Michael Cohen Should Emulate Stormy Daniels on Witness Stand—Legal Analyst

Ahead of Michael Cohen’s witness testimony in former President Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial, legal analyst Andrew Weissmann said on Sunday that Cohen should emulate former adult film star Stormy Daniels’ conduct on the witness stand.

Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and fixer, is set to testify in the high-profile trial on Monday, which will determine whether the former president falsified business records over payments, allegedly facilitated by Cohen, to Daniels to keep an alleged affair that happened in 2006 secret before the 2016 presidential election, as alleged in the criminal indictment.

Prosecutors led by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg allege the $130,000 payment was part of a scheme to stop potentially damaging stories about Trump from becoming public. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for the 2024 election, has denied any wrongdoing and that the affair ever happened. The former president has pleaded not guilty to all 34 charges against him in the case.

In a Sunday interview on MSNBC’s Inside with Jen Psaki, Weissmann, the former general counsel for the FBI who also served as lead prosecutor in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump’s 2016 campaign, discussed Cohen’s expected testimony as he was asked by Psaki what he would be worried about if he was the prosecution.

Michael Cohen
Donald Trump’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen is seen in New York City on October 24, 2023. Ahead of Cohen’s witness testimony in Trump’s criminal hush money trial, legal analyst Andrew Weissmann said on…

ALEX KENT/AFP/Getty Images

“He needs to maintain his cool, he needs to not be thin-skinned. He just needs to be frankly like Stormy Daniels, smart, careful and unflappable. As I observed she got better on cross-examination, she was humanized and you saw just how effective she was, but she was unflappable and that’s not really a characteristic people really associate with Michael Cohen,” Weissmann said.

Newsweek has reached out to Cohen via email for comment.

Following Daniels’ testimony in the trial on Thursday, Brent Baker, an attorney with the Buchalter law firm in Salt Lake City previously told Newsweek that Daniels “remained strong” under intense cross-examination.

“The judge and jury are assessing her credibility as a witness continuously during her testimony, even when the subject matter was distasteful or potentially casting her in a negative light,” he said. “From my perspective, she didn’t blanch at all. The strength of her testimony and confident demeanor can potentially create problems for former President Trump’s case.”

However attorney and legal analyst Jonathan Turley, who has been highly critical of the district attorney’s office prosecuting Trump, disagreed as he claimed that Daniels’ story all fell apart when she was cross-examined.

According to Turley, part of Daniels’ testimony that hurt her claim of not being motivated by money was a recorded phone conversation between Daniels’ then-lawyer Keith Davidson and Cohen that was played for the court.

“The cross examination was devastating. It shattered her laughable claim that she had not really been seeking money in shaking Trump down for a non-disclosure agreement, a claim contradicted by her own former lawyer,” he wrote in an opinion piece for The Hill published on Saturday.

Weissmann’s comments come after some have speculated how Cohen’s testimony will play out considering his past.

Cohen, a close ally turned critic of Trump, served prison time after pleading guilty to eight criminal counts, including campaign finance violations related to the alleged hush money scheme. In addition, Cohen plead guilty in federal court in November 2018 to lying to Congress in relation to false statements he made to lawmakers about Trump’s reported business dealings with Russia during the 2016 presidential campaign.

On Sunday, Weissmann also spoke about Cohen’s past, saying that there are some areas he will have to “own” on the witness stand.

“He does have some areas he really does need to worry about in terms of answering questions. You mentioned one, which is he says he lied to a federal judge when he pleaded guilty and he has to own that, and that by the way is not a crime, that’s not something he did because of Donald Trump. That was something he chose to do,” he said.