‘Rebalance The Bonus’: MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell Comes Up With Excuse For Why Cohen Stole From Trump Organization


Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell defended former attorney Michael Cohen Monday for admittedly stealing $30,000 from the Trump Organization.

Cohen admitted during his cross-examination that he lied to former Trump Organization Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg in 2017 about needing $50,000 in reimbursement to pay tech company RedFinch, though he only paid the company $20,000 and pocketed the remaining dollars.

O’Donnell justified Cohen’s theft by arguing he attempted to “rebalance the bonus” he believed his client owed him for the $130,000 hush money payment to former porn actress Stormy Daniels and the $20,000 to RedFinch to help Trump ahead of the 2016 election.

“The shocking thing at the end of that cross-examination, and I just can’t tell you how —just how stunning that was because it was the thing that I was waiting for. I saw everything —Todd Blanche — I’ve seen every minute of cross-examination, seen every single question he’s asked. And he sat down, and ended his cross-examination without asking a single question about the $130,000 that appears on the Allen Weisselberg notes about how they were structuring the payment to Michael Cohen. He asked about the $50,000 that’s irrelevant to the $130,000 and that’s where he very effectively got Michael Cohen to say, toagree, that yes, he stole $30,000. Later when Cohen was asked about that on redirect by the prosecution, it didn’t really sound like stealing $30,000,” O’Donnell began.

“It sounded like Michael Cohen doing the little that he could within that calculation to rebalance the bonus he thought he deserved and it still came out as less than the bonus he thought he deserved and the bonus he’d gotten the year before,” he added.

Cohen received a $150,000 bonus payment in 2015 by the Trump Organization and a $50,000 bonus the next year, according to The Guardian. He asked for a reimbursement to cover the payments to Daniels and RedFinch, which ultimately led to the $30,000 theft. The “grossed up” payment led him to make $60,000, as the grossed up payment was doubled for tax purposes, according to The Guardian.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with 34-counts for allegedly falsifying business records to reimburse Cohen for the payment to Daniels through monthly installments of $35,000, labeled as payment for “legal services.” The former president pleaded guilty to all charges. (RELATED: Turley Says Prosecutors Are Relying On Cohen’s ‘Failure’ As Lawyer In Order To Convict Trump)

Cohen testified last week that Trump approved of the reimbursement plan beneath the falsifying business record charges and directed him to make a nondisclosure agreement with Daniels to keep an alleged extramarital affair out of the public eye. He said Trump was present when Weisselberg agreed to the reimbursement agreement, and added that Cohen would receive a $420,000 over a 12-month period.

A CNN panel warned Cohen’s admission could damage Bragg’s case given that the prosecution’s credibility is currently on the line for not mentioning Cohen’s theft during their cross-examination.

“This is a bomb, this is really important. This is a bomb dropped in the middle of the prosecution’s case,” CNN legal analyst Elie Honig stated. “Two reasons. One, Michael Cohen was stealing from Donald Trump. He was lying to people about what he was doing with money, he pocketed at least the $30,000 by lying to Weisselberg … $60,000, which by the way, this is crushing to the prosecution’s credibility because the prosecution did not ask Michael Cohen about that on direct and they haven‘t made him plead guilty to larceny, which this is, so let‘s start with that.”

Cohen pleaded guilty to lying under oath to Congress in 2018 over statements he made about efforts to build a Trump Tower in Moscow to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. A federal judge suggested Cohen had committed perjury in testimony used in Trump’s civil fraud trial in March.

Cohen said he was not guilty of tax evasion during Trump’s civil fraud trial, stating he had lied under oath to a federal judge when he pleaded guilty to it in 2018.