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Legal Experts Trash DA Alvin Bragg’s Struggling Case Against Trump

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A trio of lawyers told a CNN panel on Tuesday that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s ‘hush money’ case against former President Donald Trump is not going well.

On Tuesday, Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, faced cross-examination from defense attorney Todd Blanche as Bragg’s star witness, acknowledging his bias against his former boss. Criminal defense attorney Bill Brennan, who previously represented Trump, national security lawyer Carrie Cordero, and former Trump attorney Michael van der Veen, told CNN that Trump’s defense is in great shape, suggesting that Bragg has not adequately proven the former president’s guilt.

“This witness is perfect for Todd Blanche and all the people second-guessing each and every question; sit down, get your popcorn now, let Mr. Blanche do his job,” Brennan told host Jake Tapper. “And the judge will charge to this jury, Jake, that if a witness has a bias or a skin in the game, you take that testimony with caution. The witness is supposed to say they robbed the bank, they drove the car, it was blue, and it was raining out. Not I want him in jail, I got a little silly little tee shirt on. This Cohen is reprehensible.”

“I think there‘s a good argument in favor of doing that,” Cordero said in response to his question about whether the defense should rest its case. “Unless they really think that there‘s something that comes out from Michael Cohen‘s testimony, I think at this point there would be a strong argument for the defense to just stand up and say, look, the prosecution hasn’t met its burden in this case. Here’s all the things that they have to prove. They haven‘t gotten there. And it’s time for everybody to go home. I don‘t know that they”ll do that, but I think there’s an argument in favor of that.”

Tapper suggested that would be a “baller move” but went on to speculate that Trump likely prefers more fighting.

“I think he’d like to push, push, push and get as many witnesses on as he can, but I think the strategy is probably right,” van der Veen responded. “This case hasn’t gone in the way I think it was billed to go in. So as the days go on and this case looks weaker and weaker, I think it‘s probably less that they have to put on for defense.”

Cohen’s credibility has come under intense scrutiny due to his numerous admissions of lying under oath and public criticism of Trump. On Monday, he testified that Trump instructed him to arrange the payment for a nondisclosure agreement with porn star Stormy Daniels. Cohen also confirmed his involvement in the reimbursement plan related to the charges of falsifying business documents in Bragg’s case against the former president.

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Cohen, who was Trump’s lawyer for ten years, was sentenced to prison on multiple charges, including one related to a $130,000 hush money payment he made to Daniels. She alleges she had an affair with Trump in 2006, which Trump Denies. Prosecutors contend that Trump arranged for Cohen to make the payment to silence Daniels ahead of the 2016 election and that Trump later reimbursed Cohen, adding a bonus.

Katie Phang of NBC News was in the courtroom on Tuesday for Cohen’s cross-examination and shared the following account on social media (Note: This is not an official transcript and it has been edited for clarity and punctuation):

BLANCHE: Mr. Cohen, my name is Todd Blanche, and you and I have never met. You went on TikTok and called me a “crying little shit.”

COHEN: That sounds like something I would say.

PROSECUTION: Objection.

JUDGE: Sustained.

[…]

BLANCHE: You referred to Trump as a “dictator douchebag”?

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COHEN: Sounds like something I said.

BLANCHE: You said he should go back to “where he belongs, in a fucking cage like a fucking animal.” You recall saying that?

COHEN: I recall saying that.

Phang also posted this exchange:

BLANCHE: You also talked on [your podcast] Mea Culpa your desire to see Trump get convicted in this case?

COHEN: Sounds like something I’d say.

BLANCHE: Have you regularly commented on your podcasts that you want President Trump convicted in this case?

COHEN: Yes, probably.

BLANCHE: Do you have any doubt?

COHEN: I would like to see accountability, [but] it’s not for me, it’s for the jury and this case.

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