Trump lawyers vie to discredit key witness Cohen at hush-money trial

Donald Trump's lawyer took cracks at key witness Michael Cohen during wide-ranging cross-examination Thursday, questioning his memory and poking at his credibility during the first criminal trial of a former US president.

Trump is accused of falsifying business records as he reimbursed Cohen for a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election, when her story of a sexual encounter with Trump could have doomed his campaign.

The defense team has sought to instill doubt by casting Cohen as a disgruntled ex-employee who habitually lies and is out for blood at the trial, which is being heard just six months before election day when Trump hopes to retake the White House.

Under the close watch of Trump, defence attorney Todd Blanche kicked off his second round of questioning by emphasizing Cohen's history of lying, especially under oath.

In addition to listing Cohen's myriad deceptions – which he has admitted to in the past including during direct questioning – the defence also played clips of the witness's podcast episodes that frequently discussed the former president.

"You better believe I want this man to go down," he said in one 2020 episode.

He has striven to ruffle Cohen, who has a reputation for a temper that could hurt him on the stand.

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