The Manhattan DA was skeptical about using Michael Cohen to testify against Trump. He's now helping the office investigate the ex-president's hush-money scandal.

A composite image of Michael Cohen and Donald Trump.
Michael Cohen and Donald Trump.Spencer Platt/Getty Images; Mario Tama/Getty Images
  • Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg was reportedly skeptical about using Michael Cohen in a criminal case against Trump.

  • A grand jury is now reportedly weighing charges against Trump for the 2016 hush-money scandal.

  • Michael Cohen would likely be a cooperating witness in a criminal case.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was torn about using Michael Cohen to testify against Donald Trump, according to a book obtained by the New York Times written by a former prosecutor who led the investigation into the Trump Organization.

Cohen — a former vice president of the Trump Organization and personal lawyer for the ex-president — has his own criminal history.

In addition to pleading guilty to a 2016 hush-money scheme for women who said they had affairs with Trump, he evaded taxes on property sales and lied to banks to perpetuate a New York taxi medallion scheme.

Cohen also has a penchant for talking to members of the media, which may risk the secrecy of an ambitious criminal case against a billionaire former president.

Bragg said he "could not see a world" in which the district attorney's office would bring Cohen as a witness in a criminal case against Trump, according to a forthcoming book by Mark Pomerantz, a former top attorney leading the office's investigation into the Trump Organization investigation; the New York Times reported on the book's contents.

The disclosure about Cohen could complicate another case under consideration by the office, over whether Trump broke the law for hush-money payments ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

On Monday, a grand jury in Manhattan reportedly began hearing evidence over whether Trump committed a crime in the Stormy Daniels hush-money scheme.

Cohen facilitated payments to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford and who says she had an affair with Trump, to maintain her silence ahead of the 2016 election. Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance charges in 2018, but federal prosecutors who brought the case didn't indict Trump. Cohen said he made the payments at the direction of the then-president, who was referred to as "Individual-1" in court documents.

If the Manhattan district attorney's office indicts Trump on state-level charges for the scheme, Cohen's testimony would almost certainly be used in the case. Cohen has also expressed publicly that he'd testify in a case against Trump.

Cohen didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

At the time Bragg expressed his skepticism about Cohen, the office was weighing whether to bring racketeering charges against Trump, according to Pomerantz's book.

The long-running investigation into the Trump Organization, which remains ongoing, has evaluated whether Trump broke tax, bank, and insurance laws by misrepresenting the values of its properties. The New York attorney general's office last year filed a civil lawsuit against Trump and his family members over misrepresenting property values.

In a statement provided to Insider, Bragg said the investigation was ongoing and blasted Pomerantz for deciding "to quit a year ago and sign a book deal."

"After closely reviewing all the evidence from Mr. Pomerantz's investigation, I came to the same conclusion as several senior prosecutors involved in the case, and also those I brought on: more work was needed," Bragg wrote. "Put another way, Mr. Pomerantz's plane wasn't ready for takeoff."

Pomerantz was hired by Bragg's predecessor Cyrus Vance Jr. A legendary defense attorney and former prosecutor, he returned to law enforcement solely for the Trump investigation.

Along with fellow top prosecutor Carey Dunne, Pomerantz quit the district attorney's office in early 2022 after Bragg declined to charge Trump, he wrote in a resignation letter.

The prosecutors still haven't brought charges against Trump, but they moved forward with criminal cases against the Trump Organization and its then-CFO Allen Weisselberg over tax fraud.

Weisselberg pleaded guilty to the fraud charges, and the Trump Organization was convicted at trial late last year. Weisselberg is under pressure to cooperate in the DA's Trump investigation or he could face more charges, the Times reported this week.

Trump has long denied wrongdoing and has cast law enforcement officers investigating him as politically motivated. A representative didn't immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

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