Donald Trump’s Lawyers Change Strategy for Michael Cohen Testimony: Analyst

Amid Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial on Tuesday, the former president’s lawyers have seemingly changed strategy for Michael Cohen’s testimony, according to lawyer Katie Phang.

Phang, host of MSNBC’s The Katie Phang Show and legal contributor for the network, took to X, formerly Twitter, to point out how Trump’s lawyers have objected amid Cohen’s testimony several more times on Tuesday than they did on Monday.

“Unlike yesterday where there were very few objections and zero sidebars, today the defense seems to have decided that it wants to object so there have been several more objections lodged, some of which have been sustained. There also have been a number of sidebars already this morning.”

Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, began testimony in the high-profile trial on Monday, which will determine whether the former president falsified business records over payments, allegedly facilitated by Cohen, to Daniels to keep an alleged affair that happened in 2006 secret before the 2016 presidential election, as alleged in the criminal indictment.

Donald Trump and Todd Blanche
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he arrives with attorney Todd Blanche (R) to court during his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on May…

Mark Peterson-Pool/Getty Images

Prosecutors led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg allege the $130,000 payment was part of a scheme to stop potentially damaging stories about Trump from becoming public. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for the 2024 election, has denied any wrongdoing and that the affair ever happened. The former president has pleaded not guilty to all 34 charges against him in the case.

On Tuesday, in the fifth week of the trial, Cohen resumed his testimony after he explained on Monday why he paid the $130,000 “hush money” to Daniels and the plan created to reimburse him, which he says Trump approved.

According to Newsweek’s Katherine Fung, who is in the courtroom, Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche objected several times amid Cohen’s testimony on Tuesday.

Newsweek has reached out to Trump’s lawyer via email for comment.

Amid testimony, Cohen spoke about when the Wall Street Journal was preparing to publish the story about Daniels in January of 2018 as he recalls being in contact with Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson, asking how his client’s story got out. “I was angered. I was concerned,” Cohen said. He told Davidson to obtain a denial from Daniels.

It was at this time that Trump’s attorney Blanche objected to prosecutor Susan Hoffinger’s question about who benefitted from the joint defense agreement that Trump was part of. According to Fung, this is the first sidebar in Cohen’s testimony, adding that there have been few objections from the defense.

Shortly after, when Cohen was testifying that David Pecker was concerned that the Daniels matter would affect AMI, the publisher of the National Enquirer, Blanche interrupted Cohen’s testimony to speak with Hoffinger. He then asked if counsels could approach the bench.

In addition, when Cohen confirmed he had pleaded guilty to evasion of personal income taxes and providing false statements to financial institutions—neither related to Trump, the defense successfully objected to two efforts from the prosecution to ask Cohen if he testified during that time about being reimbursed by Trump.

Prosecutor Hoffinger then asks more vaguely what else Cohen had testified about.

“I testified about the reimbursement of the $130,000 made to me on a monthly basis,” Cohen says.