Even CNN Thinks That Michael Cohen’s Testimony Was a Gift for Trump

On Thursday, CNN’s Anderson Cooper was stunned at how effectively Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche cornered Michael Cohen, Alvin Bragg’s star witness, in a lie that completely weakened his credibility before the jury.

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“But the last 20 minutes of court today right before the lunch break, it was incredible,” he admitted. “[O]n a cross-examination, lawyers want to kind of put the witness in a — build a box around the witness and then slam it shut. That’s what Todd Blanche did to Michael Cohen.”

Cooper explained how Blanche meticulously dismantled Cohen’s previous testimony about a pivotal phone conversation with Trump, undermining Cohen’s credibility as Cohen’s narrative shifted repeatedly on the witness stand, casting doubt on his testimony implicating Trump.

But Cooper is hardly the only one at the pro-Biden network who thinks Cohen’s testimony was a gift for Donald Trump.

CNN legal analyst Stephen Collinson also panned Michael Cohen’s testimony, noting that Trump “got to savor his former fixer-turned-enemy Michael Cohen wobbling on the stand under a fearsome cross-examination.”

Cohen appeared to be tripped up over an account of a call he’d previously said under oath was to discuss Trump’s hush money payment to adult film Star Stormy Daniels. It emerged under questioning on Thursday that, at least to begin with, the topic of the call was about another matter entirely.

It was the kind of inconsistency that Trump’s attorneys can use to try to sow reasonable doubt about Cohen’s truthfulness and credibility in the mind of a single juror. That’s all it would take for Trump to walk. And now, the prosecution faces a stiff challenge in repairing the damage when they get to their redirect examination of Cohen’s testimony following the close of cross-examination next week.

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“I think what happened today still is so devastating they have to do something,” NYU law professor Ryan Goodman told CNN’s Erin Burnett. “If the case ended today and there were final statements, I think there would not be a conviction.”

Blanche first spent time seeking to destroy Cohen’s credibility. He highlighted the former Trump fixer’s proven history of lying for his former boss and on his own behalf. And using text messages and social media posts, he established that Cohen resented Trump and wanted to see him convicted in a case in which the ex-president is accused of falsifying financial records to hide the payoff in 2016 in an early example of election interference. (He has pleaded not guilty and denied the affair with Daniels.)

Like Cooper, Collinson also cited Blanche’s clash with Cohen regarding his lie about the reason he called Trump weeks before the 2016 election.

Since the burden to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt lies with the prosecution, the exchange could raise the chances of at least one juror questioning Cohen’s version of events. And it also raises the possibility that some jurors might believe that they have been lied to by Cohen earlier in the trial. If such a feeling takes hold among jurors, who have put their lives on hold to hear the case, it could be disastrous to the prosecution. 

No one can say how individual members of the jury will sift the evidence and competing testimony. But experienced trial lawyers immediately spotted a potential turning point. “I think it has to have raised some doubt,” criminal defense attorney Nikki Lotze said on CNN’s “The Situation Room” of Blanche’s clash with Cohen. “There was testimony previously that this phone call was about X and now there are texts that suggest it is about Y … and not a lot of time for there to be a conversation about both X and Y.“

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For sure, there are plenty of leftist media outlets pushing the narrative that Cohen’s testimony was devastating for Trump. But CNN seems to be unable to further the anti-Trump spin here because it knows that it was yet another good day for Trump.

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