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'I Violated My Moral Compass': Michael Cohen Explains Why He Flipped Against Trump In 2018 | Day 17 Hush Money Trial Highlights

Cohen revealed that his family played a crucial role in his decision to flip. Their insistence on prioritizing their well-being over loyalty to Trump prompted Cohen to reassess his allegiances.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche cross examines Michael Cohen in Manhattan criminal court Photo: AP

Former President Donald Trump's ongoing hush money trial took a dramatic turn as Michael Cohen, his former attorney, took the stand across two intense days of testimony. Cohen's revelations provided a deep dive into Trump's alleged involvement in concealing unfavourable information from voters ahead of the 2016 election.

Here are the key takeaways from Day 17 of the trial:

Defense Questions Cohen's Motivations

The courtroom brimmed with tension as defence attorney Todd Blanche launched a relentless cross-examination aimed at unravelling Cohen's motivations. Blanche depicted Cohen as fixated on Trump, citing Cohen's substantial earnings from books dissecting his former boss. Cohen, however, countered, asserting that while he profited from his publications, his financial gains were not solely tethered to Trump. Blanche delved into Cohen's social media presence, particularly on TikTok, insinuating further monetization. Cohen clarified that while he did earn from TikTok, the revenue was inconsequential.

Blanche then probed Cohen's past adulation for Trump, contrasting it with his current criticisms. Cohen admitted to his prior admiration but stressed a departure from blind devotion. The exchange underscored the complex evolution of Cohen's sentiments towards his erstwhile employer.

Cohen Recounts White House Meeting

Cohen's testimony provided a riveting narrative of a pivotal February 2017 encounter with Trump at the White House. Cohen detailed Trump's inquiries about his well-being and financial status, culminating in directives to liaise with Allen Weisselberg, then-Trump Organization CFO. Cohen's account shed light on Trump's alleged involvement in the reimbursement scheme, corroborating prosecutors' claims.

Cohen recounted his final conversation with Trump in April 2018, following an FBI search of Cohen's office and hotel room. "I received a phone call from President Trump in response to me leaving a message for him to call," Cohen said. "I wanted obviously for him to know what was taking place. He said, don't worry, I am the president of the United States -- there is nothing here. Everything is going to be OK. Stay tough. You are going to be OK."

Cohen stated that Trump's reassurances "reinforced my loyalty and my intention to stay in the fold."

Trump's Alleged Pressure Campaign Revealed

Jurors were privy to Cohen's revelations of Trump's orchestrated efforts to dissuade his cooperation with federal authorities. Cohen delineated a coercive strategy orchestrated by Trump and his associates, illustrated through exchanges with attorney Robert Costello. Emails between Cohen and Costello underscored veiled assurances of protection, emanating from Trump himself. Cohen underscored Trump's unequivocal message: "Don't flip. Don't speak. Don't cooperate."

Cohen Tells Jurors Why He Flipped

After dedicating a decade to serving Donald Trump, Cohen testified that in 2018, he made the pivotal choice to cooperate with authorities following encouragement from his family.

"My family -- my wife, my daughter, my son -- all said to me, 'Why are you holding onto this loyalty? What are you doing? We're supposed to be your first loyalty," Cohen stated.

When prosecutor Susan Hoffinger inquired about his decision, Cohen responded, "That it was about time to listen to them. To my wife, my son, my daughter, to the country."

Cohen confessed to pleading guilty to federal charges in August 2018 and said, "I would not lie for President Trump any longer."

"I regret doing things for him that I should not have," Cohen confessed, reflecting on his tenure with Trump. "But to keep the loyalty and do things that he had asked me to do -- I violated my moral compass, and I suffered the penalty, as has my family."