We now know why Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has yet to formally indict former President Donald Trump — a little legal concept known as “exculpatory evidence.”
Readers likely know that a grand jury in Manhattan has been for months hearing ‘evidence’ in a case against Trump involving a so-called “hush money” payment ahead of the 2016 election to adult film star Stormy Daniels. The gist of the case is that Trump illegally paid her $130,000 in violation of state and federal campaign finance rules via his then-personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
Cohen has claimed, publicly and, reportedly, in testimony, that Trump was aware of what he was doing, that the money Cohen paid came from Trump’s campaign, and that the then-future president directed him to do so.
But on Wednesday, that story completely fell apart.
A letter from five years ago surfaced suggesting that Cohen provided false information to investigators regarding the payment, the Daily Wire noted.
Dated February 8, 2018, the letter was penned by Michael Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen M. Ryan, and addressed to the Federal Election Commission. Ryan asserted that Cohen utilized “his own personal funds” to orchestrate a payment of $130,000 to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
“Neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed Mr. Cohen for the payment directly or indirectly,” the letter said, in part.
Six months after the letter was sent, Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to various charges, including campaign finance infractions linked to the payment he made to Daniels.
Cohen, who was subsequently disbarred, has played a crucial role in the grand jury investigation by Bragg’s office into former Trump’s purported involvement in the Daniels payment. Cohen has informed investigators working for Bragg that he carried out the payments under Trump’s instructions and testified to this effect before the grand jury.
According to reports, Robert Costello, a lawyer who previously advised Cohen, challenged Cohen’s credibility in court this week, claiming that he possessed information that conflicted with some of Cohen’s present statements and that may potentially serve as evidence in Trump’s favor, noting it “could be exculpatory for Trump.”
Although the letter was not submitted to the grand jury, which did not convene on Wednesday but is slated to reconvene on Thursday, it could still have an impact on Bragg’s choice to pursue an indictment, considering Cohen’s credibility issues, the Daily Wire added.