Michael Cohen’s ex-attorney contradicts Trump ‘fixer’s testimony, gets ripped by judge in fiery scene at hush money trial

An attorney who once represented Michael Cohen testified Monday that Donald Trump’s fixer-turned-foe had told him the ex-president “knew nothing” about the hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels — moments before irking the judge by rolling his eyes and muttering on the stand.

Robert “Bob” Costello, the second witness called by Trump’s lawyers at his Manhattan criminal trial, contradicted previous testimony by Cohen that the real estate mogul was aware of the deal to pay Daniels $130,000 to silence her story about having a tryst with him.

“Michael Cohen said numerous times that President Trump knew nothing about those payments, that he did this on his own, and he repeated that numerous times,” claimed Costello, a Trump ally who last week bashed the prosecution’s case in front of Congress.

4 Robert “Bob” Costello leaving Manhattan court after testifying in former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial on May 20, 2024. Gregory P. Mango

4 Costello contradicted previous testimony by Cohen that the real estate mogul was aware of the deal to pay Daniels $130,000 to silence her story. Elizabeth Williams via AP

Cohen also whined to him that “I don’t understand why they’re trying to put me in jail” over nondisclosure agreements, such as the one struck with Daniels, Costello, a former federal prosecutor in New York, added from the stand.

Tensions flared minutes later after Costello grew visibly peeved — muttering under his breath — after Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan sustained several objections from prosecutors to his testimony.

“Jeez,” he exclaimed at one point.

“I’m sorry?” the annoyed judge asked Costello twice.

4 Costello testified about how Cohen looked like a “maniac” when he first met him at the Regency Hotel on April 17, 2018, after Cohen’s home and law offices were raided by law enforcement. REUTERS

It came after Trump attorney Emil Bove tried asking Costello about a conversation he had with Cohen around April 19 or 20 of 2018, and Costello said he couldn’t remember off the top of his head.

Prosecutors objected to the question, and Justice Merchan sustained the objection — which irked Costello and prompted the outburst.

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The judge then excused the jury to lecture Costello about “proper decorum” inside his courtroom, telling him that if he doesn’t like a ruling, “you don’t say jeez.”

“If you don’t like my ruling, you don’t give me side eye and you don’t roll your eyes,” he said, before accusing the witness of staring him down.

4 “Michael Cohen said numerous times that President Trump knew nothing about those payments, that he did this on his own. Steven Hirsch

“Are you staring me down right now?” the judge fired. “Are you staring me down right now?”

“Clear the courtroom!” the judge said, briefly forcing reporters out into the hallway.

Behind closed doors, the judge laid into Costello and threatened to remove him from the stand, according to a court transcript.

“Sir, your conduct is contemptuous right now,” Merchan told Costello.

“I’m putting you on notice that your conduct is contemptuous. If you try to stare me down one more time, I will remove you from the stand,” the judge warned.

Addressing Bove, Merchan added: “I will strike his entire testimony; do you understand me?”

Trump’s lawyer acknowledged that he understood, according to the transcript.

“Listen to the question and answer the question,” the judge told the court.

Costello then tried to chime in, but was quickly shot down.

“Can I say something, please?” Costello asked.

“No. No. This is not a conversation,” replied the judge.

Earlier, Costello testified about how Cohen looked like a “maniac” when he first met him at the Regency Hotel on April 17, 2018, after Cohen’s home and law offices were raided by law enforcement.

“He was absolutely a maniac from the beginning, marching back and forth, pacing,” Costello said about the meeting.

Cohen was there with Costello and Jeffrey Citron, one of his partners, for the two-hour meeting.

“He kept on pacing left and right, and myself and Jeff were seated,” Costello said, adding that Cohen said his life was “shattered.”

“[He wanted to know] what my escape route is, that was his words,” recalled Costello.

Cohen testified last week he was pushed to hire Costello, a criminal defense attorney — and longtime Trump ally with ties to Rudy Giuliani — following the 2018 FBI raid.

Federal prosecutors charged Cohen that year with violating federal campaign finance law by making the payment to Daniels, and he was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to that crime, as well as tax evasion and making false statements to a bank.

Costello told lawmakers — during a hearing of the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government — last week that Cohen insisted to him at the time that Trump wasn’t involved.

“I swear to God, Bob, I don’t have anything on Donald Trump,” Costello said Cohen told him at least 10 times.

Costello, at the request of Trump’s team, testified to the Manhattan grand jury that ultimately voted to indict the ex-president on 34 counts of falsifying business records.

After his testimony in March 2023, Costello blasted Cohen — the prosecution’s star witness — telling reporters his former client had a “lie, cheat, steal” mindset.

“I’m trying to tell the truth to the grand jury,” Costello said. “If they want to go after Donald Trump and they have solid evidence, then so be it. Michael Cohen is not solid evidence.”

Costello will resume his testimony at Trump’s trial Tuesday morning.

Additional reporting by Tamar Lapin

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