Michael Cohen’s ex-legal advisor accused of jury tampering in hush money trial

Cohen has been testifying in hush money trial of his former boss, Donald Trump, this week in New York

Ariana Baio
Thursday 16 May 2024 15:16
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Representative accuses Robert Costello of ‘jury tampering’ in Donald Trump hush money trial.

Robert “Bob” Costello, former legal advisor to Michael Cohen, is being accused of jury tampering in the New York criminal trial against Donald Trump after he tried to discredit Cohen at a congressional hearing.

On Wednesday, Mr Costello testified to the House Judiciary Committee that Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer and one-time fixer, has lied on the witness stand this week. He appeared at a hearing intended to “examine the use of lawfare tactics to weaponize the rule of law”.

New York Democrat Dan Goldman lambasted Mr Costello for his allegations about Cohen, saying he was knowingly “jury tampering” by sharing that information.

“If you have information about Michael Cohen’s testimony, you should talk to Donald Trump and his lawyers to see if they want to call you as a witness to impeach Michael Cohen. But you know that coming down here, outside of that courtroom while that witness is on the stand to try to impeach his credibility and his testimony is jury tampering,” Mr Goldman said.

He added: “You know it is unethical.”

Robert Costello, former legal adviser to Michael Cohen, testifying before a House committee on 16 May 2024 (House Judiciary GOP / YouTube)

Jury tampering is an attempt to influence the decisions of a jury during a trial. One of the ways that can be done is by introducing information outside of the court, though typically it must include a direct interaction with a juror.

On Monday, the prosecution called Cohen, their star witness, to testify in the hush money trial. Throughout the week, Cohen detailed how he came to know and work for Mr Trump as well as the events leading up to the hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Cohen also testified about his relationship with Mr Costello in the Manhattan courtroom. He told jurors that he had an informal relationship with Mr Costello, who served as a legal adviser and his back channel to Mr Trump and the White House in 2018. Cohen never retained Mr Costello as his lawyer.

Mr Costello had close ties to Mr Turmp’s legal team, specifically Rudy Giuliani, Cohen said.

Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen leaves his apartment building on his way to testify in former US president Donald Trump’s ongoing criminal trial at New York State Supreme Court in New York this week (EPA)

At the time of their communication, Cohen was under federal investigation over hush money payments. Cohen later pled guilty to various charges related to that investigation, served time in jail and agreed to assist prosecutors in their case against Mr Trump.

Once Mr Trump and Cohen realized he was under investigation they ceased direct communications. Cohen said that Mr Costello then became messenger between the two. He testified on one message which Mr Costello had relayed to Cohen from Mr Trump: “Stay in the fold, don’t flip, don’t speak.”

At the House hearing on Wednesday, Mr Costello disputed that, saying that he never told Cohen to stay quiet.

Mr Costello told representatives: “[Cohen] thought he could be clever by going into the US attorney’s office and lying about the corporation. Michael Cohen went into the US attorney’s office and accused Rudy Giuliani and myself of conspiring to obstruct justice by tampering with a witness.”

Mr Costello also told CBS News earlier this week that he could be a witness for the defense at the Manhattan trial.

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