Former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial over hush money payments resumed Thursday with Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, returning to the stand for more cross-examination regarding the alleged hush money scheme. The goal of the defense’s questioning focused on undermining Cohen’s credibility.

Trump is accused of an illegal conspiracy to suppress negative information that might have harmed his 2016 election. He allegedly paid off adult film actress Stormy Daniels to hide an affair, CNN reported.

Early this week Cohen delivered a testimony that was crucial for the prosecution. According to USA Today, Cohen testified that not only was he instructed by Trump to pay Daniels $130,000 prior to the 2016 election, “but also that Trump approved a scheme to mischaracterize his reimbursement to Cohen as monthly payments for 2017 legal services.”

Cohen gets animated under oath:

Inside the courtroom, CNN reporters via live updates said Cohen became more animated on the stand as he was questioned about when he had lied under oath and if he claimed responsibility for his previous actions.

Per CNN, the defense referenced the 2017 House Intelligence Committee testimony, where Cohen admitted to lying under oath, facing perjury charges in 2018.

Thursday, Cohen said he is “accepting responsibility” for lying to Congress, but suggested his actions were in line with Trump’s wishes.

Later, Cohen admitted to shifting blame onto others during a pretrial services meeting related to his 2018 tax evasion charges, per CNN. He said he had lied to a federal judge due to what he had at stake regarding the tax evasion case, stating he pleaded guilty to protect his family.

Cohen acknowledged he “accepted responsibility” for his false statements during his 2019 congressional testimony.

Observers say the extensive line of questioning was important for the defense to undermine Cohen’s credibility.

Lying and phone calls

Fox News reported that Todd Blanche, Trump’s lawyer, accused Cohen of lying about an alleged phone call made to Keith Schiller, Trump’s former bodyguard. Cohen testified that the logistics of the “hush money” deal were confirmed with a key phone call made to Schiller regarding the Daniels deal.

Cohen also testified that he needed to talk to Schiller regarding multiple harassing phone calls from a 14-year-old prankster he was receiving. The defense presented evidence that the phone call lasted one minute and 36 seconds, followed by text messages discussing the 14-year-old with no mention of Daniels, according to Fox News.

“That was a lie!” Blanche said regarding the phone call, per USA Today. Cohen stayed composed as he answered the questions.

Nondisclosure agreements and Trump’s thoughts

Cohen confirmed Daniels’ contract, which Trump never signed, according to Fox News, was a legal contract. This contrasted his previous belief that Daniels was extorting Trump, according to CNN.

The Associated Press reported, “Blanche asked Cohen about the use of nondisclosure agreements and the one struck with Daniels specifically. Blanche asked if the agreement with the woman was a ‘completely legal-binding contract,’ and noted that Trump himself did not sign his name to it.”

“In your mind, then and now, this is a perfectly legal contract, correct?” Blanche asked.

“Yes sir,” Cohen said.

Trump, who faces 34 felony counts charging Trump with falsifying business records said it was an “interesting day” in court, per Fox News.

Cross-examination of Cohen is slated to resume Monday. News reports said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office said it will rest its case once Cohen finishes on the stand.