‘Hard To Prove’: MSNBC Panel ‘Concerned’ Bragg Still Hasn’t Presented ‘Direct Evidence’ In Trump Trial


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Jason Cohen Contributor
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An MSNBC panel on Tuesday expressed concern that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has not yet presented strong evidence of former President Donald Trump’s direct involvement in the allegations against him.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, began his testimony on Monday and asserted the former president directed him to make a payment for a nondisclosure agreement to porn star Stormy Daniels, but the former lawyer’s credibility has come under intense scrutiny due to his multiple admissions of lying under oath and public attacks against his former boss. Former Democratic Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill said the “circumstantial evidence” is strong, but the “direct evidence” is not, with Democratic New York Rep. Dan Goldman saying the charges against Trump are difficult to substantiate. (RELATED: ‘Kangaroo Court’: Denying Mistrial Over Stormy Daniels’ Testimony Is One Of Many Mistakes By Judge, Legal Experts Say)

“I’m a little concerned about the fact that there’s so much emphasis on the payment being made and how the payment came about being made, and I think everyone has to always keep front of mind that the prosecutors have to prove the way they recorded these payments and hid them in the business records is really the key to a conviction in this case,” McCaskill said. “And that while Trump signed all those checks, it’s a lot of circumstantial evidence. And sometimes, as Dan will tell you, a mountain full of circumstantial evidence is much better than one unreliable witness. So I do think the circumstantial evidence is significant here, but the direct evidence that Trump was fully aware that these payments were being hidden in a way that was fraudulent is a little light at this point. And I think the jury is going to wonder, where is Allen Weisselberg?”


Former Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney testified last week that Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg directed him to repay Cohen, with the jury seeing the CFO’s  handwritten notes outlining the plan, along with the invoices, ledger entries and checks associated with its completion, which together make up the 34-felony counts in the former president’s indictment.

“The technical aspects of the case do remain to be seen, but I think the critical thing here that they are really showing over and over and over, both for this trial and just generally, is that Donald Trump just doesn’t care about election law,” Goldman said. “He does not care about campaign finance law. He welcomed Russian interference in 2016. He tried to hide the Stormy Daniels stuff because it came right on the heels of the ‘Access Hollywood.’ And he thought he was done. Everyone thought he was done. They’re doing a very effective job of showing that this man just simply doesn’t care about the law.”

Cohen testified that he and Weisselberg had a meeting with Trump shortly ahead of his inauguration in January 2017  where the former president approved of the payment.

“I don’t think the Manhattan DA is in a better position than the Southern District of New York, for example,” Goldman added. “They have had to kind of maneuver with state law that’s not directly on point as federal law is, and there are a lot of questions as to why the Southern District did not end up keeping this case and passed it over to the Manhattan DA’s office. I think some of it relates to the fact that they gave immunity to Allen Weisselberg and, therefore, it is very complicated to charge a case where if you have a witness like that who has immunity.”

“But it’s also hard to prove,” he continued. “You do need to prove that he knowingly did this to conceal it from the public so they would not have the information. And it is effectively an in kind contribution to his campaign. And while it may seem like a technical campaign finance violation, the thrust of it is exactly what the campaign finance laws are designed to avoid, which is, that the American public, there are rules, there are laws, there are regulations for how campaigns can use money, can report money, the disclosure obligations are everything. Because in politics, it is transparency that matters most. So that the American public can understand what they are voting for.”

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