The Oval Office meeting was crucial to New York's case against Trump

Cohen's invoices for these $35,000 monthly checks were marked as “services rendered.”

But speaking before a courthouse packed with media and audiences, Mr. Cohen said the invoices were counterfeit. He testified that in reality they had to reimburse him for the hush money, with additional dollars to cover possible taxes.

These documents — 11 checks, 11 invoices and 12 ledger entries — make up the 34 counts of falsifying business documents against Mr. Trump.

Former Manhattan prosecutor Rebecca Roiphe told BBC News that the Oval Office meeting could be a key moment in the trial, but that would depend on how credible the jury finds Mr. Cohen, who has pleaded guilty to federal crimes, including violations of campaign finance and lying to Congress. .

“The prosecution could have made its case without Michael Cohen's testimony about the face-to-face meeting in the Oval Office, but it certainly helps connect the dots,” Ms. Roiphe said.

“If the jury believes this part of Cohen's testimony, it would completely undermine one of the key defenses: that Trump had nothing to do with these payments.”

But Cohen's history of lying to Congress, and his time in prison, partly related to paying hush money, are important factors the jury will have to weigh.

During Cohen's two-hour cross-examination on Tuesday, Trump's legal team did not address his claims that Trump knew about the hush money payment and alleged repayment plan. Instead, they tried to dismantle his credibility.

Ms. Roiphe said the defense could continue this line of attack in an effort to refute the Oval Office's claims when they resume questioning Cohen on Thursday.

“The defense has tried to portray Cohen as a jilted underling who was obsessed with Trump and would do anything to get revenge,” Roiphe said. “It can rely on this theme and try to make it seem like this uncorroborated testimony is fabricated.”

And indeed, that is exactly how this trial began, when the opening statement of Mr. Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche said this about Mr. Cohen:

“He is a convicted felon and a convicted perjurer – he is an admitted liar.”

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