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Trump’s defense blurred by calling his last witness, who looked “even less competent” than Cohen

After what must have been careful deliberation, Donald Trump’s defense team decided to end on the testimony of Robert Costello, an attorney who previously advised Michael Cohen. The consensus is this was an enormous blunder.

“You hit the nail on the head,” former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi said on a cnn panel Tuesday when asked if Trump’s lawyers erred by putting Costello on the stand. “Instead of focusing on Michael Cohen as a thief and a liar, they made a huge mistake.”

Costello began testifying on Monday, claiming that Cohen had told him previously that Trump charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records over a hush payment to a porn star had done nothing wrong. But it was his clashing with Judge Juan Merchan that drew the most attention, a display of petulance that one expert said would not “play well” with jurors.

Rossi argued that the defense should have gone out on his cross-examination of Cohen, who acknowledged that he stole money from the Trump Organization. Trump’s team messed up the key element of “primacy and recency,” Rossi explained.

Prosecutors presented an email that undermined Costello’s claims, showing him to be a Trump enforcer.

In a May 2018, Costello wrote to a partner at his law firm: “Our issue is to get Cohen on the right page without giving him the appearance that we are following instructions from (Rudy) Giuliani or the President.”

A month later, Costello complained that Cohen was stalling with respect to whether or not he’d turn on Trump. “What should I say to this (obscenity)?” he wrote. “He’s playing with the most powerful man on the planet.”

That evidence undercut Costello’s claim to be an honest broker.

No clue how prosecutors got these emails, but Costello may have accomplished the impossible feat of appearing even less competent and ethical than Michael Cohen,” Andrew Fleischman, a lawyer following the case, posted on X.

Here’s why? Prosecutors have spun the narrative that Costello participated in a pressure campaign on Cohen in 2018 when Trump’s fixer was undergoing his own federal investigation in relation to the Stormy Daniels hush money payments and was considering turning on Trump.

However, instead of shaking the credibility of Cohen’s story, calling Costello to the stand as a witness gave the prosecutors a chance to reinforce their own narrative during cross-examination

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