Donald Trump trial star witness Michael Cohen admits stealing from ex-US president's company

20 May 2024, 16:20 | Updated: 20 May 2024, 20:41

A former lawyer for Donald Trump has admitted to jurors in the Republican's hush money trial that he stole tens of thousands of dollars from his then-boss's company.

The landmark trial returned with defence cross-examination of Michael Cohen, whose testimony last week directly tied Trump to the alleged hush money scheme.

Defence lawyers have questioned Cohen for hours about his criminal history and past lies to paint him as a serial liar who is on a revenge campaign aimed at taking down Trump.

While being pressed by defence lawyer Todd Blanche, Cohen admitted he pocketed cash that was supposed to be reimbursement for a $50,000 payment he claimed he had shelled out to a technology firm.

But Mr Cohen actually gave the technology firm just $20,000, he said.

"So you stole from the Trump Organisation," Mr Blanche asked.

"Yes, sir," Mr Cohen replied.

Mr Cohen said he never paid the Trump Organisation back. He has never been charged with stealing from Trump's company.

He was tha last prosecution witness after they rested their case against Trump.

It is not yet clear whether any defence witnesses will be called, let alone the presumptive Republican presidential nominee himself.

Jurors could begin deliberating as soon as next week to decide whether Trump is guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first criminal trial of a former US president.

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The charges stem from internal Trump Organisation records where payments to Cohen were marked as legal expenses, when prosecutors say they were really reimbursements for porn star Stormy Daniels' hush money payment.

Trump has pleaded not guilty. His lawyers say there was nothing criminal about the Daniels deal or the way Cohen was paid.

"There's no crime," Trump told reporters after arriving at the courthouse on Monday. "We paid a legal expense. You know what it's marked down as? A legal expense."

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office is expected to rest its case once Mr Cohen is off the stand, but prosecutors could call rebuttal witnesses if Trump's lawyers put on witnesses of their own.

Judge Juan M Merchan has said he expects closing arguments to happen on 28 May.

Cohen is the prosecutors' most important witness, but he is also vulnerable to attack.

The now-disbarred attorney has admitted on the witness stand to previously lying under oath and other falsehoods, many of which he claims were meant to protect Trump.

Cohen served prison time after pleading guilty to various federal charges, including lying to Congress and a bank and engaging in campaign finance violations related to the hush money scheme.

And he has made millions of dollars off critical books about the former president, whom he regularly slams on social media in often profane terms.