Andrew Weissmann claims Bragg is waiting to spring 'compelling evidence' if Trump mounts a certain defense

 April 20, 2024

Prosecutors are generally supposed to be forthright and open with the defense about the arguments and evidence they intend to use during trial, though that isn't always the case.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann recently suggested that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has been holding in reserve a counterargument that he could spring on Trump and his attorneys mid-trial if they attempt to mount a particular defense, RawStory reported.

The potential defense argument that Bragg is purportedly ready to pounce on and rebut is that Trump was unaware of the full details of the "hush money" "scheme" to silence accusers ahead of the 2016 election.

Hypothesizing potential Trump defenses and prosecution rebuttals

Weissmann, who tried and failed to "get Trump" as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of the former president, shared the supposed plan of DA Bragg during a Friday appearance on MSNBC with host Ari Melber.

In response to the hypothetical defense claim that Trump didn't know exactly what his then-personal attorney Michael Cohen was doing in paying off porn actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 to silence allegations of a prior affair -- the 2017 reimbursement of which is the basis for the criminal charges -- Weissmann let loose with how he envisioned things playing out in court.

"I think here, one of the things that you're going to hear about, is first, Donald Trump's management style," Weissmann said. "We're not talking about a person who is running Exxon, who had hundreds of thousands of people working for him. This is a small family business with somebody who is, I think by all accounts, very hands-on and very focused on the details."

Bragg ready to pounce with "compelling evidence" against Trump

The former prosecutor noted that Trump himself "wrote the checks. So you're going to see checks that he signed, and I think that in itself is going to be very compelling evidence, because he reimbursed Michael Cohen for the hush money payments, is what you're going to hear."

"But it wasn't on a one-to-one basis. Because they had to say, 'oh, these are legal fees,' that meant that Michael Cohen was going to have to pay taxes on them," Weissmann continued. "So instead of reimbursing Michael Cohen $130,000, he had to true up the amount so that Michael Cohen would actually get the full $130,000."

"You wouldn't need to do that if these were actually legal fees. This is not how this would work. So, and as you pointed out, there are a lot of prior inconsistent statements and you'll hear from the prosecution about, look, if this was an innocent scheme, why is his story changing so much over time?" he added of what he expects to hear if Trump's defense is that he was an "exalted CEO" unaware of what Cohen and others "were doing at the ground level."

Bragg could have trouble proving his allegations against Trump

According to ABC News, former President Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsification of business records that stemmed from 12 monthly payments made throughout 2017 by then-President Trump to reimburse then-personal attorney Cohen for the $130,000 in "hush money" he paid to porn actress Daniels in 2016.

The falsification charges are typically just misdemeanors but DA Bragg elevated them to felonies by suggesting, without details or evidence, that the allegedly falsified records were intended to aid or conceal some other unspecified crime, which some presume will eventually be revealed to be campaign finance law violations.

That is a rather novel theory, however, and Bragg could have a hard time proving that Trump was motivated to pay off Daniels mostly by concerns about the impact her allegations might have on his presidential campaign instead of how it would affect his public reputation or, perhaps most importantly, his relationships with his wife and children.

Cohen is dishonest and discredited

Another potential problem for Bragg is that Cohen is essentially the prosecution's star witness, but he has countless legal issues of his own, has a reputation for being exceptionally dishonest, and is clearly motivated by an overt vendetta against his former boss Trump.

It remains to be seen how everything will play out in the New York courtroom over the coming weeks and whether Trump even attempts to mount the particular defense that Weissmann claims Bragg is ready to jump on with a prepared rebuttal that has been held back in reserve.

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