Matt Whitaker, a former acting Attorney General in the Trump administration, told Newsmax on Thursday that the case against Trump centering on alleged hush money has "turned 180 degrees from last weekend," mainly regarding the prosecution's star witness, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
Cohen, sentenced to three years in prison in 2018 for crimes including lying to Congress, testified in front of a grand jury empaneled by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg that he paid $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels weeks before the 2016 election on Trump's behalf to keep her quiet about an alleged affair between them in 2006, and that he was reimbursed through Trump campaign funds. Trump has repeatedly denied having an affair with Daniels and denied knowing about the money paid to her.
Speculation grew earlier this week that an indictment would be handed down Monday or Tuesday, making Trump the first sitting or former president to face criminal charges. But nothing happened either day, and the grand jury is not expected to meet again on the matter until Monday.
The delays could have been prompted by grand jury testimony Monday from Robert Costello, a former legal adviser to Cohen, who said Cohen is an unreliable witness. Also, a letter allegedly from Cohen's attorney Stephen Ryan released by Trump on Wednesday details how Cohen "used his own personal funds" to pay Daniels and that "neither the Trump Organization or the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction" or "reimbursed" Cohen.
"While we've always said that a convicted felon – one of the counts was lying to Congress – is not a good witness to base a case on, you now are going to have the great fortune of, if this goes to trial, [Cohen] having to answer the question: are you lying now or were you lying then?" Whitaker told "American Agenda." "Plus, you're going to have Mr. Costello testifying that [Cohen] is lying now."
Trump has taken an aggressive approach publicly regarding the investigation, which he has characterized as a "witch hunt." He is constantly criticizing Bragg, a Democrat, on his Truth Social account, and releasing the letter from Ryan countering Cohen's testimony was also part of the campaign. Whitaker said it is necessary for Trump to use such a strategy.
"This is why our Founding Fathers intended the grand jury process to be secret, and in special counsel investigations, and it seems like every other investigation into Donald Trump, he is the only person that hasn't been availed of those secrecy rights of grand jury proceedings," Whitaker said. "So, he has to then speak out and fight against it and otherwise engage because you know they're trying to ruin his reputation."
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