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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Ex-Cohen Attorney Leads to Merchan Meltdown in Trump Trial

'If you try to stare me down one more time, I will remove you from the stand...'

(Ben Sellers, Headline USA) Corrupt Manhattan Judge Juan Merchan was beginning to feel the pressure on Monday in former President Donald Trump’s porn-star trial as the walls closed in on his own family’s role in lawfare case. 

Meanwhile, the case itself simultaneously crumbled before him following catastrophic testimony from star witness Michael Cohen, and the judge furiously threatened to remove a defense witness who was further eroding both his and Cohen’s credibility.

In a return to the stand on Monday, Cohen himself admitted not only his willingness to lie for his own personal gain, but confessed to having stolen $30,000 from the Trump organization.

Robert Costello, who was Cohen’s former attorney before turning against him, later angered Merchan during afternoon testimony by allegedly making comments under his breath, rolling his eyes and calling the whole exercise “ridiculous,” prompting the judge to briefly kick reporters out of the courtroom to admonish him.

The judge told Costello, a former federal prosecutor, he was being “contemptuous,” adding, “If you try to stare me down one more time, I will remove you from the stand,” according to a court transcript.

As the stunning transcript reveals, the oversensitive Merchan appeared rightfully to be folding under the pressure of the case.

Some quicky questioned the judge’s decision, with legal expert Jonathan Turley, who was present at the trial during Cohen’s morning testimony, suggesting that Merchan was suffering from delusions.

Conservative investigative reporter Julie Kelly, who was busy covering the Florida mini-trial of special prosecutor Jack Smith, also took a moment to express her shock, calling it “jury tampering” after some in the jury box appeared to visibly question the judge’s biased rulings.

 

Trump responded following the end of the trial, when Merchan was caught on hot mic furiously ordering Costello off the witness stand.

““He just did something that nobody’s ever seen… they just got thrown out of the courthouse,” noted the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

He also called the judge a “tyrant” in his remarks to reporters while leaving the courthouse Monday and called the trial a “disaster” for the country.

Merchan has reason to feel the intense pressure as his daughter’s alleged role in a witness-tampering plot surfaced on Friday.

Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., who previously sent more than $160,000 in payments to Loren Merchan’s private residence in Richmond, Va., openly admitted that he had been involved with coaching Cohen prior to his testimony.

Headline USA emailed Loren Merchan and Juan Merchan on Friday, as well as Cohen, representatives of Goldman’s staff and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, inquiring why the revalation did not constitute a clear conflict of interests that should result in a dismissal in order to avoid a mistrial. None responded.

Meanwhile, conservative journalist and activist Laura Loomer, who broke the initial story about Goldman’s attempt to conceal his payments to Loren Merchan based on her examination of records from the Federal Election Commission, had another bombshell on Monday after uncovering an old Twitter account from Merchan’s son, Jordan, in which he called his dad the “biggest panzy [sic] ever.”

Merchan’s chaotic meltdown on Monday unfolded after prosecutors rested their case accusing Trump of falsifying business records stemming from what porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy bunny Karen McDougal alleged were decade-old affairs or trysts that Trump had during the early days of his marriage to future first lady Melania Trump.

Bragg, a George Soros-funded prosecutor who initially was reluctant to pursue the case, did so under pressure, despite it having surpassed the state statute of limitations, by attempting to upgrade the misdemeanor state law to felony federal counts.

However, doing so would be a stunning departure from precedent. Past Democratic political figures including both Bill and Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and former vice presidential candidate John Edwards all having received FEC wrist-slaps at best for arguably more serious situations. Those included multiple allegations of “hush-money” payments, the destruction of records to prevent their public dissemination and blurring the lines between public and private expenditures during a campaign.

A successful prosecution under federal law also would require Bragg and his prosecutors to establish that a second crime has been committed, which they have yet to do, although the jury’s knowledge of the legal standard will rest on the instructions given to them by Merchan. He has, thus far, allowed prosecutors to proceed under the false pretenses that Trump violated an election law.

Bragg’s more than 30 felony counts stem from internal Trump Organization records in which payments to Cohen, who was Trump’s lawyer at the time, were marked as “legal expenses.”

Prosecutors have sought to claim they were really reimbursements for a $130,000 “hush money” payment to Daniels to keep her from going public before the 2016 election. Trump says nothing sexual happened between them. In multiple letters prior to the case being filed, Daniels said the same thing.

After jurors left for the day Monday, defense attorneys pressed the judge to throw out the charges before jurors even begin deliberating, arguing prosecutors have failed to prove their case.

Defense attorney Todd Blanche argued that there was nothing illegal about soliciting a tabloid’s help to run positive stories about Trump, run negative stories about his opponents and identify potentially damaging stories before they were published. No one involved “had any criminal intent,” Blanche said.

“How is keeping a false story from the voters criminal?” Blanche asked.

Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo shot back that “the trial evidence overwhelmingly supports each element” of the alleged offenses and said the case should proceed to the jury.

The judge didn’t immediately rule on the defense’s request, although it was likely to be a long shot given Merchan’s demeanor.

Costello, who recently testified before the House weaponization subcommittee about the lawfare issue, had publicly offered to testify last week, saying he could debunk Cohen’s claims and prove he had perjured himself after their professional relationship splintered in spectacular fashion.

Costello had offered to represent Cohen soon after the lawyer’s hotel room, office and home were raided by the FBI as part of the now-debunked Mueller investigation into Russia collusion, which involved some of the same left-wing activists now attempting to prevent Trump from becoming president again.

Cohen faced a decision about whether to remain defiant in the face of a criminal investigation or to cooperate with authorities in hopes of securing more lenient treatment, ultimately throwing the sitting president under the bus in the hopes of saving himself. But his plan backfired nontheless after Cohen was caught lying to Congress and sent to jail.

Costello in the years since has repeatedly maligned Cohen’s credibility and was even a witness before last year’s grand jury that indicted Trump, offering testimony designed to undermine Cohen’s account. In a Fox News Channel interview last week, Costello accused Cohen of lying to the jury and using the case to “monetize” himself.

Costello told jurors Monday that Cohen told him Trump “knew nothing” about the payment to Daniels that his former client had volunteered in his blanket capacity overseeing Trump’s legal affairs.

“Michael Cohen said numerous times that President Trump knew nothing about those payments, that he did this on his own, and he repeated that numerous times,” Costello testified.

Cohen—although a convicted perjurer who readily admitted on the witness stand about his willingness to lie for personal gain—testified earlier Monday that he had “no doubt” that Trump gave him a final sign-off to make the payments to Daniels. In total, he said he spoke with Trump more than 20 times about the matter in October 2016.

Trump lawyer Emil Bove told the judge that the defense does not plan to call any other witnesses after Costello, though it may still call campaign finance expert Bradley A. Smith for limited testimony. It has not said definitively that Trump won’t testify, but that’s the clearest indication yet that he will waive his right to take the stand in his own defense.

Ben Sellers is the editor of Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/realbensellers. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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