Former US Attorney Says Judge’s Treatment Of Trump Defense Witness Driven By Ego-Based ‘Insecurity’

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Former United States Attorney Brett Tolman on Tuesday said Judge Juan Merchan’s harsh treatment of former President Donald Trump’s defense witness Bob Costello was caused by the judge’s self-doubt and ego.

Costello, who was the former advisor for Trump’s previous attorney Michael Cohen, took the stand for the defense Monday, with Merchan booting the jury and media out of the courtroom after the witness expressed displeasure at the judge sustaining objections interrupting his testimony. Tolman on “America’s Newsroom” said the way Merchan treated Costello was related to his own lack of confidence. (RELATED: ‘Didn’t Make Any Sense’: Jonathan Turley Says Michael Cohen May Have Committed Perjury … Again)


“I will tell you, judges, every now and then you run across the judge that has some insecurity, ego driven,” Tolman said. “They control the courtroom. If they’re ever challenged, it’s interesting to see their reaction. And here I think he has something personally at stake in wanting to show that he’s running a good trial, but more than that, I think he wants to see Donald Trump convicted. So then you add all that up and look, I have never seen an objection sustained so quickly.”

Costello uttered, “ridiculous” and “Jesus!” following the judge sustained objections by the prosecution.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – MARCH 25: Former U.S. President Donald Trump appears with his lawyer Susan Necheles for a pre-trial hearing in a hush money case in criminal court on March 25, 2024 in New York City. Trump was charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records last year, which prosecutors say was an effort to hide a potential sex scandal, both before and after the 2016 election. Judge Juan Merchan is expected to set a new start date for the trial after it was delayed following the disclosure of new documents in the case. (Photo by Curtis Means-Pool/Getty Images)

“You didn’t even get the question out multiple times and the objection was sustained,” Tolman continued. “That’s why Costello said ‘jeez’ audibly in the courtroom because you do not see that. And practicing in courtrooms, what you see is the opposite, judges attempting to show a good bench demeanor and appropriateness and a decorum about them. That was all lost here. The jury saw most of that and it will be interesting what their takeaway is.”

Merchan also suggested Costello was staring him down, with noted attorney Alan Dershowitz, who was in the courtroom, saying the judge’s reaction to this was excessive.

NEW YORK, NY – MAY 16: Michael Cohen is seen on May 16, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Andrea Renault/Star Max/GC Images)

“I’m sure Costello was trying to hide his contempt for the court, but the judge had such a thin skin that he threatened him. He said he would strike the testimony and hold him in contempt if he rolled his eyes again. You have a constitutional right to roll your eyes and to stare at anybody. It was absurd,” Dershowitz said.

Merchan denied Trump’s defense attorney Todd Blanche’s move for a mistrial following porn star Stormy Daniels’ testimony, which he described as ”unduly prejudicial” against his client, with the judge suggesting he will instruct the jury to only take into account a restricted portion of her testimony. The judge in March denied Trump’s request to bar Daniels, as well as Cohen, from testifying during the trial.

Merchan’s rulings have tended to seem favorable to the prosecution while hindering Trump’s defense during the trial as the judge has allowed many of the prosecution’s requests while denying the defense’s requests.

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