Trump trial updates: ‘Just do it,’ Cohen says Trump told him about making Stormy Daniels payment

Written by on May 14, 2024

Former US President Donald Trump attends his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 7, 2024. (Photo by Win McNamee / POOL / AFP)

(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. All times Eastern:

May 13, 5:09 PM
Trump shares supportive comments from lawmakers

Former President Trump, addressing reporters on his way out of the courtroom, read a series of comments from supportive lawmakers.

“They view this as a scam,” Trump said when asked why lawmakers including Sen. J.D. Vance, Sen. Tommy Tuberville and Rep. Nicole Malliotakis joined him in court today. “I think it’s a terrible thing that’s happening to democracy in this country.”

Trump, reading from a stack of papers, highlighted comments that included statements from Vance and Sen. Tim Scott.

“This is four weeks you’re keeping me away from the campaign,” Trump said.

-ABC News’ Kelsey Walsh and Mike Pappano

May 13, 4:30 PM
Cohen says CFO said payments would be for ‘legal service’

Michael Cohen recalled Weisselberg saying the monthly payments to reimburse him for the Stormy Daniels payment would be recorded “as a legal service render since I was going to be given the title as personal attorney to the president.”

Cohen told jurors that Trump and Weisselberg were like “Frick and Frack.” Regarding his meeting with the two men about the monthly reimbursement plan, Cohen surmised “this conversation had already taken place between the two.”

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen, “Did Mr. Trump try to renegotiate?”

“No,” Cohen replied.

“He approved it at that point?” Hoffinger asked

“Yes,” Cohen responded

A few days later, Trump left for Washington to assume the presidency.

Hoffinger concluded by asking Cohen whether the $420,000 he would receive in monthly installments was meant to be compensation for any future legal work he did for Trump.

“No,” Cohen said.

Testimony then ended for the day.

May 13, 4:20 PM
Cohen says Trump approved payment of $420K, paid monthly

Michael Cohen told jurors that then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg told him to “gross up” his requested reimbursement for the $130,000 Stormy Daniels payment to ensure that Cohen got the full amount of money spent, after taxes.

Cohen confirmed that the practice of effectively paying double for expenses was not a normal practice at the Trump Organization.

In addition to the Daniels’ reimbursement, Cohen testified that he requested a $50,000 reimbursement to a company called Red Finch for tech services; however, Cohen acknowledged that he asked for more money in the reimbursement that he actually spent on the services.

“I didn’t feel that Mr. Trump owed the benefit of the difference,” Cohen said.

Cohen told jurors that he ended up keeping the difference for himself.

After Weisselberg worked out a calculation to pay Cohen a total amount of $420,000, Cohen said the two men “went to Mr. Trump’s office to speak with him about it.”

It was in Trump’s office at Trump Tower than Cohen said he learned “it’ll be paid out to you monthly.”

Cohen said Trump approved it.

May 13, 4:09 PM
Cohen says Trump told him, ‘I will take care of’ repayment

Michael Cohen testified that Trump told him regarding his reimbursement for the Stormy Daniels nondisclosure payment, “Don’t worry about that other thing — I will take care of you when we get back.”

But when Cohen returned to the office in the new year, no such conversation happened with Trump.

“There was no conversation about it, so I of course brought it up to Mr. Weisselberg,” Cohen said of then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.

“When I am getting my money back?” Cohen said he asked.

Weisselberg suggested Cohen meet with him and bring the bank statement related to the Daniels payment.

Jurors were then shows the statement for Cohen’s LLC, Essential Consultants, that jurors saw during Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney’s testimony last week.

Cohen told jurors that his handwriting was on the right of the document, while Weisselberg’s notes were on the left.

“The $130,000 was obviously the money that went for the nondisclosure agreement,” Cohen told the jury about the statement.

May 13, 4:00 PM
Cohen says he was ‘beyond angry’ after bonus was cut

Prosecutors introduced text messages between Michael Cohen and his daughter related to Cohen not being considered for Trump’s chief of staff after Trump won the 2016 election.

“My daughter and I are very close — we are very much connected and she was concerned that I was upset that I was not being considered for the role,” Cohen said. “I explained to her that there are so many opportunities.”

By December 2016, Cohen said, he was “beyond angry.” His Trump Organization bonus had been cut by two-thirds.

“I was truly insulted, personally hurt. Didn’t understand it,” Cohen said of his feelings. “It made no sense, after all that I had gone through in terms of the campaign as well as things at the Trump Organization, and laying out $130,000 on his behalf to protect him.”

“It was insulting that the gratitude shown back to me was to cut the bonus by two-thirds,” Cohen said.

Cohen said he was “truly pissed off and angry,” he recalled telling then-CFO Allen Weisselberg.

At that point, Cohen had not been paid back for the Daniels advance and expressed as much to Weisselberg.

“The best that you get for extending yourself as I did is to have your bonus cut by two-thirds?” Cohen recalled saying. He said Weisselberg responded by saying, “We’ll make this right.”

Trump, at the defense table, showed no reaction as Cohen recounted his emotional response to having his bonus cut.

May 13, 3:52 PM
Cohen says he was disappointed to not get WH position

When Donald Trump won the 2016 election, Cohen testified there was no role for him in the incoming administration.

“My service was no longer necessary,” Cohen said.

He was offered a position in the White House as “assistant general counsel” by Reince Preibus, but turned it down. He said he was disappointed he was not considered for chief of staff.

“I didn’t want the role. I didn’t believe the role was right for me or that I was even competent to be chief of staff. I just wanted my name to be included,” he testified.

“It was more about my ego than anything,” Cohen said about his disappointment. “I would have liked to have been considered.”

Cohen said he pitched being “personal attorney to the president.” He would need the role, Cohen said, because there were “outstanding matters” to be dealt with. Cohen conceded it would have helped him personally and professionally.

“I also had another thought in mind, which was consulting. That’s what I really wanted because that afforded me the time to stay at home, in New York,” he said.

Cohen testified it could have been lucrative to help people understand Trump’s thinking.

“Mr. Trump was an enigma,” Cohen said. “Because of my close proximity to him for a decade, I did understand.”

“Did you think you could monetize being personal attorney to the president?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked.

“Absolutely,” Cohen said.

Trump’s eyes remained closed during this portion of the testimony.

May 13, 3:46 PM
Cohen says few outlets picked up WSJ story

After the mid-afternoon break, jurors saw text messages between Michael Cohen and Trump aide Hope Hicks regarding the impact of the Wall Street Journal story on Karen McDougal’s catch-and-kill payment as well as Stormy Daniels’ allegations.

Cohen said he was concerned the Journal story would “explode into a massive issue,” but he said the denial statements were effective in “suppressing the story itself.”

At the time, Cohen and Hicks only spotted six media outlets picking up the WSJ story — relatively minor reach compared to the “Access Hollywood” tape.

“Even CNN not talking about it. No one believes it and if necessary, I have a statement by Stormy denying everything and contradicting the other porn stars statement. I wouldn’t use it now or even discuss with him as no one is talking about this or cares!” Cohen texted Hicks.

May 13, 3:21 PM
Cohen says he and Trump were angry about WSJ article

Seven days after Michael Cohen finalized the nondisclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels, the Wall Street Journal published a story about Stormy Daniels and AMI’s $150,000 payment to Karen McDougal.

Cohen testified that he knew about it in advance, and when he found out he responded by “contacting Keith Davidson.,” Daniels’ attorney.

Cohen said he also talked with Trump aide Hope Hicks and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker “so that we could all coalesce around this issue.” In a series of calls and emails Cohen said he suggested a response, blaming the “liberal media” and the Clinton campaign.

Cohen said he reacted angrily to Davidson when the Journal story came out, suspecting Davidson leaked the story.

“I wanted to ensure Mr. Trump was safe,” Cohen told jurors.

Cohen said that he conveyed to Davidson that Trump was “really angry.”

May 13, 3:14 PM
Jury sees nondisclosure agreement between Trump, Daniels

Jurors saw the finalized nondisclosure agreement between Trump and Stormy Daniels, guaranteeing Daniels $130,000 for her silence.

Cohen signed the document on behalf of Essential Consultants.

The agreement used pseudonyms for Trump and Daniels — Trump’s being David Dennison and Daniels’ being Peggy Peterson.

“The purpose of it was to ensure his name didn’t appear anywhere, as he is a candidate for the presidency of the United States of America,” Daniels said.

Donald Trump’s name briefly appeared on a side letter agreement to confirm that he was the David Dennison mentioned in the contract.

Both Davidson and Cohen were permitted to have a copy of the side letter agreement.

Jurors then saw a phone record showing a five-minute phone call between Cohen and Trump on Oct. 28, 2016.

Cohen said he told Trump that “this matter was now completely under control and locked down pursuant to the nondisclosure agreement.”

May 13, 2:58 PM
Cohen says he wanted to hide intent of shell company

Jurors saw the form that Michael Cohen used to create the account for Essential Consultants LLC, the shell company he used to pay Stormy Daniels the $130,000 per their nondisclosure agreement.


Asked about the veracity of the form, Cohen responded, “It’s false.”

Cohen said he filled out the form that way “to hide the intent … which is to pay for a nondisclosure agreement.”

Cohen said had he been honest on the form, the account would not have been opened by First Republic Bank.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger then walked Cohen through each of the documents used to create the shell company then wire $130,000 to an attorney-trust account for Stormy Daniels.

May 13, 2:53 PM
Payment to Daniels ‘required Mr. Trump’s sign-off,’ Cohen says

Jurors saw phone records showing a flurry of calls made by Michael Cohen in late October 2016, as Cohen finalized the Stormy Daniels payment.

The records included Cohen’s calls between Keith Davidson, Allen Weisselberg, and David Pecker.

Jurors also saw a record of two phone calls Cohen made to Trump on Oct. 26, 2016, with durations of 3:01 and 1:28.

“I wanted to ensure that once again he approved what he was doing, because I required approval from him on all of this,” Cohen said about the calls.

“Everything required Mr. Trump’s sign-off,” Cohen said. “On top of that I wanted the money back.

May 13, 2:47 PM
Cohen explains how he came to make Daniels’ payment

“Would you have ever paid the nondisclosure agreement for Stormy Daniels on your own?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Michael Cohen after he detailed his efforts to find an alternative sdolution.

“No ma’am,” Cohen responded. “It’s $130,000. I was doing everything I could and more to protect my boss, which is something I did for a long time but I would not lay out $130,000 for an NDA needed by someone else.”

Cohen described frantic days to finalize the NDA with Stormy Daniels. “If this matter wasn’t resolved it was going to be catastrophic to Mr. Trump and the campaign,” Cohen said.

Cohen said he asked AMI’s David Pecker and Dylan Howard to front the money, but Pecker balked. “I cannot do it again,” Cohen quoted Pecker saying, consistent with Pecker’s testimony that he wasn’t a bank.

Cohen testified that he ultimately used a home equity line of credit to finance the Stormy Daniels payoff because he was too afraid his wife would find out otherwise.

“I elected to use money that was in the HELOC because my wife, who was CEO of the household, would not understand if there was $130,000 missing from our joint bank account.”

Many of the jurors keep their eyes locked on Cohen as he responded to this line of questioning.

Donald Trump eyes remained closed.

Cohen, on the stand, let out a sigh.

May 13, 2:41 PM
‘Just do it,’ Cohen says Trump told him about Daniels payment

Michael Cohen testified that as the clock ticked toward the 2016 election, it became increasingly clear he could no longer delay the nondisclosure arrangement with Stormy Daniels.

Cohen said Trump agreed.

“He stated to me that he had spoken to some friends, some individuals, very smart people. It’s $130,000. Just pay it. There’s no reason to keep this thing out there. Just do it. So he expressed to me, ‘Just do it,'” Cohen said.

Then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg allegedly suggested that Cohen could fund the account that would ultimately wire the $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels through one of Trump’s golf courses, either through a membership or a wedding.

In a meeting with Weisselberg, Cohen said he suggested two options: “One option was to see if I knew anybody who wanted to purchase a golf membership,” and a second option was for “somebody who was having a family affair, like a wedding or a bar mitzvah” pay that account and redeem the value as a “credit on their invoice.”

“Why don’t you pay?” Cohen testified he asked Weisselberg.

“He said to me that he wasn’t financially in a position to do it,” Cohen said.

Cohen said he eventually agreed to make the payment.

“I said I’ll pay for it,” Cohen said.

According to Cohen, both he and Weisselberg discussed the plan with Trump;

“Allen and I spoke to Mr. Trump and we expressed to him that I was going to front the money for it, to which he was appreciative,” Cohen said.

Cohen said Trump replied, “Good, good.”

May 13, 2:32 PM
Cohen says he advocated for Trump on CNN

Jurors saw a record of a text message on Oct. 18, 2016, from Melania Trump to Cohen.

“Good morning Michael, can u pls call DT on his cell. Thanks,” Melania texted.

Cohen replied, “Of course.”

Later that day, Cohen appeared on CNN to defend Trump’s conduct in light to the “Access Hollywood” tape and other allegations.

“I advocated for Mr. Trump in the best light possible — denials as well as exclamations that I have never seen him act in this sort of manner before,” Cohen said.

May 13, 2:20 PM
Jurors again see paperwork for creation of Cohen’s LLC

For the second time during the trial, the jury was shown the paperwork for Resolution Consultants LLC, the shell company Michael Cohen formed initially to pay AMI for the Karen McDougal payment.

Cohen conceded he did not give First Republic Bank the “true reason” for the account.

“I’m not sure they would have opened it,” Cohen said, if the bank knew the true reason “was to pay off an adult film star for a nondisclosure agreement”

“Need an account opened for Mike Cohen immediately. He wants no address on the checks,” Cohen’s banker wrote to a colleague on Oct. 13, 2016, when he earlier testified earlier about Cohen’s frantic effort to open the two bank accounts in October 2016.

Prosecutors suggested that Cohen misled bankers when he opened the bank account by stating the account was for legitimate business purposes.

Cohen told jurors that he opted to rename the shell company to Essential Consultants after realizing that Resolution Consultants LLC was a real company owned by a friend. The $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels was made from a new account for Essential Consultants.

May 13, 2:10 PM
Cohen details efforts to delay Stormy Daniels payment

Donald Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen testified that as Stormy Daniels’ layer Keith Davidson pushed him to make good on the $130,000 hush payment to Stormy Daniels, he sought to “continue to delay, delay the execution of the documents, delay execution of funding.”

The jury saw an email exchange in which “I used the holiday, Yom Kipur, as a way of once again of trying to delay it until after the election,” Cohen said.

“And the reason for that?” asked prosecutor Susan Hoffinger.

“Because after the election it wouldn’t matter,” Cohen said.

“According to who?” Hoffinger asked.

“According to Mr. Trump,” Cohen said.

Trump’s eyes appeared to be closed again as the questioning continued.

May 13, 2:03 PM
Cohen returns to the stand following lunch break

With the lunch break over, Michael Cohen has returned to the witness stand to resume his direct examination.

He did not look at Trump when he returned to the courtroom following the break.

May 13, 12:59 PM
Cohen says Trump was concerned about campaign, not Melania

Michael Cohen said that he asked Trump about how Trump’s wife Melania might respond to the story.

“How’s things going to go upstairs?” Cohen said he asked Trump.

According to Cohen, Trump responded, “How long do you think I’ll be on the market for? Not long.”

According to Cohen, Trump’s main concern was the campaign.

“This was all about the campaign,” Cohen said.

“I want you to push it out as long as you can,” Cohen said Trump told him about the Daniels story. “Push it out past the election, because if I win, it has no relevance, and if I lose I don’t really care.”

It was “about delaying the deal and trying to push it past the election, which was coming,” Cohen testified.

Trump, during this testimony, was leaning back in his chair angled slightly toward Cohen.

Court was subsequently dismissed for the lunch break.

Cohen stepped off the witness stand and looked away from the defense counsel table as he passed Trump.

Trump then exited the courtroom for the break.

May 13, 12:50 PM
‘This is a disaster,’ Trump said of Daniels allegation, per Cohen

Michael Cohen said that Donald Trump responded angrily when Cohen shared that Stormy Daniels was shopping her allegations in 2016.

“He was really angry with me,” Cohen said, who said Trump told him, “I thought you had this under control. I thought you took care of this.

“He said this is a disaster, total disaster. Women are going to hate me,” Trump said according to Cohen. “Guys may think this is cool, but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign.”

“At the time, Mr. Trump was … polling very poorly with women, and this coupled with the previous “Access Hollywood” — he just stated, ‘This is a disaster, get control of the women,'” Cohen ttestified.

Cohen said that Trump directed him to purchase Daniels’ story.

“He told me to work with David [Pecker] and get control over this — purchase the life rights. We need to stop this from getting out,” Cohen said.

Cohen added that Trump requested he delay the payment until after the election to avoid paying it outright.

May 13, 12:45 PM
Jurors see texts reconnecting Cohen with Daniels’ lawyer

Jurors saw an October 2016 text message where National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard reintroduced Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels’ then-attorney Keith Davidson

“Connecting you both in regards to that business opportunity. Spoke to the client this AM and they’re confirmed to proceed with the opportunity. Thanks. Dylan,” Howard wrote.

“Over to you two,” added Howard.

May 13, 12:39 PM
‘Take care of it,’ Cohen says Trump said of Daniels allegations in 2011

Michael Cohen recounted what he said was a 2011 conversation with Trump about the allegations from Stormy Daniels after made a blog post about the relationship. Cohen successfully had the blog post taken down with the help of Daniels’ then-attorney Keith Davidson.

“I asked him if he knew who she was. He told me he did,” Cohen said of Trump.

Cohen said that Trump did not answer his question about the allegations.

“He turned around and said she was a beautiful woman,” Cohen recounted.

Cohen said that Trump OK’d the 2011 effort to take down the blog post about the affair.

“Absolutely, do it. Take care of it,” Trump responded, according to Cohen.

May 13, 12:34 PM
Cohen says Stormy Daniels story would have been ‘catastrophic’

As Michael Cohen was attempting to do damage control for the “Access Hollywood” story on Oct. 8, 2016, National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard flagged to Cohen that adult film actress Stormy Daniels was shopping her allegations of a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump, which the former president has steadfastly denied.

Years earlier, Cohen worked with Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson to get a story taken down about the alleged affair.

Asked about the potential impact of Daniels’ story, Cohen said it would have been “catastrophic.”

“Horrible for the campaign,” Cohen said.

May 13, 12:27 PM
Cohen recounts Trump’s response to ‘Access Hollywood’ tape

Michael Cohen testified that he was in London in October 2016 when the news of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape broke.

“Please call me,” Cohen emailed Trump adviser Steve Bannon in October 2016.

“It’s all over the place. Who is doing damage control here?” Cohen later emailed.

Cohen said he was trying to step in “in order to protect Mr. Trump.’

Jurors also saw phone records showing two calls between Trump and Cohen on Oct. 8, 2016.

“He wanted me to reach out to all of my contacts in the media who needed to put a spin on this,” Cohen said. “The spin that he wanted to put out it was that this locker room talk — something that Melania had recommended or at least he told me that’s what Melania thought it was and use that in order to get control over the story and minimize its impact on him and his campaign.”

Trump, again, shook his head no at the answer from the defense table.

Jurors then saw texts between Cohen and former CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.

“Will be too late … he is dying right now,” Cuomo texted Cohen.

Cohen explained that he believed, “That this is a tremendously negative story in regard to the Trump campaign … this is going to be significantly impactful, especially with women voters.”

May 13, 12:20 PM
Cohen says he acted at Trump’s direction

Michael Cohen testified that he understood Trump would eventually pay for the rights to Karen’s McDougal’s story, which AMI had purchased for $150,000.

“What I was doing, I was doing at the direction of, for the benefit of Mr. Trump,” Cohen said.

But Cohen and AMI’s David Pecker, in their testimony, offered slightly different accounts of why Trump ultimately did not reimburse AMI for the McDougal payment.

According to Cohen, Pecker said that McDougal’s cover on Men’s Health magazine prompted massive sales, making the McDougal agreement an “excellent business deal” for AMI.

“It was no longer necessary,” Cohen said.

“He told me to rip it up, forget it,” Cohen said about the deal.

According to Cohen, Trump responded to the news by saying, “Wow, that’s great.”

According to Pecker, when he told Cohen that the deal was off, Cohen was furious — and said Trump would be as well.

“He was very, very, angry, very upset, screaming basically, at me. And I said, ‘I am not going forward with this agreement — rip it up,'” Pecker testified earlier in the trial. “Michael Cohen said, ‘The boss is going to be very angry at you.’

May 13, 12:01 PM
Weisselberg allegedly sought to distance Trump from repayment

Michael Cohen said then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg suggested using a non-Trump entity to make the $150,000 payment to AMI to distance Trump from the deal.

“I went to Allen’s Office. I expressed to him that we need funding of $150,000 to consummate this transaction. Allen then said to me, ‘Well, if we do it from a Trump entity, that kind of defeats the purpose,'” Cohen recounted.

Cohen said Weisselberg suggested using a non-Trump entity for the transaction to distance Trump from the deal. Cohen said Weisselberg asked him to “think about ways that we could raise the $150,000.”

“It was in order to keep it separate,” Cohen said.

May 13, 11:56 AM
Cohen addresses why secretly made recording ended

According to Michael Cohen, the recording he secretly made of a 2016 meeting with Trump abruptly ended because he took an incoming phone call on his phone.

“I must have believed it was an important phone call,” Cohen testified.

Cohen added that he believed he recorded enough to prove to Pecker that the $150,000 reimbursement was coming, which he said was the the goal of the recording.

“I didn’t want to record more — I already had enough,” Cohen said.

Jurors saw a phone record from AT&T that suggested Cohen received a call around the time of the recording.

The conversation briefly continued after the recording ended, according to Cohen.

Cohen said he told Trump, “I am going to head over to Allen Weisselberg’s office and I will get back to him with more of an update.”

Jurors briefly saw the metadata for the recording.

“Did you ever alter that recording?” Hoffinger asked.

“No,” Cohen said.

Trump, at the defense table, shook his head “no” at Cohen’s response. The former president appears much more engaged now, thumbing through a stack of papers in his hands.

May 13, 11:51 AM
Cohen’s testimony resumes after break

Judge Juan Merchan restarted the proceedings after the mid-morning break. Before prosecutor Susan Hoffinger resumed her direct examination of Michael Cohen, Merchan instructed the jury that, in regards the secretly made recording the jury just heard, the recording itself is evidence in the case, not the transcript.

“It is the tape itself that is the evidence,” Merchan said, though he said the transcript will be accessible to the jury during deliberations.

Trump, back from the break, appears much more alert, sitting in his chair with his body angled directly toward Cohen as Cohen recounts more of the recording.

Twice, Trump shook his head “no” as Cohen spoke.

May 13, 11:37 AM
Cohen reviews contents of secretly made recording

After Cohen’s recording was played in court, prosecutor Susan Hoffinger is replayed sections and asked Cohen about what he said at the time.

“Who is ‘our friend David?'” Hoffinger asked.

“He is referring to David Pecker,” Cohen said.

Asked about the reference to then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, Cohen said, “Because Mr. Trump had previously directed me to speak with Allen Weisselberg about getting this matter settled.”

“Because we are going to need money and going to need to open the LLC and to resolve this issue,” Cohen said about the LLC being formed.

“We were referring to the 150,000 that was advanced by AMI in order to purchase the life rights of Karen McDougal,” Cohen said “He knew already knew based on conversations with David which is why he mentioned the number 150.”

When asked about the comment about Pecker getting “hit by a truck,” Cohen said that Trump was concerned about the National Enquirer’s files about him in case Pecker ever left the company.

“David Pecker was being considered for the CEO position of Time Inc. and the concern was the information — so all the stuff refers to that,” Cohen said

Following this testimony, court was recessed for the mid-morning break.

Cohen, exiting the courtroom, did not appear to look at Trump as he walked by the defense counsel table.

May 13, 11:24 AM
Jury hears secret recording of Trump discussing payment

Michael Cohen testified that he made a recording to prove to National Enquirer publisher David Pecker that Trump would repay him the $150,000 for Karen McDougal’s catch-and-kill arrangement.

“I also wanted him to remain loyal to Mr. Trump,” Cohen added.

Cohen said he walked into Trump’s office with his phone in his hand, making the recording.

Cohen told the jury that you can hear Trump, himself, and Trump assistant Rhona Graff on the recording.

Asked whether he thought Trump knew he was recording the conversation, Cohen said: “No, ma’am.”

Jurors then heard the recording.

Cohen: 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. I’ve actually come up and I’ve spoken —

Trump: Give it to me and get me a —

Cohen: And, I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up with —

Trump: So, what do we got to pay for this? One-fifty?

Cohen: — funding. Yes. And it’s all the stuff.

Trump: Yes, I was thinking about that.

Cohen: All the stuff. Because — here, you never know where that company, you never know what he’s —

Trump: Maybe he gets hit by a truck

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

Trump: Listen, what financing?

Cohen: We’ll have to pay him something.

Trump: (INAUDIBLE) pay with cash.

Cohen: No, no, no, no, no, I got it.

Trump: Check.

Every member of the jury appeared to look down at their monitor to read along with the transcript of the call as it was played. Cohen, as the call played, shook his head “no” over and over again on the witness stand, apparently in disbelief at rehearing it.

At one point he looked over in Trump’s direction and sighed as the recording continued, then looked over to the jury to watch them take it in.

DA Alvin Bragg appeared to close his eyes and dropped his head as the call played.

May 13, 11:14 AM
Cohen says Pecker pushed for repayment for McDougal deal

“David had asked me when he should anticipate receiving — being paid back the $150,000,” Cohen testified about then-National Enquirer publisher David Pecker seeking repayment for the money he spent to catch and kill Karen McDougal’s story for Trump.

“He wanted the $150,000 back because it was too much money for him to hide from the CEO of the parent company, and he had also laid out $30,000 previously, so he was putting pressure on me to speak to Mr. Trump and to get the money back,” Cohen said.

“Was he upset about it?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked.

“Very,” Cohen said.

Cohen met with Pecker for lunch, where Cohen repeated the request for reimbursement. Cohen said he communicated the request to Trump.

“Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it,” Trump said, according to Cohen.

Trump’s attorney Emile Bove, during the testimony, leaned in to whisper something to Trump, prompting him to crane his neck to the side and then sit up in his seat for the first time this morning. He then appeared to drop back down and close his eyes again.

May 13, 11:09 AM
‘Great job,’ Trump responded to McDougal deal, Cohen says

By August 2016, David Pecker and Dylan Howard of the National Enquirer shared with Michael Cohen that the deal to catch-and-kill Karen McDougal’s story had been a success.

“The terms were going to be compensation to her in the amount of $150,000 as well as they were going to provide her 24 penned articles that would bear her name, as well as she was going to be on two covers of one of the various magazines that they owned,” Cohen said about the terms of the deal, which Pecker described as “bulletproof.”

Asked to explain what Pecker meant by bulletproof, Cohen said, “That they got it. That this is locked down. We prevented the story from being released.”

Cohen said he communicated the news to Trump, who told him, “Fantastic. Great job.”

As Cohen, time after time, injects what he says are Trump’s own words directly in the alleged catch and kill scheme, Trump, sitting at the defense table, has no reaction. Mostly, his eyes appear closed, his head moving side to side occasionally.

May 13, 11:03 AM
Cohen recounts phone call setting up McDougal plan

Michael Cohen recounted listening to a 2016 phone call between then-National Enquirer publisher David Pecker and Trump regarding Karen McDougal’s story.

“He had the call put through, and he had a speaker box on his desk. Instead of lifting up the phone, he used the speaker box so I was able to hear,” Cohen recounted. “He asked him how things were going with the matter, and David said we have this under control and we will — we will take care of this.”

“David had stated that it was going to cost them $150,000 to control the story — to which Mr. Trump replied, ‘No problem. I will take care of it.'”

According to Cohen, National Enquirer parent AMI would make the original $150,000 payment, with the plan for Trump to later reimburse them.

May 13, 10:57 AM
Jurors see texts related to McDougal situation

Jurors briefly saw text messages between Cohen and Trump staffer Keith Schiller on June 16, 2016, in which Cohen said he was trying to contact Trump through Schiller to update him on the Karen McDougal situation.

“Where’s the boss?” Cohen texted.

Jurors then saw text messages between Cohen and National Enquirer Editor Dylan Howard, who met McDougal in person to vet her allegations on June 20, 2016.

“Understood, I got this locked down for you, I won’t let it out of my grasp,” Howard texted Cohen.

Cohen said he later had a call with Howard and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker to learn about the McDougal meeting.

“That they believed that they had this control, as Dylan had stated to me,” Cohen said about what he learned on the call.

In court, the jury is focused as Cohen recounts the catch and kill efforts. Earlier, some jurors had laughed and flashed a smile at Cohen’s jokes, but they have now returned to their familiar serious faces. Many appear to be taking notes and they’re often looking at Cohen and prosecutor Susan Hoffinger as she questions him.

May 13, 10:51 AM
‘She’s really beautiful,’ Cohen says Trump said of McDougal

Michael Cohen said he contacted Trump “Immediately after I got off the phone with AMI” about former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal shopping her story that she had a year-long affair with Trump, which he denied.

“Hey boss, I got to talk to you,” Cohen recounted telling Trump. “I told him about what I had just learned. I asked him if he knew who Karen McDougal was, knows anything about the story.”

“His response was, ‘She’s really beautiful.’ I said, OK, but right now there’s a story that’s being shopped.”

According to Cohen, Trump directed him to “make sure it doesn’t get released.”

May 13, 10:41 AM
Cohen recounts effort to kill doorman story

Michael Cohen told jurors that he kept Donald Trump in the loop about his effort to kill a false story about Trump having a child out of wedlock, which was shopped by former Trump doorman Dino Sajudin.

“I provided him with all the information,” Cohen said about his conversation with Trump.

“He told me to make sure that the story does not get out. You handle it,” Trump said according to Cohen. “He asked me to speak to [the two employees] and let them know it was taken care of.”

Pecker said he worked with David Pecker and Dylan Howard of the National Enquirer, who purchased the life rights to the story.

“Did you tell them that Mr Trump would be grateful?” Hoffinger asked.

“Absolutely,” Cohen said.

Cohen said he offered feedback on AMI’s contract with Sajudin, suggesting they add a $1 million penalty if Sajudin breached the contract.

When Cohen first became aware of Sajudin’s claim, Cohen said, “I went to [Trump] immediately to advise him that there was a story — because it was a negative story for him — and to get his direction on what he wanted me to do.”

Cohen said he shared the news of Sajudin’s contract with Trump to keep him in the loop and “in order to get credit for accomplishing the task.”

“What was Mr. Trump’s reaction when you told him that?” Hoffinger asked.

“That’s great,” Cohen said Trump responded.

May 13, 10:36 AM
Cohen says he worked with Enquirer to boost Trump

Cohen said National Enquirer parest AMI would send him advanced covers of upcoming editions of the National Enquirer, which frequently showed negative stories about Trump’s political foes — including Hillary Clinton.

Asked what he would do with those copies, Cohen said he “immediately showed it to Mr. Trump.”

“Why?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked.

“So he knew that David was loyal, on board … doing everything he said he was going to do in that August meeting,” Cohen said.
Cohen said Trump’s reaction would typically be akin to: “Fantastic.”

The jury saw an email exchange regarding Cohen personally editing a story about Trump that was going to be in the National Enquirer. It was billed as an exclusive: “The Trump that Nobody Knows.”

“Is this an example of your working with AMI to get stories out that would benefit the Trump campaign?” Hoffinger asled.

“It is an example,” Cohen replied.

May 13, 10:32 AM
Cohen testifies about Trump Tower meeting

Before Trump announced his bid for the presidency, Michael Cohen recalled Trump warning him about stories that might emerge about his past interactions with various women.

“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 recalled Trump saying.

Cohen recounted the August 2015 Trump Tower meeting where then-National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, Trump and Cohen agreed to the basics of a catch-and-kill scheme.

“What was discussed is the power of the National Enquirer in terms of being located at the cash register of so many supermarkets and bodegas. That if we can place positive stories about Mr. Trump that would be beneficial, and if we could place negative stories about some of the other candidates, that would also be beneficial,” Cohen said.

“What he said was that he could keep an eye out for anything negative about Mr. Trump and that he would be able to help us know in advance what was coming out and try to stop it from coming out,” Cohen said of Pecker, echoing Pecker’s testimony from three weeks ago.

May 13, 10:27 AM
Cohen testifies about Trump’s political aspirations

In 2011, Cohen flagged a poll to Trump that suggested he would be a competitive presidential candidate

“I took that article and I brought to Mr. Trump, and I said what do you think?” Cohen said. “He said it’s interesting, we should look into it.”

Cohen said that he created a website to encourage the run called “”

“It was further proof that his name recognition, his popularity … was so strong,” Cohen said.

Cohen said that Trump backed away from the idea of running in the 2012 race to focus on his other commitments, including his television show.

“You don’t leave Hollywood. Hollywood leaves you,” Cohen recounted Trump saying.

While Trump backed away in 2012, Cohen said Trump made a vow about 2016.

“He promised to me that he would do it in the next election cycle,” Cohen said.

Cohen. on the stand, appears earnest and somewhat morose — different from his bombastic, showy persona on his podcast or on social media. He appears calm and speaks slowly, referring to his former boss as “Mr. Trump.”

May 13, 10:23 AM
Cohen testifies about David Pecker

“Do you know someone named David Pecker?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Michael Cohen.

“I knew David Pecker even before Mr. Trump,” Cohen replied about the then-National Enquirer publisher. He said the two men would communicate by email or by Signal because “sometimes we thought encryption, not having the event traceable, would be beneficial.”

Cohen said he “rarely” interacted with Pecker before 2015. He provided an example of trying to use Pecker to raise for Harlem for Hoops, a charity to which Trump donated.

Before 2015, Cohen testified that the National Enquirer did not purchase stories to kill on Trump’s behalf.

He testified he was not aware of National Enquirer parent company AMI ever buying stories for Trump prior to the 2016 campaign — feeding into prosecutors’ narrative this was a campaign-related scheme.

“Prior to Mr. Trump announcing his run for the presidency, are you aware of AMI ever paying to suppress stories?” Hoffinger asked.
“No ma’am,” Cohen said.

May 13, 10:15 AM
Cohen recalls ‘great times,’ but says he lied for Trump

In an emotional moment, Michael Cohen gave a candid, glowing response when asked what it was like to work for the Trump Organization.

“It was fantastic,” he said. “Working for him during those 10 years was an amazing experience in many, many ways. There were great times, there were several less-than-great times, but for the most part I enjoyed the responsibilities that were given to me. I enjoyed working with my colleagues at the Trump Organization, the Trump children. It was a big family.”

Trump, at the defense table, remained motionless during Cohen’s description. His eyes appear closed.

After speaking positively about his time with the Trump Organization, Cohen acknowledged that he often lied for Trump.

“Because it was needed to accomplish the task,” Cohen said.

May 13, 10:09 AM
Cohen testifies about how Trump didn’t like paper trails

Michael Cohen testified that normally spoke with Trump in person or over the phone. Cohen said he sometimes contacted Trump though his executive assistant Rhona Graff, his “personal attache” Keith Schiller, or Trump’s children.

Like earlier witnesses, Cohen testified that Trump did not use email.

“Mr. Trump never had an email address,” Cohen said. “He would comment that emails are like written papers. He knows too many people who have gone down as a direct result … of emails … that prosecutors could use in a case.”

“By ‘gone down’, you mean getting in some sort of trouble?” Cohen was asked.

“Yes ma’am,” Cohen replied.

Trump, at the defense table, did not react to this questioning.

Cohen said that he frequently reported to Trump when handling sensitive matters.

“As soon as you had a result or answer, you would go straight back and tell him, especially if it was a matter that was troubling to him,” Cohen said.

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

May 13, 10:05 AM
Cohen says he worked closely with Trump

Prosecutors appear to be laying the groundwork for how closely Trump and Michael Cohen worked together. Cohen said his office was at one point “maybe 50 or 60 feet” away from Trump’s.

Cohen also told the jury they spoke “every single day, multiple times per day.”

Cohen is answering questions in the same animated fashion that he often displays on TV. Asked if he threatened companies and people with lawsuits on behalf of Trump, Cohen didn’t miss a beat: “Yes,” he said, his eyebrows raising. Occasionally, he glances over to the jury.

Trump, at the defense table, is sitting back in his chair with his head slightly tilted. He does not appear to be directly looking at Cohen.

May 13, 10:00 AM
Cohen testifies that he renegotiated Trump’s bills

According to Michael Cohen, one of his frequent jobs was renegotiating bills on Trump’s behalf.

“A law firm would send an invoice. He didn’t believe that the invoice was fair, reasonable or justified, so he would give me the task of renegotiating a specific bill,” Cohen said.

Cohen recounted his work repaying approximately 50 vendors related to Trump University at a discounted rate. All but two of the fifty vendors agreed to the discounted rate.

“They just went away,” Cohen said of the two vendors.

“Did you pay then?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked.

“No, ma’am,” Cohen responded.

Cohen said Trump told him the outcome of the negotiation was “fantastic” and “great.”

“How did that make you feel?” Hoffinger asked.

“Like I was on top of the world,” Cohen responded.

May 13, 9:53 AM
Cohen says Trump hired him after he did legal favors

Cohen told jurors that he began working for Trump after helping Trump with a series of legal favors.

“We ended up overtaking the board and resolving the issue which was to Mr. Trump’s satisfaction,” Cohen said about the first favor related to a board at a Trump property. “He liked the way that occurred and then continued to ask me if I would assist in other legal issues or matters he had.”

“Did he pay you for that work?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger said.

“No, ma’am,” Cohen said

According to Cohen, Trump offered him a job after he presented Trump a $100,000 bill for legal costs related to the earlier favors.

“Would you want to come work for me?” Cohen recounted Trump saying. “I was honored, I was taken by surprise, and I agreed”

When asked about the $100,000 legal bill, Cohen said Trump “asked if I would like to get fired on the first day.” The bill was never paid, according to Cohen, who immediately left his law firm to work for the Trump Organization as Trump’s special counsel and a senior vice president.

When asked about the kind of work Cohen did for Trump, Cohen responded, “It was whatever concerned him — whatever he wanted.”

Cohen said he reported “just to Mr. Trump.”

May 13, 9:47 AM
Cohen identifies Trump in court

Michael Cohen briefly introduced himself to the jury, telling them how his father immigrated to California after surviving the Holocaust.

“Four children later, here I am,” Cohen said about his parents.

Cohen told the jury that he went to law school at the urging of his family, though he did not want to practice law.

“I wanted to go to Wall Street,” Cohen said.

He briefly explained how he acquired wealth with real estate investments and taxi medallions.

“I ended up going into business with a friend of mine who had grown up with me and we started purchasing buildings,” Cohen said.

Cohen stood up in the witness box so he could identify Trump in the courtroom.

“He is wearing a blue and white tie,” Cohen said while looking toward Trump.

May 13, 9:43 AM
Cohen takes the stand

“The people call Michael Cohen,” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger said.

Michael Cohen entered the courtroom and took his seat in the witness box.

Donald Trump stared straight forward as Cohen walked into the courtroom. He did not appear to look toward Cohen.

May 13, 9:42 AM
Judge denies state’s request regarding Weisselberg

Judge Merchan began by denying the state’s request to enter into evidence former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg’s separation agreement with the company.

“It would come in as a business record, but I am not going to allow it in,” Merchan said. “It doesn’t prove any element of the offense, it doesn’t move the ball in any way.”

Prosecutors sought to introduce the agreement — which allotted Weisselberg $2 million after he left the Trump Organization– to explain why Weisselberg was not testifying at the trial. Weisselberg is currently serving a five-month sentence on Rikers Island for perjury.

Trump, meanwhile, has been waiting patients at the defense table for the jury to enter, which is taking a bit longer than usual.

“Where’s the jury?” one individual in his entourage could be heard whispering.

May 13, 9:35 AM
Proceedings are underway

Judge Juan Merchan took his seat on the bench and opened the day’s proceedings.

Each of the lawyers made brief introductions before Merchan addressed Trump in his usual fashion.

“Good morning, Mr. Trump,” Merchan said from the bench.

May 13, 9:28 AM
Trump, Bragg enter courtroom

Donald Trump has entered the courtroom. He looked around the room as he made his way to the front.

The former president is joined by his attorneys, as well as numerous associates and Secret Service.

Eric Trump and attorney Alina Habba are seated together in the first row, immediately behind Trump. Behind them in the second, which is completely full, are Trump’s legal adviser Boris Epshteyn, Natalie Harp, and JD Vance.

Campaign team members Jason Miller and Karoline Levitt are seated in the very back of the courtroom.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has also entered the courtroom.

May 13, 9:17 AM
Prosecutors enter courtroom

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

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger, who is expected to lead Michael Cohen’s direct examination, placed a hefty three-inch binder at the lectern before returning to the counsel table.

May 13, 9:09 AM
Dozens of reporters crammed into courtroom

The courtroom in the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse is packed with reporters and security ahead of Michael Cohen’s testimony.

Approximately 70 reporters are crammed into the gallery of the courtroom, seated on wooden benches that seat six per row. Five members of the public are seated in the back of the gallery behind the prosecution counsel table and jury box, and five court officers are scattered throughout the courtroom.

On the right side of the courtroom, earlier witnesses Jaden Jarmel-Schneider and Georgia Longstreet are seated near computer monitors. Both work as paralegals for the Manhattan district attorney’s office and testified as part of the prosecution’s case.

Jarmel-Schneider introduced phone records and a summary exhibit about the falsified documents into evidence, while Longstreet introduced Trump’s social media posts into evidence.

May 13, 8:58 AM
Members of public wait overnight for seat in courtroom

Several members of the public waited overnight to secure a spot in the courtroom for Michael Cohen’s testimony, traveling from as far as Los Angeles for the momentous day in court.

Michael Powers told ABC News that he joined the line at 2:30 p.m. yesterday to secure his spot in court, though he enlisted the help of professional line sitters to hold the spot overnight. He rejoined the line at 5:00 a.m.

“It’s history in the making,” Powers said. “This isn’t gonna happen very often.”

Powers said he prioritized seeing Michael Cohen’s testimony due to its importance to the prosecution’s case.

“I find him credible” Powers said. “He’s lied in the past, but he lied for Donald Trump in my opinion, so I think he’ll be a good witness.”

Other members of the public waited overnight without the use of line sitters, including Chris Sagastizabal, who joined the line at 6:45 p.m. on Sunday with two friends.

“I changed my work schedule,” Sagastizabal said.

Five members in the public have been seated in the courtroom this morning, with several others seated in a nearby overflow room.

May 13, 7:59 AM
Cohen arrives in court

Michael Cohen has arrived at the lower Manhattan courthouse ahead of today’s expected testimony.

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

May 13, 7:01 AM
Star witness Michael Cohen expected to take the stand

Michael Cohen, who for nearly a decade was Donald Trump’s trusted adviser, personal attorney, and self-described “attack dog with a law license,” is scheduled to take the stand this morning as the prosecution’s star witness in Trump’s criminal hush money trial.

According to prosecutors, Cohen was in the room in when Trump and former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker agreed to a catch-and-kill scheme to hide negative information about Trump from 2016 voters, and Cohen himself made a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels to buy her silence about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump. The former president, who has denied the encounter took place, is on trial for allegedly falsifying business records related to his company’s reimbursement to Cohen in 2017.

But Cohen’s value to the prosecution’s case could be endangered by the disbarred lawyer’s credibility issues. Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to tax evasion, campaign finance allegations, and lying to Congress in what Cohen says was an effort to protect Trump. The former president’s lawyers have also argued that Cohen perjured himself again when he testified at Trump’s civil fraud trial last year, and accuse Cohen of making his livelihood off books and podcasts that antagonize Trump.

Cohen is the final key witness in the prosecution’s case, after which the defense will present its case.

Copyright © 2024, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Current track