Michael Cohen on the Trump indictment: “I expect complete and total mayhem”
▶ Watch Video: Michael Cohen on the Trump criminal indictment
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen will, along with all of us, see something surreal this week: a former President of the United States arriving at Manhattan Criminal Courthouse to take a mug shot and be fingerprinted, all as protestors gather outside. “I expect complete and total mayhem,” said Cohen.
“This is his worst fear: being mugshotted, fingerprinted, being referred to as a felon,” he said.
Costa asked, “Trump keeps projecting confidence, but you sense fear?”
“Oh, yes. Not fear; he’s petrified.”
During Trump’s 2016 campaign, Cohen made hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep Daniels from going public about an alleged affair with Trump. Seven years later, the alleged falsified records of those payments, and Trump’s role, are at the center of Trump’s indictment.
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Cohen, who has served a prison sentence for Trump-related crimes (including the payments to Daniels), is the key witness in the case that has sparked a firestorm.
Costa asked, “If you met someone in an elevator and they said, ‘Hey, Michael, I’m not sure I should take your word on all of this, because Republicans have attacked your credibility,’ what would you tell them?”
“I’m not asking you to take me for my credibility,” he replied. “Let the documents and the evidence speak for itself.”
Trump has been busy speaking for himself as he once again runs for president. “Our opponents have done everything they can to crush our spirit, and to break our will,” he said at a campaign rally in Waco, Texas March 25. “But they failed. They’ve only made us stronger.”
Trump’s lawyer in the New York case, Joe Tacopina, tells CBS News that his client has done nothing wrong, and sharply criticized Cohen’s credibility.
For CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman, it’s not so much the crime, but the coverup of the crime. She said the Manhattan District Attorney will likely focus on how Trump handled the expensing of the payments. But she does not believe it’ll be an open-and-shut case.
“The district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has a very tough road ahead,” she said. “Where Alvin Bragg has issues is going to be with the court. You’re going to have a judge who’s going to have to rule on the legality of this case going forward. This is not going to be a simple case.”
And don’t forget, she said, this is just one of several ongoing investigations of the former president, including a special counsel probe of Trump’s conduct around January 6.
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“Donald Trump has some very serious legal challenges, far more serious than the one in New York, where you’re dealing with crimes against the United States of America,” Klieman said. “That’s very different than a scheme involving business records within the Trump Organization. Those are serious crimes.”
This crossroads is a reckoning not only for Trump, but for Republicans. Many of them, even those who have had some differences with him, have rallied to his side, including former Vice President Mike Pence, who said, “I think it’s clear to the overwhelming majority of the American people that this is nothing short of a political prosecution.”
Costa asked Cohen, “Why do you think Republicans, at least many of them, keep staying with Trump?”
“They’re in the cult,” Cohen replied. “And I know what it’s like to be in the cult.
“It’s time to wash your eyes and to see exactly who Donald Trump is,” he said. “It’s time to start to listen to the truth. See, that’s the problem: Donald Trump doesn’t tell the truth, ever. Ever. Everything that he says is either a mis-exaggeration, misinformation, disinformation, malinformation, or just a blatant lie. And that information is all done in order to benefit one person, and one person only, and that’s him.”
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Story produced by Jay Kernis and Michelle Kessel. Editor: David Bhagat.