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Check stubs, fake receipts and blind loyalty: Cohen offers insider knowledge in hush money trial

It wasn't until after a decade in the fold, after his family pleaded with him, after the FBI raided his office, apartment and hotel room, Michael Cohen testified Tuesday, that he finally decided to turn on Donald Trump.

That decision led to a 2018 guilty plea to federal charges involving a payment to the porn actor Stormy Daniels to bury her story of an alleged sexual encounter with Trump and to other, unrelated crimes. And it's that insider knowledge of shady deals that pushed Manhattan prosecutors to make Cohen the star witness in their case against Trump about that same payment, which they say was an illegal effort to influence the 2016 presidential election. Under questioning this week, Cohen has described the nuts-and-bolts of how the scheme worked.

“To keep the loyalty and to do the things that he had asked me to do, I violated my moral compass, and I suffered the penalty, as has my family," Cohen said Tuesday.

There’s been no witness-stand bombast or fireworks so far from Cohen, a man who was defined for years by his braggadocio as Trump’s problem-zapper. Instead, his testimony about purposefully mislabeled checks, false receipts and blind loyalty, however dry it was, placed Trump at the center of the scheme and underscored the foundational argument of the case — that it’s not about the spectacle of what Trump was paying for, but rather his effort to illegally cover up those payments.

A shocking moment did come, but it was courtesy of House Speaker Mike Johnson, who appeared at the courthouse with Trump and who used his powerful bully pulpit to turn his political party against the rule of law by declaring the Manhattan criminal trial illegitimate. He and other GOP lawmakers are serving as surrogates while Trump

Read more on independent.co.uk