Judge rejects Michael Cohen’s bid for early court supervision release amid perjury claims

The hush money trial, in which the former Trump fixer is a top witness, has been delayed to at least the middle of next month

Gustaf Kilander
Washington DC
Thursday 21 March 2024 13:30 GMT
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A federal judge has indicated that former Trump fixer Michael Cohen may have committed perjury.

In a written order rejecting Cohen’s request for early release from the Manhattan court, Judge Jesse Furman appeared to doubt that Cohen had been telling the truth ahead of former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial in the hush money case in New York.

Cohen was previously sentenced to three years in prison for tax evasion, lying to Congress and banks, and campaign finance violations.

Judge Furman pointed to Cohen’s testimony at Mr Trump’s civil fraud trial in October last year. While Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018, he has argued that he didn’t commit tax evasion. When he was asked if he had lied to the judge in that case, the late William Pauley III, Cohen said he had.

“Cohen repeatedly and unambiguously testified at the state court trial that he was not guilty of tax evasion and that he had lied under oath,” Judge Furman said in his written order, adding that it means that there are two possibilities: “One, Cohen committed perjury when he pleaded guilty before Judge Pauley or, two, Cohen committed perjury in his October 2023 testimony.”

“At a minimum, Cohen’s ongoing and escalating efforts to walk away from his prior acceptance of responsibility for his crimes are manifest evidence of the ongoing need for specific deterrence,” Judge Furman added in his order. He decided not to release Cohen from court supervision set to come to a close later this year.

Cohen issued a statement from his lawyer to the press, in which attorney Danya Perry said Judge Furman’s conclusion was “inaccurate” on the facts and “incorrect” on the law.

“Judge Furman did not have a front seat to the testimony at the lengthy trial,” the attorney added, noting that the judge in the case later said that Cohen had been truthful.

“And Judge Furman ignores that Mr Cohen has never disputed the underlying facts of his conduct, and also what many of Judge Furman’s own colleagues on the bench have long noted: that defendants often feel compelled to agree to coercive plea deals under severe pressure,” Ms Perry argued.

Trump attorney Alina Habba said on Wednesday that Judge Furman “confirmed what we already know: that Michael Cohen committed perjury and should be prosecuted”.

Cohen pled guilty to federal charges in 2018, noting that Mr Trump instructed him to make a hush money payment to adult actor Stormy Daniels and to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to avoid stories of their alleged affairs coming to light during the 2016 campaign. Mr Trump wasn’t charged at the time.

Mr Trump pled not guilty last year to 34 felony counts that he falsified business records to conceal the hush money payments.

The hush money trial, in which Cohen is a top witness, has been delayed to at least the middle of next month.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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