MSNBC Legal Analyst Lays Out Trump Defense’s ‘Really Strong Argument’ For Acquittal

MSNBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos on Wednesday explained former President Donald Trump’s defense attorneys’ “strong argument” that the prosecution did not prove their client’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Trump is facing 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying business records related to a $130,000 payment made to keep porn star Stormy Daniels quiet about her claims of an affair ahead of the 2016 election. Cevallos on “José Díaz-Balart Reports” said the prosecution has proven that transactions took place, but that it will be a struggle for them to prove intent, which Trump’s attorney will be able to defend against.

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“Prosecution’s path is clear. They’ve established beyond a reasonable doubt the transactions,” Cevallos said. “First from Cohen to Daniels and then from Trump to Cohen. The challenge they have is proving intent. Not that they don’t have it. They have evidence of Trump’s awareness of these payments. Arguably beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump may have been aware of these, at least enough for a jury to find.”

“The defense’s argument is going to be legal,” Cevallos continued. “There’s going to be some factual element to it. Number one, Michael Cohen’s a liar. Big surprise. We knew that was coming. But in addition to that, I expect you’re going to see an empty chair defense. Where was Allen Weisselberg? They could have called him and they didn’t. His handwriting is literally all over the exhibits. That may show that this was an Allen Weisselberg-Michael Cohen production and not Donald Trump.”

Former Trump attorney Michael Cohen testified that he and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg in January 2017 met with the former president, where Trump granted payments to him amounting to $420,000 over a 12-month period. Cohen admitted on Monday that he stole from the Trump Organization while he was under cross examination by defense attorney Todd Blanche.

“And then thirdly, they’re going to focus a lot, maybe not so much on the evidence we heard from witnesses, but maybe a lot about what we heard yesterday in the charging conference,” Cevallos added. “All of that arcane philosophical discussion of intent and purpose and willfully … I expect them to make a really strong argument they failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump had the requisite awareness that he was committing a crime, or however it’s going to be phrased ultimately after the jury instructions are finalized.”

Judge Juan Merchan on Tuesday suggested he will include a sentence in his jury instruction telling jurors not to consider a “payment would have been made even in the absence of the candidacy … as a contribution,” meaning if the payment to Daniels would have been made regardless of Trump’s 2016 presidential candidacy, it is not a contribution.
 

“That’s huge because so many of these pro-prosecution pundits have said, ‘well, it came right after the TMZ tape, right before the election, other NDAs were paid. The liar doorman about the illegitimate child that didn’t exist, the McDougal money, so if the money would’ve been paid anyways and the judge is willing to instruct the jury that way, that moves the ball a lot further towards the not guilty yard line,” Criminal defense attorney Bill Brennan, who previously represented Trump asserted.

Republished with permission from The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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