PoliticsTrump on Trial


Hush money trial: Cohen expresses 'regret' while working for Trump

While Cohen was testifying, House Speaker Mike Johnson was railing against the proceedings outside the New York courthouse.
Michael Cohen testifies as a Wall Street Journal article is displayed on a screen in Manhattan criminal court.
Posted at 9:15 AM, May 14, 2024

Michael Cohen, who was dubbed Donald Trump's "fixer," testified for a second straight day in the former president's hush money trial.

Cohen is a central figure in the accusations that Trump falsified business records to hide reimbursements to his former attorney for paying porn star Stormy Daniels, Playboy model Karen McDougal, and a former doorman at Trump Tower. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg alleges Trump did it in an attempt to conceal an "illegal scheme to influence the 2016 presidential election" by trying to cover up extramarital affairs.

Trump has described the nature of the payments to Cohen as "a legal expense."

While on the witness stand, Cohen talked about his years of loyalty to Trump, noting that he admired him before landing a job as his attorney.

"He’s a man who cares deeply about this country, who tells it straight," Cohen said. "Trump speaks from the heart."

Trump's attorney Todd Blanche asked Cohen about his previous praise of the president. Cohen replied, "At that time I was knee-deep into the cult of Donald Trump. It’s how I felt.”

Earlier in the day, Cohen told prosecutors that he has regrets about some of his actions while serving as Trump's lawyer.

"I regret doing things for him that I should not have," Cohen said. "Lying, bullying people to effectuate a goal. I don’t regret working for the Trump organization. As I expressed before, it was some very interesting and great times. But to keep the loyalty and to do things he had asked me to do, I violated my moral compass, and I suffered the penalty, as did my family."

Furthermore, Cohen did admit on the stand that he wanted to see Trump convicted, and that he wanted to see some accountability.

The defense is trying to portray Cohen as an unreliable witness. Cohen was previously sentenced to three years in prison for lying to Congress.

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At the same time Cohen was testifying, an appellate court denied Trump's appeal to overturn a gag order that prohibits him from speaking about witnesses, the judge's family or jurors. While the gag order has prevented Trump from speaking about those individuals, it has not stopped his supporters from speaking out.

As Trump exited the Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday, he once again paused to address reporters. This time, he expressed that he had a "very good day," likely brought by the notable support he received from influential figures.

A surprising moment came when House Speaker Mike Johnson made a brief appearance at the courthouse, along with North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Reps. Byron Donalds and Cory Mills, and former presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who were all there to support Trump.

Johnson briefly entered the courthouse to hear Cohen's testimony from an overflow room before heading outside to decry the trial to reporters.

"I'm a former litigator myself. I am disgusted by what is happening here and what is being done here to our entire system of justice overall," he said. "The people are losing faith right now in this country, in our institutions. They're losing faith in our system of justice. And the reason for that is because they see it being abused as it is being done here in New York."

A growing number of Trump allies have joined him at the courthouse. On Monday, Sens. Tommy Tuberville and J.D. Vance, along with Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, were present.

There are no trial proceedings Wednesday but on Thursday, Trump's defense team will continue its cross-examination of Cohen.