Should the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg secure an indictment against former President Donald Trump for accounting fraud relating to his $130,000 hush payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels, his legal team's first move will be to go hard after Trump's former attorney, Michael Cohen, who previously went to prison for helping facilitate the scheme and has now turned witness for the prosecution.
This is the take of former prosecutors Elie Honig and Laura Coates, who analyzed the case on CNN Tuesday evening.
"Well, Laura, there's a lot we don't know," said Honig. "But you can bet on this. If this case gets indicted, they're gonna go after Michael Cohen with a passion. Let's take a look."
"It was legal fees that was invoiced by Michael Cohen, who arranged this on his own with his own money initially, took out a loan, literally resolved this without the president knowing," said Trump attorney Joe Tacopina in a clip.
"So obviously he's trying to say look, it's just nothing to worry about. It's only him," said Coates. "He was kind of a lone wolf in this. He is no longer affiliated in any way with Donald Trump. But remember, this is a tactic that he's trying to use to give that 10-foot pole. It may not be successful, though, Elie, because, of course, they were very tied at the time of this actually happening."
"Yeah, it's really important to remember the crime here is not the payment of hush money. The crime in how they booked that," said Honig. "And so they're going to blame Michael Cohen. The other thing that we know they're going to do, Laura, is attack Michael Cohen's credibility."
The two then role-played how this could play out.
"I'm going to attack his credibility," said Coates. "You think about it. If you are a classic, you know, defense attorney, you're going to say, really? The guy who has an obvious, perhaps, ax to grind against my client? He has been steadfast in his criticism. He essentially has had this air of, why is it just me who was actually the person who was having this happen to? And so in that respect, you're going to lead with that ... this has happened before the idea of attacking someone's credibility. It is really key to any defense."
And any cooperating witness," agreed Honig. "The prosecution is going to argue, yes, he has this history of lying, yes, he was convicted of perjury. But he did that all when he was with Donald Trump, and since then, they'll argue, he's come clean, and they'll argue he's corroborated by documents, including the checks, which we've seen, which show the reimbursement payment to Michael Cohen signed by Donald Trump. So there will be a big battle over Michael Cohen's credibility."
Watch the segment below or at this link.
Elie Honig and Laura Coates walk through how Trump will attack Michael Cohen at trial www.youtube.com