‘I hope he rots’: Trial hears audio of Michael Cohen celebrating Trump’s indictment

Cross-examination of Cohen continued on Thursday morning with jurors hearing audio of the former fixer saying: ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’

Alex Woodward
in Manhattan criminal court
,Ariana Baio
Thursday 16 May 2024 19:18
Related video: Trump and Cohen discuss hush money ‘catch and kill’ plot

Scathing audio played at Donald Trump’s hush money trial revealed Michael Cohen celebrating his former boss’s indictment on criminal charges, saying “I hope he rots” in jail “for what he did to me”.

During a tense morning of cross-examination on Thursday, Mr Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche sought to undermine Cohen’s credibility as the prosecution’s star witness, painting the former lawyer and fixer as a revenge-seeking liar.

The defense played audio from an October 2023 episode of Cohen’s podcast Mea Culpa, in which he excitedly says he “truly f***ing hope” that Mr Trump “ends up in prison”.

“Revenge is a dish best served cold,” he says.

At another point, Cohen is heard saying: “You better believe I want this man to go down and rot for what he did to me and my family.”

Jurors also heard a clip from a podcast episode in May 2023 – one month after Mr Trump was indicted on 34 counts of falsifying business records over a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels – where Cohen is heard giddily thanking Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and his office for bringing the indictment against him.

Cohen’s booming voice on the audio, where his nearly-shouted statements bounced around the courtroom and an adjoining overflow room, came in stark contrast to his calm and composed statements on the witness stand.

Jurors have read transcripts of some of his remarks and even heard recordings of Cohen’s conversations with Trump and Stormy Daniels’ attorney Keith Davidson, but they had not heard the personality that Mr Davidson described as an “excitable” and “pants-on-fire” character.

Michael Cohen heads to Manhattan criminal court to take the stand for another day of cross-examination on 16 May (EPA)

Last year, Cohen told The Associated Press he was not seeking “revenge” by testifying in the trial but rather seeking to tell the truth.

Mr Blanche also sought to discredit Cohen by confronting him about the times he has previously lied under oath.

In 2017, Cohen admitted to lying to Congress about a Trump Tower project in Moscow. The following year, he reached a plea deal with federal prosecutors for making false statements, among other charges, including campaign finance violations that include the chargs at the center of the hush money case. Last year, during his testimony in Mr Trump’s civil fraud case, the former president’s attorneys accused him of lying to a federal judge.

“I have stated, again, that I don’t dispute the facts of the case” in his tax case, he said on Thursday. “I have for the last six years, including in a sentencing memo, said the same thing, again and again.”

Cohen does not believe he should have been charged as a first-time offender in a tax case, but he has admitted wrongdoing, accepted “responsibility”and “suffered the consequences as a result,” he said.

Michael Cohen pictured in a court sketch during his first day of cross-examination on 13 May (REUTERS)

Mr Blanche also accused Cohen of lying about seeking a pardon from Mr Trump. Cohen admitted he did ask legal adviser Robert Costello to ask former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani about the possibility of a pardon but did not seek one from Mr Trump himself.

Cohen is the final witness for the prosecution in the former president’s hush money trial.

Mr Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records for his series of reimbursement payments to Cohen in 2017, after his one-time “fixer” paid Ms Daniels $130,000 in exchange for her silence about having sex with Mr Trump in 2006.

Mr Trump has pleaded not guilty and denies the affair even took place.

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