Lawrence O’Donnell justifies Michael Cohen embezzling money from Trump

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell came up with a shoddy defense for Michael Cohen after he admitted during former President Donald Trump’s trial he stole money from the Trump Organization.

During his third day of testimony, Cohen
admitted he pocketed money from the Trump Organization that was supposed to go to Red Finch, a technology company. Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, asked Cohen about his claim he was shorted $100,000 on his yearly bonus from the Trump Organization in 2017. Cohen said he would normally get a bonus of $150,000.

“I was angered because of the reduction in the bonus, and so I just felt it was almost like self-help,” Cohen testified. “And again $130,000, to have my bonus cut by two-thirds was very upsetting to say the least.”

“You didn’t just steal the $30,000, because it was grossed up; it was $60,000,” Blanche responded.

O’Donnell said Cohen was not stealing money from Trump, but rather trying to “rebalance” the bonus he thought he deserved. O’Donnell also noted the money Cohen took was less than the normal amount he had received in the past.

‘Now, there’s an argument to be made that actually you’re just an opportunistic thief.’

“Later, when Cohen was asked about that on redirect by the prosecution, it didn’t really sound like stealing $30,000. It sounded a lot like Michael Cohen, doing the little that he could within that calculation to rebalance the bonus he thought he was deserved, and it still came out as less than the bonus he thought he deserved and the bonus he’d gotten a year before,” O’Donnell said.

In contrast, attorney Danny Cevallos
told MSNBC Cohen admitting he stole money from Trump’s business undermines the excuse he has put on for years: that he did illegal things only out of loyalty to Trump.

“Now, there’s an argument to be made that actually you’re just an opportunistic thief. You literally pocketed money from your employer. And I — as a — as an attorney, the idea, first of all, of paying in bags of cash is — look, defense attorneys, I do not like to accept cash. I — I — frankly, I refuse to accept cash. It’s only asking for trouble,” Cevallos said.

“But dealing in these — these sandwich bags of cash, these brown paper bags of cash to pay people is already problematic. But the idea that he would just grab a wad of cash and stick it in his pocket, I think, has moved Michael Cohen from this figure where he’s part Tom Hagen from ‘The Godfather,’ but really more like Fredo Corleone, to now this guy is just a thief,” he added.

On CNN, attorney Elie Honig said the crime Cohen admitted to doing is more serious than the charges Trump is facing in the trial.

“And by the way, the fact that he was ever charged with larceny is important because stealing $60,000 through fraud, which would be larceny in New York State is more serious of a crime than falsifying business,” Honig explained.

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