President Donald Trump's former attorney Michael Cohen would prefer to remain loyal, but federal prosecutors "have him in a squeeze," much as they do the president's ex-campaign manager, Paul Manafort, Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz said Monday.
"They aren't interested in Manafort, they're interested in Manafort testifying against Trump or providing information," Dershowitz told Fox News' "America's Newsroom."
"You have to worry not only about squeezed witnesses singing but about them making up stories, elaborating on stories. The better the story, the better the deal they'll get."
Dershowitz said he used to teach first-year law students, if they were going to commit a crime, do it with someone in America who is more important, "so you can turn them in and they can't turn you in. That's the play that's going on now."
Manafort's trial will begin in Virginia on Tuesday. He is facing a 32-count indictment on charges he allegedly moved more than $30 million in overseas income, with prosecutors claiming, beginning in 2006, Manafort hid millions coming from the Ukrainian government and oligarchs in order to promote pro-Russian leader Viktor Yanukovych, The New York Times reported.
Prosecutors have said they do not plan to include discussion about Trump and allegations of collusion with Russia as part of the trial, The Times also noted.
"If the prosecution tries to hint at his relationships with Trump, his lawyers will try to keep that out because they don't want him to be prejudiced by association with a president who has supporters but also enemies," Dershowitz said.
"We'll see whether or not the prosecution tries to introduce anything regarding Trump, or whether it's a pure trial of Manafort for what he did years and years earlier, and we'll look to see how the judge rules. The judge is not sympathetic to this prosecution, and I suspect we'll see that in some of his rulings."
If Manafort is acquitted, though, it will be a blow to special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, Dershowitz said, but if Manafort is convicted, Mueller will have the opportunity to squeeze him, as Manafort faces another trial in the District of Columbia.
"He is less likely to get a sympathetic jury," Dershowitz said. "They're heavily Democrat. The Virginia jury pool is a mix of Democrats and Republicans. They have two shots at him and hoping to succeed in at least one of them and put the pressure on saying look, you have two choices, die in prison or testify against your former associate. And most people will take the testify option rather than the die in prison option."
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