Michael Cohen’s cross-examination starts strangely and doesn’t get much better

Heading into Donald Trump’s criminal trial, Michael Cohen’s cross-examination was one of the most closely anticipated parts, if not the most closely anticipated part. Lawyers on both sides surely knew it was coming, and the prosecution used its direct examination to further corroborate its case and add yet more evidence that Cohen was uniquely positioned to present.

So why did defense lawyer Todd Blanche’s cross-examination start so strangely on Tuesday afternoon?

Almost immediately, Trump’s attorney asked his client’s former fixer whether he had recently gone on TikTok and called Blanche a “crying little s—” (using a curse word for excrement).

“Sounds like something I would say,” Cohen replied. The prosecution objected, and Judge Juan Merchan sustained the objection and asked the parties to approach the bench.

Now, you probably don’t have to be a lawyer to know that it’s not a good sign for the rhythm of your cross-examination — the key to which is control — to quickly have a sustained objection followed by a meeting with the judge. It got worse for Blanche at the sidebar when Merchan asked him (out of earshot of the jury): “Why are you making this about yourself?”

It got worse for Blanche at the sidebar when Merchan asked him (out of earshot of the jury): “Why are you making this about yourself?”

Blanche replied that Cohen was biased against him, but the judge reminded the former president’s lawyer that it doesn’t matter whether a witness is biased against the lawyer; it matters if the witness is biased against the defendant. Merchan struck the question and sent Blanche on his way to continue his cross.

From there, however, it doesn’t seem to have gone a whole lot better for the defense, whose examination was “challenging to follow, even for close observers of the case,” per NBC News.

To be sure, the cross isn’t over. And after Wednesday’s day off, Blanche can make more headway Thursday with the witness who’s poised to be the prosecution’s last one before it rests its case. But the defense lawyer (and the client) likely hopes to finish stronger than he started. A further challenge Blanche may encounter, however, is that while he’ll have a day to catch his breath, so will Cohen.

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