Michael Cohen attorney: Robert Costello’s testimony ‘backfired’

An attorney for Michael Cohen suggested Tuesday that Robert J. Costello’s statements in the hush money trial “bolstered” Cohen’s testimony, after he was seemingly called by the defense to undermine her client’s credibility.

Costello, a former legal adviser to Cohen, took the witness stand Monday in former President Trump’s criminal trial to speak on Cohen’s state of mind in 2018 — when federal prosecutors criminally investigated him and his work as Trump’s personal attorney.

When asked by CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins if Costello’s testimony did more to undermine Cohen or his own credibility, attorney Danya Perry said, “I certainly thought it backfired.”

“And I certainly thought it bolstered Michael’s testimony that he never trusted this guy, and I think the jury saw in full force why he didn’t,” she added.

Costello allegedly offered to set up a back channel between Trump and Cohen in 2018 via former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who had just joined Trump’s legal team.

On the witness stand last week, Cohen told the New York jury that Costello continued to pressure him with “constant calls” and lengthy emails. The adviser, according to Cohen, was apparently angry when he told him he was speaking to a boutique law firm instead.

Following the exchange, the two had a falling out, partly due to alleged outstanding legal bills.

Costello was called by the defense Monday in an apparent attempt to discredit Cohen’s testimony and show he used his back channel to communicate with the former president. During cross-examination, the prosecution tried to discredit Costello, suggesting he was more aligned with Trump than Cohen as he advised him in 2018.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger raised Costello’s recent testimony before the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, where the witness criticized Cohen and the prosecution more generally.

“You went there to publicly vilify Michael Cohen,” Hoffinger said.

“I went to testify,” Costello replied.

Hoffinger then asked if it was an effort to intimidate Cohen, to which he said, “Ridiculous. No.”

Cohen’s attorney weighed in on the exchange.

“Look, it sounds like he was asked a very simple basic question. And he answered,” Perry said Tuesday. “And then, that was immediately dispelled on cross-examination.”

“So, I think this whole notion that he was sent in by Trump, and that he was back-channeling with Rudy Giuliani and Trump,” she continued. “He said no, even though he had the receipts, he had seen the emails, he himself had sent the emails. So, I thought it was just a strange gambit.”

Perry maintained that her client has “told the truth” for the past six years.

Costello and members of Trump’s defense team were admonished by Judge Juan Merchan in Monday’s proceedings for improper decorum in the courtroom.

Cohen was viewed as the prosecution’s star witness for the hush money case, in which Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The charges center on reimbursements made to the former attorney for a payment he made to porn actor Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election to keep quiet about an alleged affair from a decade prior.

Trump’s defense rested its case Tuesday, with Trump opting not to take the witness stand. The judge scheduled closing statements for next Tuesday, and deliberations are set to begin afterward.

Lauren Sforza contributed.

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