Michael Cohen testifies he discussed hush money reimbursements with Trump at the White House

By Molly Crane-Newman and Josephine Stratman, New York Daily News

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, told a jury Tuesday he discussed hush money reimbursement with the then-president at the White House upon returning to the witness box at his Manhattan trial Tuesday.

Here are live updates from the courtroom:

‘Everything’s going to be OK’

After the FBI raided his residences in April 2018, Cohen said he felt frightened and “concerned, despondent, angry.” During search warrants executed on his Manhattan hotel room, apartment, and office, his phones and electronic devices were seized, along with other materials related to the hush money payments to Daniels, Cohen said.

He told the jury that the last time he communicated directly with Trump was in a phone call just after the raids.

Michael Cohen, former President Donald Trump’s former attorney, arrives at his home after leaving Manhattan Criminal Court on May 13, 2024 in New York City. Cohen was called to testify as the prosecution’s star witness in the former president’s hush money trial. Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels is tied to Trump’s 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial. Cohen will continue with direct questioning by the prosecution, then face cross-examination by the defense when the trial resumes. (Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images) 

“He said to me, ‘Don’t worry, I’m the president of the United States, there’s nothing there — everything’s going to be OK, stay tough, you’re going to be OK,’” Cohen recalled, adding that others told him he was “loved” by Trump.

In the immediate aftermath, Cohen said he felt “reassured, because I had the president of the United States protecting me.”

Trump kept his eyes closed for much of Cohen’s testimony. Cohen sometimes exhaled audibly, once shaking his head, between questions. The jury also heard details of Cohen being a convicted perjurer — which Trump’s defense has repeatedly pointed to as proof of him being untrustworthy and is expected to hammer him about on cross-examination.

Cohen testified that he lied in 2017 about a Trump Tower real estate project in Moscow, telling Congress that he “had only spoken to Trump about this three times,” when it was really more like 10 times.

“Why lie?” Hoffinger asked.

“Because I was staying on Mr. Trump’s message that there was no ‘Russia, Russia, Russia,” Cohen replied, referring to how Trump was perceived as being tied to Russia because of his business deals there.

Cohen spoke with Trump about hush money reimbursements at the White House

Cohen testified that he discussed the reimbursement payments with the then-president during a visit to the Oval Office on Feb. 8, 2017.

“So, I was sitting with President Trump and he asked me if I was OK, he asked me if I needed money,” Cohen recalled. In court, Trump scrunched his eyes tightly closed, frowning.

“He said, um, alright just make sure you deal with Allen,” Cohen said, referring to the convicted ex-Trump Org CFO Allen Weisselberg.

Former President Donald Trump's Hush Money Trial Continues In New York
Former US President Donald Trump waves to the media at his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to an extramarital affair with Stormy Daniels, at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 14, 2024 in New York City. Former U.S. President Donald Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial. (Photo by Curtis Means – Pool/Getty Images) 

Trump was joined in court with an entourage of around a dozen, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, former Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and Eric Trump and his wife, Lara Trump.

Cohen told prosecutor Susan Hoffinger that he submitted falsified records at the behest of Trump’s longtime finance chief, billing for “services rendered” — not reimbursement for hush money he paid to porn star Stormy Daniels, he said in court.

Displaying Cohen’s monthly invoices to the Trump Org, which he said were sent to Weisselberg and sometimes his deputy, former controller Jeff McConney, Hoffinger asked if any of them were for genuine legal services rendered.

“No, ma’am. They were for reimbursement,” Cohen said, a hint of sheepishness in his voice.

Cohen is soon expected to face a bruising on cross-examination with the former president’s attorneys, who have sought to attack his credibility and told jurors he went rogue when he paid off Daniels.

Cohen, during more than five hours in the witness box on Monday, described his former boss was a micromanager who knew about everything that went on at all levels of his company. He described himself as Trump’s loyal right-hand man — one who would bully, lie, and threaten to sue anyone who stood in the way of whatever it took “to make him happy” — and whose only job was to serve Trump. 

Cohen, 57, went to prison for the hush money payoff to porn star Stormy Daniels central to the case after pleading guilty to federal offenses in late 2018, cementing his bitter rivalry with the man he once said he’d take a bullet for. 

Former President Donald Trump's Hush Money Trial Continues In New York
Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears in court with his attorneys Todd Blanche (L) and Emil Bove during his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 14, 2024 in New York City. Former U.S. President Donald Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial. (Photo by Justin Lane – Pool/Getty Images) 

Trump, 77, is accused of repeatedly and fraudulently falsifying New York business records to disguise a hush-money scheme intended to hide damaging information from the voting public in 2016. Each of the 34 counts is tied to his alleged reimbursement to Cohen, which prosecutors say was falsely designated as payment for legal fees in a coverup. 

The presumptive GOP nominee in this year’s White House contest, whose courthouse entourage is growing by the day, walked into the courtroom around 9:25 a.m. flanked by an army of lawyers and the likes of right-wing biotech entrepreneur Ramaswamy, his conspiracy theory touting former competitor in the presidential race.

Catch up

Cohen said Trump had direct knowledge of a series of hush money payoffs to Daniels, former Playboy model Karen McDougal, and Trump Tower doorman Dino Sajudin to purchase their silence about a series of alleged sex scandals. He buttressed testimony by several witnesses who testified earlier in the trial, including former tabloid publisher David Pecker, who prosecutors allege was a part of the conspiracy that started in August 2015 to hide unflattering information about Trump from the electorate.