By Veronica Stracqualursi, CNN
Michael Cohen, formerly one of Donald Trump’s top confidants before turning against him to become the star witness in the investigation into the New York real estate mogul’s business and finances, is “disappointed” by reports that the Manhattan district attorney has decided not to bring criminal charges against the former President.
“I was disappointed. I was discouraged. And I was distressed,” Cohen told CNN+’s Kasie Hunt in an interview that aired Thursday on “The Source.” “I was disappointed, because no one is supposed to be above the law.”
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office has been investigating Trump and the Trump Organization and whether they misled lenders, insurers, and others by providing them false or misleading financial statements about the value of properties.
Bragg in February informed the two top prosecutors leading the criminal probe that he wasn’t ready to authorize an indictment, leading the prosecutors to resign, a person familiar with the investigation told CNN. CNN previously reported that the resignations had followed weeks of internal debate within the office over the strength of the case, with some prosecutors believing that there is sufficient evidence to charge.
Cohen, who expected to be a key witness in the case, said he was disturbed by Bragg’s decision because he had “given so much time” to investigators and turned more than over 10,000 documents.
Bragg’s office has maintained that the investigation is ongoing and added attorneys to the team. Danielle Filson, a spokeswoman for Bragg, has told CNN, “A team of experienced prosecutors is working every day to follow the facts and the law. There is nothing more we can or should say at this juncture about an ongoing investigation.”
Cohen told CNN+ that he had met with the district attorney’s office 15 times — the last time falling roughly two months before Bragg’s decision.
Asked how detailed the questions from investigators had become, he replied, “Each and every time that I met with them, it became more and more and more detailed. So it started off at 35,000 feet. And by the last time of our meeting, we were down to maybe five feet.”
Cohen told CNN+ that investigators had zeroed in on finances, including tax and insurance-related questions.
He also added that he had never spoke with Bragg since he took office in January, but had spoken with Bragg’s predecessor, Cy Vance, several times. He added that he never went before the special grand jury, whose term is set to expire at the end of next month but could be extended.
Cohen testified before Congress in 2019, alleging that Trump inflated and devalued the worth of assets for his advantage. He pleaded guilty to nine criminal charges, including lying to Congress. Bragg’s decision had factored in Cohen’s potential role as a witness. The defense could use Cohen’s conviction and public criticism of Trump to discredit him as a witness.
When pressed about this by CNN+, Cohen said that Bragg’s office had discussed his credibility with him and that he had provided documentary evidence because he “didn’t want anyone to question my credibility.”
Cohen said he lied to Congress to minimize Trump’s connections to Russia at Trump’s request, adding, “If that’s what’s gonna make me a convicted liar, I throw my hands up and I say, then I am a convicted liar.”
Trump has called the investigation a “sham” and that his company has assets that “in many cases” are “far more valuable than what was listed in our financial statements.”
The office of New York Attorney General Letitia James is also conducting a civil investigation into Trump and his real estate company, and is seeking depositions of Trump, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump, who have filed appeals in their fight to quash the request.
Cohen told CNN+ he has spoken with the civil investigation several times and would “absolutely” speak to attorney general’s office again if asked.
Cohen also weighed in on Russia’s war in Ukraine, telling CNN+ that he believes US posture would have been much different had Trump — who has often praised Russian President Vladimir Putin — been president.
“I think that Trump would have provided nothing to Ukraine, there would be no missiles, no stingers, no javelin, no ammunition, nothing, no, no, no aid,” he told CNN+, adding, “If Donald was in office, I would even bet that he would send military forces in order to assist Putin in doing this.”
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