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Ex-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen insists he’s not seeking ‘revenge’ by testifying in hush money probe

‘This is all about accountability. He needs to be held accountable for his dirty deeds,’ Cohen says

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Monday 13 March 2023 20:03 GMT
Related video: Criminal Charges Might Soon Be Brought Against Trump Over His Hush Money Payments He Made to Stormy Daniels

Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen insisted he is not seeking revenge against his old boss as he arrived to testify before a Manhattan grand jury probing the alleged “hush money” payments he made on behalf of Mr Trump.

Mr Cohen was slated to tell the jury about Mr Trump’s involvement in payments made during the 2016 campaign to women who alleged he had had affairs with them.

“My goal is to tell the truth,” Mr Cohen told the assembled press outside the courthouse on Monday, according to the Associated Press.

“This is not revenge,” he added. “This is all about accountability. He needs to be held accountable for his dirty deeds.”

Mr Trump has denied allegations that he had an affair with either porn actor Stormy Daniels or model Karen McDougal.

Mr Cohen has handed over evidence to prosecutors, such as voice recordings of conversations he had with an attorney representing one of the women, in addition to emails and texts. He also has a recording of Mr Trump speaking about paying the other woman through a deal with the National Enquirer.

Mr Cohen paid Ms Daniels $130,000 shortly before the 2016 election for an affair she claimed to have had with Mr Trump in 2006, which he denies. Mr Cohen later pled guilty to campaign finance violations.

Ms McDougal was paid $150,000 via the publisher of the National Enquirer in what’s called a “catch-and-kill” operation.

Legal experts have said that Mr Cohen’s testimony could be used in an effort to hand down an indictment against Mr Trump for falsifying business records. It would be a misdemeanour unless it can be proved that it was done to cover up another crime. No ex-president has ever been charged with a crime in US history, the AP noted.

Mr Cohen spent some time behind bars following his 2018 guilty plea in connection to payments to Ms Daniels and Ms McDougal.

Mr Cohen has claimed that Mr Trump reimbursed him for the hush money in monthly repayments which were inaccurately recorded as a legal retainer, according to The Hill.

Mr Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, appeared on Good Morning America on Monday, saying that it’s unlikely Mr Trump will testify before the grand jury.

“We have no plans on participating in this proceeding,” he told ABC. “It’s a decision that needs to be made still. There’s been no deadline set, so we’ll wait and see.”

Mr Tacopina argued that it was Mr Trump who was the victim.

“This was a plain extortion and I don’t know since when we’ve decided to start prosecuting extortion victims,” he said. “He’s denied, vehemently denied, this affair. But he had to pay money because there was going to be an allegation that was going to be publicly embarrassing to him, regardless of the campaign.”

Ms Daniels and her lawyer Keith Davidson, who facilitated the payment, have rejected all allegations of extortion.

Mr Tacopina has accused the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office of prosecutorial misconduct. He wrote in a letter to the city’s inspector general that the prosecutors are trying to damage Mr Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign.

The attorney urged the city’s Department of Investigation to look into what he referred to as a “patently political prosecution”.

When reached by The Independent, the Manhattan DA declined to comment.

Attorneys for Mr Trump have on several occasions in New York and Florida attempted to get judges to step in and stop investigations into Mr Trump and the Trump Organization, claiming that they’re motivated by politics, but all such efforts have failed, the AP noted.

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