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Attorney seeks to discredit Michael Cohen in Trump grand jury investigation

Officials brace for possible Trump indictment
New York officials brace as possible Trump indictment looms 03:34

A former legal adviser to Michael Cohen, a key witness in a Manhattan grand jury's investigation into former President Donald Trump, sought to discredit Cohen on Monday as a liar on a "revenge tour." 

Robert Costello, who appeared before the grand jury at the request of Trump's attorneys, told reporters after his testimony that Cohen has said things "that are directly contrary to what he said to us." 

Costello described Cohen as being in "a manic state" when they met for the first time at Cohen's request in April 2018. By that time, federal agents had already raided Cohen's home and office as part of a number of investigations, including a probe into the $130,000 payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels shortly before the 2016 election. 

"He'd be talking to us while pacing like a wild tiger in a cage, back and forth," Costello said. "He was really frazzled. He looked like he hadn't slept in three, four, five days. And he'd just suddenly stop in the middle of talking about something, point at us and he'd say, 'I want you guys to know, I will do whatever the f--- it takes. I will never spend one day in jail.' He must have said that close to 20 times. 

"Well, he went to jail," Costello continued. "And now he's on the revenge tour." Cohen was sentenced to 3 years, which he served partly in home confinement. 

"If Bob Costello's comments were any more fantastical, he would be a bestselling fiction author," Cohen told CBS News on Monday evening. "It is important to note that I am not the one who slept with Stormy. I stated years ago and remain consistent that the payment was done at the direction of, in coordination with and for the benefit of Donald J. Trump. Truth is truth and the documents in the possession of the DANY demonstrate this. Then again, Bob works for Rudy Giuliani which should explain his lack of veracity."

As the Manhattan district attorney's investigation picked up steam, Cohen repeatedly met with investigators and spent two days testifying before the grand jury about Trump's alleged role in the payments, including potential campaign finance violations and falsification of business records. 

Costello said Cohen told him that he was approached by Daniels' lawyer about a potential lawsuit. Daniels has claimed she had sex with Trump in 2006, which he denies. 

"So Michael Cohen decided on his own — that's what he told us, on his own — to see if he could take care of this," Costello said. "So he sat with the lawyer for Stormy Daniels. They negotiated a nondisclosure agreement for $130,000." 

Costello said he asked Cohen whether he took the money from his own account or whether it was Trump's money, and Cohen told him it was from a home equity line of credit. 

"I said, 'Why would you do that?'" Costello said of their conversation. "He said, 'Because I wanted to keep this secret, even secret from my own wife.'" 

Cohen has alleged that Trump authorized the payment to Daniels to buy her silence during the 2016 campaign and that the Trump Organization reimbursed him for the payment.

"He's totally unreliable," Costello said. 

Costello said he has given five packets of materials that contain hundreds of emails between Cohen and his law firm from 2018 and 2019 to the Manhattan district attorney and Trump's lawyers. He urged the district attorney to provide all the documents to the grand jury, instead of a select few. 

"Let them see exactly who Michael Cohen is," he said. 

–Graham Kates contributed to this report.

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