CNN Legal Panel Says Trump Defense Has ‘Strong Narrative’ That Michael Cohen ‘Went Rogue’


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A CNN legal panel on Wednesday said former President Donald Trump’s defense has a compelling story to tell about his previous attorney Michael Cohen going “rogue” when he made payments to porn star Stormy Daniel during the 2016 election rather than receiving direction from the former president.

Trump confronts 34 felony counts of allegedly falsifying business records in relation to reimbursing Cohen, who is a key witness against him, for $130,000 paid to porn star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election. Criminal defense attorney Bill Brennan, who previously represented Trump, and CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson explained that testimony pointing to Cohen’s significant involvement could lead to convincing a jury that the former president was not directing him. (RELATED: Judge Imposing Double Standard By Gagging Trump But Giving Michael Cohen Free Rein, Legal Experts Say)


“The witness on the stand yesterday, I think it was [Keith] Davidson said, you know, I didn’t trust Cohen. And Cohen is a polluted source,” Brennan said. “He’s going to take the stand being convicted of lying to Congress, a convicted felon, and he’s got an ax to grind with the defendant. He went from a sycophant to Donald Trump to now somebody who’s kind of out to get him, and jurors pick up on that … And jurors pick up when a witness seems to have skin in the game, so I think Cohen could be a disaster for the prosecution.”

“And if you take it so far, if you take the witnesses that we’ve heard from so far, all you’ve really heard is that Cohen went out and got a home equity loan on Cohen’s house without telling Cohen’s wife and Cohen negotiated a deal with Davidson and the AMI people and Cohen formed a corporation,” he added. “The banker said he never spoke to the defendant, he never heard from the defendant. There’s a strong narrative here that the defense could craft that Cohen went rogue and he was looking for a little pat on the head from his boss and he came up with this scheme on his own. It might sell.”

Jackson backed up Brennan’s point and also explained how the prosecution can counter it.

“[Davidson came across] very well. And I thought certainly laying the foundation to the deal. What deal? The deal as it relates to Stormy Daniels and paying her, the deals that relates to Karen McDougal,” he said. To Bill’s point though, the deal that was as between Cohen. Now, what jurors are also instructed is that you can draw a reasonable inferences from facts and they’re going to be asked to draw the reasonable inference that this was about Cohen who was the fixer fixing things for his boss at the behest, at the direction of and because he was involved in trying to, he being Trump, had full knowledge of what was happening. There’s the argument right?”

“To Bill’s point, certainly the defense is going to try to distance Trump from that and saying he did go rogue,” he added. “However, the prosecution will say all of you use your common sense and good judgment. Who’s the person running for president, who’s the person who serves to benefit, who’s the person who worked for the president, whose job it was to ensure that the president became the president, right?”

Cohen pleaded guilty in August 2018 to charges, including making false statements to a bank and tax evasion, as well as campaign finance violations pertaining to the Daniels and Karen McDougal payments. He also pleaded guilty in November 2018 to lying to Congress in 2017 statements made to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

A federal judge in March suggested Cohen committed perjury while testifying at Trump’s civil fraud trial in October.

Criminal defense attorney Arthur Aidala recently told CNN that Trump’s signature is only present on a check while other key documents were never personally signed by the former president, suggesting the possibility a jury could find “reasonable doubt” over his involvement when compared to Cohen.

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