Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's recalling former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker shows a change in direction in an effort to charge former President Donald Trump, according to former federal prosecutor Robert Costello on Newsmax.
"Basically, what they're doing is really gerrymandering this," Costello told Monday's "Greg Kelly Reports" of his grand jury testimony last week that led to postponements and caused a heel-turn on the direction of the prosecution.
Gerrymandering is a term used for politically motivated lines drawn to benefit one party over the other, and Costello is speculating Bragg's office sees the weakness in forming a case against Trump using a convicted liar and a porn actor.
"Well, I think I got through to them, because [Monday] I understand they called back another witness by the name of David Pecker, who used to run the National Enquirer," Costello, a former attorney for Michael Cohen, told host Greg Kelly.
The change in direction attempts to turn the focus of Bragg's case off of a convicted felon Cohen and porn actor Stormy Daniels – who was paid for a non-disclosure agreement of an alleged affair that became public anyway. The case might be homing in on other allegations of a non-disclosure agreement with another woman Karen McDougal and Pecker.
Pecker allegedly paid for the rights to the salacious stories, designed to smear then-candidate Trump during the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign, only to not to print them.
"And what they're investigating now is he bought a story involving the McDougal lady and then never published the story," Costello continued to host Greg Kelly. "So, apparently, Mr. Pecker admitted with the federal authorities when he got a non-prosecution agreement that he should have filed with the Federal Election Commission, the FEC.
"But that doesn't mean that Donald Trump should have filed something. The only way that Mr. Pecker would involve Donald Trump is if Donald Trump repaid that money, and I haven't heard any allegation that he did."
Pecker had already testified to the grand jury before, and he was first witness brought back Monday after Costello's testimony caused the week-long pause in Bragg's case.
"So the fact that they had him in here once before and then brought him back after I dealt with Michael Cohen tells me – and, of course, I don't understand this, I don't know this for a fact, but this is my speculation – that they're moving away from Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels and trying to focus their investigation on the National Enquirer's purchasing the story of Mrs. McDougal and then not publishing it."
Ultimately, Bragg's case is still doomed on the local level because this angle of the story is a federal jurisdiction and not a Manhattan violation, according to Costello.
"And the thing is, if Pecker did anything wrong – and I'm not suggesting that he did – it would be a federal violation, not a state law violation," Costello continued. "I don't know why they're even looking at that."
Also, Bragg has a history of anti-Trump animus, including tweeting May 30, 2020, at the height of the 2020 presidential election and around the state of the summer of George Floyd riots, that Trump is "a racist and absolutely terrible."
The public animus is more than just a bad look and unethical for Bragg. It is damning for the prosecutor's ability to fairly handle this case, according to Costello.
"I think he should recuse himself," Costello said. "I was unaware of that statement, but having read it now, there's no question in my mind that if he had any sense of fairness he would recuse himself.
"If that's the way he feels about Trump, he can't be impartial about this."
Costello has been a key witness in dismantling Cohen's credibility before, he said, having been seated before the Southern District of New York to talk about Cohen's inconsistencies.
"Michael Cohen is an example of a person who lies again and again and again," Costello said. "We already know that he's a convicted perjurer. He perjured himself before the House, but he came to us seeking legal advice and managed, over the 2½ months or so that we were associated with him, to tell us probably another 30 or 40 lies – lies where he contradicted himself from one session to the next.
"Absolutely a guy who cannot be trusted."
Costello continued the U.S. attorney's office for the Southern District sent him a copy of a waiver of the attorney-client privilege, leading him to sit down to talk about Cohen at their request.
Costello said he "spent two hours with two FBI agents and two assistant United States attorneys" and that apparently ended the federal prosecutor's interest in the case.
"At the end of that, the Southern District of New York did not have any further dealings with Michael Cohen," Costello said. "By the way, that should have been a lesson to the DA's office."
Cohen has told liberal media outlets recently he did not know he had waived attorney-client privilege, and Costello called that "insanely stupid."
Costello said he was contacted by the U.S. attorney's office in March 2019 about the waived privilege document, something apparently Bragg was completely unaware of.
"The thing that's shocking is that the DA's office was unaware that Michael Cohen had waived the attorney-client privilege; that's astonishing," Costello said. "It shows a lack of due diligence on their part that they didn't know that, or that Michael Cohen lied to them, just as he lied on that other network when he said 'I didn't sign an attorney-client privilege waiver.'
"It's signed by Michael Cohen and his then-lawyer Michael Monaco."
Costello noted Bragg has worked to reduce criminal felonies in Manhattan to misdemeanors under a progressive criminal-justice agenda, but in an effort to get Trump, Bragg is working a "novel" legal premise to increase a potential misdemeanor to a felony to get over a legal hump of statute of limitations, Costello warned.
"This is absolutely the worst set of facts that you could have to bring a novel legal theory against a former president," Costello concluded. "It stinks of political bias consistent with that quote you just read from Bragg."
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Eric Mack has been a writer and editor at Newsmax since 2016. He is a 1998 Syracuse University journalism graduate and a New York Press Association award-winning writer.
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