Tag: michael cohen
Michael Cohen

Star Witness Cohen Predicts 'Surprises' In Trump Hush Money Trial

Donald Trump's first criminal trial may contain a few surprises, according to the former president's ex-lawyer, and star witness, Michael Cohen.

Ahead of the trial's jury selection — which began Monday, April 15, — Cohen shared with Politico that Americans may already know Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump on 34 felony counts for falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments — but that's not the whole story.

During his conversation with Cohen, Politico chief Washington correspondent Ryan Lizza mentioned that "credibility is one part of this trial," but, "The other c-word that comes up is 'corroboration.'

Lizza asked the former Trump attorney, "What can you tell us about that? Is this a stronger case when it comes to corroboration than people understand on the outside?"

Cohen insisted, "If it wasn’t, Alvin Bragg and his team of prosecutors would never have brought this case."

In fact, when Lizza asked Cohen whether he thinks the public will "be surprised" by the corroborating evidence, the star witness replied, "I do."

He emphasized, "In fact, most people don’t really know anything. They only know what the headlines have been. And as you know very, very well, headlines do not necessarily tell the story."

Lizza also noted one obstacle in the DA's case against the ex-president "seems to be how Bragg connects the misdemeanor of falsifying business records that recorded what were actually hush money payments — the payments to you to reimburse you for the payments to Stormy Daniels — to another crime that Trump was trying to commit, which then makes this a felony."

The Politico reporter asked, "Do you think Bragg has strong evidence on that portion of the case?"

Cohen replied, "Let me say it to you this way — it may not be satisfying to you, and I do certainly appreciate the attempts to drill down despite me telling you I cannot go into into this case: Alvin Bragg would not have brought this case — he would not have that as an element of this case — if he did not believe that he would be able to prove this at trial to a jury of 12."

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Bill Barr's Misconduct Should No Longer Shield Trump

Bill Barr's Misconduct Should No Longer Shield Trump

In the days since Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg unveiled his office’s 34-count indictment of Donald J. Trump, arguments over about the likelihood of conviction have erupted on every cable news program, as the former president spews fusillades of lies and threats.

Most of this noise is pointless and hardly worth engaging. The only opinion that matters may someday be announced by a jury foreperson in a court of law.

Yet there is one defense of Trump, repeated even by people who aren’t his sycophants, that does demand closer examination – the claim that Bragg, a local prosecutor, shouldn’t bring charges that the Justice Department already rejected.

To establish that Trump committed felonies, they note, Bragg must prove that he not only concocted fake business records to cover up hush-money payoffs to adult film star Stormy Daniels, but that he intended to conceal violations of federal campaign or other laws. And they will say that the prosecution of presidential campaign finance crimes is usually the responsibility of federal law enforcement agencies.

That rationalization elides the central question: Why should Trump escape accountability for the same crimes that sent his former attorney and “fixer” Michael Cohen to prison? It’s a hard question to answer in a system that supposedly upholds equal justice for all.

And the canned response doesn’t hold up well under scrutiny.

It begins to fall apart when we recall that in the sentencing memorandum that urged a harsh punishment for Cohen, the Justice Department identified a co-conspirator it called “Individual-1,” a thin scrim used to disguise Trump, as the actual instigator of the payoff scheme.

It disintegrates completely when we remember who really made the decision to abandon the case against “Individual-1.”

That was William Barr, the former Attorney General who has tried to shine up the terrible reputation he earned on the job by stating the obvious fact that Trump’s claims of election fraud were “complete bullshit.” That acknowledgment of reality, no more or less than his position demanded, only serves to highlight the abject cowardice of nearly all his fellow Republicans. But it doesn’t absolve Barr of his other horrifically unethical actions in office.

According to Geoffrey Berman -- the former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, whose office oversaw the guilty plea and sentencing of Cohen -- Barr sought to undermine any potential prosecution of Trump from his first day as attorney general in 2019. To protect Trump, he even considered overturning Cohen’s campaign-finance convictions, as the astonished Berman recounted in his memoir.

On several occasions, Barr sought to take control of the investigation. He ordered Justice Department lawyers to come up with reasons to abandon the case. He tried more than once to force Berman to drop it. When none of those tactics worked, he attempted to move the case from Berman’s office in the Southern District of New York to the Eastern District, where he evidently believed that the U.S. attorney would help him to bury it.

This kind of misconduct became a pattern for Barr when he interfered outrageously in the cases against Trump adviser and dirty trickster Roger Stone and former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. Infuriating career prosecutors, he behaved more like a mob defense counsel than the chief law enforcement officer, sworn to uphold the law and stand guard against national security threats. Among other things, he had Trump fire Berman and tried to replace him with a toady.

So what Alvin Bragg actually did by bringing the Trump indictment was to vindicate the constitutional system that Bill Barr corruptly sabotaged over and over again.

We must remind ourselves often that the former president, like any other accused suspect, is innocent until proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But we should also remember what the Justice Department said about Michael Cohen in its sentencing memorandum, which insisted on a prison term despite his cooperation: “His offenses strike at several pillars of our society and system of government: the payment of taxes; transparent and fair elections; and truthfulness before government and in business.”

Those words apply with equal if not greater force to “Individual-1,” as Trump was called in that same document – and the chance to hold him accountable is at last drawing nearer.

Law Enforcement Agencies Bracing As Possible Trump Indictment Looms

Law Enforcement Agencies Bracing As Possible Trump Indictment Looms

NBC News has confirmed multiple law enforcement agencies are preparing for a possible Trump indictment in the hush money investigation of a $130,000 payment to porn actor Stormy Daniels.

Numerous agencies are reportedly involved, including the New York Police Department, the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, the Secret Service, and other court-related agencies.

Last week, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen appeared before the grand jury on two consecutive days and Stormy Daniels met with New York prosecutors, both strong indicators indictments are imminent.

Cohen appeared on Good Morning America after his grand jury testimony, telling host George Stephanopolous that prosecutors had all the information they needed: "I promise you and I promise the American people that all the information that is needed in order to create the indictment to get a prosecution and a conviction is in the hands of the district attorney."

Law enforcement are right to be concerned. After all, we have seen the lengths Donald Trump and his followers will go to trying to protect him and/or his reputation and power. He might be a con man, but he has motivated many to violence in the recent past.

In September he was asked about the classified documents case and he ominously warned, “I think if it happened, I think you’d have problems in this country the likes of which perhaps we’ve never seen before. I don’t think the people of the United States would stand for it.”

When asked what “problems” he meant, he said: “I think they’d have big problems. Big problems. I just don’t think they’d stand for it. They will not sit still and stand for this ultimate of hoaxes.”

I think we all know what he meant.

So buckle up and stay tuned.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Michael Cohen

'Star Witness' Michael Cohen To Testify Against Trump In New York Grand Jury

He was his fixer and his attorney, and now the man who did the dirty work for Donald Trump may be the last nail in the coffin that is Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case involving the payoff of a porn star.

The New York Times reports that Cohen is set to testify before the grand jury next week, and an indictment could come "possibly as soon as this month." The Times’ Maggie Haberman on Twitter announced Cohen will appear on Monday.

Cohen went to jail for his service to Trump, facilitating the $130,000 payoff that can be seen as a hush money deal, falsification of business records, and violation of campaign finance law.

Now, as the Times reports, Cohen’s testimony potentially makes him "the last witness."

"Once he has testified, nearly every crucial player in the hush money matter will have appeared before the grand jury — with the exception of the porn star herself, Stormy Daniels, who may not be called to testify," the Times adds. "It would be highly unusual for a prosecutor in a high-profile white-collar case to go through a weekslong presentation of evidence — and question nearly every relevant witness — without intending to seek an indictment."

Professor of law, and former U.S. Attorney and Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman observes, "The announcement that Michael Cohen will testify before the grand jury next week is another strong sign that Bragg intends to indict as soon as he’s given Trump lawyers the chance to present argument it. You want Cohen, your star witness, & one with some warts, to go in last."

Bragg reportedly invited Trump to testify before the grand jury, but Cohen predicts he won't.

MSNBC's "Deadline: White House," discussed the case about an hour before The Times reported on the Cohen testimony report.

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.