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CNN Live Event/Special

Trump Defense Cross-Examines Cohen. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 20, 2024 - 10:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Anyway, please prepare the agreement discussed so we can pay you monthly Weisselberg rights. Blanche pulls up an e- mail from Weisselberg to Jeff McConney, that is the -- his right-hand man, Weisselberg's right hand man that Laura was just talking about, noting that the checks were signed off by Donald Trump Jr. And Eric Trump, asking why they signed and not Trump. Because they were the trustees, Cohen said.

Blanche confirms with Cohen that his e-mail signature after Trump took office announced his title in every message he sent. It always said personal attorney to President Donald J. Trump. Blanche continued, his job changed, meaning president jobs changed yours didn't. Cohen, correct, Cohen confirms.

So, this is -- I suppose Elie, a fruit of the poison grape. I'm botching the metaphor, but the idea, like, you are saying that they are basing this entire thing on these memos, these bills, that's the documentary evidence that people like Lainey Davis have been saying, you don't have to support -- you don't have to believe Michael Cohen, believe these bills.

And now, we find out, oh, there's bogus stuff in these bills too that Donald Trump might not have known about, certainly didn't know about.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: And that's why this is, to use another metaphor, this is a bomb. This is really important. This is a bomb dropped in the middle of the prosecution's case.

Two reasons. One, Michael Cohen was stealing from Donald Trump. He was lying to people about what he was doing with money. He pocketed at least the $30,000 by lying to Weisselberg.

TAPPER: It's twice really, by the way, because remember they double it to avoid tax reasons.

HONIG: So, $60,000, which by the way, this is crushing to the prosecution's credibility because the prosecution did not ask Michael Cohen about that on direct and they haven't made him plead guilty to larceny --

TAPPER: Which this is?

HONIG: -- which this is. So, let's start with that. Real quick. The other reason it's so important is the money that Michael Cohen stole from under Donald Trump's nose --

TAPPER: By his own admission today?

HONIG: -- by his own admission was part of the $420,000 that Michael Cohen was reimbursed for Stormy Daniels. So, the heart of the prosecution's case is that whole setup where they were going to repay Michael Cohen $420,000 to reimburse him for Stormy Daniels, that was all done to pay Stormy Daniels. Trump knew it. Trump knew every penny. That's why he's guilty. Now, it turns out Trump is getting robbed by his own guy.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I mean, my question here is why has no one coached Michael Cohen or why does Michael Cohen not say when asked on this on cross? I don't recall. I mean, isn't that kind of the universal way --

HONIG: Apparently, he does recall though. And --


TAPPER: But Tim, is this -- I mean, we've been wondering all along, all you need is one juror to say, I have reasonable doubt. What's your -- I mean, what's your assessment of whether or not any reasonable juror would have reasonable doubt based on this information?

TIM PARLATORE, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think this is significant for reasonable doubt purposes. You now have two major issues, you know, one of the phone calls that wasn't, you know, what he originally talked about and the calculation of the money that wasn't what he originally talked about.

And it's not only, you know, going to his credibility, but it also goes to Alvin Bragg's office's credibility. Because --

TAPPER: How did they not get this out ahead of time?


HONIG: No idea. No idea.

PARLATORE: And you have two different things. You know, when it comes to the Schiller call, they're going to argue to the jury, how did they not know that? Why did we have to bring it out? We got it from the text that we got from discovery from them, and apparently, Michael Cohen said they never asked him about it. They didn't figure it out.

TAPPER: No, he says -- Cohen says he has told multiple prosecutors with the D.A.'s office about it.


TAPPER: Assuming that's true. I mean, we don't -- you know, again, we don't know if that's true, but he's saying he told them about it. They didn't bring it up.

PARLATORE: This is worse because this is something that he discussed with prosecutors. Prosecutors knew that the evidence they were putting on was tainted by this additional crime and they didn't talk about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a devil's advocate question.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it possible that the prosecution can come back and redirect and somehow tie what looks like him just flatly stealing money from the Trump organization to him paying himself back in order to cover-up the crime that's alleged in this case?

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: They have to make every effort to rehabilitate Michael Cohen. They have to do so. They also have to rehabilitate, to Tim's point as well, their larger credibility that they may have a juror could be thinking, well, why didn't I hear this before? You're giving me a witness. You've told me about this person. You left out that after going through 90 minutes of all the different documents.

But I want to refocus everyone for a second on what the government has to prove and why this is such a bombshell, as we've been talking about. Go to the tablet on this, because a checklist they have to actually approve everyone.

TAPPER: Bring out the tablet.

COATES: Bring out the tablet. They have to prove there was an intent to defraud. Here is the part biggest part of this. If you are the defendant in this case, this is what they have to prove, you made and caused a false entry in the business records. If Michael Cohen was the one to falsify the number of documents there, that he did not -- was not aware of what he was actually spending or what he was actually paying, well, then you've got an issue.

Remember, this is all coming down to 11 checks to Cohen, 11 invoices submitted by Cohen, and then 12 entries in Trump's ledger. Now, one thing that they can do in the direct on the actual rehabilitation and certainly in jury instructions is that you have the ability to give an instruction in New York law that talks about intentionally aiding.


The law in New York defines it as you may have caused somebody to do so that you may be liable if you were the one in some respect or another to actually help somebody to do the crime itself.

This is important, but you have to make sure that you can still prove that there was the intent to defraud, the intent to multiply. If Michael Cohen was the one to falsify. You're saying political decision that Trump had to make for his defense counsel. On the one hand, they spent a great deal of time in his books, right, talking about how he was one to sign the checks. No detail is too small to consider. Here's what every -- any billionaire knows. You run a business this way. You have to know what's really going on inside of your business.

Well, he has to admit, for the sake of his defense, that he was hustled by Michael Cohen. That he did not know what was going on, if that's the case, he had a problem.


HONIG: So, I have -- I just have to say, this is prosecutorial malpractice. This is a failure by prosecutors to either know this and not raise it with Michael Cohen on his direct, or to not know it, which would mean Michael Cohen's lying right now.

And here's just --

COATES: But we don't know that yet, that they have not -- that they -- that they've truly failed to rebuild. I mean, to call it misconduct is quite a sweeping statement.

HONIG: No, not --

TAPPER: It's not --

HONIG: I didn't say misconduct, I said malpractice.


HONIG: It's malpractice.

TAPPER: Well, to not bring it up, to not bring -- if you're a juror and you're sitting there and you're thinking, well, we're about -- this trial's almost over, and we're finding out that this document, that is the crux of the matter has -- the term is fruit of the poisonous tree, which is a doctrine that I'm not referring to, because that has to do with like an illegal search. But the idea that this is this what the case is about, this document. And what you're telling me that there's lies in here from Michael Cohen that you didn't tell me about until now?

HONIG: Exactly. And to be clear, I said malpractice, meaning terrible practice, not unethical. That would be misconduct. The crux of the prosecution's case is Donald Trump knew what that $420,000 was for. It was for Stormy Daniels. Michael Cohen read him in on all of it. He was fine with it.

It turns out Michael Cohen was stealing from Donald Trump within that $420,000. And Donald Trump not only didn't know, he certainly never would have agreed to be robbed by Michael Cohen.

TAPPER: And Tim, it definitely does underline the point that -- like, first of all, it's quite possible that Trump knew, right? I mean, like, I'm just saying, like just -- it's quite possible Trump knew that Michael Cohen was paying off Stormy Daniels and that's what was going on here. But it's certainly not possible that he knew that Michael Cohen was stealing $60,000 from him.


TAPPER: And the defense is saying he didn't know any of it. He was just like, you know, signing checks. And if you're a juror, even if you think -- well, I think he probably knew what he was paying for Michael Cohen, there has to be reasonable doubt now because the -- I mean, Michael Cohen has given them this huge gift.

PARLATORE: And Donald Trump even said before this trial started, I received an invoice from my lawyer, I relied upon what my lawyer said. You know, Michael Cohen submits invoices, they paid them. And, you know, you heard the testimony during the prosecution's case about how they have this drop-down menu of, you know, what's this expense category. I think that this is going to be very difficult for them to show that he knowingly, you know, participated in the falsification of business records.

TAPPER: So, right now Michael Cohen is asked whether he spoke with people at the White House, such as Hope Hicks, about finding a lawyer for Trump. Cohen asks Blanche to re-ask the question. Blanche asks, Cohen, whether -- Blanche is asking whether Cohen helped figure out how to serve subpoenas on government agencies such as the State Department. He shows Cohen an e-mail, which is what Trump leaned in to look at.

Cohen said he received the e-mail. Blanche pushes him. Would you have done something about it? Yes, Cohen says. Blanche said he was seeking to confirm that Cohen was working on things of this nature for Trump. At the time anyway.

Kaitlan Collins this has certainly proved to be a momentous morning.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Yes, and you can see what the defense clearly spent their weekend doing, preparing for a moment like this one as they are trying to completely erode Michael Cohen's credibility with the jury.

And this is such an important moment, Paula and John, because this came up, actually, when Michael Cohen was on the stand with the prosecution and they were asking him questions, because Susan Hoffinger, who is the prosecutor here, had been asking about this meeting with Allen Weisselberg. It's where they sat, they wrote on that document, then they went in Trump's office on the 26th floor of Trump Tower and talked about this.

And she said, what did Mr. Weisselberg tell you about what to put down about the monies that were owed to Red Finch from two years earlier? Cohen said, including everything, I was no longer going to have a position at the Trump Organization. There was no way for me to get that money back or have this done. And then she said, specifically on Red Finch, what did he ask you to do? And Michael Cohen told her that he told me to add up the $130,000 for Stormy Daniels. It's a $50,000 for Red Finch, total it to $180,000.

And they got into this where essentially, she was arguing that he didn't give all of that money to Red Finch, that he did skim some off the top. John, I know you've been looking at the transcript.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I mean, there's an exchange about this. Hoffinger says, did you pay Red Finch less than $50,000? Michael Cohen said, I did. Hoffinger says, OK, why did you then ask for $50,000 back? Cohen testified a week ago, because that's what was owed, and I didn't feel Trump deserved the benefit of the difference.

And then the Hoffinger says, and if you're going to get $50,000, but you paid out less than $50,000, were you going to keep the rest of it for yourself? Cohen one week ago says, that's what I ended up doing.

COLLINS: So, he's acknowledging there, he did skim off the top of this, but the key difference here is how it was framed.

Todd Blanche just put it in pretty black and white terms to the jury saying you stole from the Trump organization.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, because what prosecutors failed to do is follow up with Michael Cohen and said, just how much did you keep for yourself? He kept 60 percent of this for himself. When you say he kept a little back, you think maybe a few grand.

He kept $30,000 for himself. And then because prosecutors did not, again, even follow up with that and say, hey, could you see maybe how that could be perceived as stealing? They allowed Todd Blanche to reveal this to the jury and get their star witness to concede that yes, he stole from the Trump Organization on the stand.

Now, what Blanche is doing to follow up with this is go through all of the different legal services that Cohen was providing to Trump in the year 2017, including the fact that in his e-mail signature, it says that he is the attorney to President Donald J. Trump.

So, this, again, undercutting the argument that even if Cohen says that his invoices for legal services were falsified, that he was, in fact, conducting legal services. So, the defendant, if he was paying him for those services, was not involved in a conspiracy to cover-up hush money. So, Blanche, again, going through the actual criminal charges in this case.

COLLINS: But it's all a matter of framing. Because Michael Cohen testified previously under direct questioning from the prosecutors, I didn't do a lot of legal work for Trump in 2017. I did a little bit more in 2018. That's what they were just talking about with the wax figure for Melania Trump and the legal work that he had to do for that, John Berman. And they did already previously testify that he didn't pay Red Finch, which he said he knew the owner of that group. Didn't pay them the full amount. That he was basically keeping the rest for himself and Trump wouldn't know the difference. It wouldn't hurt him, was kind of Michael Cohen's argument.

But the question is if the jury remembers that moment? I mean, it was a week ago. There's a lot of testimonies.

BERMAN: Well, we did. To be fair, we barely remember it. And I think what they're doing is going through piece by piece now and reframing some of the things that were out there, including the payment to Red Finch, including, I think, how much legal work he did and didn't do for Donald Trump and what he was paid for.

COLLINS: And this is about what he received in 2017, he said he got nine checks, $35,000 a piece. He also is distancing Trump from this a lot. He is emphasizing that Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, as trustees, signed the checks here. He is saying, you know, you talked about this with Allen Weisselberg, he's basically putting as much distance between Trump and the falsification of these business records as possible here.

REID: Exactly. And that's his number one goal here, because his client is charged with falsifying business records. Earlier, Laura went through all the components that they need to establish. And here, they've gotten Michael Cohen to admit that he wasn't honest. He lied about at least one conversation with Trump. And here, he also appeared to lie to Allen Weisselberg, the only other person involved in this alleged conspiracy about how much money he paid for one of the things that he was reimbursed for. This is undercutting his credibility about the actual conspiracy to which he testified on direct.

So, prosecutors right now, they've got to be at that table, maybe having some regret that they didn't do more to get out in front of this, that they gave Todd Blanche the opportunity to reveal this to the jury and do damage to their witness. They will have an opportunity, maybe an hour or so here to get up, to do redirect and try to rehabilitate their witness, but they've got their work cut out for it.

BERMAN: I will say already today, just in the last 25, 30 minutes, they have spent more time on the actual case itself, the foundations of this case than they did all last week, the Trump team here. Because we're dealing with the checks. We're dealing with the memos. We're dealing with the payments now. You know, except for the phone call about the 14-year-old last week, it didn't get to the actual details of the case at all

COLLINS: Yes. And Cohen is saying he made $4 million in 2017 from six other clients. That moment has also come up. It's -- there -- it's basically just your interpretation of what you want to see here. Because I remember when that moment came up, Trump looked at another attorney who was at the defense table with him and mouthed the word for emphasizing that he heard that right when Michael Cohen was talking about that. Cohen confirms he was paid $50,000 monthly for a year by AT&T. That was when they were trying to acquire Time Warner, as we also previously learned.

The question is really how all of this translates to the jury. Some of this has been out there. Michael Cohen has testified about other parts of it, but it's how they're receiving this information and do they remember Susan Hoffinger asking Michael Cohen about this or is it the moment where Michael Cohen says, yes, and concedes to stealing technically from the Trump Organization that sticks in their mind?


REID: Hard to forget that. And now, Blanche is establishing that perhaps $35,000 a month in 2017 when he's billing out $50,000 a month to other clients for his legal services that in some cases, for example, with AT&T were pretty minimal, just 20 communications, that this is not really that far afield from his average rate, given how much knowledge he had about the newly minted president.

He's trying to paint for the jury that this would not be an unheard-of amount of money to pay for legal services. Look at the legal services that he did for his client, really trying to attack this argument from prosecutors that all of this was just a conspiracy to conceal that hush money payment. That instead, this was a guy who claimed to be the president's lawyer doing some legal services, making less than he did on other clients. This could be effective in sowing at least that reasonable doubt in the minds of one juror.

BERMAN: Here's my question, though. Isn't there a lot of testimony that there was an agreement to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000?

REID: Nobody disagrees that there was an agreement to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000, and that wasn't a crime. The argument -- what he -- what Alvin Bragg chose to charge here is that Donald Trump was involved in a conspiracy to conceal that by falsifying business records. And here, Todd Blanche making an effective argument that perhaps Trump did believe that he was paying Michael Cohen for legal services, even if it was grossed up in certain ways, because he was performing some legal services.

BERMAN: Even it -- well, the issue is how much of the repayment was for the $130,000.


BERMAN: And how much of it was for actual legal services.

REID: And they're going to get to -- if they haven't already, they're going to get to this argument about how cheap their client is, right? How many people have testified about how cheap he is?

COLLINS: But the one question that -- I've asked multiple Trump attorneys this and we've had them on, people used to represent Trump, did you ever get grossed up legal fees when you were an attorney? It doesn't happen. That's not normal. I mean, that's really the one retort to that is that you don't gross up legal fees.

BERMAN: Yes, and again, depending on if you believe Michael Cohen, was this repayment plan for the $130,000 or not? And that's the question, what the jury believes in this case. However, the scheme was oriented to pay it back.

COLLINS: We've got former federal prosecutor, Alyse Adamson here with us. And, Alyse, I'm glad to have you in this moment, because as we're seeing the defense continue to cross-examine Michael Cohen about what he was paid and what he was paid for, right now, they're walking through the clients that Cohen had while Donald Trump was president of the United States, the money that he made off that.

If you're a prosecutor sitting at that table listening to Michael Cohen say, yes, I did steal technically from the Trump Organization because I told him I paid someone $50,000, but I only paid them $20,000. What are you preparing to do when you have the chance to question your witness again? ALYSE ADAMSON, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: If this were my case, I would be feverishly writing my ideas for rehabilitation on redirect. I am quite frankly shocked by what I have just heard. I mean, I can tell you, having worked at DOJ for seven and a half years, you go through training, like your first week on the job and like day two, it's how to handle witnesses and fronting bad facts.

And I was listening when they read back the transcript on how the prosecution handled these payments, and it's like they glossed over the fact that this could be considered stealing. And in my mind, I can't figure out why they did that because they were so meticulous in explaining all of Michael Cohen's other lies in contextualizing this. And this is a lie that cuts at the heart of the evidence in the case.

And it just -- I can't really make sense of the strategy. So, you better bet that the prosecution is trying to pull together some questions to contextualize this and retake the narrative. They really have to at this point.

COLLINS: Well, looking back on it now and how, you know, Todd Blanche framed it as stealing. And that's, you know, the -- and Michael Cohen didn't dispute it. He said, yes, that's correct. This was information that the jury previously heard, that he did not give all of this money to Red Finch, that he did skim off the top for himself. To Paula's point, we didn't know exactly how much. But is that -- should the prosecution have gotten that specific and their direct questioning of Michael Cohen, do you believe?

ADAMSON: I think whether or not they should have gotten that specific, they should have tried to take the narrative and contextualize it and explain kind of how Michael Cohen have received payments and what he -- why he didn't pay Red Finch all the money. Maybe there was an explanation, or maybe there was something Michael Colin was thinking other than, I want to steal from my boss.

And when they get back up there, if they have a satisfying counter narrative, because also what you learn is you don't want to ask a witness a question if you don't already know the answer to it, I suspect because they spent a long time investigating this case, they have thought about this. They're going to need to spin it that it wasn't stealing.


And maybe Michael Cohen didn't think of it as stealing. Maybe he thought of it as his bonus. I mean, there's lots of other reasons that are still not great. But add a little bit more context so it doesn't so badly destroy his credibility, because I can imagine what a juror is thinking.

And again, as the prosecution, you have to be the most credible person in the room. That is what they teach you. And right now, if I was a juror, I would think, well, they touched upon this, but why didn't they go into this? Why is the first time I'm hearing this from the defense? So, again, should they have been more specific? I'm not sure. Should they have handled it differently? I think so. COLLINS: And right now, the defense is asking Michael Cohen about other clients that -- or potential clients that he spoke with where maybe it didn't actually happen. He said, yes, sir, to Todd Blanche, that happened quite often. This is a tactic Michael Cohen is using, yes, sir, no, sir, yes, ma'am, no, ma'am to the prosecution when they were questioning him.

If you're a juror, and from your experience, Alyse, questioning or making your argument in front of these juries, what do they hold in higher regard? Is it testimony from a witness or is it evidence? Is it documents? Is it text messages? Is it call records?

ADAMSON: Well, testimony of a witness is evidence in a case, but documentary evidence, we always would say they don't lie, right? I mean, it can be contextualized, but witnesses can be crossed and you can bring out bias.

So, I think, you know, what the question is, how are they going to view this? Well, I think all the documentary evidence is going to have to be used as corroboration. That is what they're going to have to hang their hat on at the end of the day. You can't just believe Michael Cohen, but believe what these documents are saying. But that's also why Todd Blanche is now raising all of this confusion with the documents. Because if you can't believe the documents and you have a damaged witness, that kind of adds up to reasonable doubt.

COLLINS: Based on, you know, the bruising that we've seen Michael Cohen take at times during this cross-examination, if you're the prosecutor, how much time would you spend when you get the chance to question him again and to have redirect at another time?

ADAMSON: That's a great question because redirect, there's a lot of strategy there. You don't want it to go on too long. You don't want to look too defensive, like you have to explain everything away. Sometimes you don't even want to address certain topics as if to say, that was so ridiculous, we don't even need to address it.

I think here there has been so much damage that they are going to have to go in. I'm thinking about that phone call. There -- again, there's ways to contextualize that phone call with Schiller and what they were talking about. You know, life doesn't -- isn't always clean. Life doesn't always make a linear narrative. He could have been talking about multiple other things.

So, I think you can expect to see the prosecution go back there. And they're also going to have to address this bombshell that has just been dropped. But I don't think they're going to go on days and days like you've seen the cross. That typically is not an effective strategy.

COLLINS: Alyse Adamson, great to have you. And right now, Michael Cohen is being questioned about other legal work that he did, including, Paula Reid, for a Korean airspace company where he said he had a dozen communications with them. They're talking about how much money he was paid. Todd Blanche is clearly trying to talk about the other money that Michael Cohen made from his proximity to Trump. We already know he made -- what he made off of his two books that he wrote, and what he made just from the legal work that he was doing. Where is this line of questioning going?

REID: Comparing the fact that $35,000 a month at that time, given what he was billing outside clients, really isn't all that much. And you were just talking with a former federal prosecutor about how documents really matter in this case.

I go back to the testimony, the two accountants from the Trump Organization, who actually cut these checks, Deb Tarasoff and Jeff McConney. And all they testified to was that they received instructions from Allen Weisselberg, but they were just looking at invoices that Michael Cohen submitted going into the system and sending out these checks for what they believe were legal services. He did not provide any direct link at all to the defendant.

The only person who has been able to provide a direct link to the defendant in this alleged conspiracy is Michael Cohen. That's why the defense attorneys right now really hammering away at his credibility.

COLLINS: And what they -- they don't have to show that Trump himself falsified the business records personally but that he caused them to be falsified, John.

BERMAN: Right, which is something that I think will be laid out again in the jury instructions and something that will come out much more clearly in the closing arguments. One of the things I'm curious about now, we're at 10:53 a.m., the defense had said that they were going to be done cross-examining Cohen by the morning break, that's almost now.

I mean, usually around 11:00 or so we get the first morning break. If that's the case, and they stick to that, they really are about to land this plane, at least as far as they're concerned.


REID: So far, what we've seen in this trial, the Trump team has not been great about time estimates for their own questioning. I mean, that is one thing that I have seen. So, even if Todd said that in Trump in court about, you know, his cross-examination, I'm sure he had a good faith belief about that. But we've seen consistently, they just aren't good at guessing how long they're going to take.

COLLINS: But he said that on Thursday, it could have changed over the weekend as there were, you know, debating what they were going to follow through with Michael Cohen on.

BERMAN: It is -- you know, it's true. I am wondering, though, even so, where Todd Blanche wants to leave it with the jury when he's done with Michael Cohen. What's the last thing they want to leave in the sense? Does it want to be in the minutia of this payment, you're paid this much for that, or does it want to be a big picture, you just can't believe Michael Cohen? COLLINS: Yes, Jake, not an overstatement to say this is a critical few hours in this entire trial as this questioning is going on and prosecutors are preparing for how they're going to handle this.

TAPPER: Yes, indeed. And let's go back. And I know John did this already, but just to reiterate the case. So, a week ago, Monday, May 13th, Susan Hoffinger with the prosecution did get out from Michael Cohen that he pocketed some of the money, but it was done so in such a way that I think a lot of people completely missed it, certainly me. And it was done so in a way that was not hammered home to the jury.

And I'm not going to read the entire thing but this -- in the testimony about Michael Cohen paying back Red Finch, this organization that did these shady things for the Trump campaign, such as, bogus spectators at his announcement and bogus online polls that they goosed. He said, Hoffinger, did you pay him the full $50,000? That was Hoffinger. And given that you didn't pay him the whole $50,000, why did you put $50,000 down on there on the bill? Cohen, well, for the previous year and a half I told Allen, meaning Allen Weisselberg, the CFO, look, I laid it out. My hope was to get the money from Allen onto it so that I can give it to him, but it never happened. But I constantly reminded him because I did want him, you know, to receive the funds.

Hoffinger, did you pay Red Finch less than $50,000? Cohen, I did. Hoffinger, OK, and why did you then ask for $50,000 back? She's asking, why did you ask for 50 grand back if you paid them less than $50,000? Cohen, because that's what was owed and I didn't feel Mr. Trump deserved the benefit of the difference. Hoffinger, and if you were going to get $50,000 but you paid out less than $50,000, were you going to keep the rest of it yourself? Cohen, that's what I ended up doing.

But that's it. And I have to say she does not -- Susan Hoffinger, in this direct testimony, she does not underline, Laura Coates, you did this, and that's larceny, that's illegal. And so, we should note that some of this memo includes an inflated bill, but we should not use that to discount the rest of it. She didn't connect the dots, and she didn't, like, explain to the jury this is a crime that you're confessing to.

COATES: And I am shocked that they did not do so, because this has given such ammunition as to possibly fatally undermine the prosecution's case. You want to go through ad nauseum all the reasons why you're fronting why this is not somebody that has been a truth teller his entire life or the organization.

They went to such great pain to talk about his criminal convictions and his lies in the past. Frankly, Todd Blanche also did on day one and two. Now, we're in day three of cross-examination. But not to front it when it goes to the very core of the matter. This is not the typical lie that suggests, so, you have lied to the media, right? You have lied to the press in the past. You have lied about whether or not the payment was made and all these different things.

Now, this goes to a very simple question that Todd Blanche could actually say and really wrap his case on and say, so just to be clear, Donald Trump had no idea that you were giving him fake invoices with inflated payments to actually repay him? No. Well, then you leave it there and the jury can then in summation have it.

So -- because this is straight, he didn't know about falsified records and invoices. He wasn't aware of this. All you have to support is he approved and he's admitted to you that he didn't even give him accurate invoices, that can leave more than maybe a seed of reasonable doubt, which is really what he needs.

Now, the prosecution has got to try to rehabilitate. They have got to try to say something. They've got to rehabilitate their own credibility as to why they did not front it and why they seem to be at least seemingly dismissive. But as we begin this entire discussion today, the jury may be receiving it differently. It may have landed with the jury previously.

TAPPER: Yes, possible.

COATES: They may say to themselves, all right, we've heard this before --

TAPPER: Yes, we knew that.

COATES: -- but --

TAPPER: And we're paying such close attention that we knew that that was larceny, even though the prosecution did not even use the term larceny. But Tim and then Elie, I mean, again, not a lawyer, just a common guy, just a humble caveman, but it seems like they should.