The Stage Is Set For Alvin Bragg’s Star Witness—An Admitted Liar—To Take The Stand Against Trump


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NEW YORK—Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s team called five witnesses and concluded a significant portion of their case Friday, clearing the way for Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen — an admitted liar — to take the stand.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the judge they would call just two more witnesses next week, potentially resting their case against former President Donald Trump by the end of the week. Cohen, whose recommendations include pleading guilty to lying to Congress and admitting that he lied under oath to a federal judge, is expected to take the stand on Monday to corroborate key aspects of Bragg’s case.

Trump is charged with 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying business records while reimbursing Cohen for a $130,000 payment made to keep porn star Stormy Daniels quiet about her claims of an affair in the lead up to the 2016 election.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Manhattan Criminal court after a hearing in the upcoming hush money trial, in New York City, U.S., March 25, 2024. Curtis Means/Pool via REUTERS

Many of Friday’s witnesses were custodial witnesses who prosecutors called to verify evidence like phone records and social media posts, though Madeleine Westerhout, who was Trump’s executive assistant at the White House, also concluded her testimony Friday.

Westerhout said that she did not have any specific recollection of Trump speaking with former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg in 2017. She told prosecutors Thursday that she recalled Trump on a few occasions calling Weisselberg for clarification on checks he had questions about.

Westerhout also confirmed Friday that Trump would sometimes sign documents and checks without reviewing them, agreeing he is a person who would “multitask.” (RELATED: Judge In Bragg Trial Instructs Prosecutors To Tell Michael Cohen To Stop Talking About Trump’s Case)

Merchan suggested Friday, in response to a concern raised by Trump’s defense, that Weisselberg be called into court out of the presence of the jury, at least initially, to see if he is willing to testify. Weisselberg is currently in jail serving a five month sentence on perjury charges related to his testimony during Trump’s civil fraud case and previously plead guilty to tax fraud.

Other witnesses Friday included employees of AT&T and Verizon, who testified to phone records, and two paralegals from the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, who testified about Trump’s social media posts, text messages between Stormy Daniels’ manager Gina Rodriguez and National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard and summaries of phone records prepared by the office.

The text messages revealed Rodriguez initially was asking $250,000 for Daniels’ story but lowered the price after negotiating with Howard.

One of Trump’s tweets introduced into evidence Friday included his May 2018 Twitter post about paying Cohen.

“Mr. Cohen, an attorney, received a monthly retainer, not from the campaign and having nothing to do with the campaign, from which he entered into, through reimbursement, a private contract between two parties, known as a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA,” Trump wrote at the time.

Michael Cohen on TikTok

Michael Cohen on TikTok Screenshot

Merchan dismissed the jury before lunch, concluding a week that featured the dramatic testimony of Stormy Daniels, which caused Trump’s defense to twice motion for a mistrial. The judge denied both motions.

After the jury left Friday, defense attorney Todd Blanche asked Merchan to order Cohen to stop talking about Trump and the case. (RELATED: Judge Imposing Double Standard By Gagging Trump But Giving Michael Cohen Free Rein, Legal Experts Say)

Cohen has taken to social media to criticize Trump, repeatedly referring to him in a number of Twitter posts as “VonShitzenpants.” Recently, he’s been speaking live on TikTok about the trial.

Blanche referenced an instance Friday of Cohen wearing a shirt with a picture of Trump behind bars on TikTok.

Georgia Longstreet, one of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office paralegals who testified Friday, said when asked by Trump’s defense that she has not recently reviewed Cohen’s TikTok as part of her job.

Merchan instructed prosecutors to tell Cohen that “the judge is asking him to refrain making any more statements.”

Many of the witnesses who have testified so far have continued to portray Cohen in an unfavorable light. David Pecker, former National Enquirer publisher, agreed that Cohen is prone to exaggeration.

Keith Davidson, former attorney for Karen McDougal and Daniels, called Cohen a “very aggressive guy.” Davidson said he thought Cohen was “going to kill himself” after he called him to air frustration about not getting a spot in the Trump administration, where he had hoped for a position as high as attorney general.

Likewise, former White House communications director Hope Hicks testified that Cohen had a tendency to go “rogue,” taking actions campaign staff found unhelpful and frustrating.

Merchan denied Trump’s bid to prevent Cohen from testifying in March. “Michael Cohen is a liar,” Trump’s attorneys had argued. “He recently committed perjury, on the stand and under oath, at a civil trial involving President Trump. If his public statements are any indication, he plans to do so again at this criminal trial.”

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