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Michael Cohen Presents DA Bragg With Problems Ahead of Trump Trial Testimony

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


Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is expected to be a ‘star’ witness for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecutors in the former president’s ‘hush money’ case, but a new report on Wednesday indicated that Cohen may be becoming a problem for the DA.

As he prepares to testify, Cohen, the ex-Trump fixer who arranged a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels prior to the 2016 election, has posed numerous challenges for prosecutors. Not only is the DA’s office grappling with efforts to prevent him from speaking out about the case, but they also contend with troubling testimony that paints a less favorable picture of Cohen for the jury, Newsweek reported.

“Michael Cohen is a complete mess as a witness for the prosecution in the current state fraud trial,” former federal prosecutor Michael McAuliffe told the outlet.

Trump is facing 34 felony charges of falsifying business records linked to the payment made to Daniels. Prosecutors assert that Trump, along with Cohen and former publisher David Pecker, devised a scheme to sway the 2016 presidential election by concealing adverse stories about Trump, including Daniels’ allegations of an affair with the then-Republican nominee. Trump has entered a plea of not guilty and refuted Daniels’ accusations. In a 2018 letter signed by Daniels, she also said the affair never happened.

“Cohen has loomed large over the trial that’s been taking place in the Manhattan Criminal Court. Trump was fined $9,000 for violating his gag order, which bars him from attacking any ‘foreseeable witnesses’ and jurors after the former president railed against Cohen and Daniels outside the courtroom,” the outlet noted further.

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Cohen, who has become a prominent Trump critic since his split with his former boss, persists in discussing the case despite being slated to testify in the trial. Just recently, Cohen used X, formerly Twitter, to address Trump as “Von ShitzInPantz,” asserting that “your attacks on me stink of desperation.”

Cohen has further delved into discussions about Trump and the trial during his nightly livestreams on TikTok, quipping remarks such as, “Trump 2024? More like Trump 20-24 years.” According to ABC, Cohen is reportedly making a profit from these extensive livestreams.

McAuliffe noted that Cohen’s past statements about Trump and his “often bizarre publicity stunts” make the former fixer-lawyer “less and less useful as a source of credible evidence.”

“By constantly puffing up his anticipated role as a Trump-slayer, he makes it much less possible to be one,” McAuliffe said.

The prosecution has encountered the challenging task of anchoring their case around Cohen, whose reputation is marred by imperfections. In their opening statements and during jury selection, prosecutors confronted the obvious issue, meticulously informing jurors about Cohen’s track record of dishonesty, not just with the media but also in court and before Congress.

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“Will you keep an open mind?” lead prosecutor Joshua Steinglass asked prospective jurors about Cohen’s “baggage.”

Meanwhile, Trump’s attorneys have looked to undercut Cohen’s credibility, telling jurors that the former lawyer is “obsessed” with Trump “even to this day” and that he’s attempting to blame his friend-turned-foe for “virtually all of his problems.”

Team Trump also used Cohen’s public remarks and podcasts about Trump to argue that the former fixer’s “entire financial livelihood” depends on Trump’s “destruction.”

“You cannot make a serious decision about President Trump under the lying words of Michael Cohen,” Trump attorney Todd Blanche told the jury last week.

Even if jurors managed to set aside their preconceptions about Cohen before the trial began, the testimony regarding the former Trump loyalist has been unsavory, Newsweek acknowledged. Not only have numerous witnesses attested to Cohen’s challenging demeanor to work with, but Gary Farro, Cohen’s former banker at First Republic, mentioned he had no cause to suspect any wrongdoing when he established the LLC account to settle Daniels’ payment.

Farro emphasized that if he had thought Cohen was forming a shell company, he wouldn’t have permitted the opening of the account for his Essential Consultants LLC. He also noted that if the bank had been aware that Cohen’s wire would benefit a political candidate or an adult film star, there would have been “enhanced due diligence.”

Farro testified that such transactions might be delayed or even blocked entirely due to this information, Newsweek added.

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