NEW YORK (NEWSnet/AP) — Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen will return to the witness stand Tuesday in a New York criminal trial against the former president.

Cohen is the last, and by far the prosecution's most important witness, in what has been called the “hush money” trial. On Monday, he linked Trump directly to payments at the heart of the case and provided additional details for text messages and phone logs that jurors had already seen.

Cohen took his seat at the witness stand as the hearing began at the state criminal courthouse in Manhattan, and prosecutor Susan Hoffinger resumed her questioning.

The testimony Tuesday included Cohen describing how his family convinced him to turn on Trump after the FBI raided his office, apartment and hotel room in April 2018.

Cohen then pleaded guilty in August 2018 to federal charges involving the hush money payment, Stormy Daniels and other unrelated crimes — he served time in federal prison.

After the lunch break in the hearing, Cohen was expected to face questions from Trump's attorneys.

Those traveling to the courthouse with Trump Tuesday morning included House Speaker Mike Johnson, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Florida Reps. Byron Donalds and Cory Mills, and his former GOP rival Vivek Ramaswamy.

Appeals Decision

 

Elsewhere Tuesday, a New York appeals court denied and dismissed Trump’s appeal of the gag order on this trial, finding that Judge Merchan properly determined the former president’s public statements “posed a significant threat to the integrity of the testimony of witnesses and potential witnesses.”

Trump had asked the state’s intermediate appeals court to lift or modify the gag order, which bars him from commenting publicly about jurors, witnesses and others connected to the case, including the judge’s family and prosecutors other than District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

Specifically, according to the ruling, Trump challenged restrictions on his ability to comment about Matthew Colangelo, a former Justice Department official who is a part of the prosecution team, and Merchan’s daughter, the head of a political consulting firm that has worked for Trump’s rival Joe Biden and other Democratic candidates.

The appeals court ruled that Merchan “properly weighed” Trump’s free speech rights against the “historical commitment to ensuring the fair administration of justice in criminal cases, and the right of persons related or tangentially related to the criminal proceedings from being free from threats, intimidation, harassment, and harm.”

Background on the Case

 

The hush money case, formally known as People of the State of New York v. Donald J. Trump, is the first of four criminal investigations pending against the former president to go to trial.

The 34 felony counts of falsifying business records involve a series of incidents and conversations that took place when Trump ran in 2016 for what became a successful election attempt to the White House. He has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. 

The trial is expected to last a few weeks. There are usually no sessions on Wednesdays because of the judge’s schedule. There will be no court on May 17 or May 24.

Media Coverage Rules

 

New York state rules do not allow TV cameras during courtroom hearings.

There is an overflow room at the state courthouse where news media can watch the proceedings live via monitor, but visitors are prohibited from recording and photography in the overflow space.

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