Here's how prosecutors could turn the allegations against Trump into felonies
Donald Trump speaks to a large crowd at "An Address to Young America" an event hosted by Students for Trump and Turning Point Action. (Nuno21 /

Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's former lawyer, sat before the grand jury on Monday detailing the specifics around the payoffs to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

"The facts on this are not in question," said MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace, noting that even Rudy Giuliani confessed that Cohen was the "pass-through" for the cash for Daniels.

"A unique figure he is really the one person who was deep inside Donald Trump's misdeeds, and he is the person, according to Rudy Giuliani, who was the pass-through for the hush money payments," said Wallace. "This is the crime for which Trump's closest attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has already confessed on Fox News. So, the facts of this are not in question they've been established over and over and over again."

Cohen testified to Congress in 2019 that he was contacted by Daniels' lawyer, Keith Davidson, and that he negotiated the payments.

"What I did, each and every time, is go straight into Mr. Trump's office and discuss the issue with him," Cohen testified. "When it was ultimately determined, this was days before the election, that Mr. Trump was going to pay the $130,000. In the office with me was Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, he acknowledged to Allen that he was going to pay the $130,000, and that Allen and I should go back to his office and figure out how to do it."

Former FBI general counsel Andrew Weissmann addressed some of the comments Cohen has said in the past to explain how he could ultimately sink Trump. He noted that the crime Cohen pleaded guilty to was "campaign fraud." It's the idea that $130,000 is a hefty sum for a campaign, and it was part of the money spent as an effort to handle Trump's problems for his campaign.

"It was helping Donald Trump win the election by keeping the derogatory information out of the public sphere," said Weissmann. "But we know that Bill Barr put a stop to that. The case that could go forward as to the former president, saying, you know, it's fine that Michael Cohen plead guilty to it, though he actually wanted that to be rescinded, but we're not going further, and it was never picked up by Merrick Garland. So, that's why you have this state case into the same set of facts, and the simplest crime is simply filing a false business record. And so, the scheme that came up to pay the $130,000 was to have it masquerade as legal fees."

To try and hide the payment to Daniels, Trump spliced them out into several payments to Cohen over time and claimed them as a legal retainer.

"That's going to be really strong evidence because there was no legal work being done by Michael Cohen," Weissmann continued. "There was no reason to have these retainers month after month. And so, that will be a very strong part of the case. The problem is, that's a misdemeanor under New York law. And so, the thing that we don't know is the way in which that misdemeanor can be elevated to a felony, and under New York law, the way it can be elevated is if you commit that misdemeanor to further or to cover up another crime. Whether that other crime is a felony or a misdemeanor. Then the false business record charge is no longer a misdemeanor, it is a felony, meaning, if you do the misdemeanor to help promote another crime, it's more serious. What we don't know is exactly how [DA] Alvin Bragg is thinking about what he would charge probably some form of either a federal and/or state election crime."

He went on to read the New York Times report saying that it might be more imminent than previously reported. He noted that the Trump lawyers have already been trying to dissuade prosecutors from moving forward with the case.

"That suggests to me that with Michael Cohen going in and the defense lawyers having been given their shot at dissuading Alvin Bragg, this could be any day now because that's -- those are the two things that I would expect to be the very last things that happen Michael Cohen going in, because they obviously knew in the D.A.'s office that if he went into the grand jury, it would be made public, because Michael Cohen is not shy about speaking. And then the final piece is, you do want to give defense counsel an opportunity, and I've always been waiting to hear that that happened. So, if this reporting is true, there really is no other step left other than the final decision by Alvin Bragg."

See the full conversation below or at the link here.

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