Trump lawyer lands blow against Cohen on stealing from Trump Org

NEW YORK — Former President Trump’s lead defense attorney landed another punch on Michael Cohen on Monday, getting him to admit he stole from the Trump Organization as the ex-fixer was allegedly being repaid for the hush money payment at the center of Trump’s criminal case.

“You stole from the Trump Organization?” Trump attorney Todd Blanche asked on the third and final day of his cross-examination.

“Yes,” responded Cohen, without contesting to Blanche’s framing.

Cohen made the $130,000 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 presidential election to stay quiet about her alleged affair with Trump, which he denies.

Billed as Manhattan prosecutors’ star witness, Cohen has served as perhaps the most damning witness against Trump in his first criminal case, implicating the former president in his testimony more than any other witness on his 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Each count corresponds to an alleged document generated in paying Cohen a total of $420,000 across 12 monthly installments once he paid off Daniels. Trump pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors say the total included multiple parts: a $130,000 reimbursement for paying Daniels, a $50,000 reimbursement for paying tech firm Red Finch to boost Trump’s poll rating, doubling that subtotal so it was “grossed up” for “tax purposes,” and adding another $60,000 for Cohen’s year-end bonus.

Blanche pressed Cohen about how he only paid Red Finch $20,000 despite still asking for the larger reimbursement from the Trump Organization.

Prosecutors circled back to the Red Finch reimbursement during their redirect examination, asking Cohen why he asked for a larger reimbursement than what he paid to the firm.

Cohen explained it was “very upsetting” that his annual bonus had been cut by two-thirds.

“I was angry because of the reduction in the bonus, and so I felt it was almost like self-help,” Cohen said.

The ex-Trump fixer’s testimony, now stretching into its second week, has spanned his early work for the Trump Organization to the 2018 guilty plea he ultimately made on federal campaign finance and other charges.

Cohen directly linked Trump to at least 22 of the documents the former president is accused of falsifying, testifying that 11 invoices he submitted to Trump were false records and that the $35,000 monthly checks he received in 2017 arrived regardless of “minimal” work for his then-boss.

Trump’s lawyers have insisted the records in question, which were labeled a legal retainer fee, were truthful. They have also distanced the former president from the documents’ creation.

The line of questioning about Cohen’s stealing marked one of a few damning punches during his cross-examination. Last week, Blanche blew up at Cohen, suggesting he was lying about a key call he claimed to have had with Trump about the hush money arrangement.

Cohen also confirmed he helped coordinate two other hush money deals, paid for by a friendly tabloid executive. The admission bolstered the state’s greater theory of the case — that Trump sought to have negative stories about him silenced to clear his path to the White House in 2016.

To prove Trump guilty of the felony charges he faces, prosecutors must show his efforts to quash bad press ran afoul of federal and state election law.

Cohen is expected to be the district attorney’s final witness before the prosecution rests. Then, Trump’s attorneys will have the opportunity to put on a case of their own in the former president’s defense — though, they are not required to do so, and it’s not clear they will.

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