George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley

Jonathan Turley Says Trump Defense Made Right Move By Not Calling Alvin Bragg’s Missing Key Witness

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley
George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley

George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley said on Tuesday that former President Donald Trump’s defense made the correct decision not to call previous Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg as a witness.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney, testified that he and Weisselberg met with the former president in January 2017, where Trump approved payments to Cohen amounting to $420,000, but Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg chose not to call the former CFO as a witness.

Turley said on “The Faulkner Focus” that Bragg did not call Weisselberg as a witness because he would have countered Cohen’s testimony, but that the defense should not have called him either because calling him could have posed uncontrollable risks.

Read: Judge Cannon In Florida Rejects Gag Order Request In Trump’s Classified Documents Case

“Quite frankly, I don’t think it is a miss for the defense for a couple of reasons,” Turley said in response to a question by host Harris Faulkner. “First of all … the absence of Weisselberg has got to be hit by the defense in its closing argument. There’s only one reason why the government would not call Weisselberg, and that’s that Weisselberg would contradict Cohen. Why else would you put a serial perjurer on the stand, but not the guy that he keeps on referencing? It was an agreement between Cohen and Weisselberg that defined this as a retainer and yet they didn’t call that other half of the agreement.”

“For the defense, there’s reasons why they didn’t call him, because Weisselberg could have been, just as they saw with Costello, used to bring in a whole bunch of other areas that they couldn’t control,” he continued. “Also for Weisselberg, this is a prosecution that has repeatedly threatened him to prosecute him again. So he won’t be eager to cross the prosecutors and look at another stint at Rikers.”

Defense attorney Randy Zelin said on Tuesday that Weisselberg’s absence is just one example of reasonable doubt for the jury to find in Bragg’s case against Trump.

Read: Attorney Tells CNN Alvin Bragg ‘Fell Way Short’ In Proving Trump’s Guilt

“There is reasonable doubt all over this case,” Zelin said on CNN. “Where is Keith Schiller, where is Allen Weisselberg? How did Michael Cohen get away with stealing $30,000? Hold a pity party for him, made $4 million on this, thought he‘d be chief of staff. He’s a fixer. If the plumber comes to my house to fix my leak, I could be home. That doesn’t mean I know how he‘s doing it and what it’s taking to be fixed.”

Cohen admitted while he testified under cross-examination that he stole funds from the Trump Organization.

MSNBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos on Wednesday also said Weisselberg’s absence could be part of the Trump defense’s formidable argument for acquittal.

“I expect you’re going to see an empty chair defense,” Cevallos said. “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.”

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