Trump appears to fall asleep with his mouth open minutes into Michael Cohen’s testy cross-examination

The former president’s eyes were closed for part of the high-stakes cross examination of his former ‘fixer’ Michael Cohen

Alex Woodward
in Manhattan criminal court
,Kelly Rissman
Tuesday 14 May 2024 21:33
Related video: Mike Johnson speaks to reporters outside Trump’s trial

Donald Trump appeared to fall asleep with his mouth open just minutes after his attorneys started to grill his former attorney Michael Cohen during his hush money trial in Manhattan.

Cohen, expected to be the final witness for the prosecution, has spent more than seven hours across two days on the witness stand directly tying the former president to a scheme to cover up payments to an adult film star before the 2016 presidential election.

But moments after his attorney Todd Blanche began cross-examining Cohen after Tuesday’s lunch recess, Mr Trump sunk back into his chair and closed his eyes.

While sporting a permanent scowl, his head then dropped slightly with his mouth open before he appeared to snap awake and jerk his head to the left or right as his eyes remained shut.

Though Mr Trump appeared somewhat disinterested, the cross-examination immediately got off to a fiery start.

Mr Blanche instantly targeted Cohen about his news interviews and social media posts about the trial and his public criticism of the former president – as well as his comments about Mr Blanche and Mr Trump’s other attorneys.

“Do you remember going on TikTok and calling me a crying little s***?” Mr Blanche asked.

Cohen appeared unfazed, responding: “Sounds like something I would say.”

Mr Blanche also asked Cohen whether he remembered calling Mr Trump a “dictator douchebag”.

“Sounds like something I would say,” he said again.

A courtroom sketch depicts Donald Trump inside a criminal courtroom in Manhattan on 14 May (REUTERS)

Last week, New York Justice Juan Merchan had urged prosecutors to instruct Cohen to stop talking about the case and about Mr Trump, after his attorneys complained that the former “fixer” continued to “speak publicly” even as his testimony was imminent – including in a TikTok video where he was seen wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Mr Trump behind bars.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office told him that it is “probably better off if you don’t speak about” the case, Cohen testified on Tuesday.

Mr Trump has repeatedly denied sleeping at the courthouse, where his criminal trial is nearing the end of a fourth week of witness testimony, but he has admitted that he often keeps his eyes closed.

Donald Trump speaks with his attorneys during his hush money trial in Manhattan on 14 May (AP)

Though he occasionally whispers to his attorneys, Mr Trump is largely unresponsive during testimony about him.

“Contrary to the FAKE NEWS MEDIA, I don’t fall asleep during the Crooked D.A.’s Witch Hunt, especially not today,” he wrote on Truth Social during a mid-day break in the trial on 2 May.

“I simply close my beautiful blue eyes, sometimes, listen intensely, and take it ALL in!!!” he added.

In an interview with Telemundo, Mr Trump said that “for a big portion of trials, you just close your eyes and listen.” He said he hears everything “perfectly.”

“No, I don’t fall asleep,” he said. “I close my eyes sometimes. You know, it’s very bright in that court, actually. It’s also very cold.”

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