Michael Cohen’s Testimony Appears ‘Credible,’ Legal Analysts Say

Michael Cohen appeared calm and “credible” while taking the witness stand against his former boss, Donald Trump, during Monday’s trial in the former president’s hush money case.

Cohen, a former attorney and “fixer” for Trump, is the star witness for prosecutors at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office who claim that the former president forged financial documents in order to conceal a hush money payment that Cohen made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all 34 felony charges against him in the case and claims that he never had sexual relations with Daniels, who last week provided a rather detailed account of her extramarital affair with the former president while testifying.

On Monday, Cohen testified that he paid Daniels $130,000 toward the end of the 2016 election to keep quiet about her affair with Trump, noting that Daniels’ story would have been “catastrophic” for the former president’s campaign. Cohen was later reimbursed by the former president after the election, according to his testimony.

Cohen's Testimony Appears 'Credible': Legal Analysts
Former President Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer Michael Cohen arrives at the New York State Supreme Court on October 25, 2023, in New York City. Cohen testified against his former boss on Monday in Trump’s hush money…

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Newsweek senior report Katherine Fung was inside the courtroom Monday while Cohen faced questions from prosecutor Susan Hoffinger, and described the former lawyer’s demeanor as “calm” and “somber” looking while on the witness stand. Several legal analysts echoed that Cohen appeared confident while taking Hoffinger’s questions, including lawyer and MSNBC contributor Katie Phang, who wrote on social media that Cohen had been “calm, thorough, detailed, and credible all day long.”

“He has not rushed his testimony and has been very clear while answering questions,” Phang added in her post to X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Cohen has been walking the jury through several exhibits that were already entered into evidence, adding more color to prior testimony provided by other witnesses,” she noted. “Thus far, excepting a few minor inconsistencies, the collective testimony has been consistent.”

CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen, who served as counsel to the House Judiciary Committee during Trump’s first impeachment trial in 2019, also noted on X that Cohen’s demeanor will likely play into prosecutors’ favor, dismissing class that the witness should be “more high energy.”

“Tone is natural, credible,” Eisen wrote to X. “…Besides, he has to pace himself for up to 3 days of this. So far DA [District Attorney] on track.”

In contrast, Trump and a few of his allies in the courtroom—including GOP Senators Tommy Tuberville and J.D. Vance—were described as appearing “somber-looking” during Monday’s lunch break, according to retired Queens County Supreme Court Justice George Grasso.

“[Cohen] comes across poised, cool, calm and collected,” Grasso told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “And I saw the Trump team.”

“Trump came in with a huge entourage today…When they left at the break at about 11 or 11:30, that was one somber-looking group,” Grasso added. “So I don’t think they’re all too pleased about what they’re seeing so far.”

Newsweek reached out to Trump’s campaign via email for comment on Monday’s trial.

Cohen has yet to face questions from Trump’s defense team, which will likely focus on his guilty plea in 2018 to campaign finance violations and other charges related to the hush money payment to Daniels. Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg told Newsweek that while Cohen is “off to a good start,” he is likely to face heavy questions during cross-examination.

“Cohen has testified credibly in other forums, so I’m not surprised that he is coming across well here,” Aronberg said. “But this is the easy part. The cross-examination will be for all the marbles.”

Former federal prosecutor Neama Rahmani echoed in an email to Newsweek that Cohen has appeared “calm and confident on the witness stand, but it’s too early to tell whether that will continue.”

“Cohen is getting softballs from the prosecution and it remains to be seen whether he’ll be able to maintain his composure when he is being called a liar by the defense during cross-examination,” Rahmani added.