Cohen Confesses to Theft – And This Guy’s a Witness Against Trump?

a katz /
a katz /

Former President Donald Trump’s associate and lawyer, Michael Cohen, admitted to stealing thousands of dollars from The Trump Organization during a cross-examination on May 20 in New York City. This revelation came amid a high-stakes trial involving the former president.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche grilled Cohen on the witness stand, asking if he had stolen money from The Trump Organization under the guise of an expected reimbursement from Red Finch Solutions. This plan was initially set up to pay $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels and $50,000 to Red Finch Solutions, a tech firm.

In a straightforward response, Cohen acknowledged, “Yes, sir.” He described withdrawing about $20,000 over several days, stashing it in a small brown paper bag before handing it to the tech firm. However, he only gave them part of the $50,000.

The Trump Organization eventually reimbursed Cohen $50,000 and then doubled the payment to cover taxes, a practice known as “grossing up.” This method ensures the recipient does not incur additional taxes by declaring the reimbursement as income.

Despite Cohen’s admission, it’s notable that he was never charged with stealing from the Trump Organization. However, he pleaded guilty in 2018 to several federal charges, including bank fraud, campaign finance violations related to the hush money payment, and unrelated tax evasion.

Blanche pressed Cohen further, asking if he had ever repaid the stolen money. Cohen admitted he had not.

In the courtroom, President Trump watched Cohen intently as he confessed to the theft. Eric Trump, the president’s son, quickly took to social media to highlight Cohen’s admission, stating, “This just got interesting: Michael Cohen is now admitting to stealing money from our company.”

The charges in this case involve falsifying business records, with payments to Cohen marked as legal expenses. Prosecutors argue these were reimbursements for the payment to Clifford. Trump has pleaded not guilty, and his lawyers maintain there was nothing criminal about the payment or Cohen’s reimbursement.

Cohen has testified that Trump was involved in the scheme to pay Clifford in 2016 to prevent her from disclosing an alleged 2006 affair, which Trump has vehemently denied. He has labeled both Clifford and Cohen as “sleaze bags,” making false claims.

In a related ruling, the judge overseeing the case, Juan Merchan, decided not to allow the defense to bring in an expert witness on election laws. This expert, Bradley Smith, a former Federal Election Commission member, was intended to clarify election laws for the jury. Judge Merchan ruled that such testimony would lead to unnecessary confusion and not aid the jury.

The judge’s decision came as the trial nears its conclusion, with closing arguments expected next week. Judge Merchan also indicated that the trial should end by May 28, following Memorial Day.

Before the day’s testimony, the court saw the usual pre-testimony legal maneuvers, with prosecutors objecting to a planned defense exhibit. This kind of legal jockeying is typical in high-profile cases.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office, led by Alvin Bragg, is set to rest its case once Cohen finishes his testimony. However, if Trump’s lawyers present their own witnesses, they could call rebuttal witnesses. It remains to be seen who the Trump team might bring to the stand.

Earlier in the day, Trump spoke to reporters outside the courtroom, criticizing the case and the judge. He reiterated his stance, saying, “There’s no crime. We paid a legal expense. Do you know what it’s marked down as? A legal expense.”

This trial is just one of many legal battles Trump faces. Still, the former president and his legal team are prepared to fight vigorously, painting the prosecution’s efforts as politically motivated and baseless. As the trial progresses, the public and media continue to watch closely, eager to see how this high-profile case will unfold.