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May 29, 2024

Mike Johnson Visits Trump’s Criminal Trial to Say What He Can’t

Mike Johnson Visits Trump’s Criminal Trial to Say What He Can’t



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House Speaker Joins Republicans Visiting Trial to Say What Trump Can’t

Outside the Manhattan courthouse where Donald J. Trump is being tried on criminal charges, Mike Johnson attacked a key witness who linked the former president to a plan to cover up hush money paid to a porn star.

Outside Manhattan Criminal Court on Tuesday, House Speaker Mike Johnson attacked Donald J. Trump’s former fixer, Michael D. Cohen. Mr. Trump is under court order not to do so himself. Credit…Dave Sanders for The New York Times

As a key witness testified inside the Manhattan criminal courthouse on Tuesday morning, an increasingly familiar scene unfolded outside, as another in a parade of well-known visitors — this time Mike Johnson, the speaker of the House — stepped up to a microphone.

“This is a man who is clearly on a mission for personal revenge,” Mr. Johnson said, attacking the witness on the stand, Michael D. Cohen, the former fixer to Donald J. Trump. “He is someone who has a history of perjury. No one should believe a word he says in there.”

It was striking to watch the speaker of the House, second in line to the presidency in a crisis, stooping to overheated language more familiar at MAGA rallies, call a trial in an American court — and by extension, the judicial system itself — a “sham” and political theater.

But more urgently in the moment, Mr. Johnson’s attacks on Mr. Trump’s behalf did what the former president himself could not, bound as he is by a gag order during his trial on felony charges of falsifying business records. In recent days, Trump allies have stepped up one after another as his proxies, although Mr. Trump used a different term.

“I do have a lot of surrogates,” he said in remarks before trial proceedings began on Tuesday, “and they are speaking very beautifully.”

The proud observation appears to reflect a game plan. And the surrogates, however awkwardly, have risked their public profiles to defend a man accused of hiding hush-money payments to a porn star.

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