Turley: ‘Kill-shot’ Witness Was ‘Not Worth Doing’

 May 21, 2024

In my opinion, Jonathan Turley is one of the most respected legal analysts in the business on TV today.

I agree with him nine out of 10 times, but I think he may have gotten this one wrong when he stated that he believed calling Bob Costello was a mistake.

Talking Points…
- Trump's defense calls Costello
- Turley responds
- Analysis

Trump Defense Team Calls Costello

On Monday, the prosecution put Michael Cohen back on the stand before wrapping up its prosecution and turning the case over to the defense. Cohen was Bragg’s star witness during the trial, and he was supposed to do the most damage of any of the 20 witnesses called by the prosecution, but that was not the case.

Most legal experts agreed that Todd Blanche, Trump’s defense attorney, crushed Cohen and exposed him as a liar. More than a few suggested Trump may not even need to call a witness and that the defense could call for closing arguments, but his defense team decided to put Bob Costello on the stand to refute Cohen’s testimony.

Costello is Cohen’s former legal adviser and had insight into the lies that Cohen had been telling on the stand over the last week, especially when it came to Cohen describing the conversations he had with Costello. Costello stated that virtually every word that Cohen had said about him was a lie. However, Costello also apparently got into a stare-down with Judge Merchan, which led to the entire courtroom being cleared.

Turley Believes ‘Kill-shot’ Witness Was Not Needed

According to Jonathan Turley, a contributing legal analyst and constitutional expert at Fox News, calling Costello may not have been needed. Turley admits that he is “risk-averse” as a defense attorney. Once he thinks he has the case won, he wraps it up, but Trump’s team clearly felt that they needed to make sure that the jury understood how much lying Cohen was doing on the stand. Having said that, Turley saw this coming based on the line of questioning that Blanche took for Cohen, stating:

“I thought there was an interesting line of questions coming from the defense. It seemed to me like they were laying the foundation to call Costello because the biggest problem with calling Costello is there’s an email which refers to Giuliani wanting to create a back-channel to Cohen.

“That meant that if you called Costello, that would open that aspect of the case to prosecutors. Many of us felt that was not worth doing. I think they waited to see how that went on examination with Cohen. I think they felt comfortable that they could blunt that with the prosecutors.”

Turley continued that since Trump’s team had already stated they felt they had won the case, this was overkill, taking a risk that was probably unnecessary. He explained:

“I’m one of those risk-averse defense attorneys. If I think I’ve won a case, I’m going to stop and I think they’ve won this case. The problem is that this is not an ordinary case. So, my view is even if there was a conviction, it would have to be overturned at this point, but this is a man running for president.

“Quite frankly, Costello is a kill-shot witness. You only call him if you want to ‘kill-shot’ a trial that you feel that you need to make sure it doesn’t result in a conviction even though I think it’s going very well for the defense.”


I understand Turley’s point and concede the man is a brilliant legal mind, but I still believe that Trump’s defense team could not take any chances here if they want to get out of this trial with a win and not have to lean on an appeal to overturn the conviction (which I have stated many times I think they would win).

If Trump has a chance to get a jury verdict in his favor, I believe he has to take it, and the best way to do that is to obliterate the star witness with corroboration that he was lying. The cross on Cohen was amazing, but the question remained if they could get at least one juror on their side to hang the jury or turn one or two jurors would have hung the jury for the prosecution to now vote in favor of an acquittal.

Now, the only question that remains is whether Trump will take the stand, a question that will likely be answered by the end of today. That would be a highly risky move on the part of the defense, and Trump could easily blow the entire case by saying the wrong thing. For his sake, I hope he stays seated at the defense table and allows his team to move forward and present closing arguments this week without taking the stand.

UPDATE: As this report was being written, the defense rested without calling Donald Trump to the stand. The case will now move to closing arguments. 

About Jerry McConway

Jerry McConway is an independent political author and investigator who lives in Dallas, Texas. He has spent years building a strong following of readers who know that he will write what he believes is true, even if it means criticizing politicians his followers support. His readers have come to expect his integrity.

Top Articles



Receive information on new articles posted, important topics and tips.
Join Now
We won't send you spam. 
Unsubscribe at any time.

Recent Articles

Recent Analysis

Copyright © 2024 - CapitalismInstitute.org
A Project of Connell Media.