Robert Costello and Michael Cohen’s relationship, explained

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In the Trump trial this week, lawyer Robert “Bob” Costello’s name has frequently come up during Michael Cohen’s testimony. While Costello isn’t a witness, he’s been vocal about his relationship with Cohen, though the nature of that relationship depends on who you ask.

The trial centers on an alleged illegal hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, with Cohen, Trump’s former fixer, testifying that Trump directed him to pay Daniels $130,000. The prosecution alleges that Trump tried to conceal this payment.

 

What is Costello saying?

Costello has been publicly countering Cohen’s testimony, claiming that Cohen is lying. According to Costello, Cohen previously told him, “I swear to God, Bob, I don’t have anything on Donald Trump.” Costello’s involvement dates back to March last year when he testified before the grand jury in Trump’s defense, although his testimony did not prevent Trump’s indictment.

Costello, who is closely connected to Rudy Giuliani, reached out to Giuliani about Cohen in June 2018, suggesting that Cohen needed support because he felt “abandoned” and wasn’t “thinking clearly.” At that time, Trump was publicly distancing himself from Cohen as the investigation began. Costello initially acted as a legal adviser to Cohen, and their conversations were protected under attorney-client privilege until Costello waived that right in 2019 and began speaking publicly.

In 2019, Costello explained his role, saying, “My mission was to get everyone tuned in to the same channel… a face-to-face meeting among all the lawyers together with Cohen would put everyone on the same channel. The meeting never happened, and the rest is history.”

Costello in the Trial

On May 14, prosecutors mentioned Costello in court to highlight how Trump maintained influence over Cohen. They portrayed Costello as a go-between after Trump and Cohen stopped direct communication. Costello had emailed Cohen, “Sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places,” indicating continued support.

After a fallout, Costello attempted to discredit Cohen to the grand jury. Although he is not a witness in the current trial, Costello has been vocal in media appearances. On May 16, he appeared on Fox News, arguing that the jury lacked the full context about Cohen. He claimed Cohen told him he handled the Stormy Daniels payment himself to avoid embarrassing Melania Trump, funding it with a home equity loan, and later being reimbursed.

 

Is Cohen Lying?

On Wednesday, Costello testified before the House Judiciary Committee, asserting that Cohen was lying on the stand. Democrat committee member Dan Goldman accused Costello of “jury tampering,” suggesting that if Costello had information about Cohen’s testimony, he should consult with Trump’s lawyers about testifying to impeach Cohen’s credibility.

Costello, in response, accused the jurors of bias, suggesting they might suffer from “Trump derangement syndrome” due to being from heavily Democratic New York City. He argued that some jurors might convict Trump regardless of the evidence.

The trial is expected to continue for several more weeks, with ongoing debates about the credibility of key figures like Cohen and the influence of individuals like Costello.