Michael Cohen, Key to Trump Trial, Tells Jurors of Seedy Hush-Money Plot

The bargain with Ms. Daniels, hashed out in the campaign’s final month, was less smooth. Mr. Pecker refused to pay her, putting the onus on Mr. Trump, and therefore Mr. Cohen. When Mr. Trump was slow to decide, hoping the threat would subside after Election Day, Mr. Cohen said that he used every imaginable excuse to stall Ms. Daniels’s lawyer, even the holiest of Jewish holidays — Yom Kippur, the day of atonement.

“I was following directions,” Mr. Cohen explained.

But Ms. Daniels became impatient and threatened to walk away, prompting Mr. Cohen to pay out of his own pocket. Mr. Cohen said he told Mr. Trump “immediately” once he closed the deal, an assertion backed up by phone records.

“I was doing everything that I could and more in order to protect my boss,” Mr. Cohen told the jury, “which was something I had done for a long time.”

It paid off. Mr. Trump won the election a few days later.

But Mr. Cohen lost his patience when Mr. Trump did not award him a job in Washington, and gave him what he felt was an insultingly small bonus. He conveyed his anger to the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen H. Weisselberg, who promised that Mr. Trump would boost the bonus and reimburse him for the hush money.

Mr. Weisselberg drafted a plan, memorialized in notes that prosecutors displayed in the courtroom, and then, Mr. Cohen testified, Mr. Trump blessed it.

“Did he show this document to Mr. Trump?” a prosecutor, Susan Hoffinger, asked.

“He did,” Mr. Cohen said. “He approved it.”

Reporting was contributed by Kate Christobek, Alan Feuer, Jesse McKinley, Jonathan Swan and Wesley Parnell.

Source link