Witness may challenge Michael Cohen claims in Trump case

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A lawyer called to testify behind closed doors in New York on Monday may challenge the claims of a key witness before a grand jury decides whether to charge former President Donald Trump over hush money paid to a porn star, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters on Sunday.

Robert Costello has been asked to appear before the grand jury at the request of Trump’s lawyers because he may have information that calls into question events as described by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, the source said.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office has asked Cohen to be available on Monday as a rebuttal witness, if needed, according to a second source, who did not want to be named. Cohen testified before the grand jury twice last week.

Trump, whose supporters stormed the US Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to overturn his 2020 election defeat, said Saturday that he expects to be arrested on Tuesday and called for protests.

He said “illegal leaks” indicated an arrest on Tuesday, but provided no evidence, and his spokesman said Trump had not been notified of any impending arrest.

Trump’s call for protests overshadowed the start of a three-day Florida retreat for Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“I don’t think people should protest this, no,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy told reporters. “We want calmness out there.”

The Manhattan District Attorney’s office earlier this month invited Trump to testify before the grand jury probing the payment, which legal experts said was a sign that an indictment could be close. Trump declined the offer, a person familiar with the matter said.

No US president, while in office or afterward, has faced criminal charges. Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has said he would continue campaigning even if charged with a crime.