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Trump defense witness receives warning from judge. What you missed on day 19 of the hush money trial.

After days of trying to disassemble Donald TrumpDue to the credibility of former fixer Michael Cohen, the defense began to present its own case, calling two witnesses who could make up the entirety of the presentation.

During the testimony of a defense witness, one of the most heated arguments of the trial broke out. While defense attorney Robert Costello grumbled and grumbled, New York State Judge Juan Merchan grew increasingly irate. He asked the jury to leave so he could admonish the witness and eventually cleared the Manhattan courthouse of reporters and cut off the feeds to the overflow room where the media is present. mounted.

“If you don’t like my statement, don’t look at me or roll your eyes,” Merchan said before asking, “Are you staring at me?”

Merchan then ordered the room to be cleared.

Later, Trump suggested that Merchan had done this to give the prosecutor a break, telling reporters that the “highly political” and “adversarial” judge “just did something that no one has ever seen” after Costello began “his very political motive” To contest.

“No one has ever seen anything like this,” Trump added.

Here’s what you missed on day 19 of Trump’s hush money trial:

Trump’s witnesses try to undermine Cohen

The defense’s efforts to discredit Cohen did not stop when he left the stand.

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The second witness called – after a paralegal from the defense team who testified about tracking Cohen’s phone calls – was Robert Costello. He is a lawyer who Cohen said offered him a “backchannel” to Trump after federal authorities searched Cohen’s home, office and safe in 2018.

Costello testified that Cohen told him several times, “I swear to God, Bob, I have nothing on Donald Trump,” and that he paid Stormy Daniels “single-handedly.”

It was not the first time Costello had given testimony in this case. He also testified before the grand jury that indicted Trump, at the request of Trump’s defense team. His testimony at the time did not convince the grand jury not to file charges.

On the stand Monday, Costello said Cohen appeared “absolutely manic” after the FBI searched his home and hotel room.

Cohen said last week that he believed he was under a “pressure campaign” from Trump and his allies and that he was being persuaded to work with Costello, a lawyer he did not trust and who would protect Trump at his expense.

Trump’s lawyers told Merchan early Monday that they weren’t sure they would call Costello, but they did, and fireworks ensued as he faced repeated objections from prosecutors and disrupted Merchan’s usually calm demeanor.

“I’m not going to allow this to become a trial within a trial about a pressure campaign and its consequences for Cohen,” Merchan said at one point.

Visibly irritated by the interruptions, Costello grumbled about Merchan’s instructions to control his reaction, drawing a fiery backlash from him.

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Credibility

Trump lawyer Todd BlancheCohen’s cross-examination seemed to meander at times, but on Monday he appeared to land another blow in his attempt to undermine the witness’s credibility.

Blanche pressed Cohen about how he lied to Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg about how much he owed to a third party when Cohen felt shortchanged on his bonus.

Cohen admitted that he gave Weisselberg the wrong number.

“You stole from the Trump Organization, right?” Blanche said.

“Yes, sir,” Cohen replied.

Cohen said he felt he was owed money after his bonus was cut by two-thirds and was bitter after supporting Trump both personally and financially. “It was very disturbing, to say the least,” Cohen said of the reduced bonus.

Prosecutors are trying to restore Cohen’s credibility

Prosecutors used their diverted investigation to try to restore some of Cohen’s credibility and provide lengthy explanations about the answers he gave under Blanche’s interrogation.

Cohen reiterated his testimony about Trump’s role in the hush money program, saying he had “no doubt” he had discussed the matter with him. Trump told him to “work it out with Weisselberg,” he said, repeating that he would not have paid Daniels without such insurance.

The Public Prosecution Service tried to end the case on a personal note.

But the stakes for Cohen today are not nearly as high, he said, suggesting there is no need for him to lie. “My life was at stake, my freedom,” Cohen said, as was his wife’s. “Here I am just a witness who is not a party.”

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Planning confusion

On Monday the schedule was sometimes in turmoil. As the trial concluded last week, Merchan told attorneys to be prepared for closing arguments on Tuesday. But before testimony even resumed Monday morning, the end of the trial had already been postponed by a week.

That’s because it wasn’t clear whether testimony would be completed by the end of the day Monday and whether there would be enough time for closing arguments, jury instructions and then deliberations to begin before the long holiday weekend. That’s why Merchan decided to complete the witness statements this week and then go on vacation.

Then another twist was added when the defense and prosecution argued about introducing a photo from a C-SPAN video. In order to be able to enter the photo, the Public Prosecution Service asked on Tuesday morning to bring in another witness. But Trump’s lawyers objected, saying they had two witnesses waiting and wanted to wrap up by the end of the day. Eventually they reached an agreement. But Costello’s testimony — extended by the courtroom evacuation — was not over by the end of the day, forcing all parties to return Tuesday morning.

As it stands, Merchan and attorneys will meet Thursday to discuss jury instructions. The trial will be off Friday and Monday for Memorial Day, and closing arguments will take place next week.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com

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