Trump Trial May End Quickly—Unless He Takes the Stand

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The Democrats’ latest Get Trump Campaign to discredit the former president and keep him off the campaign trail is like a crusty drain that circles into a gutter. When the prosecution rests in this Manhattan bookkeeping trial, which may be late Monday or Tuesday, this Russia redux could be mere hours—or days— away from jurors. The timing depends on at least three considerations:

  • Will the defense mount an offensive?
  • Will the defense be successful in getting two key witnesses to testify?
  • Would Donald Trump Testify?

The length of time it takes to re-direct Michael Cohen’s questioning will depend on how much rehabilitation is required by the prosecution. Cohen, who Todd Blanche, the Trump lawyer, smashed on Thursday, is expected to return on Monday to answer more questions. The court was closed on Friday to allow Trump to attend Barron’s graduation from high school. On Friday night, the former president also squeezed in a fundraising event in Minnesota. Barron didn’t have a family rager in Mar-a-Lago?

Don’t expect any miracles to happen in the last few days of the Trump Trial. Judges will only do so much to maintain the goodwill of a daughter who is fundraising from her father’s job, or to continue to receive squash invitations. A directed verdict probably isn’t on the list of things to do.

The defense will request a directed verdict or a mistrial if the prosecution knew that star witness Cohen would lie.

Trump’s team has spent hours debating whether to mount a defense. One side is made up of lawyers who believe that Trump should do everything he can to send a JDAM straight into the heart and soul of the prosecution to the benefit of public opinion. On the other hand, Team Trump says that it should drop the mic, declare that the prosecution has not proven its case, and request an acquittal.

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In criminal cases, the fates are always in favor of the prosecution. Their case is like a Jenga game on a precarious balance. The uncharged crime in the case resurrects misdemeanors that have expired statutes of limitations and transforms them into 34 felonies, based on an action: paying an adult film contortionist to extort $130,000 for her and her stories about having sex with Trump in 2006. Michael Cohen, Trump’s attorney, paid the payments. A New York jury will probably find him guilty, regardless of how suspicious the case is.

Campaign finance violations are not charged in this case. Cohen and Stormy Daniels are the only people to have so far testified about campaign finance violations.

The judge already has a shrink-wrapped version of the testimony that Brad Smith, the former Federal Elections Commission Chairman, will be able to provide when he or she testifies.

Cohen is the only one who has been asked to determine Trump’s current state of mind regarding whether Trump believed that payments made to Cohen were intended to circumvent election laws or simply to retain legal services. The person who made the payments is currently in Rikers Island Prison.

Allen Weisselberg, the former CFO of Trump’s New York company, was sentenced to prison for perjury regarding the value of his real estate holdings. He was in a meeting between Cohen and Trump about the 34 payments made to Cohen. Weisselberg was not called to testify as it would have hurt the case of DA Alvin Bragg.

Bragg, in what former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy described as “one of the most sleazy moves I’ve ever seen,” introduced Weisselberg’s separation agreement from the Trump organization into evidence, to indicate to the jury that it would not allow him to testify. This is false.

McCarthy said, “Bragg who will not prosecute anyone, has prosecuted [Weisselberg] two times in two years …” McCarthy was incredulous.

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It’s either Cohen or nothing. Unless…

Robert Costello is another possible witness. His testimony to the FEC and the Feds about Cohen’s lies convinced them not to file campaign violation charges against Trump. Costello’s testimony to the Congressional Subcommittee on the Weaponization of Government gave many their first glimpse of Costello’s story. He could have provided evidence that Cohen lied during the trial. Cohen waived the attorney-client privilege at the request of the federal government, allowing Costello to share his story. Read that sentence again.

Costello’s extraordinary testimony to the subcommittee was:

The US Attorney’s Office provided me with a waiver of the attorney-client privilege. I then produced a large number of documents, to which I agreed. Two Assistant US Attorneys, along with two FBI agents, interviewed me for about 3 1/2 hours. I explained that Cohen’s claim was false and provided evidence in the form of emails, texts, and contemporaneous notes. The US Attorney’s Office did not deal with Cohen ever again after that. They had concluded that Cohen was a habitual liar and an unreliable witness. This office decided not to bring charges against President Trump. This was a clear and correct decision. The New York District Attorney’s Office cannot say the same.

Will Trump finally take the witness stand? Todd Blanche told the judge, he would keep his argument short. This means he won’t be putting the former president on the witness stand. Mark Levin, a lawyer, and commentator, described his testimony as “This is Your Life, Donald Trump”, a humiliation ceremony that would last for days.

The trial will resume on Monday morning.

In this week’s Adult in the Room Podcast, I spoke with Mike Davis from the Article III Project regarding this case in light of the scandalous Stormy Daniels testimonies. This is a useful summary of the current state of the case.