Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Akerman joined Michel Cohen on MSNBC Monday following a press conference by Donald Trump ally Bob Costello who appeared before a Manhattan grand jury.
As a possible indictment hangs over Trump, the district attorney's office asked the former president if he wanted to speak out in his defense to the grand jury. He declined but he sent Costello instead. Costello then said that he provided stacks of "evidence" about Cohen that show he was desperate and willing to do anything to get out of potential prison.
But the reality is a different matter, according to Cohen. Speaking to Ari Melber, he and Akerman explained that the special counsel's report on the Russia investigation revealed a lot of information about the exchanges between Cohen and Costello, including the attempt by Trump allies to keep him from flipping.
"I start with the Mueller report because the Mueller report laid out a witness-tampering plot by Donald Trump, basically to keep Michael in line with Donald Trump," said Akerman, saying that it went through Rudy Giuliani and Bob Costello.
"Now, Bob Costello I know. We were in the U.S. Attorney's office and he's a good guy and it seems like he was wittingly or unwittingly part of a plot to keep Michael Cohen in line," he continued.
Melber put up a headline saying Costello contacted one of Trump's lawyers to see, allegedly, if he could arrange for a pardon for Cohen. He asked why something like that matters.
"Well, that's all part of the story," Akerman explained. "It really starts on April 9th when the search warrant is executed and only a few days after that Donald Trump calls him according to the Mueller Report and he can confirm this and told him that, you know, he was just checking in to see if he was okay and he encouraged Michael to hang in there. Then he got calls from other people, friends of Donald Trump, who called up and basically told him to keep in line, including Allen Weisselberg who I believe also called him during that period of time. One of the people that was involved in cooking the books."
Akerman continued: "What's wrong with it is it comes to a point when Michael meets with Costello, who is talking to Rudy Giuliani, who is talking to Donald Trump, and it all comes back to Donald Trump that Michael is on board and that he's staying with the team. And the next day, the day after that meeting occurs on April 17th, Donald Trump starts tweeting out that Michael's not going to flip. That he's with the team, that he's on board."
Melber categorized it as "an effort then to abuse government power to thwart a probe."
Cohen chimed in to say that during that time, Trump was dangling pardons live on television, characterizing it: "I can shut this down tomorrow. I'm the president. I can do whatever I want. I can shut this whole thing down, and it's called the pre-pardon."
Cohen noted that it was clear Trump didn't know what he was talking about.
"And all of a sudden, they're now on television because I wasn't the only one that was going through some issues at the time. They're now throwing it out there for anybody to see," Cohen continued. It was after that that Costello got involved.
Cohen went on to say that the reason Costello would do this is unclear to him, but his allegiance to Trump and to Giuliani may have been what motivated him to "come out and make these false statements."
Akerman called it an outright "dumb, stupid move."
Giving D.A. Alvin Bragg access to Costello, Akerman said, gives him the opportunity to bring up "all the conversations Costello had with Michael. All the conversations Costello had with Rudy Giuliani. What Rudy Giuliani said that Donald Trump said and what he conveyed to Donald Trump. And then I would end up indicting Donald Trump for witness tampering and obstruction of justice. I mean, the Mueller report itself is enough basis to do that. But now they put forward a witness who's right in the middle of this witness tampering plot to supposedly give exculpatory evidence!"
See the clip of Akerman and Cohen below or at the link here.
Watergate prosecutor reveals how Robert Costello just opened Trump up to even more chargeswww.youtube.com