If the porn actress Stormy Daniels was last week the media star witness of the first criminal trial of Donald Trump in New York, yesterday it was the turn of the most valuable witness in the case, the ex-lawyer and right-hand man of the tycoon for a decade , Michael Cohen, now reconverted into his declared public enemy.

His relationship to the basis of the accusation could not be more direct: he was responsible for making during the 2016 campaign the payment of $130,000 to buy the silence of the actress about the relationship she had had with Trump a decade before A year later, already from the White House, the ex-president reimbursed him the money. He falsely registered them as legal expenses of his company and committed, according to the Prosecutor’s Office, a document falsification scheme, which is aggravated by the fact that he served in the commission of another crime, of violating the financing laws of campaign

Trump, who is accused of 34 crimes related to this bribe, fell out with his former lawyer and squire after he confessed in 2018 that he had made this payment to appease Daniels and was sentenced for it to three years in prison.

The witness explained how in 2016, a few months after Trump presented his candidacy, they devised with the editor of the National Enquirer magazine, David Pecker, a plan to sell positive stories about the candidate and bury those that could harm him electorally, a which the prosecution considers to have had the objective of “adulterating” the elections.

This strategy goes beyond Stormy Daniels: They also sent checks to a doorman at Trump Tower to prevent him from talking about an alleged secret Trump child and bought the silence of other lovers, including Playboy model Karen McDougal .

In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to attempting to influence the election in violation of election law. The judge considered these bribes illegal campaign contributions, as they benefited the candidate’s image, but were not declared as such. He was sentenced to three years in prison, of which he spent thirteen months behind bars and a year and a half under house arrest.

With an office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower, the witness became Trump’s personal lawyer in 2007, although he ended up being much more than that. He was his “pincho” and his “fixer,” as he described himself in the two published books, podcasts, TV interviews and a series of recent posts on TikTok. “The only thing I thought about was to complete the task, to make him happy”, he declared yesterday, describing his servile attitude towards the candidate at the time.

The lawyer explained how he did Trump’s dirty work in multiple areas for a decade, until, guided by the prosecutor’s questions, he got to the body of the indictment: the payment to Daniels and the reimbursement to Trump. During the hearing, Assistant US Attorney Susan Hoffinger showed an email from October 2016 in which Cohen told National Enquirer editors that Daniels’ story would be “catastrophic” for the campaign of the republican and it would be necessary to “take care of it”.

“We had to prevent it from being published at all costs,” Cohen said from the podium, noting that Trump was furious with the possibility of Daniels speaking publicly: “Put it off as long as you can, beyond the election. If I win, I’ll be president, and if I lose, I don’t care,” Cohen recalled Trump telling him during the 2016 campaign.

The strategy of Trump, who cannot deny the payment because there is enough evidence, is based on defending that it was not to “adulterate” the election, as the Prosecutor’s Office claims, but to avoid the embarrassment that would have meant for his family, since the relationship was a year after the tycoon’s wedding. “I wasn’t thinking about Melania: everything had to do with the campaign,” Cohen said, trying to dismiss this argument. Trump’s defense has taken care to describe him as a “compulsive liar” who wants to benefit financially from the case.

Cohen, with the testimony that opens the fifth week of the trial, is the last big name of the twenty that the prosecution has called to testify. Over the course of this week, those subpoenaed by the defense are expected to begin testifying, and when that process ends, after the parties’ closing arguments, the twelve members of the jury will have to reach a verdict, which could land a former US president in prison for the first time in history.