Why Trump's Lawyer 'Growled' At Cohen While Questioning Him

Michael Cohen
Michael Cohen

When cross-examination of Donald Trump's former longtime attorney Michael Cohen officially got underway, Trump attorney Todd Blanche immediately began by letting Cohen know he didn't appreciate a remark he made about the defense counsel on social media.

The Daily Beast's Jose Pagliery, who was attending Tuesday's trial proceedings in person, posted a dispatch from the courtroom detailing a tense exchange that Blanche had with Cohen. As the cross-examination began, Pagliery said Blanche "leaned forward with both hands forcefully gripping the edges of the wooden tabletop" as he approached the lectern and adjusted the microphone. He further observed that Blanche's typically "satiny" voice was replaced by "a slight grittiness."

"Mr. Cohen, my name is Todd Blanche. You and I have never spoken or met before, have we?" Blanche asked Cohen. When Cohen responded that they hadn't spoken or met, Blanche then asked Cohen to confirm that he still knew of Blanche's existence, to which Cohen said that he did.

"You went on TikTok and called me a crying little s—, didn't you," Blanche then asked, with Pagliery noting that he "growled" the question.

When Cohen began to respond that the comment sounded "like something I would say," prosecutors then objected, and Judge Juan Merchan sustained the objection (meaning he agreed with the prosecution). Prosecutors then continued to object seven more times during the following 25 minutes of Blanche's questioning, with Merchan sustaining each one. Reporters said the constant objections disrupted Blanche's rhythm.

Eventually, the cross-examination involved Blanche confirming with Cohen the various insults he used to describe the 45th president of the United States. At one point, Blanche asked Cohen if he indeed referred to Trump as a "dictator d—bag" who "belongs in a f—ing cage." The New York Post's Ben Kochman reported that Blanche asked Cohen if he called his former client a "boorish cartoon misogynist" and a "Cheeto-dusted cartoon villain" on his podcast, with Cohen responding in the affirmative.

"The tactic is one meant to direct the 18-person jury’s attention to the man who has been heralded as the Manhattan District Attorney’s star witness while prosecutors pursue 34 felony counts of falsifying business records against Trump," Pagliery wrote.

Blanche's harsh treatment of Trump could be a result of Trump himself prodding his lead attorney to be more aggressive during proceedings. Earlier this month, the New York Times reported that Trump has been upset with Blanche's performance in the courtroom, and was urging him to more vociferously attack the judge, the jury pool, the witnesses and the process itself. The ex-president has reportedly said he wants Blanche to be more like Roy Cohn, his late former personal attorney who was eventually indicted and disbarred.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's team has told Judge Merchan that Cohen will be their last witness before they rest their case. Trump is facing 34 felony counts relating to a scheme he allegedly orchestrated to buy the silence of women who claimed to have had extramarital affairs with him leading up to his 2016 campaign for the presidency.

The Manhattan trial is likely the only one of Trump's four criminal proceedings that will conclude with a verdict before Election Day. His Georgia trial has been sidelined until 2025 after the Georgia Court of Appeals agreed to hear Trump's argument to remove Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis from the case. And his two federal criminal trials are both in limbo, with U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon indefinitely postponing his classified documents trial and the Supreme Court still mulling over the ex-president's argument for absolute criminal immunity from official acts carried out as president.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

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