Cohen Testimony Begins Climax of Case Against Trump: 5 Takeaways

Michael D. Cohen, once one of Donald J. Trump’s closest confidantes and his loyal protector, offered an account Monday that could ultimately convict the man he used to refer to as “boss” and now calls an enemy.

Testifying in the first criminal trial of an American president, Mr. Cohen said that he had made a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels, a porn star who in testimony last week described a brief sexual encounter she said she had with Mr. Trump in 2006. On the stand Monday, Mr. Cohen said he paid Ms. Daniels to ensure her silence in the days before the 2016 presidential election, saying her story would have been “catastrophic” to the campaign.

The $130,000 payment led to the charges against the former president: that Mr. Trump falsified 34 business records to hide a reimbursement to Mr. Cohen. Mr. Trump, 77, has denied the charges and says he did not have sex with Ms. Daniels. If convicted, he could face prison or probation.

Here are five takeaways from Mr. Trump’s 16th day on trial:

Cohen brought four weeks together in one day.

Since testimony began April 22, prosecutors have been stitching together the motive and methods of the $130,000 payment, using evidence like phone logs, emails and text messages and witness testimony. Mr. Cohen brought many of those moments to life, describing Mr. Trump’s micromanagement and his campaign’s panic after the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape just before the 2016 election.

Mr. Cohen also bolstered testimony by David Pecker, the former National Enquirer publisher, establishing a deal to suppress unflattering stories about Mr. Trump. He also ratified the account of Keith Davidson, Ms. Daniels’s onetime lawyer, about buying her story.

But Mr. Cohen’s credibility will no doubt be aggressively challenged during the defense’s cross-examination. Whether the jury finds Mr. Cohen believable could impact its verdict.

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