'Locker room talk' defense was Melania Trump's idea, Michael Cohen testifies

"We needed to put a spin on this," Cohen said of Trump's Access Hollywood tape.

Michael Cohen took the stand at former president Donald Trump’s hush money trial on Monday, testifying that Trump told him it was Melania who came up with the infamous “locker room talk” defense.

When the Access Hollywood tape dropped in October 2016, Cohen said he became very concerned about the impact it could have on Trump’s presidential election.

In the 2005 video, Trump could be heard boasting that "when you’re a star" you can "do anything" to women, including "grab them by the p----."

"This was going to be significantly impactful, especially with women voters," Cohen testified.

In phone calls that day, Cohen said he and Trump spoke about how to handle fallout from the tape.

"He wanted me to reach out to all of my contacts in the media -- we needed to put a spin on this. And the spin that he wanted to put on it was that this is locker room talk," Cohen testified.

Trump has denied all wrongdoing related to Daniels' hush payment.

PHOTO: Michael Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger during former President Donald Trump's criminal trial in Manhattan state court in New York City, May 13, 2024 in this courtroom sketch.
Michael Cohen is questioned by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger during former President Donald Trump's criminal trial in Manhattan state court in New York City, May 13, 2024 in this courtroom sketch.
Jane Rosenberg via Reuters

Cohen said Trump told him the "locker room talk" defense was "something that Melania had recommended" they use "in order to get control over the story and minimize its impact on him and his campaign."

In the wake of the Access Hollywood tape surfacing, Trump learned that adult film star Stormy Daniels was shopping around the story of an alleged 2006 sexual encounter -- something Trump has denied -- and the situation, he said, would be a "disaster," Cohen testified.

"He said to me this is a disaster. A total disaster," Cohen said of Trump's response when he first informed him.

According to Cohen, Trump anticipated how the Stormy Daniels story would play differently with men and women.

"Women will hate me. Guys may think it’s cool, but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign," Cohen testified that Trump said.

Trump was "really angry" to hear the story might surface, Cohen testified and specifically asked him to push off paying for the story until after the election -- feeding into prosecutors' theory that this scheme was made to influence the 2016 election.

"I want you to push it out as long as you can," Cohen testified Trump told him. "Push it out past the election, because if I win, it has no relevance, and if I lose, I don’t care."

Cohen also testified that Trump did not express concern about how news of the alleged affair might affect his family -- only his White House run.

"He wasn't thinking about Melania -- this was all about the campaign," Cohen said.