Trump’s sleazy accusers – Washington Examiner


TRUMP’S SLEAZY ACCUSERS. The Trump trial in Manhattan is expected to come to a climax of sorts this week with the appearance of star prosecution witness Michael Cohen. Cohen will follow the prosecution’s other star witness, Stormy Daniels, the porn star who testified last week. 

Daniels testified about the sexual encounter she has at times said she had with former President Donald Trump and at times said she did not have with Trump in 2006. During the 2016 presidential campaign, Daniels had a lawyer who specialized in shaking down celebrities who want to quell embarrassing news. In the final days before voting, Trump, through his lawyer Cohen, paid Daniels $130,000 to stay quiet about the matter. Such a transaction, while tawdry, was entirely legal, and there is only a trial because Alvin Bragg, the Democrat who was elected district attorney of Manhattan on a promise to go after Trump, accuses Trump of falsifying his company’s bookkeeping regarding the $130,000 payment in order, Bragg says, to pull off some sort of super-secret scheme to steal the 2016 election. 

Here’s the thing about both Daniels and Cohen. They have an extreme animus against Trump, so much so that even if they did not have records of making untrustworthy statements, and they do, their Trump hatred would make it difficult for an unbiased observer to believe anything they said. Much of their lives in the past decade have been devoted either to attacking or trying to get money out of Trump.

Neither is a person of good character. A fundamental fact about this case is that the prosecution’s star witnesses are a woman who had sex for money and a lawyer who did sleazy things. (That’s on top of the felonies, including tax evasion and bank fraud, that Cohen pleaded guilty to a few years ago.) It does not speak well of Trump that he had anything to do with people like Cohen and Daniels, and now he is paying a price for doing so. Before the trial is over, Bragg may regret getting mixed up with them, too.

Neither has been able to control his or her compulsion to bash Trump. Even though he has known for a long time that he would be the key witness against the former president, Cohen could not or would not stop making public displays of his animus. For example, as the trial began, Cohen took to calling the former president “Donald von ShitzinPantz.” Betraying an obsession with both Trump and digestive functions, on April 22, Cohen posted on X, “As the trial begins, Donald von ShitzinPants better stock up on Imodium and Gas-X.” Cohen then proceeded into a commercial for his anti-Trump podcast. (With both Cohen and Daniels, an attack on Trump is often followed by a product pitch.) A few days ago, when his turn on the stand was fast approaching, Cohen posted on TikTok a photo of himself wearing a T-shirt with an image of Trump in an orange jumpsuit behind prison bars.

After the TikTok episode, Judge Juan Merchan, who has slapped a gag order on Trump, not allowing him to criticize Cohen even as Cohen went after Trump daily, told prosecutors that Cohen’s continuing anti-Trump vendetta was hurting their case. “It’s becoming a problem every single day that President Trump is not allowed to respond to this witness, but this witness has continued to talk,” Merchan told the lawyers. 

Bragg’s prosecutors answered, “We’ve repeatedly, repeatedly asked the witness not to do that. The fact of the matter is, these witnesses are not subject to the gag order, and we have no remedy if they engage in those activities.” It sounded as if the prosecutors were saying they would not mind if Merchan imposed a gag order on Cohen, as he has on Trump. But Merchan did no such thing. Instead, he instructed prosecutors “to communicate to Mr. Cohen that the judge is asking him to refrain from making any more statements about this case.” 

A lot of good that will do. Cohen can see what appears to be obvious to many observers — that Merchan wants the prosecution to prevail. Cohen can see Merchan throwing the book at Trump, threatening him with jail, and then weakly asking Cohen to please behave. Cohen knows he can say what he wants. 

Daniels, too, has spent time displaying animus toward Trump on social media. For example, it has come up in court that Daniels once filed a frivolous lawsuit against Trump and that a federal court ordered her to pay more than $500,000 in Trump’s legal fees. She has refused to do so, even though that meant defying a federal court order. “I don’t owe him shit and I’ll never give that orange turd a dime,” Daniels tweeted in 2022. The next year, when Trump was indicted, Daniels posted on X that she had received so many congratulatory messages that she didn’t have time to respond. “Also don’t want to spill my champagne,” she wrote. She was also pleased that Trump’s indictment increased merchandise sales on her website. 

On another occasion, Daniels posted on X, “I won’t walk, I’ll dance down the street when he’s selected to go to jail.” This March, as the case was in the final pretrial stage, a troll on X wrote that “Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels a/k/a the human toilet are their star witnesses.” Daniels responded: “Exactly. Making me the best person to flush the orange turd down.” Under cross-examination, Daniels was asked, “Isn’t it a fact that you keep posting on social media how you’re going to be instrumental in putting President Trump in jail?” Daniels went to great lengths to deny that is what her X post meant, only to concede finally that the post was “hyperbole” and that yes, when she wrote “orange turd,” “I absolutely meant Mr. Trump.” 

Just to make things clear, a Trump defense lawyer asked Daniels, “Am I correct that you hate President Trump?” Daniels answered with one word: “Yes.”

For all its salaciousness, Daniels’s testimony did not have much to do with the charges against Trump, which, after all, are about bookkeeping. Instead of asking sex questions apparently intended to sensationalize the case and embarrass Trump — “Was he wearing a condom?” — prosecutors could have asked Daniels if she knew anything about the inner workings of the Trump Organization bookkeeping system. It seems highly likely the answer would have been no.

Cohen is another story. He was actually part of the effort to pay off Daniels. He submitted invoices to the Trump Organization asking to be paid a total of $420,000 for negotiating a nondisclosure agreement with Daniels, plus other legal services. The question now is how much of Bragg’s case depends on him.

Acknowledging Cohen’s obvious credibility problems, several anti-Trump legal commentators on cable television have suggested that Bragg has carefully based his case on the documents that have been presented. The documentary evidence is so strong, they say, that even if jurors don’t believe a word Cohen says — and how can they? — Trump can still be convicted on the basis of the paper trail. 

The problem with that argument is the documents have not, in fact, proven the case against Trump. The indictment says Trump, “with intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission thereof, made and caused a false entry in the business records of an enterprise … kept and maintained by the Trump Organization.” None of the evidence presented so far has specifically shown that Trump had an “intent to defraud” regarding the records. Proving that will be Cohen’s job. The charge will rest on his testimony alone.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy argues that “even if we stipulate for argument’s sake that the invoices are false records, mere falsity is not enough. Bragg must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump had fraudulent intent. I don’t see any evidence of a deceptive scheme to deprive anyone, or any government, of money or property.” McCarthy continues: “Plainly, the misdemeanor statute contemplates falsifying business records in order to commit real-world, garden-variety fraud — such as deceptive schemes to evade taxes or gouge customers. … Even if Cohen’s invoices are deemed false (and note that Bragg never charged Cohen for falsifying records), there is no evidence of a scheme to defraud.”

So now it all depends on Michael Cohen. In recent years, Cohen has admitted to lying under oath multiple times. He has admitted to cheating on his taxes and lying to banks. He has displayed an extreme animus against Trump. He has sought to make money from the legal pursuit of Trump. And now, the case against Trump, the historic first-ever indictment of a former president, depends not on documents but on the credibility of Michael Cohen.

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