Costello engaging in this kind of behavior during a historic criminal trial is shocking, CNN legal expert says   (2024)

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4:34 p.m. ET, May 20, 2024

Costello engaging in this kind of behavior during a historic criminal trial is shocking, CNN legal expert says

From CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Bob Costello engaging in behavior that caused Judge Juan Merchan to clear the courtroom is "shocking," CNN chief legal correspondent Paula Reid said.

"The fact that Costello would conduct himself in a trial like this, potentially jeopardizing a case like this, I am actually pretty surprised, but it validates the concerns that have been expressed by members of Trump's defense teams" about why they didn't want to call Costello to the stand, she explained.

"This is unbelievable that he would engage in this kind of conduct" to have the entire courtroom be cleared, Reid added.

Reid also noted that his behavior undermines everything the defense has tried to do for their client for the past week or so and it's unclear what kind of impact this is going to have on the case.

Reid also said that she personally has "dealt with (Costello) for a decade" and she is "pretty shocked" that he behaved this way on the stand. Despite having animus toward Michael Cohen and ill will toward judge, "the fact that he would engage in this kind of behavior in a criminal courtroom, in a historic case of this nature is truly shocking."

4:31 p.m. ET, May 20, 2024

The key points from attorney Bob Costello's defense testimony

From CNN's Eric Levenson

Bob Costello, a lawyer who advised Michael Cohen after Cohen’s home was raided by the FBI, testified as the defense’s second witness on Monday afternoon. Here are the key points:

Limited questioning: Judge Juan Merchan ruled Costello can testify about “two prior inconsistent statements" related to Cohen’s testimony. However, he said he did not want the questioning to become “a trial within a trial” so limited the scope.

Costello and Cohen’s meeting: Costello testified that he met with Cohen in April 2018 for two hours and that Cohen swore Trump was not involved in the hush money payments to Stormy Daniels.

"I swear to God, Bob, I don’t have anything on Donald Trump,” Cohen said, according to Costello.

"Michael Cohen said numerous times that President Trump knew nothing about those payments. That he did this on his own. He repeated that numerous times," Costello said.

Judge lectures witness on decorum: On the stand, Costello audibly reacted negatively several times to rulings from Judge Juan Merchan. Costello said “ridiculous” after one objection was sustained, said “Jesus!” after another and rolled his eyes and sighed at a third.

Finally, Merchan asked the jury to leave and then criticized the witness’s decorum. Costello held a long glare at the judge, and a furious Merchan asked “Are you staring me down?” and then said, “Clear the courtroom.” After several minutes, everybody was allowed back.

4:23 p.m. ET, May 20, 2024

Cross-examination is underway

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger is asking about the initial contact with Michael Cohen and if Robert Costello's partner reached out to Cohen.

Costello responds twice, "The email speaks for itself."

4:25 p.m. ET, May 20, 2024

Costello says he considered Cohen his client

Trump attorney Emil Bove asked Robert Costello if he considered Michael Cohen his client.

"Absolutely. I had to treat him that way."

Costello also said that his firm had sought payment from Cohen for his services.

4:31 p.m. ET, May 20, 2024

Costello denies putting pressure on Michael Cohen "to do anything"

Trump attorney Emil Bove showed the jury an email from June 7, 2018, and phone records. The call lasted 46 minutes.

The email from Costello says that "after you called me back ... I left a message for Rudy."

Costello testified after reading the email that Cohen directed him to call Giuliani on his behalf.

"Mr. Cohen was making constant complaints about Rudy Giuliani and what he was saying to the press," Costello said.

As he began to say Cohen was also complaining about his lawyers not being paid by Trump at this point in 2018, Judge Juan Merchan sustained an objection from Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger. Merchan then cautioned Costello again to answer only the question he's asked.

"Again, please just answer the question," Merchan said.

"Did you ever put any pressure on Michael Cohen to do anything?" Bove asked.
"No," Costello said.
"Did you ever pressure him to interact with Rudy Giuliani in a certain way?" Bove asked.
"No," Costello said.
4:20 p.m. ET, May 20, 2024

Costello says he gave legal advice to Cohen during lengthy phone call

Trump attorney Emil Bove, who asks Robert Costello to keep his answers narrow, questions him about a lengthy phone call with Michael Cohen over Memorial Day weekend in 2018.

He asks Costello if he gave legal advice on the 96-minute call, without getting into details.

"Yes," Costello says.

4:14 p.m. ET, May 20, 2024

Defense resumes questioning

Defense attorney Emil Bove has resumed his questioning of Robert Costello.

There was no discussion of what just transpired.

Meanwhile, Bove has brought up an email between Michael Cohen and Costello.

4:12 p.m. ET, May 20, 2024

Judge calls for jury

Judge Juan Merchan has said to get the jury.

Most of Trump's entourage got to stay in the room while the press was taken out.

4:22 p.m. ET, May 20, 2024

Court security briefly told media to leave courtroom after judge's order

Costello engaging in this kind of behavior during a historic criminal trial is shocking, CNN legal expert says (1)

There is a burst of yelling by security officers in the courtroom and they're telling the media to leave after the judge said, "Clear the courtroom."

Court security just said, "Nobody can come back in."

Shortly afterward, the media was allowed to return to their seats in the courtroom.

Costello engaging in this kind of behavior during a historic criminal trial is shocking, CNN legal expert says   (2024)
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