NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s hush money trial is entering its final stretch as the prosecution’s star witness Michael Cohen returns to the stand on Monday. Cohen took the stand last week to lay out his version of the events that are at the heart of the case.

Cohen placed Trump directly at the center of the alleged scheme to stifle negative stories to fend off damage to his White House bid. Among other things, Cohen told jurors that Trump promised to reimburse him for the money he fronted and was constantly updated about efforts to silence women who alleged sexual encounters with him. Trump denies the women’s claims.

Defense attorneys began cross-examination of Cohen with questioning designed to portray the one-time Trump loyalist as a media-obsessed opportunist who turned on the former president after he was denied a White House job.

Prosecutors have said they will rest their case once Cohen’s testimony concludes, though they could call rebuttal witnesses if Trump’s lawyers call their own witnesses to the stand. The defense isn’t obligated to call any witnesses, and it’s unclear whether the attorneys will do so. It also remains unclear whether Trump will testify.

The trial is in its 19th day.

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

The case is the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president and the first of four prosecutions of Trump to reach a jury.


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Here’s the latest:

Last week, Donald Trump’s lawyers accused the star prosecution witness in his hush money trial of lying to jurors, portraying Trump fixer-turned-foe Michael Cohen as a serial fabulist who is bent on seeing the presumptive Republican presidential nominee behind bars.

As Trump looked on, defense attorney Todd Blanche pressed Cohen for hours with questions that focused as much on his misdeeds as on the case’s specific allegations and tried to sow doubt in jurors’ minds about Cohen’s crucial testimony implicating the former president.

Whether the defense is successful in undermining Cohen’s testimony could determine Trump’s fate in the case. Over the course of the trial’s fourth week of testimony, Cohen described for jurors meetings and conversations he said he had with Trump about the alleged scheme to stifle stories about sex that threatened to torpedo Trump’s 2016 campaign.

As witness testimony in Donald Trump’s hush money trial resumes on Monday, it remains unclear whether the defense will call its own witnesses.

Legal arguments were ongoing last Thursday about the parameters of potential testimony from a campaign finance law expert that Trump’s lawyers want to call to the stand.

The witness in question is Bradley A. Smith, a former Bill Clinton-appointed Republican Federal Election Commission member. Defense lawyers want to call him to refute the prosecution’s contention that the hush money payments at issue in the trial amounted to campaign finance violations.

Prosecutors have said they have their own campaign finance expert teed up if the defense ends up calling their expert to the stand.

Judge Juan M. Merchan said he would take some time over the weekend to “digest both sets of submission further,” but suggested that Smith’s testimony would be limited to very general background.

Defense lawyers have not said yet whether Trump will testify in his own defense.

Donald Trump’s hush money trial resumes on Monday following a recess on Friday to allow the former president to attend the high school graduation of his youngest son, Barron.

The long weekend is not the only scheduling break in the trial.

The trial will also not be held for four days over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.

Judge Juan Merchan had previously told jurors that because of scheduling, it might be necessary to hold court on Wednesday — typically a day off for the trial — so Merchan can attend to other matters. Merchan backed off that guidance after some jurors indicated they couldn’t attend that day.

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