It was — and stays — the final word litmus check for anybody within the orbit of Donald Trump: Are you loyal, or not?

The query percolated via in the present day’s testimony by Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer, whose second day on the stand additionally featured a livid pushback from protection legal professionals. They painted Cohen as a liar and an opportunist obsessive about Trump — and bent on seeing him convicted.

The day was break up: Cohen was on the stand for prosecutors earlier than lunch, and within the afternoon confronted a barrage of aggressive questions as cross-examination started.

Cohen stated he deserted his affiliation with the previous president within the months after federal brokers raided his home and workplace in April 2018, throughout Trump’s second 12 months within the White Home.

The raid partly concerned Cohen’s $130,000 cost to Stormy Daniels, a porn star, to silence her account of a sexual encounter with Trump, the identical occasion that precipitated the fees the previous president is dealing with in a Manhattan courtroom. There, usually glum, Trump has watched a procession of former workers and confidants take the stand as witnesses for the prosecution.

In a emotionally fraught second in the present day, Cohen described a dialog along with his household in 2018 the place he stated they requested him a searing query: “Why are you holding on to this loyalty?”

“‘We’re alleged to be your first loyalty,’” Cohen recalled his household saying, including, “It was about time to take heed to them.”

Cohen stated his determination was to be loyal as a substitute to “my spouse, my son, my daughter, and the nation,” ultimately main him to testify, as Manhattan prosecutors search to show that Trump falsified enterprise information to cover Cohen’s reimbursement for the Daniels payoff.

Protection legal professionals offered such testimony as nothing greater than self-serving, self-justifying nonsense. Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, started a pitched cross-examination by asking if Cohen had referred to as him a “crying little shit” in an internet put up.

“Appears like one thing I might say,” Cohen quipped — earlier than prosecutors lobbed an objection that was sustained.

Blanche quickly started peppering Cohen with questions, eliciting a variety of admissions, together with that Cohen has defied requests from prosecutors to not converse, that he want to see Trump convicted and that he has made cash from his affiliation with Trump, together with from podcasts, books and on-line gross sales (together with T-shirts studying “Convict 45”).

Blanche additionally confronted Cohen along with his previous reward of Trump, whom he had as soon as referred to as “a person who tells it straight.”

Cohen, who nonetheless lives in a constructing with Trump’s title on it, responded: “At the moment I used to be knee deep within the cult of Donald Trump.”

The protection wished Cohen to confess that he was solely focused on cash and saving his personal pores and skin, exhibiting him notes wherein Cohen wished to understand how he would profit by serving to the Manhattan district lawyer’s workplace, which introduced the case.

Blanche additionally bore right into a sequence of lies Cohen has admitted to, together with making false statements to Congress in 2017, one thing prosecutors elicited.

However Cohen batted again a suggestion by Blanche that he simply wished to be well-known. He conceded he favored being on tv, however stated he was happier when he was representing Trump. In a lighter second, Cohen stated that he had begun podcasting to create group and to vent as a result of he had “a troublesome time sleeping.” (Not in contrast to different podcasters, maybe.)

Trump, 77, has denied the fees and says he didn’t have intercourse with Daniels, who described their temporary tryst in detailed testimony final week. Whereas barred by the gag order from attacking jurors, witnesses and the decide’s household — an order he’s already violated 10 instances — Trump used his day by day remarks within the court docket hallway to reward those that got here to reward him, who in the present day included the speaker of the House, Mike Johnson.

“They’re talking very superbly,” Trump stated of his surrogates. “They arrive from throughout Washington, and so they’re extremely revered and so they assume that is the largest rip-off they’ve ever seen.”

Proof within the courtroom was detailed, with prosecutors methodically strolling Cohen via the checks he acquired from Trump to pay him again for the $130,000 he had despatched to Daniels, one thing he stated he did to guarantee her story “wouldn’t have an effect on Mr. Trump’s possibilities of changing into president of the US.”

“On whose path and on whose behalf did you commit that crime?” Cohen was requested by a prosecutor, Susan Hoffinger.

“On behalf of Mr. Trump,” Cohen replied.

Throughout about 9 hours of direct testimony over two days, Cohen was largely calm, a far cry from the brash, brass-tacks lawyer jurors had been primed to anticipate by testimony from different witnesses.

He painted himself as an insecure operator in a world wherein everybody round Trump tried to please him, all within the hopes of incomes head-pats or, in Cohen’s case, safety. One such assurance got here after the raid by federal brokers, when Trump instructed him: “Don’t fear. I’m the president of the US.”

Cohen’s onetime affection for the previous president got here up many times. Extra just lately, in fact, Cohen has been much less flattering, saying on social media that Trump must be in a cage “like an animal.” Such invective might come from bitter expertise: Cohen testified he has misplaced his legislation license and has been pressured to promote profitable taxi medallions after his felony convictions.

Requested by Hoffinger, on the finish of her questions, if he had regrets, Cohen stated sure, he had a couple of.

“I don’t remorse working on the Trump Group, as I expressed earlier than,” he stated, earlier than including, “However to maintain the loyalty and to do the issues that he had requested me to do, I violated my ethical compass.”

Right here’s the team we have reporting on the trial. In the course of the proceedings, we’ll be sending you updates extra ceaselessly, together with breaking information alerts and our weekly evaluation on Thursdays.

We’re asking readers what they’d wish to know in regards to the Trump instances: the fees, the process, the necessary gamers or anything. You may send us your question by filling out this form.

I’m interested in how the NYT group is speaking from the courtroom. Are they within the courtroom? Are they typing on their telephones? Do editors or others evaluate/manage their feedback, how delayed is the reporting? — Greg Smith, Centennial, Colo.

Jesse: Laptops are allowed within the courtroom, however not cellphone utilization, so reporter updates are being despatched by way of old school typing, with editors at Instances headquarters fixing our errors and generally including context earlier than electronically publishing. Within the overflow room, reporters can use laptops and textual content, although, like within the courtroom, pictures and cellphone calls are strictly forbidden. Studies on the trial’s proceedings, fed into the Dwell part on the Instances webpage, are typically fairly fast after the motion in court docket, although longer objects take, properly, longer. We talk with one another via Slack for probably the most half, and in conversations throughout our all-too-brief lunch hours.

  • Subsequent week, in Florida, there would be the first of a sequence of hearings in Trump’s categorised paperwork case that can stretch into late June. The listening to will concern an try by one in every of Trump’s co-defendants, Walt Nauta, to have the fees he’s dealing with dismissed, together with by arguing that he has been unfairly and vindictively prosecuted.

Trump is on the heart of at the least 4 separate felony investigations, at each the state and federal ranges, into issues associated to his enterprise and political careers. Right here is the place each case stands.

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