• Manhattan DA Bragg’s Witness Michael Cohen-A Fabulist Or Trustworthy Witness? 

    May 17, 2024
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    Every trial - criminal or civil - has its ups and downs, peaks and valleys, but in the end, credibility is always the rule of the day in court with controversial witnesses like Michael Cohen, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s so-called star witness, whose testimony may have moved closer to proving that “beyond reasonable doubt” in the Trump hush-money trial is in trouble for the prosecution. 

    Todd Blanche, Donald Trump’s defense lawyer, accused Cohen of lying to jurors Thursday while attempting to portray Trump as the villain. 

    Cohen was not considered for a White House job when his boss won the 2016 presidential election. He supposedly did not make the short list even for Chief of Staff although he was known as the president’s personal attorney and had proclaimed his loyalty to Trump so strong that he would have taken “a bullet” for Trump in the past. 

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    Blanche may well have successfully raised “the” valuable question to the juror - Should you believe this man because of his level of animosity today towards his former client Donald Trump as exhibited by Cohen’s own self-admitted lies, conviction, and admissions of taping his former client unbeknownst his client at the time, and what he has said in his podcasts during the trial?

    The drama in court on Thursday certainly raised the bar of credibility against a possible fabulist and self-admitted enemy hellbent on seeing Trump in a jailhouse jumpsuit behind bars. 

    Blanche pressed Cohen for hours with questions that focused on his misdeeds as much as the case’s specific allegations to raise the levels of doubt in the jurors’ minds about Cohen’s crucial motives. 

    Blanche’s voice rose as he interrogated Cohen about phone records and text messages over Cohen’s claim that he spoke to Trump about the hush money payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels that is at the heart of the case days before Cohen had wired her lawyer $130,000.

    Blanche emphatically accused Cohen that his representation was a lie, and confronted Cohen with texts indicating that what was on his mind, at least initially, during one phone call were harassing calls Cohen was receiving from an a supposedly underage prankster. Cohen said he believed he also spoke to Trump about the Daniels’ deal.

    Blanche, a seasoned criminal defense attorney, hit back with fervor. 

    “We are not asking for your belief. This jury does not want to hear what you think happened,” Blanche shouted.  

    What one thinks in a criminal trial that could send a defendant to jail is not as important as the facts, and that was Blanche’s point. 

    The elevated moment was an apex during cross-examination for Blanche who was obviously trying to paint Cohen as someone who was a media-obsessed opportunist out to hurt Trump because Cohen felt betrayed after his boss did not bring him to the White House.

    Although Cohen has described meetings and conversation on the stand that he claims he had with Trump about the alleged scheme about catch and kill schemes to bury stories about Trump during the 2016 campaign, Cohen admitted to his heightened and emotional animus towards Trump.

    Blanche’s cross-examination undermined Bragg’s reliance on Cohen, who has testified that he lied under oath when he pleaded guilty to federal charges, including tax fraud, in 2018 and beyond. 

    To a jury, those admissions could raise the obvious questions - “Is Cohen still lying?” That goes to the very credibility of Cohen’s testimony in this case. 

    “It was a lie? Correct?” Blanche asked Cohen about whether he lied to the late U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III at a court hearing about not feeling pressured into pleading guilty.

    “Correct,” Cohen said.

    Blanche did not hold back. 

    He raised Cohen’s motivations and elicited testimony designed to support the defense’s argument that the deal that Cohen cut with Daniels’ attorney was essentially an extortion of Trump. 

    Cohen dramatically acknowledged that he told a former prosecutor that he felt Daniels and her lawyer were extorting Trump in seeking the $130,000 payment to keep quiet about her claim of a 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.

    “Yes, I recall making a statement like that … that they were extorting Mr. Trump,” Cohen told jurors.

    But, Blanche’s cross-examination did not end there. He confronted Cohen on his social media posts, his podcast and Cohen’s books - one entitled, REVENGE - that he wrote about his relationship with Trump. 

    Cohen admitted he made millions by attacking Trump. In one clip played in court, Cohen used an expletive saying he truly hopes “that this man ends up in prison.”

    “It won’t bring back the year that I lost or the damage done to my family. But revenge is a dish best served cold,” Cohen was heard saying. “You better believe that I want this man to go down.”

    Cohen admitted to his continued attacks against Trump during the trial. 

    Cohen is expected to return to the witness stand Monday. The trial is taking a recess on Friday because Trump is attending his youngest son Barron’s high school graduation.

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    Author

    Christine Dolan

    Christine Dolan is a seasoned Investigative Journalist, television producer, author, and photographer. She is Co-Founder of American Conversations whose format focuses on in-depth analysis of critical issues about “the story behind the headlines.”

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