Politics - News Analysis

Trump Isn’t Going to Like What Legal Experts Are Saying About Michael Cohen’s Testimony During Hush Money Case

Why wouldn't he tell the truth? He's already been to prison for Trump.

You hear the term “star witness” all the time, but it’s rare that even one so described has as much of an impact on a trial as Michael Cohen will have on the Trump hush money trial.

After all, it was to Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and “fixer,” that the checks were made out. If Cohen says the money was intended to keep Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal quiet, there’s only Trump’s word to rebut him.

Of course, Daniels and McDougal are “star witnesses” themselves, but only about the affairs Trump had — those are legal. In fact, it’s legal for Trump t have paid them off, if it was just to keep his wife from finding out.

But that’s not what he’s accused of in this, his first criminal trial.

The allegation here is that he issued the payoffs, using Cohen as a bagman of sorts, in order to better his chances in the 2016 election against Hillary Clinton, his former friend (and guest at his wedding to Melania).

Being convicted of that could end up with prison time, unlike all of his other trials so far.

On Monday, Cohen became Trump’s worst nightmare. He testified under oath that he gave Daniels (real name Stephanie Clifford) $130,000 specifically because her story about Donald would have derailed Trump’s campaign that year.

Lawyer and MSNBC analyst Katie Phang said that Cohen was “calm, thorough, detailed, and credible all day long.” Newsweek senior reporter Katherine Fung said that Cohen seemed “calm” and “somber” throughout his testimony.

That all tracks, since Cohen has already been to federal prison for THE VERY THING that Trump is accused of.

Imagine if you were just the getaway driver at a robbery/murder scene. Imagine they put you on trial before the guy who was holding the gun, even though you were only standing outside.

Imagine you went to prison for the crime before the guy who STARTED the crime.

I think I’d be calm and somber too. I think I would absolutely tell the truth, since I’d already been to prison for it.

Phang added that “Cohen has been walking the jury through several exhibits that were already entered into evidence, adding more color to prior testimony provided by other witnesses. Thus far, excepting a few minor inconsistencies, the collective testimony has been consistent.”

And in fact, Norm Eisen, who acted as counsel for the House Judiciary during Trump’s first impeachment trial, says that Cohen has been well-coached — although I believe it’s because he’s a lawyer himself — enough to convince a jury on his calm demeanor alone.

We already know Trump paid the women off; he’s admitted it, and that’s not illegal. But Cohen testified on Monday that it WAS for the nefarious purpose that prosecutors have outlined.

This will be a disaster for Trump.

meet the author

Andrew is a dark blue speck in deep red Central Washington, writing with the conviction of 18 years at the keyboard and too much politics to even stand. When not furiously stabbing the keys on breaking news stories, he writes poetry, prose, essays, haiku, lectures, stories for grief therapy, wedding ceremonies, detailed instructions on making doughnuts from canned biscuit dough (more sugar than cinnamon — duh), and equations to determine the airspeed velocity of an unladen swallow. A girlfriend, a dog, two cats, and two birds round out the equation, and in his spare time, Drewbear likes to imagine what it must be like to have spare time.


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