See the Checks That Donald Trump Signed for Michael Cohen

(Bloomberg) -- Check after check after check was displayed on screens for a New York jury on Monday carrying Donald Trump’s distinctive signature scrawled with a black sharpie.

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The payments — most of them for $35,000 and one for $70,000 — were made out to Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, throughout 2017. Trump says the money was for monthly legal services, but Manhattan’s district attorney says the true purpose was to hide a sex scandal before the 2016 election.

“And do you recognize that signature?” prosecutor Matthew Colangelo asked the accounts payable supervisor at the Trump Organization, Deborah Tarasoff, who was on the witness stand Monday.

“Yes, I do,” said Tarasoff, who has worked for Trump’s sprawling real estate company for 24 years, and still does. “Mr. Trump’s.”

After two weeks of testimony from an array of government witnesses, jurors were given the closest view yet of the otherwise mundane business records at the center of the case: Cohen’s monthly invoices, internal email discussions about the payments, entries in the company’s general ledger and, ultimately, personal checks signed by Trump from the White House after the won the election.

Read more: What Trump’s 34 Hush Money Charges Are All About: QuickTake

The district attorney alleges the reimbursement to Cohen was for a $130,000 hush agreement the lawyer made with Trump’s blessing to adult-film star Stormy Daniels, to keep her quiet about an alleged affair before the election. Trump is accused of falsifying 34 business records in the process of repaying Cohen, part of a broader alleged scheme to bury negative stories and influence the vote.

Here are some of the documents the prosecutors presented:


Jurors heard from Trump Organization employees how they had to send checks to the White House to get Trump’s signature because he was the only signatory on his personal account, which was used to pay Cohen in 2017. The monthly checks to his personal lawyer connect the former president directly to the payments, though his defense team has sought to distance Trump from them. Tarasoff testified that Trump kept a tight grip on larger expenses, saying the former president wasn’t afraid to send a check back with “void” written across it when he didn’t want to pay.


Tarasoff and another government witness, former Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney, on Monday explained to the jury how Cohen sent his invoices by email, for $35,000 a month. Over the year, the total came to $420,000, which prosecutors say included a bonus and other expenses on top of the repayment, which was doubled to account for taxes. McConney testified that Trump had once suggested he could be fired for paying invoices too blindly, suggesting the real estate mogul and reality TV star kept a close eye on payouts.

Both McConney and Tarasoff testified that they had no reason to believe the checks weren’t being used for legal services, and that they weren’t involved in any discussions about the hush money payment or told to keep the checks secret. Cohen and Daniels are both expected to testify in the trial — Daniels likely on Tuesday, according to the AP.


The jury was shown emails in which McConney reminded Cohen that he needs to send an invoice in order to get paid. Other emails showed Cohen sending an invoice to former Trump chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg with small talk like “happy holidays.” The panel also was shown emails in which the invoices were forwarded to Tarasoff with the instruction that she issue the checks for an unspecified “retainer” and log them in the ledger to legal services.

General ledger

Witnesses also described in detail how general ledgers were maintained for Trump’s revocable trust as well as his personal account. The Cohen payments were coded to “legal expenses,” but jurors were told that the legal department was never alerted to the lawyer’s invoices, which would have been the standard practice.

Handwritten notes

Jurors also saw images of handwritten notes by McConney and Weisselberg discussing the various numbers associated with Cohen’s complex repayment schedule. McConney said he never saw the purported retainer agreement described to him by his then-boss, Weisselberg.

Taken together, the dozens of documents shown to the jury Monday are at the heart of the government’s indictment, the first criminal case against a former president. Trump faces as many as four years behind bars if convicted. He denies wrongdoing.

(Adds second paragraph under Invoices.)

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