Trump attorney says trial witness ‘lied,’ tells jury to find him not guilty 

National News

By Jack Phillips 
Contributing Writer 

Former President Donald Trump’s attorney on Tuesday said a key witness in his New York criminal trial lied to the jury, while saying that his client is innocent and broke no laws. 

The remarks were made during closing arguments in the case in which the former president is accused of 34 counts of falsifying business records. 

Defense attorney Todd Blanche told the jury that the prosecutors’ star witness, Michael Cohen, a former Trump associate and lawyer, lied to the court about several matters. 

At one point, he said that Cohen lied about speaking to Trump about an Oct. 24, 2016, phone call regarding an arrangement to pay off an adult film performer, Stormy Daniels, to buy her silence about an alleged affair that the former president has denied. 

“It was a lie,” Blanche said. “That was a lie and he got caught red-handed.” 

He then called Cohen “literally like an MVP of liars,” adding: “He lied to Congress. He lied to prosecutors. He lied to his family and business associates.” 

“He lied to you repeatedly. He lied many, many times before you even met him. His financial and personal well-being depends on this case. He is biased and motivated to tell you a story that is not true,” the attorney told jurors before he ended his closing arguments. 

A key part of prosecutors’ claims is that Cohen wasn’t being paid for legal work in 2017, but rather was being reimbursed in a veiled way for the Daniels payment. But Blanche pointed to emails and testimony showing that Cohen did indeed work on some legal matters for Trump that year. 

While Cohen characterized that work as “very minimal,” Blanche said it wasn’t the case. “Cohen lied to you. Cohen lied to you,” he said. 

Blanche added that Cohen went on television to discuss his role as the former president’s personal lawyer and put the title in the signature of every email that he sent. “This was not a secret. Michael Cohen was President Trump’s personal attorney. Period,” he said. 

Earlier this month, Cohen told the court that he was directed by Trump to initiate the repayment plan that involved payments to Daniels. He also said that the former president was directly involved in the plan and personally authorized the payments, which prosecutors say were illegally logged as legal expenses to cover up an alleged crime. 

Prosecutors argued that the alleged scheme was designed to conceal the true purpose of the payments to Daniels, illegal interference with the 2016 election. 

“What the government did for the past five weeks, at the end of the day, is ask you to believe the man who testified two weeks ago: Michael Cohen,” Blanche told jurors. “Michael Cohen asked you to ignore the documents, ignore what the email says about sending a retainer agreement sought by [former Trump Organizaton official Allen] Weisselberg, asked you to believe that he worked for free.” 

After Cohen’s testimony several weeks ago, Trump has been unable to directly respond to him due to a gag order that was issued by Judge Juan Merchan that prohibits him from speaking about witnesses and other individuals connected to the case. The former president has tried to appeal the order, and his appeal has been rejected by the judge and a state appeals court. 

As he ended his arguments, Blanche told the jurors that they should return a not-guilty verdict and implored them to leave their political biases at home. 

“This is not a referendum on the ballot box — who you voted for in 2016 or 2020, who you plan on voting for in 2024. That is not what this is about,” he told jurors. “The verdict you have to reach has to do with the evidence you heard in this courtroom,” he added. 

Prosecutors are still scheduled to make their closing arguments in the case starting Tuesday. 

The Associated Press and Michael Washburn contributed to this report. 

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