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‘A big family’: At Trump trial, Michael Cohen recalls when he and Donald ‘Von ShitzInPantz’ were co-conspirator besties

Donald Trump and Michael Cohen
Donald Trump and Michael Cohen were once friends.

  • Michael Cohen is on the witness stand at Donald Trump’s hush-money trial in New York.
  • He is the key witness behind prosecutors’ “election conspiracy” theory.
  • Cohen began by describing an allegedly conspiratorial hey-day before the two men hated each other.

It may be hard to believe, but 10 years before he coined the online taunt “Donald ‘Von ShitzInPants,” Cohen saw Donald Trump as his co-conspirator bestie.

But that’s the story Cohen told jurors at the GOP front-runner’s ongoing hush-money trial on Monday — in testimony that has come the closest yet to placing Trump at the head of what prosecutors say was an illegal 2016 election conspiracy.

The two men — one a billionaire businessman and TV star, the other his loyal attorney and “fixer” — spoke “multiple times a day,” the key prosecution witness told jurors.

And when one decided to run for president, the two were side-by-side, speaking “multiple times a day,” Cohen testified.

Trump was laser focused on protecting his campaign against sex scandals, Cohen said.

“You know when this comes out,” Cohen said, quoting Trump in the days before the 2016 presidential run was announced, “just be aware there’s going to be a lot of women coming forward.”

Trump reacted with apparent glee, telling Cohen, “It’s fantastic. It’s unbelievable,” when told of plans for National Enquirer stories that attacked his opponents, including one mocking Hillary Clinton’s thick glasses and suggesting she might have a brain injury.

At another point in his testimony, Cohen described telling Trump that former Playboy Bunny Karen McDougal was trying to sell a story about a nearly year-long affair with the then-Apprentice star.

Trump’s first reaction was to praise her beauty, Cohen said.

His second reaction? Kill the story. Prosecutors say a $150,000 cash payment to silence McDougal was part of the election conspiracy underlying Trump’s indictment.

“She really beautiful,” Cohen said Trump responded. “I said, ‘Ok,’ but there’s a story being shopped.”

“Make sure this story doesn’t get released,” Cohen said Trump responded, in telling his fixer acquire the story.

When Trump asked him to work as his attorney at the Trump Organization, “I was honored,” testified Cohen, who once boasted he’d take a bullet for the GOP-frontrunner.

“It was fantastic,” Cohen testified Monday of his decade working for Trump, calling the Trump Organization “a big family.”

“Working for him, especially during those 10 years, was an amazing experience in many, many ways,” Cohen told the jury.

Prosecutors have been striving all trial to cast Cohen as the loyal top lieutenant who conspired with mastermind Trump and National Enquirer editor David Pecker to change the course of the 2016 election.

The three men met at Trump Tower in August, 2015, soon after Trump announced his run for office, prosecutors say.

With Trump at the helm, they hatched a plan. The Enquirer would smear Trump’s opponents, write favorable stories about him, and “catch” negative, salacious stories that could damage the campaign.

Trump is on trial for allegedly falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 hush-money payment that buried one of those salacious stories — porn star Stormy Daniels’ tale of an unpleasant, one-night fling at a Lake Tahoe celebrity golf tournament in 2006.

Cohen held a unique role in Trump’s life, acting as a “fixer” and following in the footsteps of the hard-charging personal attorney who worked for Trump earlier in his life, the political operative and mob lawyer Roy Cohn.

Cohen did not work in the Trump Organization’s general counsel office. He reported directly to Trump, and often took care of personal matters. On Monday, Cohen testified about an incident where he got a taxi cab driver to pay for repairs after hitting Trump’s limousine.

Trump has tried to distance himself from his personal lawyer ever since the FBI first raided Cohen’s residence in 2018.

At the trial, his attorneys have also tried to downplay his central role in Trump’s life. Jeff McConney, the longtime corporate controller for the Trump Organization, appeared to give a deep sigh when he was first asked about Cohen on the witness stand.

“He said he was a lawyer,” McConney said, to some laughter in the courtroom.

Hope Hicks, Trump’s communications director at the Trump Organization, 2016 campaign, and White House administration, agreed with his lawyer that Cohen was “not helpful” at times and “went rogue.”

“I used to say that he liked to call himself a ‘fixer’ or ‘Mr. Fix It,’ and it was only because he first broke it that he was able to come and fix it,” Hicks testified.

One of Cohen’s roles included shaping the perception of Trump in the press, trying to keep negative stories out of the papers. He said he lied and bullied people to please Trump.

“The only thing that was on my mind was to accomplish a task to make him happy,” Cohen said.

Prosecutors said Friday that Cohen is the second-to-last witness in their case, which they expect will conclude this week.

Trump’s lawyers have said they will call two defense witnesses. They have not said if one of those witnesses will be Trump himself, but the former president has said he will take the stand.

Cohen and his former boss last faced each other as courtroom adversaries in October, at the Trump civil fraud trial.

Cohen’s time on the stand there was highly damaging.

He testified that Trump would set a highly-inflated, target number for his net worth on annual financial statements that banks used to lend Trump money.

Cohen said he and the Trump Organization’s then-CFO would falsely “reverse engineer” the supporting data to hit that target net-worth goal.

Read the original article on Business Insider

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