people you would like to be attorney general?" Blanche asked.

"I don't recall that," Cohen said.

An earlier witness -- Stormy Daniels' lawyer Keith Davidson -- testified that Cohen told him that he wanted to be chief of staff or attorney general.

Cohen pushed back on Blanche's suggestion that Cohen wanted a job other than the one he was ultimately given: personal attorney to President Trump.

"I wanted a hybrid position -- one where I would still have the access to President Trump but not be a White House employee," Cohen testified, echoing his testimony from earlier this week.

"You still, even after November, were still looking for a position in the White House?" Blanche said.

"Yes sir," Cohen said before quickly correcting himself. "No."

"I didn't want the General Counsel's office - I made that crystal clear," Cohen said. "There was no shame in being personal attorney to the president of the United States."

May 16, 12:09 PM
Defense presses Cohen on White House interest

Defense attorney Todd Blanche asked about Michael Cohen's interest in a White House position after Trump was elected in 2016, in order to highlight another alleged inconsistency in his congressional testimony.

"Do you remember telling Congress that it was a lie that you did not want to go to the White House?" Blanche asked.

"I remember telling Congress that I did not want to work in the White House," Cohen said.

"I believe you testified you were never offered the role of chief of staff" -- a role that you wish you had, asked Blanche.

Cohen reaffirmed that he was never offered the role of chief of staff.

"I would have liked to be considered, for ego purposes," he said.

"The truth is, Mr. Cohen, you really wanted to work in the White House, correct?" Blanche asked.

"Again, no sir," Cohen said.

"You hoped that you would be named the White House chief of staff -- not just be considered?" Blanche asked.

"No sir," Cohen said.

May 16, 11:59 AM
Defense highlights Cohen was never given cooperation agreement

When Michael Cohen's cross-examination resumed following the mid-morning break, defense attorney Todd Blanche established that Cohen has not received a cooperation agreement with any prosecutor's office -- not the Southern District of New York, not special counsel Robert Mueller, not the Manhattan DA.

"You were meeting with them and providing information?" Blanche asked Cohen.

"Correct," Cohen said.

"But ultimately that did not result in a cooperation agreement?" Blanche asked.

"That's correct," Cohen answered.

The tacit implication may be that none of the prosecutors thought Cohen trustworthy enough to enter into a cooperation deal with him.

May 16, 11:41 AM
Trump, asked about his lawyer's performance, gives a thumbs-up

An hour and half into Michael Cohen cross-examination, Trump has remained largely slumped in his seat at the defense table, his eyes fluttering between closed and opened. He has occasionally leaned forward, briefly squinting, but seemed unfazed by a majority of his attorney Todd Blanche's strikes at Cohen.

Meanwhile, the majority of the jury has appeared attentive to Cohen's testimony. Unlike the intense back and forth between defense attorney Susan Necheles and Stormy Daniels last week, during which jurors turned their heads with every question, they appear to be watching Cohen's cross-examination more casually. Some focus only on Blanche, while others keep their attention on Cohen.

As he exited the courtroom for the mid-morning break, Trump gave a thumbs-up to a reporter who shouted, "How's Todd doing?"

May 16, 11:31 AM
Defense challenges Cohen on pardon claims

Defense attorney Todd Blanche attempted to highlight Michael Cohen's contrasting statements about whether he wanted a pardon from then-President Trump.

Cohen told jurors that he never asked Trump for a pardon, though he asked his lawyer about the possibility.

"I never asked for it. I spoke to my attorney about it because we had seen on television President Trump talking about potentially pre-pardoning everyone and putting an end to this," Cohen said.

Cohen confirmed he talked to attorney Robert Costello about exploring the idea of getting a pardon, which he would have accepted at the time.

Blanche said that during Cohen's 2019 Congressional testimony, Cohen said, "I have never asked for, nor would I accept a pardon from President Trump."

Blanche said that Cohen later said something different during a deposition.

"And do you remember being asked the same question, about accepting a pardon ... and you said "you directed your lawyer to explore the possibility because you were 100% open to accepting it?" Blanche asked.

"Yes sir," Cohen said. "At that present moment, it was true. I wanted this nightmare to end ... I asked them, is this really something that they're talking about? Can you find out?"

Pushed by Blanche on the issue, Cohen refused to acknowledge his congressional testimony was a lie.

"That was a lie, was it?" Blanche asked.

"At the time it was accurate," Cohen said.

May 16, 11:18 AM
Defense seeks to paint Cohen as a serial liar

Defense attorney Todd Blanche continued to work to paint a picture of Michael Cohen as a proven liar who pleaded guilty to crimes associated with those lies and leveraged his cooperation as part of those plea deals to secure a shorter prison sentence.

"When you plead guilty to a crime, one of the things you get -- one of the benefits you get -- is a little time off your sentence ... correct?" Blanche asked.

Blanche then said that in the case of Cohen's guilty plea to charges that included those related to the Stormy Daniels payment, "You got that credit even though you lied."

Cohen, for his part, has claimed some responsibility for the hush money charges Donald Trump now faces -- but he has suggested that he himself should not have been charged, and that the system that charged him was "corrupt."

"Do you have any doubt in your mind that the outcome of this trial affects you personally?" Blanche asked Cohen.

"Yes," Cohen replied.

May 16, 11:07 AM
Defense continues to press Cohen on perjury

Defense attorney Todd Blanche got fiery as Michael Cohen refused to give yes-or-no answers to some of his questions.

"Sir, sir, please don't make a speech," Blanche snapped at Cohen.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger objected, and Judge Merchan instructed Cohen to just answer the question.

Blanche continued his deep dive into Cohen's past perjury.

"There is no doubt you know what perjury means?" Blanche asked.

"I know what perjury means," Cohen said.

Blanche then asked Cohen about his 2019 congressional testimony following his guilty plea.

"When congressmen ask you questions, they go on and on and on?" Blanche asked.

"Yes sir," Cohen said.

"Even more than I do," Blanche joked.

May 16, 11:00 AM
Cohen slams judge to whom he pleaded guilty

Defense attorney Todd Blanche confronted Cohen with his past statements about the late Judge William Pauley, to whom he pleaded guilty in 2018 to charges including those related to the Stormy Daniels payment.

“You also believe Judge Pauley is corrupt as well?” Blanche said.

“I have said that,” Cohen said.

“He is deceased, by the way,” Blanche said.

“Yes he is,” Cohen said.

Cohen confirmed that he at one point described Pauley and prosecutors as “f------ animals.”

“Do you believe that Judge Pauley was in on it?” Blanche asked.

“I do,” Cohen said.

Cohen said he does not believe he should have been charged with federal crimes in 2018.

“I do not believe I should have been charged,” Cohen said.

May 16, 10:52 AM
Cohen says he lied when he told judge he wasn't pressured

Defense attorney Todd Blanche emphasized that Cohen told a federal judge that he was not pressured or induced to take a guilty plea in 2018 on charge including those related to the Stormy Daniels payment.

"That was a lie?" Blanche said.

"That was not true, correct," Cohen said.

Blanche later asked Cohen to confirm that he believes he lied at the time.

"It was a lie?" Blanche asked.

"Correct," Cohen said.

May 16, 10:46 AM
Cohen says he was pushed to plead guilty to hush money charges

Under cross-examination from defense attorneys, Michael Cohen continued to suggest that he was pressured in 2018 to plead guilty to changes including those related to the Stormy Daniels payment.

"No one indicated you threatened you to guilty correct?" defense attorney Todd Blanche asked.

"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," Cohen responded.

"You do feel you were induced to plead guilty?" Blanche asked.

"I never denied the underlying facts, I just do not believe I should have been criminally charged for either of those two -- or six -- offenses," Cohen said.

Cohen confirmed that prosecutors never directly told him that his wife would be indicted, telling jurors he heard that from his lawyers.

"I accepted responsibility," Cohen said.

May 16, 11:51 AM
Defense suggests Cohen hasn't taken responsibility for lying

Focusing on Michael Cohen's 2018 guilty plea for lying to Congress in 2017, Blanche attempted to suggest that Cohen has not accepted responsibility for the crime and instead blames Trump.

"The reason why you lied was because of your loyalty to President Trump?" Blanche said.

"We crafted this document -- a two page document -- in order to stay on message we all knew Mr. Trump wanted, including Mr. Trump's attorney at the time," Cohen said.

"Are you saying you accept responsibility or blaming the joint defense agreement," Blanche asked.

"Accepting responsibility…" Cohen said.

Blanche continued to recount the many lies Cohen has acknowledged telling in the past, including in answering questions before the House Intelligence Committee and federal investigators.

May 16, 10:31 AM
Defense challenges Cohen on past perjury

Defense attorney Todd Blanche challenged Michael Cohen on his past lies during his sworn testimony.

Regarding Cohen's testimony before Congress in 2017, Blanche asked Cohen, "That's one of the times you have lied under oath?"

"That's correct," Cohen said.

Cohen told jurors that he has done at least 17 sworn interviews with federal agents.

"Each time you met with the federal agents, you were told that if you made a false statement that was a felony -- a federal crime?" Blanche asked.

"Yes sir," Cohen said.

Blanche hammered at the idea that Cohen knows the penalty for perjury, has testified under oath many times, and has lied before.

May 16, 10:25 AM
Defense presses Cohen on social post criticizing Trump

Defense attorney Todd Blanche, playing aloud portions of Michael Cohen's Mea Culpa podcast, told the jury that the second recording predated Trump's 2023 New York indictment, suggesting that Cohen's animosity for Trump has been consistent for years.

Continuing a similar tactic from Tuesday, Blanche then confronted Cohen with past statements about Trump on on social media.

"You called him 'Dumba-- Donald', is that correct?" Blanche asked.

"Sounds correct," Cohen said.

Blanche also asked Cohen to confirm that on April 21, 2024, he said on TikTok that he has "mental excitement over the fact that this trial was starting."

"Yes sir," Cohen said calmly, in contrast to his elevated tone the jury heard on his podcast audio.

Cohen confirmed that he made statements on social media about Trump despite knowing that a paralegal from the Manhattan district attorney's office was monitoring his posts.

May 16, 10:18 AM
Jury hears Cohen slamming Trump on his podcast

Defense attorney Todd Blanche returned to questioning Michael Cohen about his Mea Culpa podcast. The jury heard an excerpt regarding Trump's indictment.

"I want to thank the Manhattan district attorneys office," Cohen said on the podcast.

"He is about to get a taste of what I went through. And I promise you, its not fun," it continued.

Jurors remained stone-faced as Cohen's excited and hyper-energized voiced came through the courtroom speakers.

"What an embarrassment it is to the office of the presidency," Cohen said in the recording, adding that the indictment "filled me with delight and sadness."

"I truly f------ hope that this man ends up in prison," Cohen said in another clip. "You better believe I want this man to go down and rot inside for what he did to me in my family."

Most of the jurors appeared to have no visible reaction to the audio. Cohen, too, remained calm on the stand, answering questions from Blanche about his own words.

May 16, 10:12 AM
Defense questions Cohen about Trump's indictment

Despite the text messages between Michael Cohen and and detective Jeremy Rosenberg not being admitted into evidence, Trump attorney Todd Blanche attempted to read them into the record through his questions to Cohen.

Blanche attempted to suggest that Rosenberg confirmed to Cohen that Trump had been indicted in the case last year, prior to DA announcing charges.

"Detective Rosenberg confirmed to you that the New York Times article was accurate and that President Trump had been indicted?" Blanche said, prompting an objection from prosecutors.

Cohen pushed back against the suggestion that Rosenberg confirmed the indictment of Trump before it was publicly announced.

"I asked him nice to find out," Cohen told jurors.

May 16, 10:05 AM
Defense seeks to admit texts between Cohen, detective

Trump attorney Todd Blanche resumed his cross-examination of Michael Cohen by asking Cohen about detective Jeremy Rosenberg, who took Cohen's phones from him for processing during the DA's investigation.

Cohen said he texted with Rosenberg on his personal and work phones.

Blanche was attempting to get some text messages between Cohen and Rosenberg into evidence. Prosecutors objected by arguing the texts are taken out of context. The parties went into a sidebar to hash it out.

Blanche suggested that Cohen, in the texts, told Rosenberg that he was "going to hold President Trump accountable."

Judge Merchan ultimately sustained the prosecution's objection to admitting the text messages into evidence.

May 16, 9:54 AM
Cohen retakes witness stand

"Let's get the witness please," Merchan said, and Michael Cohen entered the courtroom then took his seat at the witness stand.

Cohen carried a water bottle in his hand as he entered and did not look toward Trump when he passed defense counsel table.

Trump turned away from Cohen to his left and whispered to his attorney Emil Bove as Cohen passed.

As Cohen took his place in the witness box, Judge Merchan reminded him that he is still under oath.

May 16, 9:50 AM
Long sidebar conference concludes

After speaking at the bench to Judge Merchan at a private sidebar for approximately 18 minutes, the lawyers returned to their seats.

At the defense table, attorney Todd Blanche leaned in to whisper to Trump.

"I think we are ready to get started," Judge Merchan said.

May 16, 9:41 AM
Sidebar discussion continues

As the private sidebar continues, Judge Merchan is standing slightly back on the bench with his arms crossed, as Trump attorney Todd Blanche speaks.

At one point, Blanche and prosecutor Joshua Steinglass appeared to laugh.

Trump, seated at the defense table, is leaning back in his chair and his eyes appear to be closed.

May 16, 9:31 AM
Proceedings are underway

"Good morning, Mr. Trump," Judge Juan Merchan said in his usual fashion after taking the bench.

The proceedings immediately began with a private sidebar between the parties and Merchan.

May 16, 9:28 AM
Trump enters courtroom with several lawmakers

Donald Trump has entered the courtroom accompanied, like yesterday, by an entourage that includes several members of Congress.

Reps. Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz are among those seated in the front row of the gallery.

The group is so large that a few members are sitting at the back of the courtroom because the first two rows of the gallery do not have enough space.

May 16, 9:17 AM
Prosecutors enter courtroom

Prosecutors for the Manhattan district attorney’s office have entered the courtroom.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is not currently in attendance.

May 16, 9:08 AM
Trump arrives for proceedings

Former President Trump has arrived at the courthouse for today's proceedings.

This will be the final day of court this week, as court is off on Friday for Trump to attend his son Barron's high school graduation.

May 16, 8:23 AM
Cohen arrives at courthouse

Michael Cohen has arrived at the lower Manhattan courthouse for his testimony this morning.

Proceedings are scheduled to get underway at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Testimony is scheduled to conclude at 4 p.m., after which Judge Juan Merchan is scheduled to hear arguments from the parties about the bounds of potential testimony from a defense expert witness.

May 16, 7:30 AM
Defense to resume cross-examination of Cohen

Michael Cohen returns to the witness stand this morning, where the former Trump attorney is expected to face a full day of cross-examination.

Cohen, under direct examination earlier this week, described in-person meetings and phone calls with Donald Trump, who he said joined into an agreement with tabloid publisher David Pecker to catch and kill negative stories ahead of the 2016 election; approved a $130,000 hush money payment from Cohen to Stormy Daniels; and signed off on an arrangement to reimburse Cohen in 2017 using what prosecutors say were falsified invoices. Trump has denied all wrongdoing.

Defense attorneys are expected to question Cohen's credibility based on his past testimony and previous statements he has made in interviews, podcast and books.

May 15, 8:17 PM
Trump takes fight over gag order to NY's highest court

Former President Trump has asked New York's highest court to rescind the limited gag order that prevents him from commenting publicly about witnesses, jurors and lawyers in his ongoing criminal trial, according to a new court filing.

The filing is sealed, but is the next step after an intermediate appeals court yesterday upheld the order imposed by trial Judge Juan Merchan.

Trump has frequently attacked the judge, which is permitted, and has called the limited gag order unconstitutional.

In its ruling yesterday, the intermediate appellate court said that Merchan had appropriately balanced Trump's free speech rights with the court's need to control the trial.

There was no immediate comment from the Manhattan DA's office.

Thursday, May 16, 2024 at 9:54AM by Aaron Katersky, Peter Charalambous, Olivia Rubin, Lucien Bruggeman, and Julia Reinstein, ABC News Permalink