‘Crying Little Sh*t’: Sparks Fly in Cohen’s Cross-Examination

Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images
Photo Illustration by Luis G. Rendon/The Daily Beast/Getty Images

The long-anticipated, brutal cross-examination of Michael Cohen started Tuesday afternoon with pure fire and fury, as Donald Trump’s lead lawyer, Todd Blanche, prepared for battle.

Blanche approached the podium, adjusted the microphone by pulling it down, and leaned forward with both hands forcefully gripping the edges of the wooden tabletop.

“Mr. Cohen, my name is Todd Blanche. You and I have never spoken or met before, have we?” he began, his usual satiny voice replaced by a slight grittiness.

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“We have not,” Cohen responded coolly.

“But you know who I am, don’t you?” Blanche continued.

“I do,” Cohen replied.

“You went on TikTok and called me a crying little shit, didn't you?” Blanche growled.

Cohen started to answer before being interrupted.

“Sounds like something I would–”

“Objection!” a prosecutor said.

“Sustained,” Justice Juan Merchan snapped, calling all the attorneys to the bench for a sidebar.

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The showdown is a long time coming. The former president views Cohen as his mortal enemy, a thorn in his side ever since the one-time consigliere to the business mogul flipped on him and began assisting congressional investigators and law enforcement across the country to inquire about Trump’s lengthy string of alleged crimes.

From the get-go, the questioning session forewent any core issues about the case and focused squarely on Cohen’s character—as well as his public attacks against his former boss.

“You referred to Trump as a ‘dictator douchebag,’ didn’t you?” Blanche asked, later quoting a Cohen social media post where the disbarred lawyer said Trump should be sent “where he belongs, in a fucking cage.”

The tactic is one meant to direct the 18-person jury’s attention to the man who has been heralded as the Manhattan District Attorney’s star witness while prosecutors pursue 34 felony counts of falsifying business records against Trump.

After an incandescent start, Blanche’s questions quickly cooled off and became innocuous queries about the man’s past. Cohen comfortably acknowledged making “millions of dollars” in the taxi medallion business before dropping a ton of money on Trump real estate, becoming an adoring fan of Trump, and twice reading The Art of the Deal before referring to the mogul’s book as a “masterpiece.”

For nearly 40 minutes Blanche and Cohen engaged in a mostly subdued back-and-forth, with little disagreement. But as the defense lawyer once again cranked up the heat, Cohen became increasingly defensive. He simply wouldn’t play along as Blanche tried to pin the one-time Trump loyalist’s aged views against his new self.

“In 2015, you publicly said he’s a good man,” Blanche noted. “At the time, you weren't lying right?”

A photograph of Michael Cohen.

Michael Cohen arrives at his home after leaving Manhattan Criminal Court on May 13, 2024 in New York City.

Michael M Santiago/Getty Images

“At the time, I was knee-deep into the cult of Donald Trump,” Cohen shot back.

“You weren't lying right?” Blanche repeated.

“I wasn't lying. It's how I felt,” Cohen clarified.

But the conversation soon returned to Cohen’s perception of truth, when Blanche explored the interviews Cohen gave to Department of Justice Special Counsel Robert Mueller during the Trump-Russia investigation—interactions that would eventually lead to criminal charges when Cohen tried to deceive investigators about a Trump real estate project in Moscow, Russia.

When Cohen called his statements to the feds as “not accurate,” Blanche pounced.

“So is not accurate information a lie?” he asked.

“Sure,” Cohen acquiesced with a shrug.

“Is it a lie?” Blanche pressed on.

“It was inaccurate, yes,” Cohen asserted.

“So was it a lie?” Blanche said, refusing to let it go.

“I don't know if I would characterize it as a lie,” Cohen said.

Jurors’ eyes remained on the pair as Cohen met with what has become a usual struggle—in courtrooms and in interviews with journalists: acknowledging his own past faults.

“How are you distinguishing that in your head?” Blanche wondered aloud.

“It wasn’t truthful,” Cohen conceded. “If you want to call it a lie…”

The defense lawyer turned it back on him, forcing Cohen to reconsider.

“I believe they're the same thing... I believe that the information I gave to them was inaccurate,” Cohen said, appearing satisfied with his response with a raised eyebrow and a blank stare aimed at his interrogator.

A photograph of Michael Cohen.

Former Donald Trump attorney Michael Cohen departs from his home to attend his second day of testimony at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 14, 2024.

David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Blanche wasn’t done, though.

“But you're not testifying today that the information was a lie?” he asked one final time.

For the first time since Cohen took the stand the previous day, he remained silent, visibly struggling to answer. Ten seconds ticked by in total silence.

“I’ll say it’s a lie,” he responded.

The cross-examination continued through the afternoon, with Blanche later probing Cohen’s years-long discussions with Manhattan prosecutors—and directing jurors’ attention to the way Cohen had the DA’s office ask a federal court to reduce his prison sentence for assisting them with this investigation.

In the final minutes, Trump’s defense lawyer focused on how Cohen has enriched himself from becoming the thorn in his former boss’s side, getting the New Yorker to admit how handsomely he’s benefited from his two memoirs: scoring a whopping $3.4 million over the past four years.

When the day wrapped up, Trump walked out with a satisfied look on his face, as if he’d just watched an entertaining TV show.

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