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Former President Donald Trump speaks with members of the media and points at attorney Todd Blanche listens before the start of his trial at Manhattan criminal in New York, Tuesday, May 14, 2024.

‘Crying little s–––’: Michael Cohen cross-examination quickly goes off the rails as defense brings up TikTok insults directed at Trump’s lead attorney and earns judge’s scorn

Former President Donald Trump speaks with members of the media as attorney Todd Blanche listens before the start of his trial at Manhattan criminal in New York, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool Photo via AP)

The cross-examination of Michael Cohen, 57, started off with a series of sustained objections late Tuesday afternoon as former President Donald Trump’s lead defense attorney repeatedly needled the witness over vulgar and critical statements he made on social media.

The early questions served to set the scene: defense attorney Todd Blanche asked Cohen if he had recently used his nightly TikTok broadcast to refer to him — Blanche — as a whiny or “crying little s–––,” according to a report by Law&Crime Network reporter Terri Austin.

To which Cohen began to reply: “That sounds like something I would say,” as the prosecution objected and the judge sustained the complaint — striking the question from the record.

So, Blanche tried again: asking the witness if he had recently posted something critical of himself and Susan Necheles, another Trump attorney. This time, an objection was sustained by New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan before Cohen got a chance to reply.

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    Blanche essayed another sharp blow by asking Cohen if he had been paying close attention to details in the case, such as the jury selection process. Another complaint resulted in another sustained objection.

    During a tense sidebar, the judge asked Trump’s lawyer: “Why are you making this about yourself?” Blanche tried to protest that characterization but Merchan shut him down, saying: “Just don’t make it about yourself,” according to a later-released transcript.

    Finally, Blanche was able to elicit a series of answers into the record. Cohen generally agreed with the defense that he had been paying attention to the trial and that he had watched some news about it on channels like CNN and MSNBC — but said this was tangential to watching those networks for other reasons, according to a report by New York Daily News reporter Molly Crane-Newman.

    Blanche also was able to get an admission from Cohen that he was acutely aware of the testimony offered earlier in the case by witness David Pecker, 72, the onetime CEO of the National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc. Quizzed as to whether he had opined in late April, again using TikTok, if Pecker’s testimony was akin to what he had been saying for years, Cohen answered in the affirmative, according to a report by Just Security fellow Adam Klasfeld.

    More from Law&Crime: ‘Women are going to hate me’: Michael Cohen details frenzy leading to Stormy Daniels hush-money payment and pins down Trump on key issues for state’s theory of the case

    Later, the defense ran into another wall of sustained objections when trying to press Cohen about his knowledge of misgivings the defense and prosecutors themselves have had with his social media posts about the trial — issues Merchan himself previously felt compelled to address during a hearing away from jurors’ ears.

    Soon enough, the defense got back on track.

    Asked at one point if the trial was important to Cohen, the witness, after some false starts, eventually was allowed to answer: “Personally? Yes,” according to a report by Newsweek reporter Katherine Fung.

    Blanche later pressed Cohen about merchandise available on the website for his podcast, “Mea Culpa,” which features various references to Trump being incarcerated on various kinds of products — including a T-shirt with a painting of the 77-year-old defendant in an orange jumpsuit behind bars. This appeared to be in service of an argument that Cohen was, at least in part, motivated by money.

    The defense also elicited a series of half-yes responses from the witness when presented with insults lampooning Trump’s “Cheeto-dusted” appearance and “boorish” manners. In turn, Cohen responded with some iteration of: “That sounds like something I would say.”

    More Law&Crime coverage: ‘A backchannel to the president’: Michael Cohen testifies about how his Trump ties were not all they were cracked up to be and actually ‘worried’ him after FBI raid

    Blanche aimed at the credibility of the witness when contrasting his recollections of more recent conversations with prosecutors apparently angry over certain of his media appearance — which Cohen said he could not recall — with his nearly, for all intents and purposes, precise memory of important conversations with Trump. The selective memory argument, of course, will be an issue for jurors to mull.

    While the answers came easier amid fewer sustained objections, the upshot was a bit muddled as the cross-examination of the 19th witness in the case wore on in the downtown Manhattan courtroom.

    As if to put a point on the seemingly inert nature of the line of questioning, Blanche asked the star witness whether he had ever met personally with District Attorney Alvin Bragg. Cohen said he had not.

    Bragg was not even in the courtroom as Cohen was subjected to the defense’s cross-examination.

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    The post ‘Crying little s–––’: Michael Cohen cross-examination quickly goes off the rails as defense brings up TikTok insults directed at Trump’s lead attorney and earns judge’s scorn first appeared on Law & Crime.