This is just weird

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When Stormy Daniels was on the stand in Donald Trump’s criminal trial, Trump was visibly agitated and kept cursing under his breath. Accordingly, his legal team spent that time aggressively making dead-end objections during Daniels’ direct testimony, and then spent their cross examination viciously attacking her. It was a terrible strategy, but it matched the mood of their client that day.

When Michael Cohen took the stand on direct examination yesterday, Trump didn’t appear to understand or remember who Cohen was. Trump’s attorneys gave him photos of his rally crowds to look at so he wouldn’t fall asleep, but Trump ended up dozing off anyway. Accordingly, Trump’s attorneys sat there like bumps on a log while Cohen was testifying.

But now that Trump’s attorneys are cross examining Michael Cohen today, their approach is just kind of… weird. Trump still seems mentally checked out. Trump’s attorney is asking Cohen endless questions that aren’t particularly aggressive and don’t seem to be going anywhere. It’s not the kind of “aggressive” yet ineffective lawyering that Trump had his team throwing at Daniels. But it’s also not good lawyering. It’s just meandering and pointless, as if the goal is to keep Cohen on the stand for a long time without any real fireworks.

What would be the point of this? None, strategically speaking. What they’re doing is not helping Trump with the jury at all. As legal expert Norm Eisen put it, they’ve merely spent the day boring the jury. By the end of the day, legal reporter Tyler McBrien said that he couldn’t identify anything that Trump’s defense had gained from the cross examination.

With Trump behaving today, perhaps they’re afraid that if they go at Cohen too aggressively, Trump will remember who Cohen is, and start malfunctioning again. Whatever is playing out right now, it’s just weird. If their cross examination of Cohen extends to Thursday, we’ll see if they end up changing tactics, and if it correlates to Trump’s condition on Thursday. But for now, this is… nothing. It’s like at the end of a football game where the losing team is down by 40 points and knows it’s lost and just tries to run out the clock so it can take the loss.

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