Star Prosecution Witness Michael Cohen Isn’t Helping Bragg’s Case, He’s Hurting It 

a katz /
a katz /

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg made Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s disgraced former Special Counsel and fixer, the star witness in his case against the former president. He expected that Cohen would present himself as a credible witness despite his history of lying to both Congress and the media.  

Cohen’s credibility with the jury seems to be off to a shaky start, even before he takes the stand. 

Prosecutors already had a hard sell with Cohen, instructing the jury to keep an “open mind” in the face of the lawyer’s previous history of lying.  

But the jury is learning that Cohen was not just a liar. 

He’s also kind of a jerk. 

Jurors have already heard a recording where Trump and Cohen discuss a plan to pay off Stormy Daniels. In this recording, Cohen mentions consulting with Allen Weisselberg, then the CFO of the Trump Organization, about the funding for the payoff. The prosecution expects Cohen to offer more insight into these conversations. 

Regarding payments and cover-up, Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet before he was imprisoned for his involvement in the hush money scheme. The prosecution likely wants Cohen to explain how these payments were arranged, who authorized them, and how they were carried out. They may also inquire about Trump’s role in orchestrating the cover-up. 

In terms of intent and motivation, prosecutors are constructing a case alleging that Trump engaged in an illegal scheme to sway the 2016 election. They hope Cohen can provide clarity on Trump’s reasons behind the payments.  

It should be noted that paying someone “hush money” may be unethical, but it is not illegal. It falls on Bragg to prove Trump’s actions were anything more than sleazy, something the prosecutor had hoped Cohen could help him clarify on the stand. 

However, ahead of Cohen’s expected testimony, jurors have instead been treated to a litany of complaints from witnesses about working with him. According to several, he was difficult at best. Both Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal said they avoided interacting with him whenever possible. Witnesses say that Daniel’s manager described Cohen as an aggressive *expletive* who made endless excuses not to pay Daniels the promised $130,000. 

“The moral of the story was no one wanted to talk to Cohen,” Daniels’ prior attorney, Keith Davidson, said on the stand. 

If the testimony about Cohen’s character wasn’t already damaging enough, there is another hiccup in Bragg’s carefully orchestrated case. Gary Farro, Cohen’s First Republic Bank representative, testified that he had no idea that Cohen “was doing anything shady” when he created Essential Consultants LLC to pay Daniels. 

Farro explained in his testimony that Cohen wouldn’t have been able to establish the account for his LLC if there was any suspicion that it was a shell company. He also noted that if the bank had known Cohen was making a transaction benefiting a political candidate or an adult film star, there would have been a more thorough due diligence process. Farro testified that such transactions could face delays or possibly even be stopped altogether due to this information. 

Farro went on to portray Cohen as a challenging client. 

The defense has cast doubt on Cohen’s trustworthiness by telling the jurors that Cohen is still obsessed with Trump and blames him for “virtually all of his problems.” Trump’s legal team pointed to Cohen’s podcasts and public comments to suggest that Cohen’s financial well-being hinges on Trump’s downfall.  

Because of his history of lying, Cohen’s upcoming testimony must be corroborated with evidence like recordings, emails, and text messages. 

And that may be hard to do since Trump avoids communicating by text or email. In 2022, Trump’s former campaign manager, Jason Miller, said he had never received either from him in the ten years he had worked with the former president. Trump’s attorney, Alini Habba, noted that Trump doesn’t even have a personal or work computer. 

Without Cohen’s testimony and in the absence of incriminating digital communications, Bragg’s case is full of holes. Trump’s classification of the payments as legal fees might even be considered justifiable since Cohen made the payments and was, after all, his attorney.  

And even if the jury doesn’t agree, Bragg’s big case is a misdemeanor at best. Any attempt to jail Trump for a misdemeanor will make it far too apparent to Americans that the case was just another part of the Democrats’’ lawfare strategy to remove Trump as a political rival. It appears that Bragg may be well over his head. 

Unsurprisingly, Bragg relies on a key witness who is both unlikeable and deceptive to prove his case.  

Whether the jury takes the bait or not remains to be seen.