Michael Cohen at Manhattan courthouse before expected Trump grand jury testimony: ‘This is not revenge’
Michael Cohen, former President Trump’s longtime fixer, arrived at a Manhattan courthouse on Monday ahead of his appearance before a grand jury investigating the former president, according to The Associated Press.
Cohen’s appearance marks a critical moment for the grand jury proceedings, with Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s (D) office appearing to near a decision on whether to seek charges against Trump.
The former personal lawyer to Trump has met with Bragg’s office on multiple occasions in recent weeks as he expressed a desire to testify and see charges brought against the former president in connection with a 2016 hush payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
“My goal is to tell the truth,” Cohen told reporters outside the courthouse, according to the AP.
“This is not revenge,” he added. “This is all about accountability. He needs to be held accountable for his dirty deeds.”
The payment was made in exchange for Daniels’s silence about an alleged affair she claims she had with the former president in 2006. Trump vehemently denies the affair.
Cohen, who spent years at Trump’s side, is likely to serve as a key witness if the case moves forward. He made the $130,000 payment to Daniels shortly before the 2016 presidential election and later pleaded guilty to violating federal campaign finance law in connection with the payment.
The hush payment on its own is legal, but legal experts have suggested that prosecutors could leverage Cohen’s testimony in an attempt to indict Trump on charges of falsifying business records.
Cohen claims the former president later reimbursed him in monthly installments for the hush money and that the payments were erroneously recorded as a legal retainer fee.
Prosecutors would need to show that Trump, with an intent to defraud, was personally involved in unlawfully designating reimbursements a legal expense, but that charge still would only amount to a misdemeanor. To rise to a felony, prosecutors would additionally need to show that the fraud included an intent to commit another crime, likely a campaign finance violation.
Joe Tacopina, an attorney representing Trump in the Manhattan criminal probe, called the case “outrageous” during an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” earlier in the day and said the payment was “not directly related” to Trump’s campaign.
Trump himself has cast doubt on Cohen’s credibility, noting that he is a convicted felon who has pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.
“These Four Radical Left investigations of your all time favorite President, ME, is just a continuation of the most disgusting Witch Hunt in the HISTORY of our Country,” Trump wrote on his social media platform Truth Social on Monday.
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