Former President Donald Trump Says Judge Merchan Could Gain Back ‘Respect’ Despite Presiding over ‘Witch Hunt’ Trial

Former President Donald Trump said Juan Merchan, the judge presiding over the New York v. Trump trial, can earn back “respect” if he rules to dismiss the case. 

“This case should be dropped by the judge. I think the judge, if he did,…could gain the respect back. The appellate court has to step in; something has to happen. Think of it: the Republican Party, one of the two great parties, nominates somebody to be their candidate. And that candidate now has been sitting here for almost five weeks in a freezing cold icebox listening to this stuff,” said Trump on Monday after a whirlwind day in court.

“I think the case is going very well. We’ve asked for the termination of the case. This case should be terminated. This shouldn’t go anywhere. It should be terminated right now. And New York State has to build up its system again. New York State can’t let this happen. We can’t let this happen. There were no crimes. We did nothing wrong. And I want to get back to campaigning. I’m representing millions and millions, hundreds of millions of people,” added Trump later. 

On Monday, Todd Blanche, Trump’s defense attorney, motioned for an order of dismissal, citing no evidence of the business filings or records in the first degree. District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office must prove to the jury that not only did Donald Trump falsify the business records regarding Stormy Daniels, but he also did so while furthering another crime—conspiracy to prevent or promote the election.

The prosecution team contends Trump falsified business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to former porn star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to quiet her claims of an affair with Trump. The former president has pled not guilty in the case and has denied any affair with Daniels repeatedly. Blanche said there were “absolutely no false business filings” and no evidence of a connection to Donald Trump.

“How on earth is keeping a false story from voters criminal? asked Blanche. “There is no way the court should let this case go to the jury with Mr. Cohen’s testimony,” added Blanche, referring to Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney.

Merchan told the court he would rule on the motion to dismiss later.

Another action-packed day in court

Monday was another jam-packed day in court, including Cohen, the prosecution team’s star witness, continuing to testify that he stole thousands of dollars from the Trump Organization.

Cohen admitted he stole $30,000 from the Trump Organization by overstating the amount he paid a tech company that provided services for the company. In 2017, Cohen told Allen Weisselberg, Trump Organization CFO, that he paid tech firm Red Finch $50,000 out of his own pocket and still needed to be reimbursed.

In 2017, Cohen and Weisselberg calculated a $420,000 repayment to Cohen for his $130,000 payments to Daniels and the alleged $50,000 payment to Red Finch.

On Monday, Cohen said in front of the court that he only paid Red Finch $20,000, pocketing $30,000 when reimbursed. 

“You stole from the Trump Org, right? queried Blanche to Cohen.

“Yes, sir,” responded Cohen.

Michael Cohen maintained that taking the funds was “almost like with self-help,” claiming he took them because he was “angry” his yearly bonus had been slashed.

Legal experts asserted Cohen’s admission to stealing has further shattered his credibility. The Monday comments come after Cohen had already been repeatedly labeled a liar and “grifter” by legal experts. Michael Cohen is a disbarred attorney who was sentenced in 2018 to three years in prison after he pleaded guilty to charges including lying to Congress and campaign finance fraud.

During his Monday testimony, Cohen also said he’s mulling a possible congressional run, boasting he has the “best name recognition out there.”

Cohen was the prosecution’s last witness, and the defense team called its own witnesses in the case. First, the defense team called Daniel Sitko, a paralegal in Blanche’s law firm, followed by Robert Costello, Michael Cohen’s former legal representative, who testified last year before a grand jury that Cohen is a “serial liar.”

The atmosphere in the courtroom intensified during Costello’s testimony. Judge Merchan ordered jurors and the media from the room after Costello visibly and audibly disapproved of the judge’s rulings and sustained numerous objections from the prosecution team. 

“I want to discuss proper decorum in my courtroom,” said Merchan after the jury left. “You don’t say strike it because I’m the only one who can strike it.”

Merchan warned Costello not to react to his rulings or roll his eyes. Before the jury returned to the courtroom, Merchan asked Costello, “Are you staring me down?”

Costello will resume his cross-examination on Tuesday. Closing arguments in the case are predicted to be held next Tuesday.

Trump has regularly maintained his innocence in the case and called it a “shame” and “witch hunt” promoted by the Department of Justice and the Biden administration ahead of the 2024 election.

“It’s an attack on [President Biden’s] political opponent. That’s all it is. Most of all of, the things you saw over the last four weeks should have never even been brought up. And then, on top of that, there’s no crime. And we go on day after day. And I have to tell Iowa, ‘I’m sorry, I won’t be able to make it.’ I tell New Hampshire, ‘Sorry, I won’t be able to make it. I’m sitting in an ice box all day,'” said Trump to the media earlier Monday before day 19 of the trial.