Cohen Says Trump Told Him Not to Worry About FBI Raid Because ‘I’m the President’

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Michael Cohen is back in court Tuesday for a second day of testimony in Donald Trump’s criminal trial, detailing to the jury how he repeatedly lied about his role in orchestrating hush money payments to “protect” the former president.

In 2018, when the public learned that Cohen had arranged a $130,000 payment in 2016 to porn star Stormy Daniels in order to buy her silence about an alleged affair with the former president, the lawyer denied that Trump’s campaign or company had anything to do with the arrangement.

Cohen said that “while crafting the statement, we elected to state that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction. That’s a true statement, but it’s misleading.”

“It was neither the Trump organization or the Trump campaign, it was Donald J. Trump himself,” he said, adding when questioned that the choice had been made to “protect Mr. Trump, to stay on message, to demonstrate continued loyalty.”

Cohen confirmed that Trump personally approved the statement.

In April of 2018, Cohen’s office was raided by the FBI in connection with Special Counsel Robert Muller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Law enforcement officials seized documents and other materials, among them information related to the payment to Daniels, and the Access Hollywood tape. Cohen testified on Tuesday that the raid had sent him into a panic, describing himself as ​​”concerned,” “despondent,” and “angry.”

Cohen recounted that he had sought reassurance from Trump, then the president, that he would be protected. “He said to me, ‘Don’t worry. I’m the president of the United States. There’s nothing here. Everything’s going to be okay. Stay tough. You’re going to be okay.’”

“I wanted some reassurance that Mr. Trump had my back. Especially as this dealt with issues that related to him,” Cohen added, recalling that that was the last time he spoke directly to the former president. Cohen would ultimately plead guilty to making “unlawful campaign contributions” made in the form of hush money to a woman “who otherwise planned to speak publicly about” an alleged affair “with a presidential candidate, thereby intending to influence the 2016 presidential election.” He was sentenced to three years in prison, and was released in 2021.

On Monday, Cohen detailed his close relationship with Trump in the years before his 2016 campaign for the presidency, and his role in coordinating hush money payments to silence potentially damaging stories about Trump, including allegations of affairs raised by Daniels and  former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Cohen said he worried Daniels’ story would be “catastrophic” for a campaign already struggling to mitigate the damage caused by the Access Hollywood tape.

“I immediately went to Mr. Trump’s office, knocked on the door. ‘Boss, I’ve got to speak to you.’ Cohen said. “I told him that one of the things that we need to do is obviously take care of it.”

“Absolutely. Do it. Take care of it,” Cohen said Trump replied.

Cohen did, paying Daniels $130,000 from his own funds to buy her silence. The attorney told the jury that Trump himself approved a plan to reimburse him for the payment. “He approved it and turned around and said it’s gonna be one heck of a ride in D.C.,” Cohen said.

As Cohen sits for his long-awaited testimony, the trial has become a who’s-who for Trump loyalists eager to publicly reaffirm their fealty to the former president. Sens. Rick Scott (R-Fla.),   Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), and J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) have appeared in court with Trump, along with New York Rep. Nicole Malliotakis. On Tuesday House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.), potential VP candidate Vivek Ramaswamy and Reps. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) and Cory Mills (R-Fla.) made their own pilgrimages to Trump’s defense table.

As reported by Rolling Stone, in the early days of the trial, the former president was infuriated by the lack of visible support from his allies at the courthouse. “Where are they?” he complained earlier this month, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Another source noted that Trump had privately grumbled that Republicans he’d endorsed were failing to pay proper homage.

While Trump is barred from commenting on witnesses by a court-imposed gag order, his allies flocking to New York are acting as his mouthpieces. “Does any reasonable, sensible person believe anything that Michael Cohen says? I don’t think that they should,” Vance ranted to reporters Monday. “Every single person involved in this prosecution is practically a Democratic political operative.”

If any other Republicans want to show up to support Trump in court, they better hurry. The prosecution told Judge Juan Merchan on Tuesday that they aren’t calling any witnesses after Cohen.

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