Former Federal Prosecutor Criticizes Trump Defense Team’s Mishandling of Key Witness

 Former Federal Prosecutor Criticizes Trump Defense Team’s Mishandling of Key Witness

Courtesy: nbcnews

Former President Donald Trump’s defense team faced sharp criticism for their decision to call Michael Cohen’s former legal adviser, Robert Costello, to the witness stand, leading to a chaotic courtroom scene and a damaging impeachment by his own emails. Former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi explained the repercussions of this strategic blunder during a CNN panel on Tuesday morning.

Rossi highlighted that by calling Costello as a witness, Trump’s defense team inadvertently shifted the jury’s doubts away from Cohen’s credibility and onto Costello. This move, he argued, undermined their own case and bolstered the prosecution’s position.

The decision to have Costello testify backfired dramatically. As he took the stand, his credibility quickly came into question. Rossi noted that Costello’s testimony did not hold up under scrutiny, as his own emails were used to impeach his statements, leading to confusion and chaos in the courtroom, told The New York Times.

“Do you think the defense ultimately made a mistake by putting Robert Costello on the witness stand and having him be the final witness instead of it being Michael Cohen yesterday, acknowledging that he stole tens of thousands of dollars from the Trump Organization?” asked anchor Kaitlan Collins. “You hit the nail on the head,” said Rossi. “Instead of focusing on Michael Cohen as a thief and a liar, they made a huge mistake.”

“You always start off strong, because you only get one chance at a first impression, and people always remember your last act,” he said. “By calling Mr. Costello as their last witness — actually, their only witness, they had a minor one — they left with the jury the following. Michael Cohen said, I really didn’t trust Mr. Costello. I essentially thought he was a little sleazy and that he was working for Giuliani and Trump, so I didn’t want to give them anything that’s going to hurt me in the end. So that’s very understandable. And when Costello took the stand, Kaitlan, and he acted the way he did — in my 30, 35 years of practicing law as a prosecutor and a defense attorney, I’ve never ever seen that, he insulted the judge. And frankly, Kaitlan, he insulted the jury.”

“They may not have heard the sidebar, but remember … there are two attorneys on that jury and they figured out why the judge had them leave the room and it was because of the decorum,” said Rossi. “The defense ended on a horrible, horrible note, and it washed away everything they were trying to do with Michael Cohen. And here’s the kicker. They actually rehabilitated Michael Cohen, because Mr. Costello did come across as a little unsavory.”

“Trump’s defense team completely dropped the ball,” Rossi stated. “By putting Costello on the stand, they essentially wiped away any doubts the jury might have had about Cohen’s credibility. Instead, they transferred that suspicion onto Costello himself.”

This courtroom misstep has significant implications for Trump’s defense. Michael Cohen, a central figure in the case, had his own credibility issues due to his past legal troubles and cooperation with prosecutors. However, by discrediting Costello, the defense inadvertently strengthened Cohen’s position as a reliable witness.

Rossi emphasized that this tactical error could have far-reaching consequences for the outcome of the trial. The jury, now questioning Costello’s reliability, may view Cohen’s testimony in a more favorable light, thus undermining the defense’s efforts to paint Cohen as untrustworthy.

The chaotic scene in the courtroom, as described by Rossi, further complicated the defense’s position. Costello’s inability to provide consistent and credible testimony cast a shadow over the defense’s strategy and raised questions about their overall approach to the case.

As the trial progresses, the impact of this blunder will likely become more evident. The defense team’s decision to call Costello and the subsequent fallout from his testimony could play a crucial role in the jury’s deliberations and the final verdict.

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