Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s reported criminal case against former President Donald Trump may have been thrown off this week after a lawyer in Trump’s orbit testified, said retired Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz.
Dershowitz appeared in a Fox News interview Tuesday and speculated that Costell’s testimony may have significantly altered the trajectory of the case. The former Harvard Law professor who has represented a number of controversial figures like O.J. Simpson isn’t involved in Trump’s legal defense team but has frequently opined on the constitutionality of the DA’s investigation.
Costello’s testimony against former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, Dershowitz claimed, could have been a “game-changer” for Trump. The former president has made similar assertions on his Truth Social website, claiming Tuesday night that the district attorney’s office is scrambling to find additional witnesses in the case.
“I think that Bragg now only has two possible results from that. Number one, he can say, ‘alright, I’m going to try to make the case without Cohen.’ He cannot use Cohen as a witness anymore. That would be unethical because of the testimony that Costello gave,” Dershowitz told Fox News. “Or he could say, ‘look, I have to drop the case.’ He may not be able to make it without Cohen. But if he can’t make it without Cohen, he can’t make it, because no ethical prosecutor is allowed to put on as a witness somebody who has told the lies and has contradicted himself so much.”
He was referring to testimony provided by Costello, a former prosecutor who has represented Rudy Giuliani, to the grand jury on Monday in connection to a $130,000 payment to Stormy Daniels in 2016. In a news conference, Costello said he attempted to damage Cohen’s testimony and said he should not be considered a credible witness in the Trump case.
The alleged Trump payment to Daniels was organized by Cohen, who served time in federal prison for tax evasion and other charges, to allegedly keep Daniels quiet about an alleged affair between her and Trump. But Trump has repeatedly denied that any affair occurred and said Cohen tried to extort him.
In comments to the New York Times on Monday, Costello said that he told the grand jury that it was he—not Trump—who arranged the hush payments, and he also criticized Manhattan prosecutors for what he said were attempts at “cherry-picking” evidence to target the former president. “They seemed clearly one-sided and not after the truth,” Costello told the outlet.
A lawyer for Cohen declined to comment on Costello’s statements to the press this week.
“I think that... it’s a game changer,“ Dershowitz said. ”I think maybe that’s a reason for the delay here. I think ethical experts are now telling Bragg, ‘wait a minute, you cannot use Cohen, but if you can’t make it without Cohen, you cannot bring this charge.’”
Since Trump announced he might be indicted on Tuesday, Bragg’s office has not issued any public statements about the investigation, only to respond to a House GOP demand for information and testimony about the probe. The Epoch Times has contacted his office for comment.
Trump’s lawyer Joseph Tacopina told news outlets Wednesday that he has no immediate comment on the development.
If Trump is arrested, he would become the first current or former president to face criminal charges in the history of the United States. Some legal analysts have said that Trump could be required to wear handcuffs or have to walk down a courtroom in front of the press for his arraignment in Manhattan, although the Secret Service may prevent that from happening.
This week, meanwhile, Dershowitz said that Trump—if convicted and sentenced to prison—could still campaign for the White House and serve as president. The reason why is that the U.S. Constitution only has three provisions that bar an individual from becoming president, and they do not include criminal charges, he told The Epoch Times.