Judge Denies Michael Cohen's Early Probation End, Cites Possible Perjury

New developments emerge in Cohen's complex legal saga.

by Zain ul Abedin
Judge Denies Michael Cohen's Early Probation End, Cites Possible Perjury
© Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On Wednesday, a federal judge cast doubt on the integrity of Michael Cohen, the former personal attorney to ex-President Donald Trump, suggesting Cohen may have committed perjury. This development lends weight to Trump's assertions that Cohen, a potentially crucial witness in Trump's upcoming New York criminal trial, is unreliable and dishonest.

Judge Jesse M. Furman, presiding in Manhattan, raised questions about Cohen's honesty in a written decree that rejected Cohen's plea for an early termination of his probation following a three-year incarceration for various offenses, including tax evasion, bank fraud, lying to Congress, and campaign finance violations.

The skepticism towards Cohen's credibility was amplified during Trump's civil fraud trial in Manhattan last October. Cohen, despite having admitted guilt to tax evasion charges in 2018, testified that he was not actually guilty of the said crime.

Upon being questioned if he had misled the judge who accepted his guilty plea, Cohen affirmed.

Cohen's Perjury Paradox

Judge Furman highlighted Cohen's testimony, noting the impossibility that Cohen either perjured himself during his 2018 guilty plea or during his 2023 court testimony.

Furman's observation underscored the need for Cohen to continue under court supervision, scheduled to conclude later this year, to deter further dishonesty. Trump, eyeing the Republican presidential nomination, has persistently criticized Cohen's reliability, especially following Cohen's shifting testimony in the civil fraud case, which involved allegations of Trump inflating his asset values on financial statements for loans and deals.

Although Cohen initially testified that Trump directed him to exaggerate asset values, he later conceded under cross-examination that Trump never explicitly instructed him to do so. Reacting to Furman's conclusions, Cohen's attorney, E.

Danya Perry, contested the judge's findings, labeling them as both "factually inaccurate and legally incorrect." Perry defended Cohen, emphasizing that the trial judge had found Cohen to be truthful, despite the compelling pressures often associated with plea agreements.

Alina Habba, representing Trump, stated that Judge Furman's remarks reaffirmed Cohen's perjury, advocating for prosecution based on the principle of equal justice for all. Meanwhile, the judge overseeing the civil fraud trial, Arthur Engoron, found Cohen's testimony credible despite its apparent contradictions and Cohen's controversial past.