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Trump attorneys seek to demolish Michael Cohen

NEW YORK — Defense attorneys for former President Trump went straight for the jugular on Tuesday, looking to demolish the credibility and character of star witness Michael Cohen who underwent long-awaited cross-examination following some of the most damning testimony against Trump yet to be presented at trial.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche wasted no time pinning Cohen against his own words, in an attempt to illustrate to the jury the type of disrespect Trump and his team had endured from the former fixer.

“You went on TikTok and called me a crying little s‑‑‑, didn’t you?” Blanche asked Cohen on the witness stand, moments after cross-examination began.

“Sounds like something I would say,” Cohen replied begrudgingly before letting out a sigh.

Blanche tore into Cohen for the rest of the afternoon by using similar public statements against him, taking aim at the witness’s prolific social media posts and nonstop media appearances to portray him as getting rich off pinning blame on Trump for a hush money payment meant to keep an affair allegation secret.

In the courtroom, Blanche also got Cohen to admit what he hoped would be the end goal of a trial that has now stretched into its fifth week.

“Do you want President Trump to get convicted in this case?” Blanche asked.

“Sure,” Cohen replied, after repeatedly refusing to give a direct answer. 

Objections from prosecutors went flying within moments of Blanche beginning his questioning of Cohen.

Though the “crazy little s‑‑‑” exchange was stricken from the record, jurors had heard Cohen loud and clear, some cracking smiles after generally maintaining stone-faced demeanors during previous testimony.

Blanche then segued into painting Cohen as making money off turning his back on Trump.

Blanche pulled up a “Mea Culpa Podcast Tee” — sold by the liberal news site MeidasTouch and dubbed after Cohen’s own show — which depicts the former president in an orange jumpsuit, wrists bound by cuffs, in a jail cell. A social media post by Cohen is attached to the sales page, which celebrates “the fall of the Mango Mussolini.”

Cohen at one point admitted he made $3 million off two books he wrote about his time working for Trump.

Cohen at turns said he couldn’t recall his various posts or refused to give direct answers to Blanche, who grew frustrated while noting that Cohen had recalled years-old conversations when answering prosecutors.

That testimony, in which Cohen was under direct examination for a day and a half, provided some of the strongest implications of Trump than those provided by any other witnesses to take the stand so far. 

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Trump’s ex-fixer testified that he made the $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels to ensure her story of an alleged affair with Trump would remain a secret and “would not affect Mr. Trump’s chances of becoming President of the United States.” He also said that if Trump weren’t running for president, he would not have paid Daniels. 

That could help bolster the state’s theory of the case — that the falsified records to conceal the payment to Daniels and keep the alleged affair quiet were an attempt to influence the 2016 election. At one point, Cohen said Trump just wanted the story to stay under wraps until after November of that year — and that Trump didn’t care if the hush money news came out after the election whether he won it or not.

Cohen testified similarly to the deal with former Playboy model Karen McDougal, telling jurors that he helped coordinate her silence to ensure the “possibility of Mr. Trump succeeding in the election.”

“At whose direction and on whose behalf did you do that?” prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked.

“At the direction of Donald J. Trump,” Cohen said.

Cohen spoke to the greater conspiracy prosecutors aim to convince the jury took place — that Trump had unflattering stories about himself silenced in order to clear his path to the White House in 2016. 

Cohen undercut Trump’s core defense when he admitted the invoices were false, just before the questioning by Blanche.

Cohen confirmed that each of the 11 invoices he submitted to Trump, which underpin 11 of the charges the former president faces, were false records. He also testified that he was paid $35,000 by Trump each month, despite doing “minimal” work for his then-boss — undermining the defense narrative that those checks, from which 11 other Trump charges emerge, were a legal retainer. 

By the end of the first day’s cross-examination, Blanche attempted to paint Cohen as a hypocrite, noting that Trump’s onetime personal attorney had called Trump a good man who cares deeply about the country, even saying he’d take a bullet for Trump.

“I was knee-deep into the cult of Donald Trump,” Cohen said of the remarks. 

The trial resumes Thursday with further cross-examination of Cohen — by Blanche.

Lauren Sforza contributed.

Updated 6:25 p.m.