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Trump, ex-confidant Cohen set for showdown in NY trial

Trump faces first election test after hush money conviction
Source: Video Screenshot

Donald Trump arrived at his New York civil fraud trial Tuesday blasting his former right-hand man Michael Cohen as a “liar,” ahead of testimony by the disgraced lawyer that could expose his old boss’s intimate business secrets.

Cohen has become one of the former US president’s — and leading Republican 2024 candidate’s — most vocal critics. He delivered searing testimony to Congress while Trump was still president and his appearance now as a witness in the New York trial, delayed last week for health reasons, is hotly anticipated.

Having served Trump as his lawyer and general fixer for years, Cohen has been privy to many of the scandal-embroiled populist’s private and business dealings.

Ahead of their possible courtroom confrontation, Trump amped up the feud, telling reporters: “He’s a liar. He’s trying to get a better deal for himself but it’s not going to work.”

“We did nothing wrong,” Trump added.

Trump is not required to attend the proceedings, but he has shown up sporadically, using his appearances to portray himself as the victim of a supposed Democratic Party plot to interfere with his 2024 presidential campaign.

The 77-year-old and his two eldest sons are accused of vastly — and fraudulently — inflating the value of the Trump Organization’s real estate assets to receive more favorable bank loans and insurance terms.

The former president does not risk going to jail in the fraud trial, but New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, is seeking $250 million in penalties and the removal of Trump and his sons from management of the family empire.

Cohen, once known as Trump’s “Pitbull,” has been taunting the former president on social media ahead of his testimony.

He said Monday he “will continue to speak truth to power… no matter Donald’s continued smear and harassment campaign against me.”

On Tuesday, as he left a hotel apparently heading for the courthouse, Cohen insisted his credibility was intact and “I’m looking forward to the reunion” in court.

It was Cohen’s testimony before Congress in 2019 that sparked the investigation by New York authorities into whether Trump artificially inflated his net worth.

Trump ally pleads guilty

Cohen is also expected to be a star witness in a separate criminal case facing the former president in New York for allegedly paying election-eve hush money to a pornographic actress.

Trump has been charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with the payment. He has pleaded not guilty.

Cohen was sentenced in 2018 to three years in prison for crimes including the hush-money case and tax evasion, but was released after a little over a year and served the remainder of his sentence in home confinement.

Trump’s defense lawyers are expected to attack Cohen’s credibility during his testimony in the civil fraud trial by bringing up his criminal record.

Earlier this month, Trump withdrew a lawsuit he filed against Cohen in April seeking $500 million for alleged breach of attorney-client privilege and a confidentiality agreement.

No reason was given for Trump dropping the suit, but Cohen, 57, noted that it came just days before the former president was scheduled to sit for a deposition.

The civil fraud and hush money cases are only two of the multitude of legal battles facing Trump as he seeks to recapture the White House.

He is to go on trial in Washington in March for conspiring to overturn results of the 2020 election and in Florida in May on charges of mishandling secret government documents.

Trump also faces racketeering charges in Georgia for allegedly conspiring to upend the election results in the southern state after his 2020 defeat.

Compounding his legal woes, a third former Trump lawyer who worked on the Trump 2020 campaign pleaded guilty in the Georgia case.

Jenna Ellis struck a deal Tuesday with prosecutors, and in a tearful statement before Judge Scott McAfee, she expressed regret for her actions following Trump’s election loss to Joe Biden.

“I look back on this whole experience with deep remorse,” she told the court, after pleading guilty to a charge relating to false claims of voter fraud that were made to the Georgia state Senate.

“If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges,” she said.

 

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AFP

Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.







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