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Trump ‘said men would think Stormy Daniels affair was cool’

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Published Time: 14.05.2024 - 01:40:15 Modified Time: 14.05.2024 - 01:40:15

He feared many women would appear with stories about him after he announced 2015 presidential campaign, claims former lawyer Seth Wenig/AP Donald Trump feared “a lot of women” would come forward with stories about him after he announced his presidential campaign in 2015, according to his former lawyer

He feared many women would appear with stories about him after he announced 2015 presidential campaign, claims former lawyer

: Seth Wenig/AP

Donald Trump feared “a lot of women” would come forward with stories about him after he announced his presidential campaign in 2015, according to his former lawyer.

Michael Cohen, the star witness in the former president’s “hush money” criminal trial, suggested on Monday that the former president had encounters with many women who may have upset his run for the White House.

During his first day on the stand, Mr Cohen, 57, who once described himself as Mr Trump’s “spokesman, thug, pit bull and lawless lawyer”, described how he went to great lengths to “protect” his former employer.

His testimony is crucial for the Manhattan district attorney office’s case, which hinges on a $130,000 (£103,500) payment he made to “silence” porn star Stormy Daniels about an alleged tryst with Mr Trump in the run-up to the election.

Mr Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business documents for allegedly covering up reimbursement payments to Mr Cohen.

Monday’s testimony saw Mr Cohen and Mr Trump, two men who despise and continually attack one another on social media, reunited in a stuffy, wood-panelled courtroom.

: MySpace

Appearing to avoid looking in Mr Trump’s direction, Mr Cohen described how he was paid $525,000 a year including bonuses to work as Mr Trump’s “fixer” for a decade.

He said before Mr Trump launched his presidential campaign in 2015, the former president told him: “You know that when this comes out, meaning the announcement, just be prepared, there’s going to be a lot of women coming forward.”

Mr Trump leaned back in his chair with his eyes closed, occasionally shifting in his chair while Mr Cohen recounted how they had met with tabloid boss David Pecker in August 2015 to hatch a “catch and kill” scheme to bury negative stories about Mr Trump.

The former lawyer described how he would strive for recognition from Mr Trump, who congratulated him, saying “fantastic, great job” when he managed to arrange pay-offs to silence women.

Mr Cohen also lifted the curtain on how Mr Trump’s response to the now-infamous video of him boasting about how he could “grab women by the p---y” was led by his wife, Melania Trump.

“We needed to put a spin on this”, Mr Cohen said.

“This spin he wanted was, ‘This is locker-room talk.’ This is something Melania had recommended. Or at least he told me this is what Melania thought.”

He added: “He wasn’t thinking about Melania, this was all about the campaign.”

Mr Cohen said that it would have been “catastrophic” had Ms Daniels gone public with her story shortly after the Access Hollywood tape leaked.

Mr Trump urged Mr Cohen to kill the story over fears it would be a “disaster” for his election hopes, telling him to “get control over it”.

He said Mr Trump told him: “Women will hate me. Guys – they’ll think it’s cool. But this is going to be a disaster for the campaign.”

Mr Cohen, who pleaded guilty in 2018 to a string of federal crimes, also said that Mr Trump was not concerned about his wife’s opinion, but was focused on the political impact the story could have.

He said that Mr Trump had told him to “push it out Ms Daniels’ deal for as long as you can”.

Mr Cohen added: “What he’d said to me is... ‘Just get past the election. If I win, it’ll have no relevance as I’m president. And if I lose, I don’t really care.’”

: Jane Rosenberg/REUTERS

Mr Cohen told the court that Mr Trump had instructed him to make the $130,000 payment to Ms Daniels to keep her quiet about their alleged 2006 affair, telling him: “just do it”. 

“Everything required Mr Trump’s sign-off,” Mr Cohen said.Mr Cohen said he resisted paying out of his own pocket but was reassured by Mr Trump, who insisted: “You’ll get the money back.”

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