Cohen’s bombshell admission could lead to hung jury, if not acquittal: expert


Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s admission in court Monday that he stole from the Trump Organization further damaged the disbarred attorney’s credibility, and could lead at the very least to a deadlocked jury that cannot reach a verdict, a legal expert told Fox News Digital. 

“I think after last week’s cross-examination, Michael Cohen’s credibility as a witness had already pretty much been eviscerated,” Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Zack Smith told Fox News Digital in a phone interview. “If there were any lingering doubts in the minds of any jurors, I suspect today’s testimony was even more damaging.”

“It does make you wonder two things: One, did the prosecution not know about this before they put Michael Cohen on the stand? I find that doubtful. But if they didn’t, that’s its own issue. But if they knew about this, and chose to put Michael Cohen on the stand regardless, that in some ways is even more shocking. Because it really it begs the question of what kind of credibility can Michael Cohen be expected to have, given that even he admitted to stealing from the Trump Organization for his own benefit,” Smith continued. 

Cohen admitted in testimony Monday that he stole $30,000 from the Trump Organization by overstating how much he paid a tech company that provided services for the Trump Organization. Cohen said he told former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg in 2017 that he had paid tech firm Red Finch $50,000 out of his own pocket, and that he still needed to be reimbursed for the payment. 

NY V TRUMP: MICHAEL COHEN ADMITS TO STEALING TENS OF THOUSANDS FROM FORMER PRESIDENT’S BUSINESS

michael cohen

Michael Cohen, ex-lawyer for former President Donald Trump, is expected to testify on Monday. (Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Weisselberg and Cohen in 2017 calculated a $420,000 repayment to Cohen for his $130,000 payment to former pornography star Stormy Daniels, as well as the alleged $50,000 payment to Red Finch. Cohen’s payment to Daniels came ahead of the 2016 election to quiet her claims of an alleged affair with Trump. 

Cohen said Monday before the court, however, that he only paid Red Finch $20,000 – meaning he pocketed $30,000 when he was reimbursed. 

“You stole from the Trump Org, right?” Trump attorney Todd Blanche asked Cohen Wednesday morning. 

“Yes, sir,” Cohen responded. 

NY V. TRUMP: MICHAEL COHEN TESTIFIES HE’S CONSIDERING CONGRESSIONAL RUN

He testified that the Trump Organization thought he paid the full amount, for which he was still reimbursed despite not having actually paid it.

84fbe156 Donald Trump Michael Cohen Court Sketch NYC 01

Former U.S. President Donald Trump listens as Michael Cohen is asked about taking an oath as he is cross-examined by defense lawyer Todd Blanche during Trump’s criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in Manhattan state court in New York City, U.S. May 16, 2024 in this courtroom sketch. (REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg )

“You lied to Weisselberg about how much you needed for Red Finch?” Blanche asked Cohen, with Cohen confirming he had. 

“Have you paid back the Trump Organization for the money you stole from them?” Blanche also asked.

“No, sir,” Cohen responded.

Later Monday, Cohen said taking the $30,000 was “almost like self help,” claiming he took the funds because he was “angry” about his bonus getting slashed. 

TRUMP SLAMS NY COURT SYSTEM, BOASTS HE’S GOING ‘TO WIN’ EMPIRE STATE

“I was angry because of the reduction in the bonus and I just felt like it was almost like self help,” Cohen said.

“To have my bonus cut by 2/3 was very upsetting to say the least,” he later added.

Smith continued in his comment to Fox News Digital that the admission in court could potentially impact the jury’s verdict in the case.

Donald Trump Michael Cohen Court Sketch NYC 14

Michael Cohen is cross-examined by defense lawyer Todd Blanche during former U.S. President Donald Trump’s criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in Manhattan state court in New York City, U.S. May 14, 2024 in this courtroom sketch. (REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg )

“It’s increasingly likely that even if you don’t get an outright acquittal, I think there’s a very good chance you could at least – at least – get a hung jury in this case. And keep in mind, the reason Michael Cohen’s testimony is so pivotal is because Alvin Bragg has to bootstrap what would ordinarily be misdemeanor bookkeeping charges into this felony charge. [He has to] basically show that those bookkeeping offenses were made in the furtherance of, or in an effort to cover up, this other offense, which it looks like is this supposed campaign finance violation,” Smith said. 

NY V. TRUMP TO RESUME WITH CONTINUED CROSS-EXAMINATION OF MICHAEL COHEN AS TRIAL NEARS CONCLUSION

Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree in the case. DA Alvin Bragg must prove to the jury that not only did Trump falsify the business records related to payments to Stormy Daniels, but that he did so in furtherance of another crime – conspiracy to promote or prevent election. 

Donald Trump Manhattan NYC Trial 21

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media as he leaves court during his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court  on April 22, 2024 in New York City. Former President Donald Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first of his criminal cases to go to trial.  (Brendan McDermid-Pool/Getty Images)

“If he can’t do that, then the bookkeeping charges themselves would just be misdemeanors, and the statute of limitations has already run on those misdemeanor offenses. And so that’s why Michael Cohen’s testimony is so critical. And I have to tell you, the fact that Alvin Bragg and his team lean so heavily on Michael Cohen, made him become the linchpin of their case in some ways, is absolutely shocking to be perfectly honest.”

MICHAEL COHEN ONCE SWORE TRUMP WASN’T INVOLVED IN STORMY DANIELS PAYMENT, HIS EX-ATTORNEY TESTIFIES

Smith is joined by fellow legal experts who sounded off Monday that Cohen’s admission to stealing has further torpedoed his credibility. The comments Monday come after Cohen had already repeatedly been labeled a “grifter” and liar by legal experts. Cohen is a disbarred attorney who was sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 after he pleaded guilty to charges such as campaign finance fraud and lying to Congress.

“It was quite a morning to have someone admit to stealing money from his client and then confirm that he wants to run for Congress. It will be a novel campaign: people usually wait to get into Congress before they commit major felonies,” Fox News contributor Jonathan Turley posted on X. “Committing major larceny is not a particularly appealing pitch for taking an office with the power over the purse. Then again, Cohen can claim that Congress cannot possibly corrupt him . . . he was corrupt before he went to Congress.”

Amid his testimony Monday, Cohen said he’s mulling a potential congressional run, citing he has the “best name recognition out there.”

FLASHBACK: TRUMP-MANHATTAN DA CASE: BOB COSTELLO TESTIFIES TO GRAND JURY, SAYS MICHAEL COHEN IS A ‘SERIAL LIAR’

Fox News legal editor Kerri Kupec Urbahn said Monday that the defense’s cross-examination of Michael Cohen has been a “total disaster for the state.”

“We learned that he stole from Donald Trump as he was negotiating that repayment plan, that repayment plan that we all heard about directly from him last week on the stand where he made it seem like he was just trying to get his money back, when, in fact, he was pocketing thousands of dollars on top of it,” Urbahn said.

“To show that he actually stole from the Trump Organization, even as they were structuring a deal to pay him $35,000 a month is an enormous big deal,” Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy told Fox News’ Bill Hemmer on “America’s Newsroom.” “… He was monetizing the fact that he was the president of the United States’s private lawyer. … He was very much enriched by this arrangement.”

NY V. TRUMP: AS ‘STAR WITNESS’ MICHAEL COHEN TESTIFIES, TRUMP ALLIES FLOCK TO COURT TO ‘SUPPORT THEIR FRIEND’

When asked if Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg could charge Cohen for his admission of stealing from the Trump Organization, Smith said it would come down to whether the statute of limitations has passed in New York and if Cohen struck an immunity deal. 

MICHAEL COHEN TESTIFIES HE SECRETLY RECORDED TRUMP IN LEAD-UP TO 2016 ELECTION

Donald Trump NYC Criminal Case Day 2 01

Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg arrives at Manhattan criminal court, Tuesday, April 16, 2024, in New York. Donald Trump returns to a New York courtroom Tuesday as a judge works to find a panel of jurors who will decide whether the former president is guilty of criminal charges alleging he falsified business records to cover up a sex scandal during the 2016 campaign. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura)

“I would also need to know whether or not there’s been any type of immunity deal offered in exchange for his testimony. Of course, that information should have been turned over to the defense  … because of course that goes to the weight of his testimony, if the jurors would find him credible or not. So there’s more information I would need to know before you know whether he could technically be prosecuted,” Smith said. 

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“But certainly he’s admitted to a crime under oath, which would ordinarily subject someone to criminal charges, unless there’s been some type of immunity or reach or unless the statute of limitations is run or something along those lines.”



Source link