Politics

Michael Cohen’s Impact on Jury Picked Apart by Analysts

Michael Cohen’s lengthy cross-examination is having a major effect on Donald Trump‘s hush-money trial, legal analysts have said.

David Ring, a partner in the Taylor & Ring law firm in Los Angeles, told Newsweek that the jury’s attitude to Trump will largely determine how they view Cohen’s many personal failings.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for 2024, is the first former president in U.S. history to stand trial in a criminal case. He has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records. He has continually said that this case and other criminal and civil challenges involving him are politically motivated.

The prosecution seeks to prove that, before the 2016 presidential election, Trump paid or discussed paying two women—adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal—not to disclose his alleged affairs with them. He denies affairs with both women. Newsweek sought email comment from Trump’s attorney on Friday.

The former president’s lawyers are continuing to cross-examine Cohen, who was Trump’s attorney and is now his bitter enemy. There were some frank, and sometimes heated, exchanges between Cohen and Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, during Cohen’s second day of cross-examination on Thursday.

michael cohen
Michael Cohen exits a car on May 16, 2024 in New York City. Lawyers defending Donald Trump in his hush-money trial are continuing their third day of cross-examining his former attorney on Monday. ANDREA RENAULT/GETTY IMAGES

Blanche asked Cohen about his recording of a conversation with a journalist, in which the lawyer swore to the journalist that Trump did not have sex with Daniels.

In the recording, Cohen pleads with the journalist to believe him because he is “a really bad liar.”

Cohen admitted to Blanche in cross-examination that he was lying to the reporter in his claim that Trump and Daniels did not have sex . He agreed that he was also lying when he said he was a “really bad liar.”

“Cohen is a very difficult witness to assess. Jurors could find him credible or they might think he is a vengeful liar who will say anything to sink Trump,” Ring said.

“Cohen has brought a tremendous amount of baggage with him to the witness stand: felony convictions, perjury, a prison term, habitual lying when he worked for Trump, bullying, dirty tactics, blatantly unethical conduct as a lawyer, and being disbarred from the practice of law.”

Ring said that Cohen is not a very likable person, but the jury could go either way in their assessment of his credibility.

“He is a difficult witness to like. At this stage of the case, if a juror is leaning toward Trump’s camp, then Cohen is someone they can easily dismiss and not believe a word he says.”

“However, if a juror is leaning toward the prosecution’s camp, they can overlook all the baggage and find the essence of what Cohen has to say as accurate and true,” Ring said.

Prosecutors say that Cohen made the payment to Daniels on Trump’s behalf and was later reimbursed. They add that it is an illegal campaign contribution because the payment was intended to silence Daniels and thereby influence the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen was later jailed for illegal campaign contributions, tax fraud and other charges. He is now an implacable opponent of Trump, and they have attacked each other’s characters on social media posts since the trial began.

Cross-examination of Cohen began on Tuesday, and it will continue on Monday.

Stephen Gillers, a New York University law professor, told Newsweek that Cohen’s frankness in admitting his past deceptions is adding to his credibility.

“Cohen’s willingness to testify to his own character defects and bad behavior enhances his credibility. It also harms Trump since everything Cohen did was for Trump’s benefit and with his knowledge,” Gillers said.

Doha Madani

Doha Madani is a senior breaking news reporter for NKY News.

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