HomePoliticsMichael Cohen has undoubtedly changed. For whose benefit?

Michael Cohen has undoubtedly changed. For whose benefit?

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It was a very domesticated one Michael Cohen who took the former president’s position Donald Trump‘s criminal hush money trial in New York.

In recent weeks, jurors and reporters in the courtroom have heard others paint a visceral portrait of the man who spent a decade as Trump’s extraordinarily aggressive personal lawyer and “fixer,” becoming something of a rampaging attack dog for Trump. Cohen once told a magazine that he would “take a bullet” for his then-boss. His displeasure with others often manifested itself in the form of a barrage of swear words hurled at high volume. He was so unpleasant to deal with that Keith Davidson, a former lawyer for porn actor Stormy Daniels who testified earlier in the trial, suggested that he almost walked away from an easy $10,000 salary just because he could hear Cohen on the phone. have to speak.

“No one wanted to talk to Cohen,” Davidson said on the stand.

But the version of Michael Cohen who appeared in Judge Juan Merchan’s courtroom this week was calm and polite, answering many of prosecutor Susan Hoffinger’s questions with “yes, ma’am.” Less pit bull, more Labrador. A good family dog. And family is very important to Cohen in every sense – it may be the key to understanding him as a witness.

Cohen spoke about his family at several points in his testimony, most notably when Hoffinger asked about the point at which he finally decided to turn against Trump after the FBI raided his home and office looking for evidence related to the hush money Daniels had been paid. .

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“My wife, my daughter and my son all said to me, ‘Why do you cling to this loyalty? What are you doing? We should be [your] first loyalty,” Cohen testified. “It was time to listen to them.”

When asked about his regrets, Cohen said he regretted the “lying, [the] bullying people, to achieve a goal.”

“But to keep the loyalty and do the things he does [Trump] asked me to do this, I violated my moral compass and suffered the punishment, as did my family,” Cohen said.

Watching him speak from the gallery – gray-haired and somber, appearing under the harsh lights of the courtroom, almost like an old man – it was not difficult to sympathize with him for a moment. He is the architect of his own despair, but also a human being who became entangled in Trump’s web of glitter and chaos.

However, there is also another side to Cohen, discussed in detail by attorney Todd Blanche, that raises the question of how much of a changed man he is. And which version the jury ultimately considers to be the version Real Michael Cohen will have implications that resonate during the trial, and possibly during the next presidential term.

Cohen still uses that loud, brash voice he once used on Trump’s behalf — he now only uses it against Trump. Within the first few minutes of his cross-examination, Blanche accused Cohen of personally attacking him as a lawyer defending Trump.

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“You were on TikTok and called me a ‘crying bitch,’ right?” Blanche asked.

He later read other attacks from Cohen in recent years, asking the witness to confirm that he had called Trump a “dictator douchebag,” a “clumsy cartoon misogynist” and a “Cheeto-smeared cartoon villain.”

Cohen’s frequent use of the media — he has two podcasts and two books, is a regular guest on cable news and livestreams on TikTok for about an hour a night — is why Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office was previously reluctant to charge him use as a witness. Mark Pomerantz, a former prosecutor who helped lead the agency’s investigation into Trump, wrote in the book “People vs. Donald Trump” that Bragg once said he “didn’t see a world” in which Cohen was the key witness in any case. (Further complicating Cohen’s credibility is the fact that he pleaded guilty to lying under oath in his testimony to Congress in 2017.)

The media makes him money – which Cohen probably appreciates, since he can no longer legally practice as a lawyer because he has been disbarred. Two books he wrote, provocatively titled “Disloyal” and “Revenge,” earned him about $3.4 million, Cohen testified Tuesday.

Donald Trump comments on the case against him before leaving the New York courthouse on Tuesday, May 14.

Donald Trump comments on the case against him before leaving the New York courthouse on Tuesday, May 14. Michael M. Santiago via Getty Images

On his “Mea Culpa” podcast, Cohen shares his expletive-laden views on the news of the day. Several of his episode titles were written to taunt Trump, such as “KnocK, Knock Donald… It’s The Marshalls. Keys please!” and “Tick Tok, Tick Tok Donald…Your time to avoid responsibility is running out!”

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Trump’s team is clearly trying to portray Cohen as an opportunist, using the drama of his turn against Trump to rake in opinions and paychecks, though Blanche’s questions are often incoherent and directionless. When asked why he made his TikTok posts, Cohen said he wanted to “build an audience” and “create a community,” two things that are essential to making money on the internet. But he also said it helped his mental health.

He liked to go on TikTok “to really vent because I have a hard time sleeping, so I found an outlet,” Cohen testified.

That’s the new Michael Cohen: a brash shouter with a New York accent, but apparently much more interested in self-reflection.

Pomerantz wrote that during multiple interactions with Cohen, he found the former Trump fixer “a complicated person” with a “tortured psyche” who “would be the first to admit that he can be a complete pain in the ass.”

He wrote: ‘There were times when he was demanding and defensive, and other times when he was down in the dumps. He once spoke to me about his daughter, who had blamed him for his involvement with Trump and the pain it had caused the family.”

Pomerantz added, “Whatever his sins, Michael loved his family dearly.”

What the jury sees in Cohen, whether as a remorseful family man or a fanatical revenger, has yet to be determined. And it should be noted that he still has time to blow up his reworked image; cross-examination with Blanche will continue on Thursday.

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