Serious Trouble
Serious Trouble
Is Michael Cohen a Good Witness?
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Is Michael Cohen a Good Witness?

New York prosecutors are leaning on Cohen's credibility more than expected; Trump uses surrogates to get around the gag order; Messrs. Cuellar, Menendez, Bannon and Giuliani are all in serious trouble
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Dear listeners,

We recorded this episode as Michael Cohen was on the stand in Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial, before Trump attorney Todd Blanche had begun his cross-examination by asking whether Cohen had called Blanche a “crying little shit” on TikTok (Judge Juan Merchan sustained an objection to that question). But as Ken and I discuss, prosecutors had been using Cohen not just as a vehicle to introduce documents but to offer his own recollections and assessments of Trump’s state of mind, including why he chose to pay for Stormy Daniels’ silence. Ken argues this is a sign of prosecutors’ confidence in how their case is being received, but also a bit of a shot at a freebie — even if jurors disregard Cohen’s assessments as unreliable, they can still look to the invoices and recordings he brought along with him.

Trump has had friends visiting him — Republican politicians, some of them vice presidential hopefuls, accompanying him to court and making statements to the press that Trump himself is barred from making under the recently-upheld gag order. The gag order also bars Trump from directing others to make statements that he cannot make — but attempting to assess whether Trump has really directed the statements made would be a real mess for the court, and is probably not necessary to ensure the effective conduct of this trial, which will sooner or later be over in any case.

Indicted Rep. Henry Cuellar looks to be in even more serious trouble than he was last week: three of his alleged co-conspirators have pleaded guilty, and at least some of them are cooperating with prosecutors. Cuellar, like Sen. Bob Menendez before him, may look to throw his wife under the bus as the “real” mastermind of any bribery scheme, but that is likely to be a difficult sale. Meanwhile, Menendez himself is going on trial — jury selection in his case started Monday, and The New York Times reports he had a pricey jury consultant in attendance for that, which Ken continues to believe is a waste of money.

Steve Bannon has lost his appeal of his conviction for contempt of Congress, and is likely to have to serve out his (short) sentence before Trump has a chance to become president and pardon him. And Ruby Freeman and Wandrea Moss are suing Rudy Giuliani again — this time for injunctive relief that would prohibit him from making statements about them that he’s already admitted were defamatory. Giuliani is already financially ruined but if he loses that case and keeps lying anyway, he could end up in contempt of court and therefore in jail.

We hope you enjoy the episode, and we also hope you check out Ken’s recent conversation about the trial with Rebecca Roiphe and David French for The New York Times.

Best,

Josh

Click here for a transcript of this episode.

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Serious Trouble
Serious Trouble
An irreverent podcast about the law from Josh Barro and Ken White.