US

Michael Cohen, key witness against Trump, testifies at trial about “hush money” payments


Cohen said he learned that Daniels was planning to take her story to the Daily Mail, a British tabloid. He said there came a time when Trump realized he had no choice but to make the deal.

“[Trump] stated to me that he had spoken to some friends, some individuals, very smart people, and that, ‘It’s $130,000 and you’re a billionaire, just pay it. There’s no reason to keep this thing out here, just do it,'” Cohen testified. “So he expressed to me, ‘Just do it. Go meet up with Allen Weisselberg and figure this whole thing out.'”

Weisselberg was the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization. Cohen said the payment needed to be made “immediately” and suggested that Weisselberg make the payment himself.

“I suggested to Allen, ‘You’re a CFO, you make seven figures, why don’t you just go do it?'” Cohen recalled. Weisselberg declined, saying he had four grandchildren in prep school and summer camp and couldn’t come up with the money, according to Cohen.

“Because of the urgency, and because they were heading to the Daily Mail, I ultimately said, ‘OK, I’ll pay for it,'” Cohen said, adding that Weisselberg assured him Trump would pay him back. He said the three spoke and Cohen told him he would front the money.

“He stated to me, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll get the money back,'” Cohen testified.

Asked if he would ever have made the payment without the expectation that he would be reimbursed, Cohen said: “No, ma’am. Well, it’s $130,000. I was doing everything I could and more to protect my boss, which I had done for a long time, but I could not lay out $130,000 for an NDA needed by somebody else.”

He opened a home equity line of credit, knowing that his wife would ask questions about such a large transaction if he used money from their bank account. “Once I received the money from Mr. Trump I would deposit it and nobody would be the wiser,” he said.



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