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Jonathan Turley Says Bragg’s Team Isn’t Calling Key Player In Trial Because It Could Help Trump

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George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said Thursday that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s team would not call former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg as a witness because it would harm their case.

New York Judge Juan Merchan suggested during proceedings Friday that Weisselberg testify after prosecutors sought to introduce Weisselberg’s severance package into evidence, according to Politico. Turley said that it was highly probable Weisselberg “would not support the prosecution case” against former President Donald Trump.

“I think the assumption is more than obvious. You don’t call someone like Michael Cohen if you have any alternative, and if you do call Michael Cohen, you call anyone else that you can use to support anything that he has said,” Turley said. “The fact that they have not brought Weisselberg, who is just about 15 minutes away from the courthouse, indicates that he would not support the prosecution case, but presumably add support to Trump’s defense.”

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“The question for the jury is what do they take from this?” Turley continued. “Weisselberg is becoming the Kayser Soze of witnesses. Everyone is referring to him and they’re going to wonder, why isn’t he here? Now, I think what you are seeing play out is them taking apart Cohen’s past lies.”

Michael Cohen, a former fixer for Trump who pled guilty in 2018 to charges of lying to Congress and was accused of perjury by a federal judge, gave additional testimony Tuesday after he took the stand Monday in the case centered around a $130,000 payout to porn star Stormy Daniels. Cohen was cross-examined by attorneys representing Trump on Thursday.

Turley also weighed in on whether Trump’s attorneys should call former federal prosecutor Bob Costello, who represented Cohen in 2018.

“The real question for the defense is really a matter of strategy, if you want to call Costello or not. He is obviously a strong witness,” Turley said. “He used to be deputy chief of the criminal division in the southern district, so he’s got some major chops when it comes to being a lawyer. The problem I have, and I tend to be risk averse as a criminal defense attorney, I know for certain, at least in my own mind, that they have not made out a case here. They haven’t established the elements. I think this is dead on arrival if there is any verdict against Trump, so I tend to cut when I know I can win.”

“The problem, of course, is that would come after a conviction,” Turley continued. “You have to wait for the appeal. If you want to go for the kill in the trial, then it becomes more attractive to call Costello to see if you can iron plate at least a hung jury, maybe even secure an acquittal. The last thing I would say about this is New Yorkers are a strange breed, I can tell you that just as a Chicagoan. I’ve studied them my whole life with a great deal of confusion. I’m not just talking about folding pizza, but they’re a strange breed because, yes, they hate Donald Trump, but the only thing I’ve noticed New Yorkers hate even more is being a chump, and at some point these jurors may feel they are getting played.”

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