Michael Cohen leaves state offices after meeting with Manhattan prosecutors on Feb. 8 in New York.

Michael Cohen begins testimony against Trump in fraud trial: Highlights

Table of Contents

What to know about Michael Cohen’s testimony

  • Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, delivered highly anticipated testimony in the former president’s civil fraud trial.
  • Cohen was initially expected to take the stand last week but had to delay his appearance because of a medical issue.
  • Trump was also in court Tuesday to face down his former fixer. Speaking to reporters ahead of the trial, Trump ripped Cohen as a “proven liar.”
  • Before heading into the courthouse, Cohen said his appearance “is about accountability, plain and simple.”
  • Tuesday’s blog is no longer live. Read about Wednesday’s trial proceedings here.

Coverage on this live blog has ended. Follow the latest updates from NBC News here.

46d ago / 9:27 PM UTC

Trump says Cohen ‘totally discredited’

Katherine Koretski and Dareh Gregorian

Trump bashed Cohen while leaving court and called his testimony “a disgrace.”

“The witness is totally discredited already, and they haven’t even started,” Trump said before incorrectly claiming that he’s the AG’s “only witness.”

“They used somebody that is a felon,” said Trump, who’s currently facing 91 felony charges himself in four separate indictments that he’s pleaded not guilty to. “He is a disgraced felon and that’s the way it’s coming out and I think you all see that. This trial should have never been brought,” he said.

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Copied46d ago / 8:52 PM UTC

Cohen says he lied during 2018 guilty plea

Adam Reiss, Lisa Rubin and Madison Lambert

Habba homed in on Cohen’s earlier denial of some of the charges he pleaded guilty to in federal court in 2018, and asked if he lied to the judge in that case, William Pauley.

“Correct,” Cohen said.

She then pushed him on whether he lied under oath to Congress, one of the crimes Cohen pleaded guilty to. He acknowledged he had.

“Unlike your other plea hearing, you’re being honest with the judge this time, is that correct?” she asked. “Yes, that is correct,” Cohen said.

Habba asked if she was supposed to believe Cohen wouldn’t lie to her now and Cohen, a disbarred lawyer, said, “I object.”

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Copied46d ago / 8:48 PM UTC

Court is done for the day

Chloe Atkins

Court is over for today. The judge tells Cohen not to talk to anybody about the trial or testimony.

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Copied46d ago / 8:43 PM UTC

Trump looks on as Habba grills Cohen on guilty pleas

Adam Reiss, Chloe Atkins and Madison Lambert

Trump, who at times has not turned in Cohen’s direction, looked over at his former lawyer as Habba grilled Cohen about the crimes he pleaded guilty to in 2018 — an exchange that quickly got nasty.

Habba was having some issues with her microphone but continued her questioning through loud feedback, which at one point had Cohen moving back in his seat.

Habba asked if he ever told his wife he was committing tax evasion, which Cohen objected to. Kise called Cohen “a serial liar” and told the judge, “This witness is completely out of control.”

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Copied46d ago / 8:18 PM UTC

Cohen cross-examination begins

Adam Reiss and Chloe Atkins

Cohen is being cross-examined by Trump lawyer Alina Habba.

Habba noted that they’ve met a few times before and asks if she should refer to him as Michael or Mr. Cohen.

“I think Mr. Cohen today,” he said to chuckles from the audience.

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Copied46d ago / 8:13 PM UTC

Trump lawyer says he could have bought multiple NFL teams

Adam Reiss, Madison Lambert and Dareh Gregorian

A frustrated Chris Kise mocked the AG’s continued questioning about Trump’s failed attempt to buy the Bills, telling the judge his client “had the financial wherewithal to buy more than one NFL team!”

“He had the financial capability to complete the transaction to buy the team and potentially more than one,” the Trump lawyer said, complaining about the AG’s “theoretical” line of questioning. 

Cohen testified about a letter from Trump bidding $1 billion for the team, where Trump wrote, “I have a net worth in excess of Eight Billion Dollars (financial statements to be provided upon request).” 

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Copied46d ago / 7:50 PM UTC

Cohen talks about Trump’s failed bid to buy NFL team

Chloe Atkins and Adam Reiss

Cohen was asked numerous questions about Trump’s failed attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills a decade ago.

He said Trump needed to secure a loan and show he had the financial wherewithal to own the team, and used the inflated financial statements to help improve his chances.

Trump lawyer Chris Kise objected, telling the judge Cohen isn’t an expert on NFL acquisitions and later questioning “why we are talking about the Buffalo Bills.”

The attempted purchase of the team came in the time period that an appeals court said is outside the statute of limitations for the claims in the case. The AG’s office said it intends to prove that Trump Organization officials mispresented their assets in their attempt to buy the team.

The judge said he wasn’t sure the evidence is relevant, but allowed the line of questioning to continue before the midafternoon break.

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Copied46d ago / 7:32 PM UTC

Trump leans head on hand as Cohen testifies about insurance group

Madison Lambert and Adam Reiss

Trump, who’d been sitting up straight while Cohen testified that the former president directed his assets be inflated, leaned his head on his hand as Cohen talked about the “gang of four” Trump employees he was part of.

The four, Cohen and Trump Org. executives Matt Calamari, Ron Lieberman and Allen Weisselberg, were tasked with reviewing the Trump insurance program, insurance policy buying decisions, and risk projection.

Cohen said when they met with insurance companies, they’d present them the inflated Trump financial statements.

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Copied46d ago / 6:51 PM UTC

Cohen says Trump children involved in financial statements

Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian

Cohen testified that Trump’s three oldest children — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump — assisted with his financial statements by giving information about projects they were involved with.

All three were executives at the Trump Organization at the time. Ivanka Trump resigned from the company when she went to work in the White House.

Eric Trump, who is seated in the front row of the gallery and has attended much of the trial, repeatedly shook his head in disgust during Cohen’s testimony about him and his siblings.

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Copied46d ago / 6:38 PM UTC

Trump inflated assets based on his feelings, Cohen says

Adam Reiss, Lisa Rubin and Dareh Gregorian

After retaking the witness stand following the lunch break, Cohen said Trump directed him and Weisselberg to greatly inflate his assets.

He said when they’d show Trump his financial statements, “he would look at the total assets and say, ‘I’m actually not worth $4.5 billion. I am really worth more like $6 billion.'”

“He would ask Allen and I to go back to the office and return with the desired goal,” Cohen said.

Trump sat up during this part of the testimony but did not appear to look over at Cohen.

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Copied46d ago / 6:18 PM UTC

Cohen on seeing Trump: ‘Heck of a reunion’

Adam Reiss, Jake Traylor and Dareh Gregorian

Asked by reporters outside the courtroom during the lunch break how it feels to see his former boss in person again, Cohen said, “Heck of a reunion.”

Earlier, as Cohen — who’s still testifying — was walking off the stand, Judge Arthur Engoron instructed him not to talk to anyone in the hallway.

Trump, asked during the break how it felt to see Cohen, said, “Well I hadn’t seen him in years. You know his record, his record is a horrible one.”

“We’ll see how it ends,” Trump continued. “It’s not going to end good.”

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Copied46d ago / 5:17 PM UTC

Cohen says Trump ‘arbitrarily’ set net worth numbers

Adam Reiss, Chloe Atkins and Dareh Gregorian

Before the break, Cohen said Trump would come up with his own net worth estimations, and it was up to him and former Trump Org. CFO Allen Weisselberg to make the numbers work.

“I was asked to increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected,” Cohen testified about Trump’s 2011 financial statement. “My responsibility along with Allen Weisselberg predominantly was to reverse engineer the various different asset classes and increase those assets in order to achieve a number that Mr. Trump asked us” for, he said.

Asked what number that would be, Cohen replied, “Whatever number he told us.”

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Copied46d ago / 5:06 PM UTC

Court breaks for lunch

Adam Reiss and Chloe Atkins

Testimony has halted for lunch. Before breaking, Judge Engoron told Cohen not to talk to anyone in the hallway. Testimony is scheduled to resume at 2:15 p.m.

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Copied46d ago / 4:52 PM UTC

Trump counters Cohen on social media as he testifies

Jake Traylor and Dareh Gregorian

About the time Cohen took the witness stand, the former president’s social media account posted snippets appearing to be from old articles where he praised his then-boss.

The Truth Social posts referred to a 2011 article in HuffPost where Cohen said Trump is worth “substantially more than what’s recorded in Forbes” and a 2016 New York Times article where he referred to Trump as a “patriarch” and a “mentor.”

The posts did not link to the stories, however.

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Copied46d ago / 4:39 PM UTC

Cohen quickly points finger at Trump

Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian

While recounting the crimes he pleaded guilty to, Cohen noted that one of the charges was lying to Congress about Trump’s efforts to land a property in Russia.

“I did that at the direction and benefit of Mr. Trump,” Cohen said.

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Copied46d ago / 4:39 PM UTC

Cohen testifies about crimes he pleaded guilty to

Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian

After recounting his educational and professional background, Cohen was asked about the various crimes he pleaded guilty to in federal court in 2018, including those he says he carried out on behalf of his former boss.

Asked if he ever made public comments about his conviction, the outspoken Cohen replied, “More than once.”

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Copied46d ago / 4:22 PM UTC

AG’s office calls Michael Cohen to witness stand

Adam Reiss

Michael Cohen has been called to the stand.

On his way in, he made no eye contact with Trump, who’s sitting with his arms crossed.

It’s the first time Cohen and his former boss have been face to face in five years.

Attorney General Letitia James has said the tax fraud investigation that led to her $250 million lawsuit began when she watched Cohen testifying to the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill in 2019. She immediately alerted her deputies and investigators in the office to start digging. Three years later, in September 2022 she announced the wide-ranging lawsuit accusing Trump, his children and his associates of financial fraud. 

Cohen has said under oath that he was directly involved in preparing the annual financial statements where Trump listed the value of his assets. Cohen has repeatedly said they inflated the value of Trump’s assets to achieve a higher net worth even though they knew it wasn’t accurate. 

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Copied46d ago / 4:18 PM UTC

Trump’s accountants cut ties without giving company a chance to defend itself

Lisa Rubin, Adam Reiss and Chloe Atkins

On cross, Mazars’ Kelly acknowledged the accounting firm never gave the Trump Organization an opportunity to defend itself before it cut ties amid dueling probes by the AG and the Manhattan district attorney.

Asked by Trump lawyer Jesus Suarez if Mazars ever reached out to the Trump Organization before ending their relationship last year, Kelly said it did not.

Mazars, which had helped prepare Trump’s financial statements with information provided by then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, informed the company in a letter that it could no longer vouch for the statements based on court filings from the AG’s office and “our own investigation, and information received from internal and external sources.”

Suarez asked if it was because they no longer believed Weisselberg, who later pleaded guilty to tax fraud charges, was credible. Kelly replied, “Correct.”

“You just kicked them to the curb?” Suarez asked. “No, we didn’t kick them to the curb,” Kelly said, adding the company had done its own investigation into the allegations.

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Copied47d ago / 2:54 PM UTC

Testimony paused while court swaps out mics

Lisa Rubin

There was a pause in the testimony so that the court personnel could change the microphone at the podium used to examine witnesses due to the ongoing Covid concerns. Technicians and attorneys scrambled to clean the mic used by prosecutors as there wasn’t another mic available for the defense lawyers.

Once the mic was set, Trump lawyer Jesus Suarez began the cross-examination of Kelly.

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Copied47d ago / 2:41 PM UTC

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Copied47d ago / 2:28 PM UTC

AG’s office says it has followed Covid protocols

Adam Reiss

The AG’s office has issued a statement pushing back against the Trump team’s claims it’s been “irresponsible” with its handling of a Covid outbreak among its lawyers.

“As always, the Attorney General’s office has followed and complied with CDC guidelines. Our office properly notified the court and defendants counsel and the court decided to proceed with trial today,” the statement said. “If there were any concerns, defendants could wear masks today or any point but they opted not to,” it said.

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Copied47d ago / 2:27 PM UTC

Mazars lawyer testifies why firm ended relationship with Trump Org.

Lisa Rubin

Today’s first witness is Bill Kelly, the general counsel of Mazars USA, who testified that as the organization’s lead lawyer, he spearheaded Mazars’ response to subpoenas from the House Oversight Committee and the Manhattan DA’s office, among other investigations. 

He is explaining that receiving a subpoena is not cause for discontinuing a client relationship, but that it triggered an internal analysis. But in May 2021, he determined they had to end the relationship because they received information that caused circumstances to change.

Specifically, after the Manhattan DA subpoenaed Mazars for information about Weisselberg’s personal taxes, they decided they could not move forward with Trump Org. anymore. Why? Weisselberg was the main contact with them; if his representations were compromised, they could not rely on him as CFO for information related to the statements of financial condition and Trump’s tax returns. And without that reliance, they could not go forward with those engagements, Kelly explained.

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Copied47d ago / 2:25 PM UTC

Trump attorney asks to use different microphone than AG

Lisa Rubin and Adam Reiss

Citing the Covid outbreak among members of the AG’s office, Trump attorney Alina Habba asked to be able to use a different microphone than the “contaminated” one they’re using in the courtroom.

Louis Solomon from the AG’s office, who’s wearing a mask, said the microphone was provided by the AG’s office and that Trump’s team — who are not wearing masks — are free to bring their own.

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Copied47d ago / 2:24 PM UTC

Trump lawyer blasts AG for proceeding despite Covid outbreak

Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian

Trump attorney Chris Kise told Judge Arthur Engoron that he objects to the trial proceeding on Tuesday despite multiple members from the AG’s legal team apparently testing positive for Covid.

He said a “total of four team members” from the AG’s office had tested positive, and “this is beyond irresponsible.”

The trial was out on Monday because of Covid-related issues. “Another day or two days would not have made a difference,” Kise said. “We have the leading candidate for the president of the United States” in court and are “exposing him to risk,” he continued.

Another lawyer on the Trump side, Cliff Robert, claimed the AG’s office had known about the problem since Wednesday and “didn’t tell us.” “Someone on the Trump team has Covid as well. It is incredibly problematic to us,” Robert said.

The judge said there are masks available for those who want them and ordered the day’s testimony to proceed.

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Copied47d ago / 2:10 PM UTC

Trump rips Cohen ahead of testimony

Katherine Koretski

Trump lashed out at Cohen shortly before entering the courtroom.

“He’s a proven liar, as you know, a felon, served a lot of time for lying and we’re going to just go in and see that and I think you’ll see that for yourself,” he said. “So he’s a liar and trying to get a better deal for himself but it’s not going to work this case by any other judge, this case would have been over a long time ago. We did nothing wrong and that’s the truth.”

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Copied47d ago / 2:03 PM UTC

Packed court ahead of Cohen’s testimony

Adam Reiss and Olympia Sonnier

There is a lot of anticipation for today’s hearing where Michael Cohen will come face to face with Donald Trump as he testifies against him.

The scene in court today is different with a packed courtroom and heightened security in and outside. James is in her usual front-row seat. After Trump arrived in the courtroom, he glanced around the gallery before taking his seat at the defense table. 

The hallway outside of the courtroom is packed. This is the most amount of reporters we’ve seen up here in the last three weeks: approximately 100 cameramen, photographers and sound techs packed into two very narrow pens.

Before Cohen testifies, we will hear from Bill Kelly, the general counsel of Mazars, Trump’s longtime accounting firm. He will testify that the Trump Org. withheld appraisals from his firm and the decision to cut ties with the Trump Organization.

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Copied47d ago / 1:59 PM UTC

Cohen speaks before entering courthouse

Katherine Koretski

Cohen addressed reporters before walking into court.

“Let me just turn around and say that this is not about Donald Trump versus Michael Cohen or Michael Cohen versus Donald Trump,” he said. “This is about accountability, plain and simple. And we leave it up to Judge Engoron in order to make all the determinations on that. So I thank you all for coming.”

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Copied47d ago / 1:54 PM UTC

In separate trial, ex-Trump lawyer takes plea deal in Georgia election case

Rebecca Shabad

Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis pleaded guilty Tuesday morning in the Georgia election interference case, becoming the fourth co-defendant to accept a plea deal instead of going to trial.

Ellis pleaded guilty in court to aiding and abetting false statements and writings.

The conditions of the plea agreement require that she serve five years of probation, pay $5,000 of restitution to the Georgia secretary of state within 30 days, and testify at hearings in the case.

Read the full story here.

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Copied47d ago / 1:21 PM UTC

AG James arrives at court

Jillian Frankel

Attorney General Letitia James just arrived at the Manhattan courthouse for Trump’s civil case.

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Copied47d ago / 1:11 PM UTC

Judge threatens to jail Trump for defying gag order in civil fraud trial

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

During last week’s fraud trial proceedings Judge Arthur Engoron fined the former president $5,000 and floated the idea of jailing him for defying a partial gag order requiring him to remove a post trashing the judge’s law clerk on social media.

Engoron was livid when he revealed that Trump failed to comply with the order and raised the possibility of putting the former president in prison. Engoron said Trump had posted on his social media account “an untrue and disparaging post about my clerk” and that he “ordered him to remove the post immediately and he said he did take it down.”

He continued, “Despite this order, last night I learned the offending post was never removed from a website. This is a blatant violation of the gag order. I made it clear [that] failure to comply will result in serious sanctions.”

In his ruling levying the fine, Engoron warned Trump against violating the gag order again.

“Make no mistake: future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will subject the violator to far more severe sanctions, which may include, but are not limited to, steeper financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly imprisoning him,” Engoron wrote.

Read the full story here.

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Copied47d ago / 1:04 PM UTC

Trump to make another court appearance for Cohen’s highly anticipated testimony

Summer Concepcion

Trump is expected to make another appearance at the $250 million civil fraud trial as his former-lawyer-turned-foe Cohen is set to testify against him.

Cohen’s highly anticipated testimony comes after he was originally scheduled to appear in court last week. He ultimately didn’t appear that day as planned, saying he was dealing with a health issue. Judge Arthur Engoron said last week that Cohen’s testimony would be delayed for at least a week.

Despite Cohen’s absence, Trump followed through on attending the trial on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, having originally planned to see Cohen take the stand. The former president isn’t required to attend the proceedings.

Trump has decried the trial as “rigged” for the lack of a jury and accused New York Attorney General Letitia James of attempting election interference amid his presidential campaign.

James sued Trump in September 2022, alleging that he and his two adult sons engaged in efforts to inflate Trump’s personal net worth to make way for favorable loan agreements.

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Copied NEWUPDATESNBC News46d ago / 9:27 PM UTC

Trump says Cohen ‘totally discredited’

Katherine Koretski and Dareh Gregorian

Trump bashed Cohen while leaving court and called his testimony “a disgrace.”

“The witness is totally discredited already, and they haven’t even started,” Trump said before incorrectly claiming that he’s the AG’s “only witness.”

“They used somebody that is a felon,” said Trump, who’s currently facing 91 felony charges himself in four separate indictments that he’s pleaded not guilty to. “He is a disgraced felon and that’s the way it’s coming out and I think you all see that. This trial should have never been brought,” he said.

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Copied46d ago / 8:52 PM UTC

Cohen says he lied during 2018 guilty plea

Adam Reiss, Lisa Rubin and Madison Lambert

Habba homed in on Cohen’s earlier denial of some of the charges he pleaded guilty to in federal court in 2018, and asked if he lied to the judge in that case, William Pauley.

“Correct,” Cohen said.

She then pushed him on whether he lied under oath to Congress, one of the crimes Cohen pleaded guilty to. He acknowledged he had.

“Unlike your other plea hearing, you’re being honest with the judge this time, is that correct?” she asked. “Yes, that is correct,” Cohen said.

Habba asked if she was supposed to believe Cohen wouldn’t lie to her now and Cohen, a disbarred lawyer, said, “I object.”

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Copied46d ago / 8:48 PM UTC

Court is done for the day

Chloe Atkins

Court is over for today. The judge tells Cohen not to talk to anybody about the trial or testimony.

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Copied46d ago / 8:43 PM UTC

Trump looks on as Habba grills Cohen on guilty pleas

Adam Reiss, Chloe Atkins and Madison Lambert

Trump, who at times has not turned in Cohen’s direction, looked over at his former lawyer as Habba grilled Cohen about the crimes he pleaded guilty to in 2018 — an exchange that quickly got nasty.

Habba was having some issues with her microphone but continued her questioning through loud feedback, which at one point had Cohen moving back in his seat.

Habba asked if he ever told his wife he was committing tax evasion, which Cohen objected to. Kise called Cohen “a serial liar” and told the judge, “This witness is completely out of control.”

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Copied46d ago / 8:18 PM UTC

Cohen cross-examination begins

Adam Reiss and Chloe Atkins

Cohen is being cross-examined by Trump lawyer Alina Habba.

Habba noted that they’ve met a few times before and asks if she should refer to him as Michael or Mr. Cohen.

“I think Mr. Cohen today,” he said to chuckles from the audience.

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Copied46d ago / 8:13 PM UTC

Trump lawyer says he could have bought multiple NFL teams

Adam Reiss, Madison Lambert and Dareh Gregorian

A frustrated Chris Kise mocked the AG’s continued questioning about Trump’s failed attempt to buy the Bills, telling the judge his client “had the financial wherewithal to buy more than one NFL team!”

“He had the financial capability to complete the transaction to buy the team and potentially more than one,” the Trump lawyer said, complaining about the AG’s “theoretical” line of questioning. 

Cohen testified about a letter from Trump bidding $1 billion for the team, where Trump wrote, “I have a net worth in excess of Eight Billion Dollars (financial statements to be provided upon request).” 

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Copied46d ago / 7:50 PM UTC

Cohen talks about Trump’s failed bid to buy NFL team

Chloe Atkins and Adam Reiss

Cohen was asked numerous questions about Trump’s failed attempt to buy the Buffalo Bills a decade ago.

He said Trump needed to secure a loan and show he had the financial wherewithal to own the team, and used the inflated financial statements to help improve his chances.

Trump lawyer Chris Kise objected, telling the judge Cohen isn’t an expert on NFL acquisitions and later questioning “why we are talking about the Buffalo Bills.”

The attempted purchase of the team came in the time period that an appeals court said is outside the statute of limitations for the claims in the case. The AG’s office said it intends to prove that Trump Organization officials mispresented their assets in their attempt to buy the team.

The judge said he wasn’t sure the evidence is relevant, but allowed the line of questioning to continue before the midafternoon break.

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Copied46d ago / 7:32 PM UTC

Trump leans head on hand as Cohen testifies about insurance group

Madison Lambert and Adam Reiss

Trump, who’d been sitting up straight while Cohen testified that the former president directed his assets be inflated, leaned his head on his hand as Cohen talked about the “gang of four” Trump employees he was part of.

The four, Cohen and Trump Org. executives Matt Calamari, Ron Lieberman and Allen Weisselberg, were tasked with reviewing the Trump insurance program, insurance policy buying decisions, and risk projection.

Cohen said when they met with insurance companies, they’d present them the inflated Trump financial statements.

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Copied46d ago / 6:51 PM UTC

Cohen says Trump children involved in financial statements

Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian

Cohen testified that Trump’s three oldest children — Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump — assisted with his financial statements by giving information about projects they were involved with.

All three were executives at the Trump Organization at the time. Ivanka Trump resigned from the company when she went to work in the White House.

Eric Trump, who is seated in the front row of the gallery and has attended much of the trial, repeatedly shook his head in disgust during Cohen’s testimony about him and his siblings.

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Copied46d ago / 6:38 PM UTC

Trump inflated assets based on his feelings, Cohen says

Adam Reiss, Lisa Rubin and Dareh Gregorian

After retaking the witness stand following the lunch break, Cohen said Trump directed him and Weisselberg to greatly inflate his assets.

He said when they’d show Trump his financial statements, “he would look at the total assets and say, ‘I’m actually not worth $4.5 billion. I am really worth more like $6 billion.'”

“He would ask Allen and I to go back to the office and return with the desired goal,” Cohen said.

Trump sat up during this part of the testimony but did not appear to look over at Cohen.

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Copied46d ago / 6:18 PM UTC

Cohen on seeing Trump: ‘Heck of a reunion’

Adam Reiss, Jake Traylor and Dareh Gregorian

Asked by reporters outside the courtroom during the lunch break how it feels to see his former boss in person again, Cohen said, “Heck of a reunion.”

Earlier, as Cohen — who’s still testifying — was walking off the stand, Judge Arthur Engoron instructed him not to talk to anyone in the hallway.

Trump, asked during the break how it felt to see Cohen, said, “Well I hadn’t seen him in years. You know his record, his record is a horrible one.”

“We’ll see how it ends,” Trump continued. “It’s not going to end good.”

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Copied46d ago / 5:17 PM UTC

Cohen says Trump ‘arbitrarily’ set net worth numbers

Adam Reiss, Chloe Atkins and Dareh Gregorian

Before the break, Cohen said Trump would come up with his own net worth estimations, and it was up to him and former Trump Org. CFO Allen Weisselberg to make the numbers work.

“I was asked to increase the total assets based upon a number that he arbitrarily elected,” Cohen testified about Trump’s 2011 financial statement. “My responsibility along with Allen Weisselberg predominantly was to reverse engineer the various different asset classes and increase those assets in order to achieve a number that Mr. Trump asked us” for, he said.

Asked what number that would be, Cohen replied, “Whatever number he told us.”

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Copied46d ago / 5:06 PM UTC

Court breaks for lunch

Adam Reiss and Chloe Atkins

Testimony has halted for lunch. Before breaking, Judge Engoron told Cohen not to talk to anyone in the hallway. Testimony is scheduled to resume at 2:15 p.m.

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Copied46d ago / 4:52 PM UTC

Trump counters Cohen on social media as he testifies

Jake Traylor and Dareh Gregorian

About the time Cohen took the witness stand, the former president’s social media account posted snippets appearing to be from old articles where he praised his then-boss.

The Truth Social posts referred to a 2011 article in HuffPost where Cohen said Trump is worth “substantially more than what’s recorded in Forbes” and a 2016 New York Times article where he referred to Trump as a “patriarch” and a “mentor.”

The posts did not link to the stories, however.

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Copied46d ago / 4:39 PM UTC

Cohen quickly points finger at Trump

Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian

While recounting the crimes he pleaded guilty to, Cohen noted that one of the charges was lying to Congress about Trump’s efforts to land a property in Russia.

“I did that at the direction and benefit of Mr. Trump,” Cohen said.

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Copied46d ago / 4:39 PM UTC

Cohen testifies about crimes he pleaded guilty to

Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian

After recounting his educational and professional background, Cohen was asked about the various crimes he pleaded guilty to in federal court in 2018, including those he says he carried out on behalf of his former boss.

Asked if he ever made public comments about his conviction, the outspoken Cohen replied, “More than once.”

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Copied46d ago / 4:22 PM UTC

AG’s office calls Michael Cohen to witness stand

Adam Reiss

Michael Cohen has been called to the stand.

On his way in, he made no eye contact with Trump, who’s sitting with his arms crossed.

It’s the first time Cohen and his former boss have been face to face in five years.

Attorney General Letitia James has said the tax fraud investigation that led to her $250 million lawsuit began when she watched Cohen testifying to the House Oversight Committee on Capitol Hill in 2019. She immediately alerted her deputies and investigators in the office to start digging. Three years later, in September 2022 she announced the wide-ranging lawsuit accusing Trump, his children and his associates of financial fraud. 

Cohen has said under oath that he was directly involved in preparing the annual financial statements where Trump listed the value of his assets. Cohen has repeatedly said they inflated the value of Trump’s assets to achieve a higher net worth even though they knew it wasn’t accurate. 

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Copied46d ago / 4:18 PM UTC

Trump’s accountants cut ties without giving company a chance to defend itself

Lisa Rubin, Adam Reiss and Chloe Atkins

On cross, Mazars’ Kelly acknowledged the accounting firm never gave the Trump Organization an opportunity to defend itself before it cut ties amid dueling probes by the AG and the Manhattan district attorney.

Asked by Trump lawyer Jesus Suarez if Mazars ever reached out to the Trump Organization before ending their relationship last year, Kelly said it did not.

Mazars, which had helped prepare Trump’s financial statements with information provided by then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg, informed the company in a letter that it could no longer vouch for the statements based on court filings from the AG’s office and “our own investigation, and information received from internal and external sources.”

Suarez asked if it was because they no longer believed Weisselberg, who later pleaded guilty to tax fraud charges, was credible. Kelly replied, “Correct.”

“You just kicked them to the curb?” Suarez asked. “No, we didn’t kick them to the curb,” Kelly said, adding the company had done its own investigation into the allegations.

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Copied47d ago / 2:54 PM UTC

Testimony paused while court swaps out mics

Lisa Rubin

There was a pause in the testimony so that the court personnel could change the microphone at the podium used to examine witnesses due to the ongoing Covid concerns. Technicians and attorneys scrambled to clean the mic used by prosecutors as there wasn’t another mic available for the defense lawyers.

Once the mic was set, Trump lawyer Jesus Suarez began the cross-examination of Kelly.

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Copied47d ago / 2:41 PM UTC

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Copied47d ago / 2:28 PM UTC

AG’s office says it has followed Covid protocols

Adam Reiss

The AG’s office has issued a statement pushing back against the Trump team’s claims it’s been “irresponsible” with its handling of a Covid outbreak among its lawyers.

“As always, the Attorney General’s office has followed and complied with CDC guidelines. Our office properly notified the court and defendants counsel and the court decided to proceed with trial today,” the statement said. “If there were any concerns, defendants could wear masks today or any point but they opted not to,” it said.

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Copied47d ago / 2:27 PM UTC

Mazars lawyer testifies why firm ended relationship with Trump Org.

Lisa Rubin

Today’s first witness is Bill Kelly, the general counsel of Mazars USA, who testified that as the organization’s lead lawyer, he spearheaded Mazars’ response to subpoenas from the House Oversight Committee and the Manhattan DA’s office, among other investigations. 

He is explaining that receiving a subpoena is not cause for discontinuing a client relationship, but that it triggered an internal analysis. But in May 2021, he determined they had to end the relationship because they received information that caused circumstances to change.

Specifically, after the Manhattan DA subpoenaed Mazars for information about Weisselberg’s personal taxes, they decided they could not move forward with Trump Org. anymore. Why? Weisselberg was the main contact with them; if his representations were compromised, they could not rely on him as CFO for information related to the statements of financial condition and Trump’s tax returns. And without that reliance, they could not go forward with those engagements, Kelly explained.

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Copied47d ago / 2:25 PM UTC

Trump attorney asks to use different microphone than AG

Lisa Rubin and Adam Reiss

Citing the Covid outbreak among members of the AG’s office, Trump attorney Alina Habba asked to be able to use a different microphone than the “contaminated” one they’re using in the courtroom.

Louis Solomon from the AG’s office, who’s wearing a mask, said the microphone was provided by the AG’s office and that Trump’s team — who are not wearing masks — are free to bring their own.

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Copied47d ago / 2:24 PM UTC

Trump lawyer blasts AG for proceeding despite Covid outbreak

Adam Reiss and Dareh Gregorian

Trump attorney Chris Kise told Judge Arthur Engoron that he objects to the trial proceeding on Tuesday despite multiple members from the AG’s legal team apparently testing positive for Covid.

He said a “total of four team members” from the AG’s office had tested positive, and “this is beyond irresponsible.”

The trial was out on Monday because of Covid-related issues. “Another day or two days would not have made a difference,” Kise said. “We have the leading candidate for the president of the United States” in court and are “exposing him to risk,” he continued.

Another lawyer on the Trump side, Cliff Robert, claimed the AG’s office had known about the problem since Wednesday and “didn’t tell us.” “Someone on the Trump team has Covid as well. It is incredibly problematic to us,” Robert said.

The judge said there are masks available for those who want them and ordered the day’s testimony to proceed.

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Copied47d ago / 2:10 PM UTC

Trump rips Cohen ahead of testimony

Katherine Koretski

Trump lashed out at Cohen shortly before entering the courtroom.

“He’s a proven liar, as you know, a felon, served a lot of time for lying and we’re going to just go in and see that and I think you’ll see that for yourself,” he said. “So he’s a liar and trying to get a better deal for himself but it’s not going to work this case by any other judge, this case would have been over a long time ago. We did nothing wrong and that’s the truth.”

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Copied47d ago / 2:03 PM UTC

Packed court ahead of Cohen’s testimony

Adam Reiss and Olympia Sonnier

There is a lot of anticipation for today’s hearing where Michael Cohen will come face to face with Donald Trump as he testifies against him.

The scene in court today is different with a packed courtroom and heightened security in and outside. James is in her usual front-row seat. After Trump arrived in the courtroom, he glanced around the gallery before taking his seat at the defense table. 

The hallway outside of the courtroom is packed. This is the most amount of reporters we’ve seen up here in the last three weeks: approximately 100 cameramen, photographers and sound techs packed into two very narrow pens.

Before Cohen testifies, we will hear from Bill Kelly, the general counsel of Mazars, Trump’s longtime accounting firm. He will testify that the Trump Org. withheld appraisals from his firm and the decision to cut ties with the Trump Organization.

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Copied47d ago / 1:59 PM UTC

Cohen speaks before entering courthouse

Katherine Koretski

Cohen addressed reporters before walking into court.

“Let me just turn around and say that this is not about Donald Trump versus Michael Cohen or Michael Cohen versus Donald Trump,” he said. “This is about accountability, plain and simple. And we leave it up to Judge Engoron in order to make all the determinations on that. So I thank you all for coming.”

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Copied47d ago / 1:54 PM UTC

In separate trial, ex-Trump lawyer takes plea deal in Georgia election case

Rebecca Shabad

Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis pleaded guilty Tuesday morning in the Georgia election interference case, becoming the fourth co-defendant to accept a plea deal instead of going to trial.

Ellis pleaded guilty in court to aiding and abetting false statements and writings.

The conditions of the plea agreement require that she serve five years of probation, pay $5,000 of restitution to the Georgia secretary of state within 30 days, and testify at hearings in the case.

Read the full story here.

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Copied47d ago / 1:21 PM UTC

AG James arrives at court

Jillian Frankel

Attorney General Letitia James just arrived at the Manhattan courthouse for Trump’s civil case.

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Copied47d ago / 1:11 PM UTC

Judge threatens to jail Trump for defying gag order in civil fraud trial

Adam Reiss and Rebecca Shabad

During last week’s fraud trial proceedings Judge Arthur Engoron fined the former president $5,000 and floated the idea of jailing him for defying a partial gag order requiring him to remove a post trashing the judge’s law clerk on social media.

Engoron was livid when he revealed that Trump failed to comply with the order and raised the possibility of putting the former president in prison. Engoron said Trump had posted on his social media account “an untrue and disparaging post about my clerk” and that he “ordered him to remove the post immediately and he said he did take it down.”

He continued, “Despite this order, last night I learned the offending post was never removed from a website. This is a blatant violation of the gag order. I made it clear [that] failure to comply will result in serious sanctions.”

In his ruling levying the fine, Engoron warned Trump against violating the gag order again.

“Make no mistake: future violations, whether intentional or unintentional, will subject the violator to far more severe sanctions, which may include, but are not limited to, steeper financial penalties, holding Donald Trump in contempt of court, and possibly imprisoning him,” Engoron wrote.

Read the full story here.

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Copied47d ago / 1:04 PM UTC

Trump to make another court appearance for Cohen’s highly anticipated testimony

Summer Concepcion

Trump is expected to make another appearance at the $250 million civil fraud trial as his former-lawyer-turned-foe Cohen is set to testify against him.

Cohen’s highly anticipated testimony comes after he was originally scheduled to appear in court last week. He ultimately didn’t appear that day as planned, saying he was dealing with a health issue. Judge Arthur Engoron said last week that Cohen’s testimony would be delayed for at least a week.

Despite Cohen’s absence, Trump followed through on attending the trial on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, having originally planned to see Cohen take the stand. The former president isn’t required to attend the proceedings.

Trump has decried the trial as “rigged” for the lack of a jury and accused New York Attorney General Letitia James of attempting election interference amid his presidential campaign.

James sued Trump in September 2022, alleging that he and his two adult sons engaged in efforts to inflate Trump’s personal net worth to make way for favorable loan agreements.

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