Trump Trial Day 15: Prosecution Rests Case

NEW YORK—In the latest day of trial testimony, Manhattan prosecutors have officially rested their case against former President Donald Trump pertaining to felony charges of falsifying business records in an effort to cover up an affair with adult star Stormy Daniels and other allegations of infidelity against the controversial Republican frontrunner in the 2024 election.

Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney and fixer, finished testifying on cross-examination where lawyers representing Trump, particularly Todd Blanche, presented him as a liar, former felon and disgruntled former employee looking for revenge. Cohen lost his composure during the prosecution's case only a little, but has remained balanced.

With the prosecution finished, the defense started presenting its case. According to court testimony, the defense called Robert Costello to the witness stand. Costello, also an attorney, served as a legal advisor for Cohen and was a "backchannel" for him in 2018 when the former Trump fixer was indicted, convicted and sentenced for some federal campaign finance violations and tax evasion. 

Before the defense took over, Cohen admitted he stole $30,000 from the Trump Organization when his real estate company owed technology company Red Finch $50,000.

Cohen said that he only paid $20,000 and took the rest for himself. On redirect, the prosecution reminded the court that Cohen wasn't on trial—Donald Trump is. The federal campaign finance violation Cohen was found guilty of included a payment of $130,000 to an "adult film star," per the U.S. Department of Justice indictment in 2018.

The defense called Costello because he claimed that he could prove that Michael Cohen was lying about paying Daniels, being paid $420,000 for reimbursement and compensation, and other claims crucial to the prosecution's case against Trump.

Costello testified for the defense that Cohen told him numerous times that Trump knew nothing about the payments made to Daniels through her former Los Angeles-based attorney, Keith Davidson. After just 14 minutes into testifying, Judge Juan Merchan cleared the courtroom over Costello's lack of "proper decorum."

Costello could be overheard scoffing and mocking attorneys when they were held in a sidebar over objections. He glared and rolled his eyes at the judge. Merchan warned Costello not to roll his eyes and misbehave. After yet another sustained objection, Costello made an extremely audible sigh and rolled his eyes while side-glancing Judge Merchan.

The defense counsel informed the court that Costello was the last witness for the defense. This could change, as some observers have speculated whether Trump himself will be called.

The first witness called by the defense was a paralegal presenting evidence. After the jury was excused, the defense once again motioned for the case to be dismissed. Merchan will decide on the motion later. The defense could rest its case as soon as Tuesday, handing the trial off to the jury.