Defense recalls Michael Cohen's credibility as jury hears closing arguments in Trump hush money case

The jury is weighing 34 counts against Trump for allegedly falsifying business records stemming from a payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Published: May 28, 2024 8:13am

Updated: May 28, 2024 2:25pm

Donald Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche reminded jurors of Michael Cohen's credibility issues as jurors began hearing closing arguments in the former president's hush money trial Tuesday.

The jury is weighing 34 counts against Trump for allegedly falsifying business records stemming from a $130,000 payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

"There’s no way that you can find that President Trump knew about this payment at the time it was made without believing the words of Michael Cohen, period. And you cannot — you cannot — believe his words," Todd Blanche, defense attorney for Trump, told the jury. 

Blanche recalled evidence presented at trial that Trump did not have full knowledge of what Cohen had planned to do about the Stormy Daniels story. In fact, one recording presented during Cohen's testimony indicates that Trump did not understand what exactly his so-called fixer was up to, Just the News previously reported.

Blanche told the jury Tuesday in his closing arguments that Cohen was motivated to handle the Stormy Daniels payment because he saw it as an opportunity to further his own career. 

"[Who] else would do that for somebody? Who else? I did because I care about the guy. I wasn’t going to play pennywise pound foolish. And I’m sitting there and I’m saying to myself what about me?" Cohen said to Daniels' lawyer in a 2017 conversation. 

Blanche argued this phrase from Cohen reveals the lawyer wanted more in return for his actions now that his ex-boss was the president. 

"It made perfect sense for Mr. Cohen in 2016 to make payment without telling President Trump about it" in an effort to secure an administration job or better position at Trump's organization, Blanche argued, according to CNN

Blanche, began his closing arguments by reiterating claims of Trump's innocence.  

"I started out by saying something that I’m going to repeat to you right now. It's as true right now as it was on April 22. And that is President Trump is innocent. He did not commit any crimes, and the district attorney has not met their burden of proof — period. The evidence is all in," Blanche said, according to CNN

Blanche also asked jurors to consider the deficiencies in witness testimony rather than the salacious details of Stormy Daniels' story, which he says is not relevant to proving the crimes with which the former president is charged. 

"The evidence should leave you wanting more. You should want and expect more than the testimony of Michael Cohen," Blanche said. "You should demand more than the testimony of Keith Davidson, an attorney who really was just trying to extort money from President Trump in the lead up to the 2016 election." 

"This case is about documents. It’s a paper case. This case is not about an encounter with Stormy Daniels 18 years ago," Blanche added.

Daniels provided testimony during the trial, describing in detail an alleged encounter with Trump in 2006, which the former president denies occurred. 

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who made the payment to Daniels, also testified. 

Closing arguments are expected to last for most of the day on Tuesday, but may extend into Wednesday, after which jury deliberations would begin. 

A verdict in the trial is not likely this week.

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