06/13/2024

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Former President Donald Trump speaks with members of the media and points at attorney Todd Blanche listens before the start of his trial at Manhattan criminal in New York, Tuesday, May 14, 2024.

‘Highly conflicted judge’: Trump’s latest Truth Social rant refers to CNN and MSNBC legal analysts who praised his defense attorney’s cross-examination in hush-money trial

Former President Donald Trump speaks with members of the media as attorney Todd Blanche listens before the start of his trial at Manhattan criminal in New York, Tuesday, May 14, 2024. (Michael M. Santiago/Pool Photo via AP)

Former president Donald Trump, in a Friday night Truth Social post, took aim at the judge and prosecution in his ongoing New York City hush-money criminal trial – by praising legal analysis from two cable news networks he frequently rails against: CNN and MSNBC.

According to the 45th president, legal analysts on both networks “now feel” that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has a “case” that “should be dropped in that it is not winnable” and “should never have been brought in the first place.”

Trump, for his part, appears to be referring to at least one MSNBC legal analyst and several CNN legal analysts who commended the defense’s tough cross-examination of Michael Cohen, 57.

This week, after a strong start for the state, Trump’s erstwhile fixer was pinned into a corner over what, exactly, was said during a very brief and now highly-disputed phone call – which appeared to severely undercut his credibility and catch the prosecution unawares.

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    After raising questions about the credibility of Cohen’s previous testimony under oath, attorney Todd Blanche moved onto the heart of the matter: the $130,000 hush-money payment wired to Stormy Daniels, 45, by way of an attorney, just days before the 2016 election.

    Earlier this week, Cohen testified he called Trump’s then-bodyguard, Keith Schiller, on Oct. 24, 2016, to relay the good news: the effort to stop Daniels from talking about an alleged tryst had been resolved. After calling Schiller, Cohen testified, Trump got on the line and learned the adult content creator would soon be paid for silence.

    But, apparently, the Daniels matter was not all Cohen wanted to, or did, discuss during that brief phone call — which jurors just learned Thursday lasted exactly one minute and 36 seconds. Away from the public’s view, jurors and the witness were shown a series of text messages between Cohen and Schiller.

    As it turns out, Blanche established, Cohen had been complaining to Schiller about a series of prank phone calls he received several days in a row. And, in those texts, Cohen said he wanted to raise the issue with Schiller because he had learned the prank caller was a 14-year-old, had their number, and wanted Schiller to talk to the child’s parents.

    The defense attorney, in the end, likely cast credible doubt on Cohen’s testimony that in 96 seconds he discussed the prankster with Schiller and then discussed the Daniels payment with Trump.

    More Law&Crime coverage: ‘That was a lie’: Trump defense scores big win by pinning Michael Cohen into a corner over a 14-year-old prankster — but runs into a wall of sustained objections

    Legal commentators of various stripes – including those who have frequently criticized Trump in the past – agreed the former president’s defense had scored a win against the prosecution on Thursday.

    Trump typically seized on those good reviews.

    Using discrete pejoratives, Trump made clear to single out both networks for why he usually takes issue with their coverage. He calls MSNBC as “MSDNC,” a reference to the network’s widely-acknowledged pro-Democratic Party slant. Trump refers to CNN as “Fake News CNN,” a longtime favorite insult used for any given outlet critical of him, but which he first applied to CNN in December 2016.

    Trump’s post on his homegrown social media website goes on to needle New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan.

    “The only thing they have going for them is a HIGHLY CONFLICTED JUDGE who has done everything within his power to help Crooked Joe Biden win a Presidential Election that he has, based on performance, no right to win,” the post reads.

    More Law&Crime coverage: The Trump Docket: Was Michael Cohen’s testimony a knockout punch for prosecutors and Trump’s best day in court — or just a ‘blow on the chin’?

    While currently subject to a gag order in the hush-money case, Trump is allowed to criticize both Merchan and Bragg.

    On March 27, the day after Merchan issued the order, Trump used a Truth Social media post to criticize the judge, his daughter, and Bragg. On March 28, the 45th president leveled several more similar rhetorical jabs.

    On March 29, Bragg’s office filed a letter categorizing the defendant’s posts targeting the judge’s daughter as “contumacious” and asking Merchan to “clarify or confirm that the Order protects family members of the Court.” Blanche quickly fired back, arguing the state was trying to “expand” the order and that “there was nothing ‘contumacious’ about the social media posts.

    By early April, the gag order had been expanded to cover the family members of any participants to the proceedings — a pointed judicial rejoinder to Trump’s criticism of Merchan’s daughter over her political consulting work for the Democratic Party.

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    The post ‘Highly conflicted judge’: Trump’s latest Truth Social rant refers to CNN and MSNBC legal analysts who praised his defense attorney’s cross-examination in hush-money trial first appeared on Law & Crime.