Donald Trump stepped up his attacks on his former lawyer and fixer on Tuesday morning, claiming that Michael Cohen had asked him for a presidential pardon three times.
Cohen is a key witness as prosecutors build their case against Trump for more than $130,000 in silent money paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Security has been tightened around the Lower Manhattan court complex as a grand jury considers whether to bring an indictment against the former president.
Trump turned to Truth Social in an effort to undermine Cohen’s credibility.
“Remember that Michael Cohen was an attorney who also represented clients other than me and did business transactions for himself such as Taxi Cab Medallions etc. I had nothing to do with his outside activities,” said Trump.
Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday tried to undermine the credibility of Michael Cohen, his former fixer and now key witness in the case against him in New York
Trump used his social media platform to raise questions about Cohen’s motives
“Three times Cohen has asked me to grant him a presidential pardon for events related to these outside interests.
“I said, correctly, ‘NO’. Some time later he became a fake storyteller and started lying about events!”
In 2017, Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion (among other charges) related to income from his taxi business.
Trump revealed over the weekend that he expected to be arrested on Tuesday, although aides have since said he was responding to leaks and media reports rather than a formal plan for his surrender.
Instead, reports suggest the grand jury is not yet finished hearing evidence and another witness could be called on Wednesday.
On Monday, he heard from Robert Costello, a lawyer close to Trump aides.
Analysts said it was a last chance to steer the grand jury away from an indictment after it publicly said it had information to undermine Cohen’s testimony.
“If they want to prosecute Donald Trump and they have solid evidence, so be it,” Costello told reporters. “But Michael Cohen is far from solid evidence.”
Trump and Cohen in happier times. The then-Republican presidential candidate appeared with his personal attorney at a campaign stop in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. in Sep 2016
On Monday night, Trump also posted a video on Truth Social, condemning the ‘witch hunt’ against him and slamming Stormy Daniels.
Either way, Cohen is at the center of the case.
Cohen made the silent payment of $130,000 to Daniels, 44, during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to ensure his silence.
Trump has always denied having an affair.
Cohen says he made the payment at Trump’s request using his own money from a home equity line of credit and Trump then repaid him.
However, the payments were reportedly flagged as legal fees in Trump’s business records, which could mean they amount to an unreported campaign contribution.
The allegations came to light when Trump was in office, triggering a federal investigation.
And in 2017, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal charges, including tax evasion, fraud and campaign finance violations, and he told a Manhattan court that Trump ordered him to carry out the payments.
The New York Police Department set up barricades around the Lower Manhattan court complex on Monday
This puts his credibility as a witness in the spotlight.
Costello said Cohen previously said he didn’t use Trump’s money for the payment.
“The crux of the matter is that Michael Cohen told us he was approached by Stormy Daniels’ attorney and that Stormy Daniels had negative information that she wanted to take legal action against Trump,” a- he declared. “So Michael Cohen decided on his own — that’s what he told us, on his own — to see if he could handle it.”
For his part, Cohen said it was a classic Trump tactic to wage a public relations campaign against witnesses with negative information about him.
“It’s a typical Donald J. Trump game out of the playbook,” Cohen told MSNBC Monday night. “Determine how you’re going to muddy the waters as best you can, denigrate the person, denigrate them.”