Michael Cohen Ties Crucial Points Together. May 13 Trump Criminal Trial Update

7 min readMay 13, 2024

Perhaps the prosecution’s most important witness testified today as former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen took the stand. Cohen saved the most important part for the end of the day as he tied Trump directly to the plot to reimburse him for the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels by falsely representing it as legal services.

Along the way Cohen testified that Trump indicated he was totally unconcerned with Melania find out because he would be able to get a new wife quickly if he needed to. We learned, “she’s a beautiful woman” is apparently a Trumpy euphemism for, “Yeah, I had sex with her.”

There was also reference to a mysterious locked file where the National Enquirer had other Trump stories buried that Trump was worried about.

-After providing basic biographical data Cohen discussed how Trump hired him to be an Executive Vice President and Special Counsel for the Trump Organization in 2007, starting at $375,000.

-Cohen described his role in advising Trump personally and said it made him feel “on top of the world.”

-Cohen testified that Trump never had email because he didn’t like the paper trail it left. Trump told him that he knew too many people prosecuted because to emails they wrote or received.

-Cohen testified that Trump was very involved in every detail of the business, demanding to be advised on even small things that he had a stake in.

-Cohen acknowledged lying and bullying for Trump, describing it as a “fantastic” experience.

-Cohen talked to Trump so frequently, and the two were so close, that Trump decided to sync his cell phone contacts onto Cohen’s phone.

-Cohen said Trump flirted with running for President in 2011 but was busy with The Apprentice and business deals. Trump told Cohen he would definitely run in 2016.

-Trump told Cohen to expect “a lot of women coming forward” with negative stories when he ran for President.

-Cohen described how he, Trump and David Pecker colluded to get negative stories about Hillary Clinton in the National Enquirer. Trump described the stories as “fantastic.”

-Cohen would preview National Enquirer stories favorable to Trump and make changes. Cohen once told editors to take out a reference about Trump and concerns from women and they did.

-Under Trump’s direction Cohen worked with David Pecker and National Enquirer Editor Dylan Howard to kill a story where a Trump Tower doorman claimed Trump got a cleaning woman in the Tower pregnant. Cohen testified that Trump told him, “You handle it.” Cohen worked with Pecker to kill the doorman story with a $30,000 hush money payment.

-The doorman story was followed by the Karen McDougal story coming up. Cohen asked Trump if he knew who Karen McDougal was. Trump told him, “She’s really beautiful.” Told about the story, Trump flatly directed Cohen, “Make sure it doesn’t get released.”

-Asked if Howard ever told Cohen if McDougal’s story was true, Defense objected and the judge sustained it. [NOTE: Howard previously testified that he told Cohen the McDougal story was probably true]

-Cohen testified as to a call between him, Trump and Pecker on the McDougal issue. Trump “asked him how things were going.” Pecker said that it would take $150,000 to control the story. Trump replied, “no problem, I’ll take care of it.”

-When Cohen told Trump the McDougal story had been killed Trump replied, “Fantastic. Great job.”

-Pecker contacting Cohen seeking repayment what the National Enquirer paid McDougal. Cohen told Trump about the request and that Pecker was very upset about not being paid. Trump said, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”

-Cohen stated Pecker had a locked file with more Trump stories in it that Trump was concerned about.

-On September 6, 2016 Cohen recorded a phone call with Trump. Cohen explained he intended to use the call to show Pecker that Trump was working to get Pecker paid for the McDougal payment. The recording was again played for the jury with Cohen proposing to set up a shell company to cover the payment. Trump says, “So do we pay for this 150?”

-In this recorded call Trump also discussed buying the stuff in Pecker’s locked file concerned it could leak if Pecker left the company.

Cohen: “All the stuff. Because — here, you never know where that company, you never know what he’s . . .”

Trump: “Maybe he gets hit by a truck.”

-After this call Cohen went to CFO Allen Weissleberg about securing the $150,000 to refund Pecker. Allen said, “if we do it from a Trump entity, that kind of defeats the purpose, because the point is not to have the Trump name affiliated to this at all.” Weisselberg told Cohen: “to think about ways that we can raise the $150,000.”

-In regard to the McDougal deal Cohen stated: “What I was doing, I was doing at the direction and for the benefit of Mr. Trump.”

-Cohen set in motion ways to repay Pecker but Pecker told him he no longer needed it.

-When the Access Hollywood story came out Trump told Cohen to spin it as “locker room talk.” Trump told Cohen “that’s what Melania thought it was.” Trump told Cohen too, “use that to get control over the story and minimize its impact.”

-When Cohen heard Stormy Daniels was trying to sell her story he thought it would “catastrophic” for the campaign.

-When Cohen told Trump of the looming Stormy Daniels story Trump responded, “This is a disaster. Total disaster. Women are going to hate me. This is really a disaster. Women will hate me. Guys may think it’s cool, but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign.”

-Trump told Cohen: “just get past the election, because if I win, it will have no relevance because I’ll be president, and if I lose, no one will care.”

Cohen asked how the Daniels story might affect him and Melania, Trump answered: “Don’t worry.” Cohen testified: “He wasn’t thinking about Melania. This was all about the campaign.”

Cohen testified that Trump said that if Melania left him: “How long do you think I’d be on the market?” suggesting that if Melania left him he’d find another woman quickly because so many adore him.

-Trump directed Cohen to “get control over it.”

-Trump told Cohen he met Stormy Daniels at the golf tournament but that Trump never directly answered whether they had sex. When Cohen asked Trump’s response was, “She was a beautiful woman.” [NOTE: Those were almost the identical words Trump used to answer the same question about McDougal]

-Trump told Cohen to delay paying Stormy Daniels until after the election stating “If I win, I’ll be President, and it won’t matter and if I lose, it won’t matter.”

-By late October 2016 Stormy Daniels was threatening to take the story to the Daily Mail because she did not receive the agreed upon payment. Cohen told Trump about it. Trump responded: “Just pay it. There no reason to keep this thing out there. Just do it. Go meet up with Weisselberg and figure this thing out.”

-Cohen made clear he would not have paid Stormy Daniels out of his own money unless he was confident he would be reimbursed:

Prosecutor: “Would have paid Stormy Daniels yourself if you didn’t believe Trump would reimburse you?”

Cohen: “No m’am.”

Prosecutor: “Why not?”

Cohen: It’s $130,000. I was doing everything that I could to protect my boss, which is something I had done for along time. But I would not lay out $130,000 for an NDA needed by someone else . . . I spoke to Mr. Trump, expressed to him that I was going to front the money for it, for which he as appreciative. He stated to me, ‘don’t worry, you’ll get your money back.’”

-Cohen: “The whole purpose was to ensure that in no way was the Trump name disclosed.”

-On the morning of October 26, 2016, before going to the bank Cohen called Trump: “I wanted to ensure that, once again, he approved what I was doing, because I required approval from him on all of this.” Cohen said he did this “because everything required Mr. Trump’s sign off. On top of that, I wanted the money back.

-It should be noted that every time Cohen says he called Trump, or Trump called him, that the prosecution shows phone records documenting that calls at those times occurred.

-When the WSJ article came out, a few days before the election, with the McDougal story, Cohen had angry calls with her (and Stormy Daniels) attorney Keith Davidson and told Davison that Trump was “really angry.” Davidson issued denials to appease Trump.

-Cohen testified that his repayment was arranged at a mid-January 2017 meeting with him, Weisselberg and Trump. At the meeting Weisselberg explained the gross up to cover Cohen’s taxes and Weisslberg explained that he would be repaid over 12 months as “legal services rendered.” Weisselberg showed Trump handwritten notes explaining how it would be done. Cohen testified that Trump approved it all.

-The prosecutor directly asked Cohen if Weisselberg told Trump the payments would be recorded as a retainer for legal services. Cohen answered, “Yes.”

-Cohen: What (Weisselberg) stated to me is: ‘Each month just send an invoice to us. And just mark down for legal services rendered pursuant to the agreement, and we’ll get you a check out.

-Cohen testified he never submitted a legal retainer agreement because he knew there would be no services paid under it.

[NOTE: The last few bullets here are crucial as it ties Trump directly to the plot to falsely record Cohen’s repayment as legal services]

That rather dramatic testimony pretty much closed things for today. Trial will continue with more direct from the prosecution tomorrow before Trump’s attorneys get their chance at cross examining Cohen.

What to expect: The prosecution may continue to show connections between Trump and the falsified documents. The prosecution will elicit from Cohen admissions about his prior lies and convictions to inoculate the jury from this prior to cross examination. Cross examination will start with Trump’s team aiming to smear Cohen as a liar unworthy of believing anything he says.




Retired lawyer & Army vet in The Villages of Florida. Lifelong: Republican (pre-Trump), Constitution buff, science nerd & dog lover. Twitter: @KeithDB80