Michael Cohen reveals last message from Trump before being abandoned to face charges alone: ‘Everything’蝉 going to be OK’

During a second day of testimony on Tuesday, the former president’蝉 former ‘fixer’ told the court about the payments at heart of the hush money case

Kelly Rissman
in Manhattan Criminal Court
,Alex Woodward
Tuesday 14 May 2024 17:28 BST
Related video: Mike Johnson rails against ‘sham trial’ outside court

When Michael Cohen’蝉 Manhattan home was raided in 2018 as part of a criminal probe, then-president Donald Trump reassured him “everything’蝉 going to be OK” – and then never spoke to him again, his former attorney told the court during his second day of testimony in Mr Trump’蝉 hush money trial.

That last communication between the two men was a canary in the coal mine for the demise of their relationship, paving the way for the one-time loyal “fixer” to become one of the former president’蝉 harshest critics.

The raid was connected to the ongoing criminal probe of Cohen, in part related to a criminal investigation over potential campaign finance violations stemming from his hush money payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to silence her story about having sex with Mr Trump in 2006. That $130,000 payment – and Mr Trump’蝉 reimbursements – are at the heart of the former president’蝉 criminal trial, where he is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records.

The former president has pleaded not guilty to the charges and has repeatedly denied that the affair took place.

On the witness stand on Tuesday morning, Cohen testified about the FBI’蝉 raid of his New York City apartment in April 2018, recalling how federal agents seized documents from his law office, tax books and his two cell phones.

Assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger asked Cohen how he felt after the raid.

He sighed, looked downpaused before responding.

“How to describe your life turning upside down,” he said. “Concerned, despondent.”

He told the court that he asked then-President Trump to call him. He did.

Cohen recalled Mr Trump reassuring him that “everything’蝉 going to be OK”.

“Don’t worry. I’m the president of the United States,” Cohen said Mr Trump told him on the phone. “There’蝉 nothing here. Everything’蝉 going to be OK.”

That was the last time they spoke, he testified.

Michael Cohen leaves his home to head to Manhattan Criminal Court for a second day of testimony in Donald Trump’蝉 criminal trial on May 14 2024
Michael Cohen leaves his home to head to Manhattan Criminal Court for a second day of testimony in Donald Trump’蝉 criminal trial on May 14 2024 (AFP via Getty Images)

Others from Mr Trump’蝉 inner circle also reassured Cohen, he testified.

“You are loved,” they told him, according to Cohen. “Don’t worry. He’蝉 got your back. Most powerful guy in the country if not the world. You’re going to be OK.”

Mr Trump’蝉 call was “extremely important” to him because he was “scared,” he said.

“I wanted some reassurance that Trump had my back — especially with issues that related to him,” he testified.

Ms Hoffinger then asked how that phone call affected Cohen going forward.

“I felt reassured,” Cohen testified. “Because I had the president of the United States protecting me. His Justice Department should go nowhere. So I felt reassured that I remained in the [Trump] camp.”

The world now knows that Cohen and Mr Trump’蝉 relationship would never be the same after that phone call.

Just before the raid, Cohen had admitted in a public statement in 2018 that he had used his “own personal funds to facilitate the payment of $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford” – aka Ms Daniels – “in a private transaction in 2016.”

In the public statement, Cohen exonerated Mr Trump “Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly.”

In court on Tuesday, Cohen described that statement as “inaccurate.”

Michael Cohen testifies as a Wall Street Journal article is displayed on a screen in Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday 14 May 2024
Michael Cohen testifies as a Wall Street Journal article is displayed on a screen in Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday 14 May 2024 (AP)

Cohen testified that he paid $130,000 to Ms Daniels on behalf of Mr Trump in order to prevent Ms Daniels from coming forward with her story about the affair “to ensure that the story would not affect Mr Trump’蝉 chances of becoming president of the United States.”

Earlier in the day, prosecutors presented 11 monthly invoices and checks, each worth $35,000 and made out to Cohen in 2017. The documents showed that the payments were pursuant to a “retainer” fee, which Cohen said never existed, and that the descriptions in his invoices and on his pay stubs were “false.”

The payments were “reimbursement of money to me for the hush money fee,” and other money he was owed by Mr Trump, according to Cohen. He was paid $420,000 in total, according to documents shown in court.

His testimony, and accompanying evidence presented over the last several weeks, are connective tissue in prosecutors’ case against the former president.

During his first day of his testimony on Monday, Cohen recalled his unwavering loyalty to Mr Trump.

He told the court how he worked with former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker to kill damaging stories about the then-presidential candidate to ensure his path to the White House – including by putting his own money on the line with a shell company to “separate” Mr Trump from his hush money payment to Ms Daniels.

Donald Trump outside the courtroom on 14 May
Donald Trump outside the courtroom on 14 May (EPA)

On Tuesday, Cohen said he lied for Mr Trump “out of loyalty and in order to protect him.”

But Mr Trump repeatedly did not return the favor, Cohen said.

Mr Trump slashed his Christmas bonus one year by two-thirds, according to Cohen.

He also didn’t consider Cohen for a top role in his White House administration, he said. Months after reassuring Cohen that “everything’蝉 going to be OK” after his FBI raid, Cohen wound up in prison.

Cohen pleaded guilty on August 2018 to campaign finance violations, tax evasion, and lying to Congress. One day after Cohen’蝉 guilty plea, Mr Trump solidified distanced himself from his attorney in a tweet: “If anyone is looking for a good lawyer, I would strongly suggest that you don’t retain the services of Michael Cohen!”

While Cohen was in prison, Mr Trump remained in office.

The pair have since become sworn enemies who often air their grievances with one another in venomous posts online. Mr Trump has called Cohen a “sleaze bag” and a “liar” while Cohen has called his former boss as ““Von S***zInPantz” and a “con man.”

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