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Trump hush-money trial: Michael Cohen testifies about lying under oath

Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he arrives for his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Thursday. Pool photo by Jeenah Moon/UPI
1 of 3 | Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters as he arrives for his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York on Thursday. Pool photo by Jeenah Moon/UPI | License Photo

May 16 (UPI) -- Donald Trump's attorney's cross-examination of former attorney Michael Cohen became heated at times during Trump's hush-money trial in Manhattan on Thursday.

The proceedings ended Thursday with Cohen still on the stand. There will be no proceeding on Friday and the trial will resume on Monday. Defense attorney Todd Blanche said a decision has not yet been made about whether the former president will testify.

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Judge Juan Merchan advised that the prosecution and defense should be prepared to deliver summation as early as Tuesday if testimony is completed on Monday.

Blanche became more incensed throughout Cohen's testimony Thursday, particularly when questioning Cohen about a phone call with Trump's bodyguard Keith Schiller.

Cohen testified earlier in the week that Schiller gave the phone to Trump and they talked about the alleged hush-money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

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"You said you had a recollection of a phone call on Oct. 24 at 8:02 p.m., and you called Schiller and he gave the phone to President Trump and you gave Trump an update and he said, 'OK, good.' That was a lie!" Blanche shouted. "You did not talk to President Trump on that night. You talked to Keith Schiller about what we just went through."

This portion of the testimony followed discussion of Cohen's claim that he had been receiving harassing text messages in 2016. Cohen said he told the person that was sending the messages that he had sent their number to the Secret Service, to which they responded, "I'm 14, please don't do this."

Blanche alleged that the harassment was the subject of the phone call, not the hush-money payment. He showed the court text messages Cohen sent to Schiller throughout that day discussing being harassed.

"I always ran everything by the boss immediately, and in this case it would have been saying, 'Everything's been taken care of -- it's been resolved,'" Cohen maintained about the call regarding Daniels' payment.

Cohen later agreed with Blanche's assessment that the non-disclosure agreement signed by Daniels was a "perfectly legal contract." Blanche added that these agreements and settlements are entered into "all the time."

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When the jury was dismissed, Cohen had testified for more than six hours between Tuesday and Thursday.

Blanche asked Trump's former "fixer" about his 2017 testimony to the House Intelligence Committee that he was the subject of a perjury charge against him. Cohen acknowledged that there were "a couple different lies" in his testimony.

Blanche also pressed Cohen about comments he has made about Trump and whether he had inside information about the indictment before it was handed down. Later in the day, Blanche walked back this line of questioning, removing the implication that the district attorney's office shared information with Cohen. This was after the district attorney's office raised issue over the questioning during a break.

Cohen admitted to lying about stopping Trump's real estate deal in Moscow and later lying to a federal judge before being sentenced for his role in Trump's hush-money scheme and tax evasion in 2018. He largely kept his responses short, merely confirming what Blanche was asking him about.

When it came to his 2018 sentencing, he explained that he did not believe he should have been prosecuted.

"I have stated again that -- I don't dispute the facts of the case but that I should not have been prosecuted," Cohen said.

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"I worked with a joint defense agreement and we crafted the two-page document in order to stay on message -- the message we all knew Mr. Trump wanted," he added.

Cohen pushed back on Blanche over how he learned of Trump's indictment. Blanche showed Cohen some text messages he sent to a former investigator with the Manhattan district attorney's office. However, Cohen said that he did not get any information about the then-pending indictment from the investigator. Instead, he learned of the indictment from an article in The New York Times.

Cohen said the outcome of the trial affects him personally, though he did not explain how, nor was he asked.

Judge Juan Merchan said early in Thursday's proceedings that the jury may be called in on Wednesday, a day that they have typically had off. After a mid-morning break, Merchan said that is "off the table" as jurors informed him they are unavailable on Wednesday.

Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business records related to hush-money payments to cover up alleged affairs with Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. He pleaded not guilty to all charges and has denied both affairs.

Daniels testified last week about the affair, hush-money agreement and how the news of the affair has affected her personal life.

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