Trump aide’s $64k per hour ‘fake’ job

A close of aide of Donald Trump has testified how he was effectively paid $63,000 an hour for his services to the former President during the first year he was in the White House.

Michael Cohen, who for years was Mr Trump’s lawyer, has insisted in a Manhattan court that while the payments were ostensibly for a role he performed, it was in reality compensation for his part in allegedly making hush money payments to a porn star who claimed she slept with the man who would become commander-in-chief.

Mr Cohen is one of the star witnesses in Mr Trump’s New York trial and key to the prosecution’s argument that the one time Apprentice presenter falsified business records and potentially broke election laws.

Taking the stand, Mr Cohen also said he lied repeatedly for Mr Trump due to his loyalty, even when it backfired on him personally

Additionally, he told the court the last thing the then-President ever uttered to him.

“You’ll be OK,” he claimed President Trump said in 2018 after Mr Cohen’s home was raided by the FBI. Mr Cohen would later go to jail.

Mr Trump is accused of falsifying business records to cover up payments of $200,000 ($US130,000) paid to Ms Daniels, 45, in the run up to the 2016 US Presidential election about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter when he was married to Melania Trump.

The prosecution is trying to persuade the jury the alleged payments were effectively election interference to silence revelations that could have been damaging to Mr Trump’s campaign.

Mr Trump, 77, has denied an affair took place and denied the charges.

Mr Cohen is key to the prosecution’s case as it’s claimed he was instrumental in organising payments to prevent various allegations coming to light.

On Tuesday (US time) Mr Cohen took to the stand for a second day of questioning, initially by the prosecution and later by Donald Trump’s own lawyers.

Previously he had said that he had paid $200,000 ($US130,000) of his own funds to Ms Daniels, via her lawyer, to buy her silence about the claimed 2006 romp with Mr Trump which could have become public weeks out from the 2016 Presidential election.

This was because the Trump Organisation was not coming up with the funds and Mr Cohen was fearful she would take her story to a news outlet.

$64k an hour job

Mr Trump and a senior lawyer in the Trump Organisation, Mr Cohen has claimed, later agreed to pay him back the $200,000 plus myriad other costs and a bonus.

But rather than simply transferring the money to his back he would instead be paid a monthly fee as the soon to be President’s personal lawyer.

That amounted to $635,000 ($US420,000) over the course of the year.

Mr Cohen replied “no, ma’am,” when he was asked by prosecution lawyer Susan Hoffinger if the payments were in reality connected to any legal work he did for President Trump.

Indeed, Mr Cohen said he estimated that in 2017, the first year of the Trump White House, he spent less than 10 hours on work that could be directly connected to his role as Mr Trump’s personal lawyer.

In effect, if he really was being paid to be Mr Trump’s lawyer he was being paid $64,000 an hour for his services.

On Monday, Mr Cohen had said he loved working for the Trump Organisation and at times it was “fantastic”.

But on Tuesday, he said that devotion had led him to lying seemingly out of blind loyalty to Mr Trump.

When the Wall Street Journal published a story in January 2018 about the alleged one night stand between Mr Trump and Ms Daniels, Mr Cohen said he pressured the porn star into signing a document refuting the claims, a statement which he knew to be false.

When Ms Hoffinger asked Mr Cohen how he knew Ms Daniels’ denial to be false, he replied: “Because I’m the one who paid it”.

Ms Daniels would later go onto rescind the denial and said she only signed it as she had a nondisclosure agreement in place as part of her payment and there was pressure on her to make a statement.

Last call from Trump

In April 2018, Mr Cohen’s home was raided by the FBI as it investigated his role in the Stormy Daniels hush money payments.

Shortly afterwards he said he received a call from Mr Trump.

“He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’m the president of the United States. Don’t worry, there is nothing here. Stay tough, you are going to be OK,’” he claimed Mr Trump said.

Mr Cohen said it was the last direct contact he had with Mr Trump, who he had spent years working for, representing and defending.

From then on, he dealt with other people in the wider Trump orbit.

Later in 2018, as his trial neared, Mr Cohen offered up Mr Trump’s name to investigators.

“I made a decision, based again on a conversation with my family, that I would not lie for President Trump any longer,” he told the court.

“I regret doing things for him that I should not have, lying, bullying people in order to effectuate the goal.

“I don’t regret working for the Trump Organisation,” he said.

“But to keep the loyalty and to do things that he asked me to do, it violated my moral compass and I suffered a penalty, as did my family.”

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