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Michael Cohen returns to testify in Trump's criminal bribery trial

Michael Cohen will return to testify this Tuesday (14) in the criminal trial of Donald Trump, one day after telling jurors that the former president of the United States personally authorized him to make a silence payment to a porn star weeks before the election 2016.

Cohen, the former lawyer who said he was once so loyal to Trump that he would take a bullet for his former boss, is the prosecutors' most important witness in the case. In hours of testimony Monday, he said Trump ordered him to pay porn actress Stormy Daniels — “Just do it,” Cohen recalled Trump saying — to ensure his silence about an alleged sexual encounter in 2006.

The $130,000 payment made by Cohen in October 2016 is at the center of Trump's criminal trial, the first of a former US president, which began in a New York State courtroom in Manhattan a month ago.

Prosecutors say Trump paid Cohen back after the election and hid the refunds by creating false business records indicating they were for legal fees. These refunds are the basis for the 34 counts of falsifying business records that Trump faces.

Trump, 77, who is running against President Joe Biden in November's presidential election, has pleaded not guilty and denies any sexual encounters with Daniels. He characterized the case as an attempt to interfere in his campaign to retake the White House.

During his first day on the witness stand, Cohen, 57, described several episodes in which he said Trump approved payments to keep damaging sex scandal stories out of public view so they wouldn't hurt his presidential campaign.

“Everything required Mr. Trump’s approval,” Cohen said.

In October 2016, he said, Cohen learned that Daniels was selling her story to tabloids. At that time, Trump's campaign was in crisis after the release of audio in which he bragged about grabbing women's genitals.

“He told me, 'This is a disaster, a total disaster. Women are going to hate me,' Cohen told jurors what Trump had said. “This is going to be a disaster for the campaign.”

Cohen testified that Trump was concerned exclusively with the impact Daniels' story could have on his run for the White House — and not, as defense lawyers suggested, the effect on his wife and family. This distinction is crucial to the case.

Cohen's past dishonesty — he pleaded guilty to federal crimes related to the payment to Daniels and admitted to lying under oath multiple times — is sure to provoke a scathing cross-examination from Trump's lawyers when he concludes his testimony.

Defense lawyers have already signaled their intention to attack his credibility, calling him a liar in his opening statement and warning jurors not to trust his word.

The Manhattan trial is considered less consequential than three other criminal cases Trump faces. The other cases accuse Trump of trying to overturn his 2020 presidential defeat and mishandling classified documents after leaving office. Trump also pleaded not guilty to all three.

Source: CNN Brasil

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