Trump trial updates: Michael Cohen's testimony wraps, prosecution rests and defense witness and judge have a tense exchange

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche continued to grill Cohen for a third day of cross-examination.

Former President Donald Trump sits in court.
Former President Donald Trump at Manhattan criminal court on Monday in New York City. (Steven Hirsch/Pool via Getty Images)
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The prosecution rested its case after its final witness, Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, concluded his testimony. This is Yahoo News’ succinct update on the criminal and civil cases against Trump. Here are the latest developments.

Trump lawyer Todd Blanche continued to grill Cohen for a third day of cross-examination and sought to depict the prosecution’s key witness as an opportunist who wants to make money off of his relationship with Trump. One of the most revealing pieces of information was that Cohen admitted under oath to stealing from the Trump Organization, pocketing part of an amount included in his $420,000 reimbursement payments owed to a tech firm that rigged online polls in favor of Trump.

After the defense wrapped up its cross-examination, prosecutor Susan Hoffinger did a redirect examination with Cohen in an attempt to control the damage from the defense’s questioning and restore his credibility. The line of questioning mainly focused on key testimony that Cohen spoke with Trump by phone in October 2016 confirming that the Stormy Daniels hush money deal was locked down. Last Thursday the defense attempted to sow doubt over this testimony, implying that Cohen didn’t actually talk about the hush money deal, but rather an unrelated matter.

Remember: The prosecution has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump knew about and directed the Daniels hush money reimbursement payments to Cohen.

The prosecution rested its case after Cohen’s testimony, and the defense called two witnesses: a paralegal who works for Blanche, and Robert Costello, a lawyer who had advised Cohen. Costello testified that Cohen told him “numerous times” that Trump didn’t know anything about the hush money payment. Toward the end of the day, Judge Juan Merchan scolded Costello for his disrespectful behavior on the stand, clearing the courtroom first.

Cohen admits to stealing from the Trump Organization: During the defense’s cross-examination, Trump’s defense attorney walked Cohen through a series of payments the Trump Organization made to him in 2017, totaling $420,000. Cohen testified that RedFinch, a tech company hired to rig online polls in favor of Trump, was owed $50,000 for its services. But Cohen said he only paid it $20,000 and pocketed the remaining $30,000.

“You stole from the Trump Organization, right?” Blanche asked, according to NBC News. “Yes, sir,” Cohen replied.

Cohen says it’s better for him if Trump doesn’t get convicted: During cross-examination, Blanche asked Cohen, “Do you have a financial interest in the outcome of this case?” To which Cohen replied, “Yes, sir,” according to NBC News.

Cohen was also asked if he would financially benefit if Trump is convicted. He testified “it’s better” if Trump is found not guilty because it “gives me more to talk about in the future,” referring to his financial gain from talking about the trial on his podcast and TikTok account.

The Oct. 24, 2016, call: Cohen previously testified that he called Keith Schiller — Trump’s then bodyguard — on Oct. 24, 2016, so he could talk to Trump about moving forward with the Daniels hush money payment.

Trump attorney Blanche said in court that according to text message logs that evening, Cohen actually was contacting Schiller to ask about how he could deal with a 14-year-old prank caller. Schiller then asked Cohen to call him. According to the call logs, the conversation lasted less than two minutes.

Blanche tried to undermine Cohen’s credibility and testimony last week to show that the brief call Cohen made to Schiller on Oct. 24, 2016, was not about the hush money payment at all.

On redirect, the prosecution sought to admit a photo, which is a still from a C-SPAN video, that shows Trump’s bodyguard with Trump just minutes before the phone call in question took place. The prosecution wants to show that Cohen could have easily spoken to both of them that evening about the hush money deal. After disagreements between the prosecution and defense, the judge ultimately allowed the photo to be submitted into evidence.

Blanche said the defense doesn’t dispute that Trump and Schiller were together that evening, according to NBC News.

The defense’s witnesses: Daniel Sitko, a paralegal who works for Blanche, was called by the defense to testify about a summary of phone calls between Cohen and Robert Costello, a lawyer who previously advised Cohen.

Costello then took the witness stand. Trump’s defense team had reached out to him to testify after he testified last week in front of a House Judiciary subcommittee about how “virtually every statement” Cohen made on the stand about Costello was a lie, according to CNN.

Judge scolds defense’s witness: Judge Merchan cleared the courtroom and admonished Costello, an experienced criminal lawyer, for his behavior on the witness stand after being visibly and audibly annoyed by the judge’s objections, according to the New York Times.

Trump’s courthouse posse: Throughout the hush money trial, Trump’s allies have appeared at the Manhattan courthouse in a show of support for him. On Monday, Trump’s former attorney — and a vocal critic of Michael Cohen — Alan Dershowitz showed up to support the former president, along with Bernard Kerik, New York’s former police commissioner pardoned by Trump, a former leader of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang in New York and Rep. Andrew Clyde, a Georgia Republican.

The defense has indicated it will likely rest its case Tuesday morning, according to the New York Times. Judge Merchan told prosecution and defense attorneys to prepare to start closing arguments next Tuesday, May 28, the day after Memorial Day.

LIVE COVERAGE IS OVER38 updates
  • Court is done for the day

    Court has adjourned for the day. Robert Costello will return to the witness stand Tuesday morning.

    The New York Times noted that the defense lawyers said they will likely rest their case tomorrow. Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger, who has been questioning Costello, said she has around 45 minutes' worth of questions left for the witness.

  • Prosecution begins cross-examination of Costello

    The defense has completed its direct questioning of Cohen's former legal adviser Robert Costello, its second witness.

    Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger has now begun her cross-examination of what could be the defense's last witness.

  • Demonstrators for and against Trump gather outside the courthouse

    A demonstrator holds a flag that reads: Trump for President '24.
    A supporter of former President Donald Trump stands outside his trial in New York City on Monday.(Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

    Protesters in both support of and opposition to former President Donald Trump are seen outside the courthouse holding signs as day 19 of Trump's hush money trial takes place in Manhattan.

    Demonstrators hold signs reading: Slept with a porn star; screwed the voters, and Not above the law.
    Demonstrators shout toward a press conference by Republicans and supporters of former President Donald Trump after they attended his trial in New York City. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)
  • Judge to Robert Costello: 'Are you staring me down?'

    A courtroom sketch of Justice Juan Merchan on May 20, 2024 (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
    Justice Juan Merchan in a courtroom sketch from May 20. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

    Judge Merchan asked jurors and media to step outside of the courtroom, this time to address witness Robert Costello directly. Before clearing the room, Merchan reportedly seemed visibly frustrated with Costello, who has had several verbal outbursts in reaction to Merchan sustaining objections from the prosecution.

    "Are you staring me down?" Merchan asked Costello, according to CNN. "I want to discuss proper decorum in my courtroom. You don't give me a side eye and you don't roll your eyes. When there's a witness on the stand, if you don't like my ruling, you don't say 'jeez,' you don't say 'strike it.'"

  • Robert Costello: Cohen said Trump didn't know about Stormy Daniels payment

    Robert Costello, a former legal advisor to Cohen, testified that Cohen told him "numerous times" that Trump “knew nothing about" the Stormy Daniels payment and that Cohen "did this on his own.”

    The New York Times noted that prosecutors reminded the judge — with the jury out of the room — that Cohen previously testified that he'd lied to Costello about the Daniels payment.

  • Judge warns defense about turning this into a trial against Cohen

    After stepping away from the bench briefly, Judge Merchan returned and agreed to let the defense question Robert Costello regarding "two prior inconsistencies."

    "I will give you some latitude to explore the pressure campaign so you can elicit some inconsistencies and offer some rebuttal," Merchan said.

    He then issued a warning to the defense team.

    "I’m not going to allow this to become a trial within a trial as to whether there was, in fact, a pressure campaign and how it affected Cohen," Merchan said. "It’s not the purpose of this trial and I don’t want it to become that."

  • Merchan asks jurors to step outside as lawyers discuss Costello questioning

    Judge Juan Merchan has asked the jury to step outside as Robert Costello, a lawyer who was a former adviser to Cohen, is brought into the courtroom. Lawyers on both sides have approached the bench to hash out the parameters of Costello's questioning.

    "I do wish that we had discussed this earlier," Merchan said, according to CNN.

    Prosecutors are looking to limit the scope of the questions the defense can ask Costello.

    "They should be restricted to two questions frankly that Cohen testified he didn’t recall," Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger said. "He didn’t recall Costello telling him that he should cooperate against Trump. He didn’t recall the words saying that he said to Mr. Costello that he had nothing on President Trump."

  • Defense calls Robert Costello to the witness stand

    After the prosecution finished a brief cross-examination of Daniel Sitko, the defense called Robert Costello, a lawyer who once advised Michael Cohen, to testify.

  • Defense calls its 1st witness

    The defense has called its first witness, Daniel Sitko. Sitko is a paralegal who works for defense attorney Todd Blanche and has been present every day of the trial.

    Sitko has been called to summarize phone calls he's kept track of between Cohen and Robert Costello, a lawyer who previously advised Cohen.

  • The prosecution rests its case

    Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass announced the prosecution has rested its case. The defense calls up its first witness.

  • Cohen: 'My entire life has been turned upside down.'

    During the prosecution's final round of questions, Cohen described the personal fallout of his work for Trump in 2016 and 2017 and the continued impact of his testimony for the current case.

    “My entire life has been turned upside down,” he said. "I lost my law license, my businesses, my financial security."

  • Cohen says he would not have paid Stormy Daniels without Trump's sign-off

    Susan Hoffinger began the prosecution's cross-examination of Cohen by asking about the Stormy Daniels payment.

    According to Cohen, Trump gave him the "final sign-off" to have a conversation with Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg for the Daniels payment. Cohen testified he could not have made the payment without authority from Trump because he wanted to be reimbursed.

    "Would you have made the payment if he did not [agree to reimbursement]?" Hoffinger asked.

    "No, ma'am," Cohen responded.

  • Court is back in session

    Cohen is back on the witness stand.

  • What to know about the C-SPAN photo the prosecution and defense are arguing over

    Before the lunch break, the prosecution asked to present evidence that showed Trump with his bodyguard Keith Schiller on Oct. 24, 2016, around the same time Cohen testified that he had called Schiller to talk about the Stormy Daniels payment.

    The evidence is a series of stills from a C-SPAN video from a Trump rally.

    Last week, the defense tried to argue that Cohen may have spoken directly to Schiller that night instead of Trump.

    After the break, Judge Juan Merchan said he would not allow the video stills to be entered as evidence through a paralegal, which is what the prosecution was trying to do.

    The prosecution announced it could get C-SPAN archivist Robert Browning, who testified in April, to come to tomorrow's court session. But ultimately, the prosecution and defense allowed the images in as evidence.

    This is the second time the defense has allowed in new evidence — the first being two weeks ago with old Trump tweets.

  • Court takes a break to reach C-SPAN archivist

    Judge Juan Merchan calls for a brief break to see if the DA's office can get a hold of Robert Browning, the C-SPAN archivist, so he can testify again.

  • Defense to judge: 'There is a likelihood that we will rest today'

    Trump attorney Todd Blanche indicated to the judge that the prosecution and the defense may rest their cases today.

    "There is a likelihood that we will rest today," he said, according to a Politico reporter.

    This seems to shut down speculation that Trump will testify in his own defense.

  • Court is back in session

    Court is back in session after a lunch break. Michael Cohen will return to the stand and answer questions from the prosecution.

  • What is RedFinch, and how does it relate to Cohen's testimony?

    Under redirect examination, Michael Cohen gave prosecutor Susan Hoffinger some background on the $30,000 he admitted to stealing from the Trump Organization during his earlier cross-examination by Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche. Cohen was paid a total of $420,000 by Trump in 2017, with $50,000 of those funds reimbursed to him for services provided by technology company RedFinch, which he'd asked to assist in a CNBC poll that ranked famous businessmen.

    "Mr. Trump's name was on that list, and at the beginning of this poll he was polling toward the very bottom," Cohen explained on the witness stand. "It upset him, so he had me come to his office and he provided me with a sheet of paper."

    Cohen testified that he contacted RedFinch, which said it would "create an algorithm" to boost Trump's rank. Trump wanted to be No. 1 in the poll, Cohen said. However, he ended up in ninth place, despite RedFinch's work. Cohen said that RedFinch wanted the full payment of $50,000. However, he said he paid the person who helped manipulate the algorithm only $20,000.

  • Court breaks for lunch

    Judge Juan Merchan has called for a 90-minute lunch break. Michael Cohen will return to the witness stand for more questioning from the prosecution when court resumes at 2:15 p.m. ET.

  • Cohen testifies about invoices at the center of the hush money case

    As they did with Stormy Daniels, prosecutors used their redirect of Michael Cohen to rebut some of the questions surrounding the witness's credibility raised by the defense during cross-examination — and to highlight key parts of his direct testimony.

    Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen about the $420,000 in invoices he submitted to the Trump Organization in 2017, which he testified were for the reimbursement of the hush money payment he made to Stormy Daniels a year earlier.

    "Did 420,000 have anything to do with legal services?" Hoffinger asked.

    "No," Cohen replied.

    📸 Big picture: Trump is charged with falsifying business records to conceal the hush money payment to Daniels, and Cohen's testimony here that they were falsified is at the center of the prosecution's case.

  • Cohen says he talked to Trump to get approval for Daniels's payoff in October 2016

    Michael Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger on re-directon May 20, 2024. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)
    Michael Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger on re-directon May 20, 2024. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

    Cohen testified to prosecutor Susan Hoffinger that although he was busy all the time in October 2016, he wasn't too busy to communicate with Trump about Daniels's payment on Oct. 24 of that year, as Hoffinger noted that Blanche brought up how busy he was at the time.

    "Is it possible that other matters may have been discussed on those calls, but you are sure the Stormy Daniels matter was discussed?" Hoffinger asked.

    Cohen answered, "Yes."

    "Were you too busy in October 2016 to finalize the Stormy Daniels payoff with Mr. Trump?" Hoffinger questioned, according to CNN.

    "No ma'am," said Cohen.

    "Were you too busy to get his approval to make that payoff?" Hoffinger asked.

    "No ma'am," Cohen testified.

  • Cohen says he's considering a run for Congress

    Cohen testified that he is mulling a run for Congress because he has the "best name recognition out there," drawing a smile from Trump.

    "My name recognition is because of the journey that I've been on, is it affiliated with Mr. Trump, yes — not because of Mr. Trump," Cohen said.

    "Your journey has been near daily attacks on President Trump, at least since 2020?" Blanche questioned, per reporters in the room.

    Cohen answered "yes sir," when Blanche pressed him to answer yes or no.

    Cohen also testified that he worked for three months to help pitch a show about his life called The Fixer and is considering writing a third book.

  • Defense concludes its cross-examination of Michael Cohen

    Trump lawyer Todd Blanche concluded the defense's cross-examination of Michael Cohen by highlighting his history of lying, even under oath.

    "It's true that you will lie out of loyalty, correct?" Blanche asked.

    "Yes, sir," Cohen replied.

    The prosecution will now have a chance to ask Cohen additional questions in its redirect.

  • What Cohen's cross-examination looks like in a courtroom sketch

    A courtroom sketch of Donald Trump and Judge Juan Merchan looking on during defense attorney Todd Blanche's cross-examination of Michael Cohen.
    Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

    Because no cameras are allowed in the courtroom during testimony, news outlets and the public must rely on courtroom sketch artists for images of former President Donald Trump's historic criminal hush money trial.

    Noted sketch artist Jane Rosenberg's latest image portrays defense lawyer Todd Blanche cross-examining Michael Cohen as Judge Juan Merchan and Trump look on.

    In Rosenberg's drawings, Trump is often depicted with his eyes closed. In this sketch from this morning, at least one eye appears to be open.

  • Court is back in session

    After a brief midmorning break, the court is back in session. The defense will pick up its questioning of Cohen.

  • Trump sends out fundraising email claiming he could be sent to prison 'for life'

    Trump sent out a fundraising email to subscribers at 11:18 a.m. that incorrectly claims his "rigged Biden Trial" could result in him being thrown into "PRISON FOR LIFE!" if he's found guilty. In reality, Trump is facing 34 Class E felonies, each one carrying a maximum prison sentence of four years. It's likely that, should Trump be convicted, he would serve the sentences concurrently, meaning he would go to prison for, at most, four years. Judge Merchan could also sentence him to probation instead.

  • Court takes midmorning break

    The court is taking its midmorning break. The defense is expected to continue its cross-examination of Cohen when court resumes.

  • Cohen acknowledges he said Trump knew nothing about the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels

    Michael Cohen leaves his apartment on Monday morning as he heads back to testify at Trump's criminal hush money trial. (Seth Wenig/AP)
    Michael Cohen leaves his apartment on Monday morning as he heads back to testify at Trump's criminal hush money trial. (Seth Wenig/AP)

    During cross-examination, Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche pressed Cohen on comments he made to reporters and members of the Trump family in 2018 after news of the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels became public.

    "You told multiple people when it first leaked that President Trump knew nothing about the payment, correct?" Blanche asked Cohen. "You even called Melania, the first lady, and told her that President Trump didn't know about it."

    Cohen said he could not recall specific conversations, but confirmed he said publicly that Trump was unaware of the payment at the time.

    📸 Big picture: The defense is trying to chip away at Cohen's previous testimony that Trump not only knew about the hush money payment but directed it. Expect the prosecution to argue that Cohen, who testified that he would often lie to protect Trump, was doing exactly that when he said Trump was unaware of the payment.

  • Lawyer argues Cohen did legal work for Trump family throughout 2017

    Defense lawyer Todd Blanche is attempting to establish that Cohen did legal work for the Trump family several times in 2017 — including an instance where Cohen worked with Melania Trump and her agreement with Madame Tussauds, a wax figure museum.

  • Eric Trump reacts to Cohen's admission from inside the courtroom

    Eric Trump, who is in court today to support his father, posted his reaction on X to Cohen's admission during his testimony that he stole from the Trump Organization.

  • Defense presses Cohen on stealing from Trump Organization

    Trump's defense attorney Todd Blanche walked Cohen through a series of payments the Trump Organization paid him in 2017, which totaled $420,000.

    Under Blanche's questioning, Cohen testified that Redinch, the tech company hired to rig online polls in favor of Trump, was owed $50,000 but Cohen paid them only $20,000. Still, Cohen asked for the full $50,000 reimbursement, which ended up being $100,000, after the money was doubled for tax purposes.

  • Alan Dershowitz is in court to support Trump

    Alan Dershowitz's face is visible among a half dozen other people.
    Alan Dershowitz, second from right, and Chuck Zitom, third from right, watch as former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters at the Manhattan criminal courthouse on Monday. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool via AP)

    Among those in former President Donald Trump's court entourage Monday is Alan Dershowitz, his former attorney and a vocal critic of Michael Cohen, who is testifying for the fourth straight day.

    Also in court to support Trump: Chuck Zito, who according to the New York Times "helped found in the early 1980s the New York Nomads chapter of the Hells Angels," the infamous outlaw motorcycle gang.

    Per the Times, Zito later left the biker group to "try become a movie star in Hollywood."

  • Trump lawyer asks Cohen about litigation involving David Pecker

    Defense lawyer Todd Blanche asked Cohen about litigation involving David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, who was one of the first witnesses to testify in this trial.

    The litigation was filed on Sept. 30, 2016, which was the deadline Pecker had set for Trump to reimburse him for the $150,000 hush money payment to Karen McDougal. Pecker testified previously that he understood the payment could be viewed as an illegal corporate campaign contribution if he didn't get paid back in time.

    Cohen testified that he did not recall specifics of the litigation, just that he tried to settle it because he was "friends with everyone," CNN reported.

  • Defense begins cross-examination by probing Cohen's recent calls with reporters

    During Monday's cross-examination, Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche began with a series of seemingly disparate questions, asking Cohen whether he had spoken to any reporters about his testimony last week.

    "I didn’t speak to reporters about what happened last week," Cohen reportedly replied. "I’ve spoken to reporters who just called to say ‘hello,’ to see how I’m doing, to check in. But I did not talk about this case."

    Blanche then asked Cohen whom he had spoken with prior to his 2019 congressional testimony, before moving on to questions about his taxi medallion business.

    It was not immediately clear what Blanche was getting at in his line of questioning.

  • Michael Cohen is back on the witness stand

    Testimony in former President Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial resumed Monday with Michael Cohen called back to the witness stand for the fourth day.

    Defense attorneys say they expect to finish cross-examining Cohen by midmorning. The prosecution will then have a chance for a redirect.

    The defense would then be given an opportunity to present their case, but it's unclear whether Trump's lawyers will call any witnesses when they get that chance.

  • Closing arguments will begin May 28

    Judge Merchan informed lawyers for both sides that closing arguments in former President Donald Trump's hush money trial will begin Tuesday, May 28, the day after Memorial Day.

  • What Trump said when he arrived at the courthouse

    Former President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media before entering the courtroom with his attorney Todd Blanche at Manhattan Criminal Court on Monday.
    Trump speaks to reporters before entering the courtroom on Monday. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool via AP)

    As has been his routine throughout the trial, former President Donald Trump stopped on his way into court to speak with members of the media in a hallway inside the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, railing against the case and the judge overseeing it, and reading from a stack of favorable op-eds he was carrying with him.

    The prosecution is expected to rest its case as early as today, and it's unclear whether the defense will call any witnesses before closing arguments.

    Asked if he planned to testify in his own defense, Trump did not answer.

  • What to expect today

    • Former President Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial is set to resume at 9:30 a.m. ET with Michael Cohen expected back on the witness stand for more cross-examination by the defense.

    • Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and so-called fixer turned foe and the prosecution's final witness, testified for more than 12 hours over three days last week.

    • It's unclear whether the defense will call any witnesses, including Trump himself, to testify.

    • Judge Juan Merchan has told attorneys for both sides to prepare to deliver closing arguments as early as Tuesday.