Election 2024: Cohen Eve

As I write this, it is the evening of Mother’s Day. New York v. Trump will enter its 5th week tomorrow, and it has been widely reported that Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, will take the stand in the morning.

Cohen, of course, had already pled guilty in 2018 to two federal criminal charges arising out of the very conduct that is at issue in this trial: one count of causing an unlawful corporate campaign contribution, namely the $150,000 catch-and-kill payment made by the National Enquirer to McDougal; and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution, namely the $130,000 hush money payment that he made to Daniels. As such, it has always been clear that Cohen would be a central witness in this trial.

Which is problematic, since Cohen had also pled guilty in 2018 to perjury charges relating to testimony he had given to Congress in 2017, plus more recently there have been allegations that he perjured himself last fall during the Trump Org civil fraud trial. However it is interesting to note what Judge Engoron had to say about Cohen’s testimony in that trial:

Although the animosity between [Cohen] and [Trump] is palpable, providing Cohen with an incentive to lie, the Court found his testimony credible, based on the relaxed manner in which he testified, the general plausibility of his statements, and, most importantly, the way his testimony was corroborated by other trial evidence. A less-forgiving factfinder might have concluded differently, might not have believed a single word of a convicted perjurer. This factfinder does not believe that pleading guilty to perjury means that you can never tell the truth. Michael Cohen told the truth.

Pundits have credited the prosecution with laying the groundwork carefully over the past weeks of testimony for Cohen’s anticipated testimony, so that as much as possible of what he has to say will have been pre-corroborated by other items already in evidence. Even so, this will surely be the most critical week of the trial.

In other news, Representative Marjorie Taylor-Greene’s attempt to do to Speaker Johnson what Rep. Gaetz had done to Speaker McCarthy failed this past week. While she did attract a total of 11 Republicans to her motion to vacate the Speakership, this time the Democrats did not remain united in their opposition to Speaker Johnson; instead, all but 32 Democrats voted with the Republican majority to kill MTG’s effort.

And while I’ve not yet read it carefully, there was an intriguing article in today’s New York Times about an issue I had previously noted, namely the possibility that Trump has taken overly aggressive tax positions in relation to the Trump Tower Chicago real estate project.