Trump says Judge Merchan has way to gain back ‘respect’ despite presiding over ‘witch hunt’ trial

Former President Donald Trump said the judge presiding over the NY v. Trump trial, Juan Merchan, 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, that … 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,” Trump said Monday following a whirlwind day in court. 

“I think the case is going very well. We’ve asked for 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,” Trump later added. 

Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche on Monday motioned for an order of dismissal, citing that there has been no evidence any of the business records or filings related to the case were false. The case itself focuses on 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. DA Alvin Bragg’s office must prove to the jury that not only did Trump falsify the business records related to payments to Stormy Daniels, but that he did so in furtherance of another crime – conspiracy to promote or prevent election. 

COHEN’S BOMBSHELL ADMISSION COULD LEAD TO HUNG JURY, IF NOT ACQUITTAL: EXPERT

The prosecution team argues that Trump falsified business records to conceal a $130,000 payment to former pornography star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election to quiet her claims of an affair with Trump. Trump has pleaded not guilty in the case and has repeatedly denied any affair with Daniels. 

NY V TRUMP: MICHAEL COHEN ADMITS TO STEALING TENS OF THOUSANDS FROM FORMER PRESIDENT’S BUSINESS

Blanche said there were “absolutely no false business filings” and no evidence of connection to Trump.

“How on earth is keeping a false story from voters criminal?” Blanche said.

“There is no way the court should let this case go to the jury with Mr. Cohen’s testimony,” he added, referring to former Trump attorney Michael Cohen. 

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

NY V. TRUMP: MICHAEL COHEN TESTIFIES HE’S CONSIDERING CONGRESSIONAL RUN

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

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

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

Cohen said Monday before the court, however, that he only paid Red Finch $20,000 – meaning he pocketed $30,000 when he was reimbursed. 

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“You stole from the Trump Org, right?” Trump attorney Todd Blanche asked Cohen Wednesday morning. 

“Yes, sir,” Cohen responded. 

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

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

NY V. TRUMP TO RESUME WITH CONTINUED CROSS-EXAMINATION OF MICHAEL COHEN AS TRIAL NEARS CONCLUSION

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

Cohen was the prosecution team’s final witness, with the defense team now calling their witnesses in the case. The defense team first called Daniel Sitko, a paralegal in Blanche’s law firm, and then Robert Costello, a former legal representative of Cohen who testified before a grand jury last year that Cohen is a “serial liar.” 

The courtroom became tense during Costello’s testimony, with Merchan ordering the media and jurors out of the room after Costello audibly and visibly disapproved of the judge’s rulings sustaining multiple objections from the prosecution team.

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

MICHAEL COHEN ONCE SWORE TRUMP WASN’T INVOLVED IN STORMY DANIELS PAYMENT, HIS EX-ATTORNEY TESTIFIES

Merchan reprimanded Costello to not roll his eyes or react to his rulings. Before the jury came back into the courtroom, Merchan asked Costello: “Are you staring me down?”

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

FLASHBACK: TRUMP-MANHATTAN DA CASE: BOB COSTELLO TESTIFIES TO GRAND JURY, SAYS MICHAEL COHEN IS A ‘SERIAL LIAR’

Trump has consistently maintained his innocence in the case, calling it a “sham” and “witch hunt” promoted by the Biden administration and Department of Justice ahead of the 2024 election. 

“It’s an attack on [President Biden’s] political opponent. That’s all it is. All of the things you saw over the last four weeks, most of it 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,'” Trump told the media earlier Monday before day 19 of the trial kicked off. 

Fox News Digital’s Brooke Singman and Brandon Gillespie contributed to this report. 

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