Jury Needs to Believe Michael Cohen’s ‘Three Simple Words’ to Convict: Attorney

To convict Donald Trump in his ongoing Stormy Daniels hush money trial, the jury must believe “three simple words” given in testimony on Tuesday by Michael Cohen, the Republican firebrand’s former fixer, said a former federal prosecutor.

Joyce Vance, former U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Alabama, was referring to a statement from Cohen who said Trump had authorized a plan to pay hush money to Stormy Daniels, a former pornographic actress, ahead of the 2016 presidential election, then conceal this by falsely saying the funds were for legal expenses.

“Judges instruct juries on the law they must apply to the facts to decide a case. Often, judges explain that proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the kind of proof you would need to act on one of the most serious issues in your own life,” Vance wrote on her Substack blog on Wednesday. “It is not proof beyond any speculative doubt, but it is still a very high burden. Here, the jury has to believe Michael Cohen’s three simple words—’He approved it’—in order to convict.”

“Imagine that you are a juror in the trial of Donald Trump,” she added. “In order to convict, you have to believe that he was a part of the scheme to falsify corporate records. There’s a good bit of circumstantial evidence of that, and then there’s Michael Cohen, whose testimony places Trump squarely in the thick of things, directing Cohen’s actions. ‘He approved it.’ It was one of the last pieces of testimony Cohen gave on Monday.”

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for the 2024 presidential election, is being tried on 34 counts of falsifying business expenses related to claims he orchestrated the payment of $130,000 in hush money to Stormy Daniels, , to keep an alleged affair between them secret before the 2016 election. He allegedly made the payment through Cohen and falsified business records when he reimbursed him. The former president has pleaded not guilty to all charges and also denies Daniels’ claim that they had a sexual relationship back in 2006.

In court on Tuesday, Cohen said Trump personally approved the reimbursement of $420,000 to him over 12 months, which included the payment to Daniels as well as other expenses and was increased for tax purposes.

Specifically he said this took place at a meeting between himself, Trump and Allen Weisselberg, formerly the Trump Organization’s chief finance officer who is currently in prison after having been convicted of perjury.

Asked by a prosecution attorney “what, if anything, did Mr. Trump say at that time” regarding the payment, Cohen replied: “He approved it. And he also said: ‘This is going to be one heck of a ride in D.C.'”

Michael Cohen
Former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen departs from his home to attend his second day of testimony at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 14, 2024 in New York City. If the jury believes “three simple…

David Dee Delgado/GETTY

“Cohen confirmed the overwhelming testimony that false business records were created in this case,” wrote Vance. “He testified that he created monthly invoices and submitted them for ‘services rendered’ when, in fact, he wasn’t providing any services. ‘Was this a false record?’ prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen. ‘Yes, ma’am,’ was the response.”

Newsweek contacted Donald Trump’s attorney and representatives of his 2024 presidential election campaign for comment outside regular office hours on Wednesday morning by email. This article will be updated if they wish to comment.

On Monday, the Manhattan court was shown what prosecutors said a First Republic bank statement with Cohen’s transfer of $130,000 to Daniels’ attorney before the 2016 election, along with handwritten notes from Weisselberg detailing how he would then be repaid by Trump.

“Did you have a sense from Mr. Trump that you would end up being out the money or you would get paid back?” asked the prosecutor on Monday.

“He stated about it: Don’t worry about it. You will get the money back,” replied Cohen.

Separately, Cohen said it had been Melania Trump’s idea to spin her husband’s comments in the Access Hollywood tape, which was leaked just before the 2016 election, as “locker room talk.”

In the footage, which was recorded in 2005, Trump said that “when you’re a star” you “can do anything” to women including “grab them by the p****.”