One of the most deeply frustrating things about Donald Trump is that despite a comical amount of evidence that he’s one of the most corrupt people to walk the face of the earth, he’s essentially never once been truly held responsible for any of his shady, underhanded, “likely” criminal behavior. That pisses a lot of people off, but possibly none more so than his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who went to prison partly for the work he did on Trump’s behalf, and who recently declared that if Manhattan prosecutors don’t charge the ex-president almost immediately, they can kiss his extremely critical cooperation goodbye.
In an interview with the Daily Beast, Cohen said that if the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office—which has been investigating Trump and his company for financial fraud since 2018—doesn’t indict Trump within the next nine days, he won’t help prosecutors if they attempt to revive the case in the future. The nine-day deadline isn’t some arbitrary end point Cohen came up with—it marks the last day, April 30, that the D.A.’s office has until its time with a grand jury impaneled six months ago expires. After that, prosecutors will need to ask jurors who have already heard evidence against Trump and the Trump Organization for half a year to continue to do so, or they’ll have to “call the whole thing off and awkwardly make the entire presentation all over again in front of another 23 jurors,” per the Daily Beast. And according to Cohen, if the D.A. ends up with a new jury, he’s out.
“I spent countless hours, over 15 sessions—including three while incarcerated,” Cohen told reporter Jose Pagliery, in explaining why he’d never again sit with investigators or testify against Trump at another trial in the future. “I provided thousands of documents which, coupled with my testimony, would have been a valid basis for an indictment and charge,” he said. “The fact that they have not done so despite all of this…I’m not interested in any further investment of my time.”
As the Daily Beast notes, that would be an extremely bad turn of events for anyone hoping for Trump to be held accountable for the first time in his life, as “Cohen was a cornerstone of the investigation from the moment it was launched by the previous district attorney,” and “the entire probe is named after him.” (It’s internally called “The Fixer,” which is what Cohen was known as while working for Trump, doing things like paying off women to keep quiet about alleged affairs with his boss.) According to Pagliery, prosecutors visited Cohen on three separate occasions while he was in prison and met with him numerous times after he was released, “taking extensive notes in which [Cohen] explained how the Trump Organization operated like a Mafia—how Trump avoided putting anything damning in writing, instead using innuendo to order his lieutenants to engage in fraudulent behavior.” That information, and the documents Cohen provided, helped the D.A.’s office build a case that, in July 2021, resulted in the Trump Organization and its former CFO, Allen Weisselberg, being charged with more than half a dozen felony counts, including conspiracy, grand larceny, and multiple counts of tax fraud and falsifying records. (Both parties have denied wrongdoing.)
And yet, since then, not only have no charges been brought against the guy who owns the company, but the case against him appears to have all but fallen apart. And not, according to the investigation’s two veteran prosecutors who resigned in February, due to a lack of evidence against the former president. In fact, in his resignation letter, attorney Mark Pomerantz wrote that Trump is “guilty of numerous felony violations” and that it would be a major “failure of justice” not to hold him accountable. (After Pomerantz’s resignation, Trump’s lawyer Ronald Fischetti told the Times, “I’ve been representing Donald Trump for over a year in this case, and I haven’t found any evidence that could lead to a prosecution against him, or any crimes.”)
“The team that has been investigating Mr. Trump harbors no doubt about whether he committed crimes—he did,” Pomerantz wrote. While the new district attorney, Alvin Bragg, has insisted the Trump investigation is ongoing, and that things could pick up speed again if fresh evidence is uncovered or an insider decides to cooperate, Pomerantz warned that not indicting now would be a huge mistake. “There are always additional facts to be pursued,” he said in his letter. “But the investigative team that has been working on this matter for many months does not believe that it makes law enforcement sense to postpone a prosecution in the hope that additional evidence will somehow emerge.” Noting that Bragg “devoted significant time and energy to understanding the evidence” in the case, and undoubtedly made his decision in good faith, Pomerantz nevertheless argued that Bragg’s decision “not to authorize prosecution now will doom any future prospects that Mr. Trump will be prosecuted for the criminal conduct we have been investigating.”
So you can probably understand why Cohen—and millions of Americans—is feeling pretty frustrated.
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