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Trump Sends Former Michael Cohen Lawyer To Manhattan Grand Jury To Talk Smack About ... Michael Cohen
It's only a dumb idea if it doesn't work. (It doesn't appear to have worked.)
Trumpland is like a less attractive "General Hospital." There are only 30 characters, they're all crazy, it never gets canceled, and no one ever leaves. And so it makes sense that Robert Costello, a lawyer we've been LOLing at since season one, is now back in the spotlight as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg seeks to indict Donald Trump for crimes arising from the Stormy Daniels hush money payoff.
In recent years, Costello played a central role in disseminating Hunter Biden's stolen laptop data. He represented Steve Bannon in his contempt of Congress case, during which he managed to get himself crosswise with the FBI by falsely claiming that Trump had invoked executive privilege to block Bannon from appearing. He hadn't . Costello represented Rudy Giuliani when he testified before Fulton County DA Fani Willis's special purpose grand jury about the efforts to interfere with the 2020 election certification. And, most importantly for our purposes today, he attempted to act as a back channel between Trumpland and Michael Cohen during the Mueller investigation.
If that's ringing any bells, it's likely because Costello famously dangled a pardon to Cohen using a mangled Garth Brooks lyric.
"Sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places," he said in an email intended to keep Cohen from exiting the joint defense agreement in 2018 and flipping on Trump. After initially responding positively, Cohen wound up rebuffing Costello's advances, hiring his own counsel, and pleading guilty to several charges, including making an illegal campaign contribution by fronting the $130,000 for the Stormy Daniels hush money payment. Cohen also told Costello to get pounded when he tried to bill him $43,000 for his services.
Which brings us to this week, when Costello showed up at the Manhattan grand jury as a rebuttal witness to shit all over Cohen and attempt to demolish his credibility in a bid to fend off a Trump indictment. Not to put too fine a point on it, but is is not normal for an attorney to publicly shit talk a former client with respect to the subject of that representation. Costello sent a letter to Bragg's office claiming that Cohen waived attorney-client privilege. Perhaps he means that Cohen's public statements about his interactions with Costello count as an effective waiver, although this would normally be in writing. Nonetheless, Trump had a right to send someone to testify on his behalf, and the guy he chose to do it was Costello.
According to Costello, a onetime prosecutor in the Southern District of New York (but no time recently), he really showed those Manhattan district attorneys what's what.
“They'd ask me a limited question based on these six emails, and I would volunteer information that I thought the grand jury needed to hear,” he said on the courthouse steps, according to reporting by the Daily Beast . “My only mission there today was to tell the truth about what Michael Cohen was saying during any point in time when I was representing him in April 2018.”
“I told the grand jury that this guy couldn't tell the truth if you put a gun to his head,” he went on, adding inexplicably that “I am honoring my ethical obligation. [...] We are not Trump's lawyers. We do not represent Trump. We’ve never represented Trump.”
Whether it works is an open question. And if it doesn't, then it makes Bragg's case look even stronger if Trump threw everything he had at the grand jury, and they still indicted anyway.
Meanwhile, Joseph Tacopina, another Trump lawyer who's been shit-talking Cohen all over town, may have exposed himself to a similar liability as it emerged this week that he communicated with Stormy Daniels about the hush money agreement back in 2018. Tacopina acknowledged on air with Don Lemon that he had an attorney-client relationship with Daniels , which might potentially preclude him from representing Trump in this case. CNN reports that Bragg's office has collected communications between Daniels and Tacopina, a possible precursor to seeking to block him from representing Trump. For his part, Tacopina, who called Daniels an extortionist last week, is now claiming that there was no attorney-client relationship after all.
Sounds like bullshit, right? What can we tell ya ... you want narrative consistency, try watching a soap opera.
Catch Liz Dye on Opening Arguments podcast.
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