Who is Robert Costello, the Donald Trump witness accused of staring down Judge Juan Merchan

All eyes were on Robert Costello on Monday after he was called to the witness stand in former President Trump’s hush money trial and was immediately reprimanded by the judge for his behavior in court.

Minutes after Mr. Costello, a former legal adviser to Mr. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, took the stand Monday, Judge Juan Machan asked jurors to leave the courtroom and asked the jury to leave the courtroom. He criticized Mr. Costello’s attitude.

Costello and Marchand had a tense exchange, and reporters were abruptly asked to leave the courtroom. At one point, Machan demanded to know if Costello was staring at him.

Jurors and reporters were allowed back into the hall minutes later without explanation, and Mr. Trump’s lawyers began questioning Mr. Costello.

Costello is a former federal prosecutor turned defense attorney. someone who spent decades in the legal field in New York. In 2018, Mr. Costello briefly served as an adviser to Mr. Cohen as federal prosecutors conducted a criminal investigation into Mr. Cohen and his activities on Mr. Trump’s behalf.

Mr. Costello is said to have suggested creating a back channel between Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen through former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who had just joined Mr. Trump’s legal team.

Taking the stand last week, Mr. Cohen told a New York jury that Mr. Costello continued to pressure him with “constant phone calls” and lengthy emails. Mr. Cohen testified that Mr. Costello was visibly angry when Mr. Cohen told him he was talking to a professional law firm instead.

Cohen called it a “pressure campaign” from Costello and other Trump allies who wanted him to remain loyal to the former president during the FBI investigation.

Cohen said: “This was part of a pressure campaign: someone is lying to you, you’re still being evaluated, the president still supports you, none of the journalists should talk, don’t say anything. Don’t listen to it.”

“Don’t flip. Don’t talk. Don’t cooperate,” Cohen added.

After the exchange between Costello and Cohen, the two fell offPartly due to alleged unpaid legal fees.

Costello and the law firm Davidoff Hatcher & Citron also sued Giuliani last year for more than $1.3 million in unpaid legal bills.

Costello and his office have been involved on numerous occasions, including during the investigation into the January 6, 2021 Capitol riot by both Congress and Special Counsel Jack Smith, and by District Attorney Fannie Willis of Fulton County, Georgia. He represented Giuliani. An alleged plot to overturn Georgia’s election results.

Mr. Smith and Mr. Willis subsequently filed two separate election interference lawsuits against Mr. Trump and certain allies.

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