An apparent backtrack by Donald Trump’s ex-lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen threw the New York civil fraud trial into more chaos Wednesday afternoon.
Cohen gave combative testimony in the face of cross-examination to two Trump attorneys on Wednesday, after he had implicated Trump the day prior for directing him to “reverse-engineer” financial statements to increase his net worth.
On Wednesday morning, Trump attorney Alina Habba pressed Cohen about his 2019 congressional testimony when he said, “Not that I recall, no,” in response to a question about whether Trump had directed him or Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg to inflate numbers for Trump’s personal statement.
Cohen said to Habba that he was lying in his testimony.
But after lunch, Cliff Robert, another Trump attorney, pressed Cohen further on his congressional testimony, and the former Trump attorney had a different response, saying that the testimony was not false.
“So, Mr. Trump never asked you to inflate the numbers on his financial statement,” Robert asked.
“Correct,” Cohen said.
That response prompted Trump’s attorney to ask the first time for a directed verdict to dismiss the trial because Cohen was a key witness in the case.
Engoron denied it, which led to Trump abruptly leaving the courtroom.
The New York attorney general’s lawyers asked Cohen in follow up questions to clarify his response. Cohen said that Trump never directly asked to inflate the numbers, but that what he wanted was known, because he spoke like “a mob boss.”
“He tells you what he wants without specifically telling you,” Cohen said. “We understood what he wanted.”
At the conclusion of Cohen’s testimony, Robert renewed his request for a verdict to and “end this case once and for all.”
“Absolutely denied,” Engoron said in response.
The case has evidence, credible or not, “all over the place,” the judge said.
Engoron also said he didn’t consider Cohen to be a “key witness” in the case, in which the New York attorney general accused Trump and his business of fraud in a $250 million suit.
“There’s enough evidence in this case to fill this courtroom,” Engoron said.