'Lunacy': Former Prosecutor Explains Why Trump Is Acting Like A 'Mob Boss' When He Attacks Cohen for 'Flipping'

'Lunacy': Former Prosecutor Explains Why Trump Is Acting Like A 'Mob Boss' When He Attacks Cohen for 'Flipping'

One of the most insane moments from President Donald Trump's new interview with Fox & Friends commentator Ainsley Earhardt is when he essentially argued the practice of defendants "flipping" on other defendants in criminal trials should be ended.

"For 30 or 40 years I’ve been watching flippers," said Trump, while discussing the plea bargain of his former personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen. "Everything's wonderful, then they get 10 years in jail and they flip on whoever the next highest one is or as high as you can go. It almost ought to be outlawed, it's not fair."

The idea of the President of the United States saying, in essence, that there should be no snitching, is mind boggling. And in conversation with CNN's Poppy Harlow and legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Thursday, former federal prosecutor Elie Hoenig compared Trump's complaint to the rhetoric of a mob boss.

"This is a subject close to my heart, having been a prosecutor not long ago, and this is lunacy," said Hoenig. "Do you know who hates cooperating witnesses most? Jeff knows this. The leaders of criminal organizations, drug traffickers hate cooperating witnesses. Mob bosses, corrupt CEOs and politicians, because that's how they get brought down. To be discouraging and intimidating people from giving testimony is outrageous."

"And I will say this," he added. "The president went on to say now they're saying Michael Cohen is a hero and they're going to build a statue. Not at all. Cooperating witnesses are bad people. That's what we say as prosecutors all the time, they're cooperating for a reason, because they're criminals. That's where the jury system kicks in. Juries will evaluate the cooperating witnesses and they'll see them and decide do I believe this person, does the other evidence back them up? If not, they acquit. But if they credit the cooperator, as we just saw largely in Manafort, they'll convict. But that's the system."

Cohen's guilty plea to eight counts of bank fraud, tax evasion, and campaign finance violations is broadly considered to implicate Trump in federal crimes as well. Trump's decision to respond by saying that ratting people out shouldn't be allowed makes the entire affair that much more damning for himself.

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card


Don't Sit on the Sidelines of History. Join Alternet All Access and Go Ad-Free. Support Honest Journalism.