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Michael Cohen Testifies Against Trump – Weak Sauce for Conviction

The Democrat DA won another news cycle, but nothing in court.

by | May 14, 2024 | Articles, Law, Opinion

The latest episode of the Trump “hush-money” trial, on Monday, May 13, starred Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer – who has said he hates his former boss and wants him behind bars. The convicted perjurer was called by Democrat DA Alvin Bragg’s prosecutors to advance the notion that Trump committed felonies related to the Stormy Daniels payoff. Much like last week’s testimony from Daniels, however, Cohen’s delivered no smoking gun of evidence establishing Trump’s legal guilt.

Where’s the beef?

Prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump’s intent in paying Daniels was to positively influence his presidential campaign – not incidentally or somewhat, amongst a hodgepodge of other interests. Also, beyond a reasonable doubt standard, that Trump knew doing so violated federal campaign finance law. Mr. Cohen did advance the evidentiary ball down the field on the first issue. He reportedly testified about a conversation with then-candidate Trump, during which Daniels’ accusations were discussed. Cohen described the exchange:

“[Trump] said to me: ‘This is a disaster. Total disaster. Women are going to hate me. This is really a disaster. Women will hate me. Guys may think it’s cool, but this is going to be a disaster for the campaign.'”

It’s hard to understand how these words can convict Trump. Another quote from Cohen has Trump saying he wasn’t worried about Melania leaving him, “How long do you think I’ll be on the market for? Not long.” This jury pool tracked so far left, there may be members of the panel that would vote to convict Trump regardless of the evidence – or lack of it. Some may have Trump Derangement Syndrome, but not all, and prosecutors need a unanimous verdict to convict. Could such testimony overcome the presumption of innocence and the high burden of proof for criminal liability?

Anything is possible at trial, but it is fertile grounds for an appeal if Judge Juan Merchan allowed a conviction on what’s been offered so far. Somehow, the big box media stories largely ignore other details from Cohen’s testimony. He admitted to defrauding Trump’s company and violating both his oath as an attorney and his duty to Trump.

Michael Cohen stole from Donald Trump

New banner Legal Affairs with ScottMr. Cohen was repaid the $130,000 he fronted for the Daniels payout, plus some other payments, from Trump’s company. When he was going over the total amount for the repayment with Trump moneyman Allen Weisselberg, Cohen included $50,000, saying Trump owed a company called Red Finch for technical services. Apparently, Cohen knew the Red Finch CEO and included this collection effort to cover money owed by Trump – but Cohen kept the money.

Cohen’s staggering violation of his oath to his client was another feature of Monday’s testimony. The disgraced former lawyer recorded Donald Trump on September 6, 2016. It was a meeting in Trump Tower in which Cohen wanted to capture his boss’s agreement to the funding mechanism Cohen recommended for keeping confidentiality agreement payouts confidential. The taping suggests more about Cohen’s character – or lack thereof – than Trump’s criminal culpability.

The prosecution isn’t done with Cohen yet, and will resume his direct examination Tuesday, May 14. Presumably, they will turn the witness over to Trump’s defense the same day, and then the shredding of Cohen’s credibility will begin in earnest. The prosecution is expected to rest its case by the end of the week.

Read More From Scott D. Cosenza, Esq.

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