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Michael Cohen challenged on whether Trump Org payments were a retainer at hush money trial

Molly Crane-Newman and Josephine Stratman, New York Daily News on

Published in Political News

NEW YORK — Michael Cohen testified that he stole from the Trump Organization when he returned to the witness stand for the end of his cross-examination Monday at Donald Trump’s hush money trial in Manhattan, as defense lawyers continued to attack the former fixer’s credibility.

Trump lawyer challenges Cohen on retainer

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche pulled up a 2017 email where then-Trump CFO Allen Weisselberg asked Cohen to “please prepare the agreement” for a monthly payment, suggesting this disputed Cohen’s previous testimony that there was no retainer agreement with Trump or the Trump Org.

Cohen has testified that the $35,000 monthly checks he received were reimbursements for the payment he made to buy porn star Stormy Daniels’ silence on an alleged tryst with Trump, not for his work as personal attorney to the president, which he said actually encompassed about 10 hours of labor for the whole year. He has said the invoices he billed the company for a “retainer” were fraudulent.

Blanche also went over Cohen’s other legal work for Trump, including helping wife Melania Trump with an issue relating to her wax statue at Madame Tussauds’ museum in Manhattan.

He grilled Cohen about millions of dollars he made in 2017 on lucrative consulting gigs for companies including AT&T and Columbus Nova — appearing to be comparing them to Cohen’s job role for the then-president.

 

Cohen acknowledged that some of them required little work and said that Trump didn’t have detailed knowledge of the deals.

Merchan sustained an objection from the prosecution when Blanche described the consulting agreements as retainer agreements.

Blanche’s tough questions about the Red Finch expense and Cohen’s consulting work petered out after 11 a.m., when he pulled up his emails with Bob Costello, the New York defense attorney and Rudy Giuliani associate who sought to represent him after the FBI raids — dangling a back channel to the White House.

Blanche, who’s sought to portray Cohen as being driven by money, fame, and hatred of Trump, later zeroed in on how much money Cohen had made between pleading guilty to breaking federal campaign finance laws and publishing his first book. Cohen estimated around $4 million.

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