The biggest bombshells from Michael Cohen's testimony were all in Trump's own words

The biggest bombshells from Michael Cohen's testimony were all in Trump's own words
  • Michael Cohen gave his long-awaited testimony Monday in Trump's hush-money trial.

  • Much of his most damning testimony came when he quoted what he described as Trump's own words.

  • He testified that Trump knew exactly what was going on when Cohen paid hush money to Stormy Daniels.

When Michael Cohen was arranging hush-money payments for Stormy Daniels, he tried very hard to keep Donald Trump's name out of it.

But in his under-oath testimony for Trump's criminal trial on Monday, Cohen placed Trump firmly in the room where it happened.

Trump's attorney-turned-nemesis quoted his former boss extensively, telling jurors about key moments when the billionaire-turned-candidate participated fully in the plot to keep Daniels quiet ahead of the 2016 election.

The Manhattan district attorney's office has accused Trump of falsifying 34 different documents — including checks bearing Trump's signature — to hide an election-influencing, $130,000 hush-money payment that silenced the porn star 11 days before the vote.

Trump's legal team has cast all the blame on Cohen, suggesting he went rogue and came up with the hush-money scheme without the former president's approval.

On the witness stand, Cohen spoke cautiously, walking jurors through his long history as Trump's sometimes-bullying "fixer." Trump, having heard much of the story before, appeared almost bored at the defense table. For minutes at a time, he closed his eyes and leaned back in his chair without moving.

Here are nine key moments in Cohen's testimony when he did the greatest damage to his former boss simply by quoting what he said were Trump's own words.

A composite image of Karen McDougal, Donald Trump, and Stormy Daniels.
Karen McDougal, Donald Trump, and Stormy Daniels.Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images, left. Curtis Means/Reuters, center. Steve Granitz/Getty Images, right.

1. "Just be prepared — there's going to be a lot of women coming forward."

Cohen, who began working for Trump in 2007, talked to Trump for years about running for president. Cohen testified that the real-estate mogul had considered a campaign in 2011 but ultimately decided against it, resolving to run in the "next election cycle."

In 2015, Trump told Cohen he would run for president.

"You know when this comes out," Cohen said, quoting Trump talking about the announcement, "just be prepared — there's going to be a lot of women coming forward."

It was in that context, Cohen said, that he met with the American Media Inc. publisher David Pecker in Trump Tower to discuss pushing positive stories about Trump in publications such as the National Enquirer and to get a heads-up about stories that could damage the campaign.

"What he said was that he could keep an eye out for anything negative about Mr. Trump and that he would be able to help us know in advance what was coming out and to try to stop it from coming out," Cohen testified.

2. "That's fantastic. That's unbelievable."

The meeting with Pecker was a success.

The National Enquirer ran a series of positive articles about Trump and sensationalistic articles attacking his opponents. It claimed that Hillary Clinton wore "very thick glasses" to bolster a conspiracy theory of a brain injury, that Ted Cruz's father was photographed hanging out with Lee Harvey Oswald, and that Marco Rubio participated in a "drug binge" with a group of men in a swimming pool.

Trump was over the moon, Cohen testified.

"That's fantastic. That's unbelievable," Cohen quoted Trump as saying.

Pecker was happy, too, Cohen said. Trump's celebrity overlapped with the National Enquirer's target audience of people who bought magazines at grocery-store checkouts.

Trump's knowledge of how Cohen was working with the National Enquirer bolsters the prosecutors' theory that all these machinations were about supporting Trump's campaign. Personal issues — such as keeping news of an alleged affair away from Melania Trump — were secondary.

3. "Make sure it doesn't get released."

In June of 2016, Cohen got a call from AMI telling him a former Playboy playmate, Karen McDougal, was shopping around a story about having sex with Trump.

When Cohen told Trump about it, his response was, "She's really beautiful," Cohen said.

"Okay. But there is a story that's right now being shopped," Cohen said he replied.

Trump supposedly said to Cohen, "Make sure it doesn't get released," instructing him to work with Pecker and the National Enquirer editor to purchase the rights to McDougal's story — and then make sure it never got to see the light of day.

Pecker came back to Cohen and said it'd cost $150,000 to "control the story," Cohen testified.

"No problem. I will take care of it," Cohen quoted Trump as saying.

4. "Do it. Take care of it."

In 2011 — long before Trump ran for president on the Republican ticket — Cohen was involved in convincing another gossip website to pull an article involving Daniels and Trump. ran an interview with Daniels in which she talked, in broad strokes, about a fling with Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in 2006. Trump wanted the story taken down.

"I said I'll take care of it," Cohen testified Monday. "He said, 'Absolutely, do it, take care of it.'"

Cohen said he threatened to sue's publisher, and the story disappeared from the website.

Perhaps most damningly is what Trump didn't say to Cohen.

Cohen said he asked, but Trump wouldn't tell him whether he and Daniels really had sex.

"He turned around and said that she was a beautiful woman" as he walked out of the room, Cohen said.

5. "Women will hate me. Guys, they'll think it's cool."

Daniels dropped out of Trump's life again from 2011 through much of 2016.

Weeks before the election, she returned with the force of a hurricane.

It was just after The Washington Post published the "Access Hollywood" tape, which Trump believed hurt his reputation among women voters.

Keith Davidson, Daniels' lawyer, was in talks with the National Enquirer about the rights to her story, in which she could share all the vivid details about what she said was a sexual encounter with Trump.

Trump was livid, Cohen said.

"I thought you had this under control. I thought you took care of this," Cohen recalled Trump saying.

Cohen said Trump commanded him to "just take care of it," with the former president saying he was too busy with other parts of the campaign.

Cohen also testified that Trump acknowledged his polling with women was poor and understood the damage that Daniels' story could do to his candidacy — a key detail for prosecutors, who are aiming to show jurors that Trump wanted to suppress Daniels's story for his own campaign.

"This was a disaster. A total disaster. Women are going to hate me," Trump supposedly told Cohen. "This is a real disaster. Women will hate me. Guys, they'll think it was cool."

Trump ordered Cohen to work with Pecker to get the story under control.

"Get control over this. Get the life rights," Cohen quoted Trump as saying. "We needed to control this from coming out."

Allen Weisselberg wearing handcuffs.
Allen Weisselberg, Trump's former chief financial officer, in handcuffs at Manhattan Criminal Court.Reuters/Brendan McDermid

6. "Meet up with Allen Weisselberg and figure this whole thing out."

Cohen testified that in mid-October 2016, when discussing the idea of cutting a hush-money deal with Daniels, Trump told Cohen to get Allen Weisselberg, the then-Trump Organization chief financial officer, on the case to figure it out.

"Meet up with Allen Weisselberg and figure this whole thing out," Cohen recalled Trump saying.

"Just pay it," Cohen testified that Trump also told him. "There's no reason to keep this thing out there."

7. "If I win, it has no relevance because I'm president. And if I lose, I don't even care."

But when the time came to cut an actual check, Trump — ever the penny-pincher — didn't actually want to pay Daniels anything, Cohen testified.

Cohen said Trump's goal was to postpone the payment until after the November 2016 election, at which point he didn't think it would matter.

"If I win, it has no relevance because I'm president," Cohen quoted from Trump. "And if I lose, I don't even care."

"He wasn't thinking about Melania," Cohen added of Trump. "This was all about the campaign."

Cohen would wind up borrowing the money on a home-equity loan and paying personally. He would wire the money to Daniels' lawyer just 11 days before the election, according to records in evidence at the trial.

8. "Good. Good. Don't worry you'll get it back."

When Trump learned from Cohen and Weisselberg that his then-fixer would foot the $130,000 payment to Daniels, he assured Cohen he'd get the money back.

"Allen and I spoke to Mr. Trump," Cohen said. "And we expressed to him that I was going to front the money for it." Trump "was appreciative," Cohen testified.

Cohen said Trump responded by saying: "Good. Good. Don't worry, you'll get it back."

With Trump unwilling to pay himself, it was the only way to silence Daniels and protect "the boss," Cohen said.

Weisselberg had floated the idea of tapping the money from someone who was about to pay for a golf-club membership or to see whether someone wanted credit for a bar mitzvah or wedding.

But that would mean using Trump money, Cohen noted, and the whole point was keeping the boss' name off things.

Cohen said he suggested to Weisselberg that he pay, noting of the then-CFO's salary, "You have seven figures."

"Michael, as you know, I have my four grandkids at prep school," Cohen recalled Weisselberg demurring. "And I have summer camps I'm paying for them, and I just can't do it."

"I ultimately said, 'OK, I'll pay it,'" Cohen told jurors.

9. "Don't worry about that other thing."

Cohen said he was livid in December 2016 when the then-president-elect stiffed him on his expected holiday bonus.

"I used quite a few expletives" complaining to Weisselberg, Cohen told jurors. "I was, even for myself, unusually angry."

Word must have got back to Trump, who was spending the holiday at Mar-a-Lago in Florida.

"Did Mr. Trump call you while you were on vacation?" the prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked.

"He did," Cohen answered. He added that after a few tense pleasantries, Trump assured him: "Don't worry about that other thing. I'm going to take care of it when I get back."

"We'll take care of it when we all get back," Cohen recalled Trump promising.

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