Patterico's Pontifications

4/8/2023

Patterico at The Dispatch: A Modest Case for the Case Against Donald Trump

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 3:04 pm



My latest Constitutional Vanguard newsletter makes the announcement:

The good folks at The Dispatch have published my 4,400 word analysis of the Trump indictment. I’m very happy with the way it came out. The piece is free for all to read; you need only set up a free Dispatch account, which is accomplished in seconds.

In the piece, I go through the charges and the possible evidence Bragg might present in support of those charges. I also offer a rebuttal to some of the specific arguments raised by critics of the indictment.

I am somewhat more sanguine about Alvin Bragg’s prospects for this case than most. You might have noticed that there are many, many critics of the indictment, from both the right and the left. I’m not one of them. (Interestingly, New York state practitioners tend to view the indictment in a more positive light.) As such, my piece offers something of a contrarian viewpoint. I don’t say the indictment is strong, necessarily—just that it might be.

In the extended entry I have several additional observations, including some that were cut from the piece for reasons of length and cohesion, and others that I have thought about since it was published. Here is one of the latter variety:

I also think it’s worth addressing another deep-dive issue that some critics have argued: the indictment charges Trump with falsifying records in 2017. How can Trump have been intending to influence the election held in November 2016 by falsifying records in 2017?

The answer is: he wasn’t, and nobody is saying he was. Cohen is the one who had to have the intent to influence the election, which is something he admitted under oath in his allocution. He had to make the payment in coordination with Trump, but from the jury instructions in the John Edwards case quoted above, the relevant intent appears to be that of the donor. Under the New York statute, Trump’s intent 1) must include an intent “to defraud” (which is a very broad concept under New York state law), and 2) must also “include” an intent to conceal Cohen’s crime. It’s not really important under New York state law whether Trump had mixed motives for trying to conceal Cohen’s crime. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t really matter why Trump intended to conceal Cohen’s crime. Maybe it was to save his own marriage, to help out his loyal lawyer, and/or to save himself personal embarrassment. But under New York state law, if Cohen violated federal campaign finance law by paying off Daniels to influence the campaign, and Trump falsified documents to cover up that crime for any reason, I think that’s enough under the state statute.

Read it here. Subscribe here.

67 Responses to “Patterico at The Dispatch: A Modest Case for the Case Against Donald Trump”

  1. Hello.

    Patterico (f63ec7)

  2. Are states allowed to enforce federal laws? Could a state criminalize any act that aids violations of federal immigration law?

    James B. Shearer (e1dd6a)

  3. James,

    Did you read the piece?

    Patterico (f63ec7)

  4. “Did you read the piece?”

    No.

    James B. Shearer (e1dd6a)

  5. *shrug emoji*

    Patterico (f63ec7)

  6. I read it.

    But the one thing we know is that this is not an obvious assault on the rule of law.

    Your essay is a legal analysis. This bears little on whether it’s an assault on the rule of law.

    I’ve used this analogy before:

    If a cop writes me up for speeding at 72 in a 65 zone, but let’s an off duty cop or a favored legislator or judge or DA off the hook for going the same or faster, I don’t really care about the finer points of traffic law. Nobody should care. I broke the law. Therefore citing me, and not them, isn’t an assault on the rule of law. Yeah, go with that.

    Trump is being targeted because he’s a republican candidate for president. If he weren’t, absolutely no one including Bragg would bring this case. Nobody would care. Yes, it’s an obvious assault on the rule of law.

    JF (7de950)

  7. Patterico, please consider banning/moderating silly responses with impunity. I look forward to folks who genuinely, in good faith, respond to your essay. I am pointing no fingers, but I am kind of cringing at what I expect to read soon after 4:30PM.

    Simon Jester (ff9c91)

  8. Charging Trump with any crime is viewed by his supporters as an assault on the rule of law. Applying legal norms to Trump only makes him stronger:

    ……….
    ………… In the latest Economist/YouGov Poll, most Republicans continue to want Trump to run for the White House in 2024. This week, 61% of Republicans say he should run, the highest share of Republicans who have said this since the question started being asked in July 2022. One-quarter of Republicans do not want to see Trump run for the White House next year.
    ……….
    ………. In this poll Trump’s lead has expanded to 17 points: Trump 50%, DeSantis 33%. Other YouGov polling conducted after the indictment found that Republicans are rallying around Trump, but it remains to be seen whether that trend will continue.

    ……….. Trump receives a favorable rating from 79% of Republicans (up 4 points in a week), with 19% now unfavorable towards him (down 1 point since last week’s poll).
    ……….
    Top lines and cross tabs.

    Rip Murdock (a78f1f)

  9. Rip Murdock (a78f1f) — 4/8/2023 @ 4:54 pm

    Given that 69% of Republicans in the poll don’t believe that Biden was legitimately elected I’m not surprised.

    Rip Murdock (a78f1f)

  10. I hope to see you writing at the Dispatch more. You’d make a great addition and lots of eyeballs. Hopefully that can be a thing.

    AJ_Liberty (0572b9)

  11. More from the Economist/YouGov Poll:

    Do you think Donald Trump did or did not falsify business records…….?

    All voters
    Did 47%
    Did Not 25
    Not Sure 27

    Republicans
    Did 16
    Did Not 50
    Not Sure 34

    Trump NY Indictment – Witch Hunt or Legitimate Investigation

    All Voters
    Legitimate investigation 45%
    Witch Hunt 40
    Not Sure 15

    Republicans
    Legitimate investigation 14
    Witch Hunt 78
    Not Sure 9

    Trump Fair Trial NY

    All Voters
    Yes 39%
    No 40
    Not Sure 21

    Republicans
    Yes 18%
    No 69
    Not Sure 13

    Trump Conviction Likelihood

    All Voters
    Very likely 13%
    Somewhat likely 26
    Not very likely 25
    Not likely at all 15
    Not sure 20

    Republicans
    Very likely 7%
    Somewhat likely 19
    Not very likely 28
    Not likely at all 27
    Not sure 19

    Rip Murdock (a78f1f)

  12. Leverage upon leverage, then charge each entry as a separate crime, as if each payment was an independent act. If he was hiding a crime, he decided to hide it once, not 34 times.

    This isn’t like 34 bank robberies, but more like charging a separate robbery for each bundle of cash into the bag.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  13. No, Kevin. He decides to hide it each time he signs another “retainer” check or approves another ledger entry.

    lurker (cd7cd4)

  14. What if republican prosecutors start arresting and indicting democrats or their black constituents on trivial or trumped up charges in retaliation and start shooting saying they were resisting arrest. Look what happened in tennessee last week. This is why trying politicians for political crimes as opposed to graft is so dangerous. Personally I would like to see tit for tat as it would further expose the biden/clinton corporate wing of the party for the corporate stooges they are and help AOC take over the party faster. I already got my “I’m with her!” tee shirt with AOC’s picture on it.

    asset (0f442b)

  15. I already got my “I’m with her!” tee shirt with AOC’s picture on it.

    That will be a nice item to show your great grandchildren when they ask you who the heck AOC was. In case that’s not clear enough, you’ll be a major party nominee for president before AOC is.

    I still have my “Al Gore 1998” Clinton impeachment t-shirt. That was a better bet than AOC 2024 or 2028.

    lurker (cd7cd4)

  16. @15 Every month 200,000+ minority kids turn voting age. Its higher if you add dreamers. About 100,000 republicans pass on each month. Remember how we heard from the right latinx are leaving the democrat party then came the 2022 election where they only took the house because 4 dino corporate establishment stooges lost in NY when AOC supporters wouldn’t vote for these corrupt grifters. (one even lost to george santos!) Generation Z half of which have not reached 18 had the highest percent voting democrat with millenials the next highest and they outnumber boomers. Every day we get more numerous your side dies off! 2028 or 2032 AOC becomes president.

    asset (0f442b)

  17. I wasn’t sure if you were still kicking around that joint, but good that you are.

    Paul Montagu (8f0dc7)

  18. asset: “2028 or 2032 AOC becomes president.”

    I guess never say never, but what exactly are her qualifications and accomplishments that make her a great choice for Commander-in-Chief and the head of the Executive branch? It doesn’t appear that she has ever run anything, has zero international experience, and has neither served in the military or demonstrated much interest in what they do. I do vaguely remember her flip flopping about on some Israel policy and she is a founding member of the Squad with others like Tlaib and Omar who have demonstrated little cross-party appeal. She has only won elections in a strongly-Democrat congressional district, choosing to not seek state-wide office.

    But why she will languish is because of her ideas. She’s a hard-core socialist in a country that leans a bit right in its preferred economics. Most here don’t want to become Venezuela or turn-over trade and regulatory direction to someone whose prime private sector job experience has been bartender. She has an economics degree, but one can hardly detect it based on how she plans to pay for her many Utopian proposals. She’s less of a skilled politician and more of a social influencer of sorts, whatever that means. She wants a Green Economy but demonstrates little expertise with the technology or with what is sensible.

    Now I suspect that not-hard-on-the-eyes, Puerto Rican, woman is all that asset really needs. Add in her contempt for capitalism and willingness to spend other people’s money to buy votes, and she is the Left-wing’s perfect middle finger to everyone else. But if you’re not Left wing or not a radical, why would you vote for her? After Trump, do we really need another President who knows little and has no qualifications? Do we let 8yr olds drive on the expressway because they’re cute?

    The Democrat Party saved itself from Bernie because it understands that Utopian socialists scare the hell out of most people. And as beloved as Social Security is, people will fight tooth and nail to keep choice in medicine and the free market in education. Clearly getting elected President doesn’t mean these policies automatically happen, but who wants to even dabble in failed ideologies and complexity that gets wisped away with a beaming smile and youtube video? I agree with Lurker. The AOC t-shirt will make a great novelty piece down the road.

    AJ_Liberty (0572b9)

  19. No, Kevin. He decides to hide it each time he signs another “retainer” check or approves another ledger entry.

    So, according to you, he is in a quandary each time, but settles on “hide it” purely de novo? Again, that is like saying that the robber decides each time he puts cash into the bag.

    That dog don’t hunt and the judge should throw out the repetitive charges.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  20. Probably the thing that bothers most outside the two tribes is the degree to which this case is trumped up. The prosecutor takes what might be single misdemeanor on Trump’s part (and maybe one on Cohen’s part) blames Trump for both, and expends it to 34 felonies.

    This case is weak, and there are many points of failure:

    * It unclear that a lawyer’s bill must be accurate in all respects, even if that accuracy would breach the client’s privilege?

    * It is unclear that Trump coerced, demanded or controlled Cohen’s billing statement(s).

    * It is unclear that Trump intended to cover up a crime that he did not view as a crime (and still does not). Instead it is quite believable that he was covering up the basis for the payment (the extortion about sex). As we know, everyone lies about sex and that’s OK even if in sworn testimony, which this was not.

    * So, we are left with a misdemeanor chaerge that Trump made false business records for his reimbursement, ones that matched the bills he received.

    * We know all of this this because Cohen tells us it is true.

    When Trump beats this charge, it will empower his cult to claim that the insurrection case is a witch hunt, and many outside the cult will think this might be so. I guess if one is in the “I hate Trump” tribe this case (or any case) that offers the potential of jailing Donald Trump makes sense. But this is an own goal in most respects.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  21. I guess never say never, but what exactly are her qualifications and accomplishments that make her a great choice for Commander-in-Chief and the head of the Executive branch?

    AOC is demonstrably less qualified to be president than Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, James Dobson, Eric Garcetti or George Gascón.

    She is more qualified than … well … most dead people.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  22. The prosecutor takes what might be single misdemeanor on Trump’s part (and maybe one on Cohen’s part) blames Trump for both, and expends it to 34 felonies.

    from The Dispatch comments: “Is it political? Why upgrade misdemeanors to felonies for a white collar crime when you’re downgrading violent felonies to misdemeanors?”

    Haven’t yet seen a decent answer. Conjuring a legal justification is not an answer. It’s not a legal question, and lawyers hate to hear that.

    JF (3d20b0)

  23. I guess never say never, but what exactly are her qualifications and accomplishments that make her a great choice for Commander-in-Chief and the head of the Executive branch?

    You should ask that question of every presidential candidate.

    Rip Murdock (061f58)

  24. When Trump beats this charge, it will empower his cult to claim that the insurrection case is a witch hunt, and many outside the cult will think this might be so.

    My prediction is that the Trump cult will be unmoved by any legal case brought against Trump. They didn’t see an insurrection, they saw a call to arms to save America.

    Rip Murdock (061f58)

  25. “That dog don’t hunt and the judge should throw out the repetitive charges.”

    I haven’t seen an actual lawyer or legal scholar make this argument. I’m also not sure how much it matters. Yes, 34 counts with 4 years per count would mean that Trump could face 136yrs in prison, but NO ONE is predicting that. Heck, most legal experts are saying that a 70+ yr old, convicted of a non-violent E-felony, with no identifiable victim and no prior convictions would normally not get jail time. So 34 counts or 1 count does not change the burden required by the prosecution or add to the expense of the defense. Lurker’s explanation seems consistent with how other felony crimes are accounted like with drug distribution or distribution of kiddie porn.

    AJ_Liberty (5f05c3)

  26. “They didn’t see an insurrection, they saw a call to arms to save America.”

    They already lost to Biden once and that was without the baggage of Jan 6th. This is as much about hatred of liberals and being in power to prosecute the cultural war…as it is about blind support of Trump. With each indictment, the pragmatists at FNC and in Talk Radio will recognize that they are losing more and more of the middle. Between DeSantis, Haley, Scott, or even Pompeo, the base doesn’t want to lose more judicial appointments and lose control of the regulatory apparatus. They could just think short term and want to fight the liberals “unjustly” persecuting Trump, but I’m not sure that will sell once the rubber hits the road come primary season.

    AJ_Liberty (5f05c3)

  27. Hi AJ

    This true:
    “This is as much about hatred of liberals and being in power to prosecute the cultural war…”

    This is also true:
    This is as much about hatred of conservatives and being in power to prosecute the cultural war…”

    At this point in the contest, the combined fringe team is beating the middle team

    steveg (d930cf)

  28. KevinM

    When I looked at it, the thing that jumped out at me was how Cohen structured the payments and said to bill it to a retainer agreement account he did not seem to have sent much less signed. Absent texts, emails, voice recordings to and from Trump and with Trump very clearly coordinating, the blame for that falls 100% on the lawyer. I’m confident nearly 100% of lawyers don’t tell their clients “hey there esteemed client, email me over your retainer agreement, your terms for my services, detailing what you think is my scope of work. Also include whatever schedule of payment you can construct, and I, your lawyer, will sign and return it posthaste”. I’d suppose one could even argue Cohen was being misleading when referring to a retainer agreement Cohen must have known did not exist.
    My guess is we will learn more about what Cohen really gave Bragg because there will be leak and spin from both sides coming soon

    steveg (d930cf)

  29. My prediction is that the Trump cult will be unmoved by any legal case brought against Trump

    No argument. But for those that look at politics only for 3 months of years divisible by four?

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  30. I haven’t seen an actual lawyer or legal scholar make this argument.

    I have. Although not in any “TRUMP INDICTED!!1!!” piece that seems to clutter the internet.

    But maybe you’ll accept an article (PDF) linked from the US Department of Justice, which covers the topic of prosecutorial overcharging in some detail. A relevant paragraph:

    Horizontal overcharging takes two forms. One is the charging of separate counts for every similar offense, as when an embezzler is charged with fifty counts or having made fifty false entries in his employer’s books. The second is the fragmenting of a single criminal transaction into numerous component parts, as when a “bad check artist” is charged with forgery, uttering and publishing, and larceny by false pretenses all for passing a single check.

    This is considered impropriety, aimed at coercing a plea bargain.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  31. felony crimes are accounted like with drug distribution or distribution of kiddie porn.

    Oh, please. Drug sales are separate crimes, with separate players and separate potential victims. Similarly with kiddie porn.

    This was one crime (at most) committed over a period of time with the same (alleged) intent of covering up a crime (that Trump did not think was a crime) when he covered it up. He was doing this for other reasons.

    EVERY piece of information you have is from a convicted perjurer who took a sweetheart deal of two years for crimes that included not paying taxes on $4 million dollars. That crime, by itself, is 3 years at the low end. But not for the guy with the good story.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  32. The DoJ example in #30 suggests that it is improper to charge an embezzler with 50 crimes because of 50 separate embezzlements from the same employer. Be that as it may, Trump’s actions don’t even rise to that level.

    Kevin M (1ea396)

  33. AOC knows there is a lot of hate for her and 2024 is problematic. Older republicans who are slowly dying off so 2028 or even 2032 is more likely. We don’t have to convince republicans only wait for them to be buried or overwhelmed. AOC is a democratic social welfare socialist not a real socialist who wants the government to take over the means of production. AOC opposed amazon’s corporate welfare queen. She did not want the government to nationalize amazon as a socialist would. By the way this assumes that gov. abbott doesn’t pardon the black lives matter killer and democrat gov. don’t start pardoning killers of republican politicians in retaliation ;but hey who knows how crazy things can get. I’m open to whatever.

    asset (8387f3)

  34. I am going to send AOC a copy of my drivers license, picture and all, so she can vet me as her running mate. At an official 6′ 2″, 180 lbs., reasonably full head of hair, Roman profile, mature visage, I think I would balance the ticket very well.

    nk (404dd4)

  35. @ AJ_Liberty (5f05c3) — 4/9/2023 @ 12:17 pm

    So while i think this is a crock of stuff, let me ask the stupid question….
    They say with a wink and a nod, that while he could go to jail for 136 years in prison it would NEVER happen….

    Why Not?
    If you truly believe that “no one is above the law” why would you not be advocating, calling for, demanding a full punishment for his heinous crimes.
    34 Felonies!

    Joe (96e951)

  36. Joe: “If you truly believe that “no one is above the law” ”

    Why not address my comment where I explain why? 134yrs is the max possible. Why do you assume that he must get the maximum?

    AJ_Liberty (1eaa80)

  37. @ AJ_Liberty (1eaa80) — 4/10/2023 @ 5:35 am

    Good Morning AJ:
    This is not critically aimed at anything you have said in this thread, more of a comment at those who (in general) are excited at the prospect of “Getting Trump” no matter the cost.

    Your logic of what punishment that Trump would likely face is sound.

    It is just that I do not understand how people are so unaware of history and the possible repercussions of this. I also fear that this is some sort of multi-dimensional chess from the democratic party that believes Trump is the easiest person to defeat.

    Thank you for your time.

    Joe (96e951)

  38. I’m pretty sure than if Trump gets a custodial sentence at all, it will be an indeterminate one at a mental health facility.

    nk (bb1548)

  39. Joe, I think the billing charge is the weakest brewing case against Trump. Raising the charges to a felony because it was part of a scheme to hide other revelations is a stretch, but as Patterico explains, it depends on how much evidence they have. If Pecker and other testimony confirms it, I think Trump has more of a problem. If it’s mainly Cohen, then the argument is less persuasive. Personally, Trump’s jeopardy builds if Georgia and the document obstruction drops this year. I suspect a conspiracy charge for J6 will require flipping someone on the inside and might take more time.

    I do think that there is a possibility that all of this helps Trump through the primary as the GOP milks the excessive prosecution line. The Dems probably prefer facing Trump with his weakness with moderates, but you never know. Biden is not exactly beloved with people looking at their retirement accounts and disorder at the border. And Harris doesn’t help. I would like a clean slate of candidates. Both sides can and should do better. But we’re stuck with a toxic political climate that’s hard to break out of.

    AJ_Liberty (5f05c3)

  40. @ AJ_Liberty (5f05c3) — 4/10/2023 @ 7:06 am

    AJ With the exception to the J6, I agree with all of what you say.

    Joe (96e951)

  41. Also
    AJ_Liberty (5f05c3) — 4/10/2023 @ 7:06 am

    With Kennedy jumping in on the Democratic nomination, I think that now is the time for all the other Democrats will start to announce as well. Once Gavin jumps in, there will probably be debates, and that is when it will be very apparent that Biden is gone.

    Joe (96e951)

  42. #38

    I don’t like Trump either, but that sounds awfully Soviet Union to me.

    Appalled (03f53c)

  43. @41, I don’t expect Biden to be the nominee. Dems have stood by their guy, but Biden will create awful optics. He’s past his sell-by date and lacks the quickness and energy that inspires confidence. My guess is that by summer he will make an announcement….not that RFK is a realistic option…but maybe the governor from Kentucky or N. Carolina. Gavin would be a mistake but might be more inevitable.

    AJ_Liberty (5f05c3)

  44. @43 AJ_Liberty (5f05c3) — 4/10/2023 @ 8:28 am
    I think Jared Polis from Colorado is a bit of a dark horse for Dems.

    whembly (898840)

  45. “They didn’t see an insurrection, they saw a call to arms to save America.”

    They already lost to Biden once and that was without the baggage of Jan 6th. …….

    An election that Trump and his supporters contend was stolen.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  46. With Kennedy jumping in on the Democratic nomination, I think that now is the time for all the other Democrats will start to announce as well. Once Gavin jumps in, there will probably be debates, and that is when it will be very apparent that Biden is gone.

    Joe (96e951) — 4/10/2023 @ 7:37 am

    LOL! RFK Jr. is a fringe candidate, whose only issue is being anti-vaccinations. Williamson also is fringy, whose main claim to fame is being a spiritual guru to Oprah Winfrey. Newsom won’t run against Biden, but I wouldn’t be surprised if for some reason Biden couldn’t run (impeachment, health), Newsom would be drafted by the Democratic Convention to run.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  47. I don’t like Trump either, but that sounds awfully Soviet Union to me.

    Think in-patient rehab, like celebrities and other rich jerkoffs go to.

    nk (bb1548)

  48. The gov from KY needs to eke out a win this November (helps if he doesn’t overreact to today). Pete’s foibles make a Polis candidacy that much harder. Coopers going to be a ghost if there are more Tricia Cothams and theres a remap, not to mention the black R Lt Gov (who could play Kingpin in a Spider Man movie) obliterates primary competition.

    urbanleftbehind (170188)

  49. The Governor of Kentucky lost two friends (one close to him) in the shooting and another is wounded. His 2015 campaign for state attorney general was run out of the building and he knows it well. “That’s my bank,” he told Fox News.

    https://www.newser.com/story/333806/governor-says-he-lost-close-friends-in-mass-shooting.html

    And the Governor of Tennessee had a connection (although it’s more his wife’s) to the anti-transphobe hate crime that took place in Nashville. (which they don’t want to call a hate crime because it was likely anti-Christian on the basis of them having incorrect attitudes about sex changes)

    https://thehill.com/homenews/state-watch/3923740-tennessee-governor-says-friends-killed-at-nashville-school-but-not-a-time-for-hate-or-rage

    Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee (R) said two family friends were killed in Monday’s shooting at a Nashville elementary school.

    “Maria woke up this morning without one of her best friends, Cindy Peak,” Lee said of his wife, Maria Lee, in a message to Tennesseans on Tuesday. “Cindy was supposed to come over to have dinner with Maria last night, after she filled in as a substitute teacher yesterday at Covenant.”

    Sammy FInkelman (1d215a)

  50. Cohen is the one who had to have the intent to influence the election, which is something he admitted under oath in his allocution.

    For this to be a crime, Cohen needs to have told that to Trump before he did it, or Trump prevailed on him to do it for the sake of the election.

    And in no way is this falsification of business records a part of such a crime, because it only reimbursed Cohen. I don’t think there’s such a thing as an accessory after the fact when it comes to campaign finance law violations.

    Sammy FInkelman (1d215a)

  51. Cohen in fact claims Trump was only going to pay Stormy Daniels because of the election. That’s in Point 19 of the statement of facts.

    19. The Defendant directed Lawyer A to delay making a payment to Woman 2 as long as possible. He instructed Lawyer A that if they could delay the payment until after the election, they could avoid paying altogether, because at that point it would not matter if the story became public. As reflected in emails and text messages between and among Lawyer A, Lawyer B, and the AMI Editor-in-Chief, Lawyer A attempted to delay making payment as long as possible.

    Of course the real reason he delayed paying the money was probably that he did not have the money because Donald Trump had not agreed to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000.

    And what Cohen says now is different from mm what he wrote in his 2000 book, “Disloyal: A Memoir: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump” where he has Trump saying that a divorce from Melania would cost him more money than paying off Stormy Daniels, but as for the election, it might even help him!

    https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2023/04/05/opinion/trump-indictment-roundtable.html

    Carlos Lozada, Opinion columnist

    There’s like two things in that book that I wanna highlight. One is just atmospheric….The other thing that is interesting in the statement of fact — which is obviously far more interesting than the indictment, which is just the same paragraph over and over again — the statement of fact draws that link very clearly and says, the defendant didn’t want this information out in public because he was concerned about the effect it would have on his candidacy. And that’s what makes it like an election campaign contribution, all that kind of stuff.

    What’s interesting when you read Michael Cohen’s book is that, yes, they’re kind of worried about the impact of the Stormy Daniels stuff on the campaign, but Trump seems just as worried or even more so about the impact on Melania, which makes you think this is the kind of thing he would’ve done regardless.

    When he’s talking to David Pecker and Michael Cohen about what’s going on, they worry about the campaign, but Trump also says, “And you know, upstairs” — because he’s talking about Melania [Lydia laughs], and then later, you know, he’s telling Cohen —

    Ross Douthat, Opinion columnist

    This is actually important, ’cause this is what gets him off, Carlos.

    Carlos Lozada, Opinion columnist

    No, no, no, no. Absolutely.

    Ross Douthat, Opinion columnist
    Because there is evidence, right, that says, look, oh, he talked about whether maybe if we delay the payments till after the election, we won’t have to pay it. And that is cited as evidence that this was just political, but right there in Cohen’s book you have proof that it was a mixture, and as long as it’s a mixture, I think he’s off the hook. You have exonerated Donald Trump right on this podcast. [All laugh.]

    Carlos Lozada, Opinion columnist

    There’s an even better passage where Trump says to Cohen, 130,000 is a lot less than I would have to pay Melania. If it comes out, I’m not sure how it would play with my supporters. I bet they’d think it’s cool that I slept with a porn star. [All laugh.]

    Michelle Cottle, member of Times Editorial Board
    Oh, dear god. I mean, he’s not wrong.

    Carlos Lozada, Opinion columnist

    Now, I’m not taking Michael Cohen’s book as a verbatim legit transcript of what actually was said. But you know, he’s a key witness here. And that’s a kind of a complicated thing that the statement of fact just elides. ….

    Now Cohen was probably just lying in quoting Trump, but in the book he’s trying to give Trump a good motive for paying $130,000. In the indictment he’s checking a box for the prosecutor.

    Sammy FInkelman (1d215a)

  52. The sale of the National Enquirer has not been completed, but the new publisher is operating it now.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/06/business/media/national-enquirer-hush-money-trump.html

    “Catch and kill,” the tactic of buying and burying stories at the heart of the case against former President Trump, is no longer in practice, said Ted Farnsworth, who is now overseeing the tabloid….“Look, it’s a new day,” said Ted Farnsworth, an entrepreneur whose firm, Icon Publishing, was part of a group that said it planned to purchase the National Enquirer in February. “I don’t even understand how ‘catch and kill’ works, because I don’t come from publishing, but I just know I don’t want it around.”

    During an hourlong interview, Mr. Farnsworth, 60, distanced the tabloid from the tactics practiced by the Enquirer’s previous leadership. He said David Pecker, the former publisher of the tabloid and a key player in the hush-money scheme laid out by prosecutors this week, was no longer involved with the day-to-day operations. The tabloid still pays for stories, he said, but tipsters aren’t paid until their information is published — a practice meant to reveal rather than conceal information….

    Mr. Farnsworth said he was focused on mining the Enquirer’s nearly century-old archives for stories that could be converted into new TV shows, movies and podcasts. And he said the publication’s coverage would focus less on politics and more on celebrity stories.

    “From the vaults of the National Enquirer, did Elvis really die in the mansion or did he die in a hotel in Mississippi?” Mr. Farnsworth said.

    The news about Elvis is that he died of constipation.

    Farnsworth ran Moviepass – which sold subscriptions to movies in theatres and went broke and he’s been charged with defrauding investors

    https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/former-ceos-moviepass-and-parent-company-charged-securities-fraud-scheme

    Sammy FInkelman (1d215a)

  53. Farnsworth says he received no suppressed Trump stories.

    In 2016, Mr. Trump and his lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, discussed a plan to buy a cache of sensitive information gathered by National Enquirer journalists about Mr. Trump. That plan didn’t result in a deal, and Mr. Farnsworth said he didn’t receive any damaging information about Mr. Trump when an 18-wheeler delivered boxes of the Enquirer’s archived records this year to the tabloid’s studios in Syracuse, N.Y.

    But perhaps American Media wasn’t required in its contract to include never published stories in the archives it sent to Syracuse. (is that the new headquarters?)

    Sammy FInkelman (1d215a)

  54. One thing that’s getting lost (and omitted from the indictment and the statement of facts) is that the Karen McDougal story and the way the National Enquirer bought it up, broke before the 2016 election (although Trump denied it)

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/national-enquirer-shielded-donald-trump-from-playboy-models-affair-allegation-1478309380

    National Enquirer Shielded Donald Trump From Playboy Model’s Affair Allegation

    Tabloid owner American Media agreed to pay $150,000 for story from 1998 Playmate of the Year, but hasn’t published her account

    By Joe Palazzolo, Michael Rothfeld, and Lukas I. Alpert
    November 4, 2016

    The company that owns the National Enquirer, a backer of Donald Trump, agreed to pay $150,000 to a former Playboy centerfold model for her story of an affair a decade ago with the Republican presidential nominee, but then didn’t publish it, according to documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter.

    The tabloid-newspaper publisher reached an agreement in early August with Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the Year. American Media Inc., which owns the Enquirer, hasn’t published anything about what she has told friends was a consensual romantic relationship she had with Mr. Trump in 2006. At the time, Mr. Trump was married to his current wife, Melania.

    Quashing stories that way is known in the tabloid world as “catch and kill.”

    In a written statement, the company said it wasn’t buying Ms. McDougal’s story for $150,000, but rather two years’ worth of her fitness columns and magazine covers as well as exclusive life rights to any relationship she has had with a then-married man. “AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump,” the statement said.

    Hope Hicks, a Trump campaign spokeswoman, said of the agreement with Ms. McDougal: “We have no knowledge of any of this.” She said that Ms. McDougal’s claim of an affair with Mr. Trump was “totally untrue.”

    Ms. McDougal expected her story about Mr. Trump to be published, people familiar with the matter said. American Media didn’t intend to run it, said another person familiar with the matter. Ms. McDougal didn’t return calls for comment.

    Mr. Trump and American Media Chairman and Chief Executive Officer David J. Pecker are longtime friends. Since last year, the Enquirer has supported Mr. Trump’s presidential bid, endorsing him and publishing negative articles about some of his opponents.

    In a written statement, Mr. Pecker said that it is no secret that he and Mr. Trump are friends and that he greatly admires him. However, he said, the Enquirer under his management “set the agenda” on Mr. Trump’s affair with Marla Maples when he was married to his first wife. “That in itself speaks volumes about our commitment to investigative reporting,” he said.

    [Note: David Pecker took over the Enquirer only in 1999. The Trump infidelity stories ran in the late 1980s probably before Gene Pope Jr died in 1988. His subsequent eventual divorce probably kept him away from political involvement for nearly 10 years]

    AMI covered some of Mr. Trump’s relationship with Ms. Maples after Mr. Pecker arrived there in 1998. [The NYP said 1999] However, Mr. Pecker had not joined the company when their extramarital affair was first exposed in the early 90s.

    A contract reviewed by the Journal gave American Media exclusive rights to Ms. McDougal’s story forever, but didn’t obligate the company to publish it and allowed the company to transfer those rights. It barred her from telling her story elsewhere. The company said it also would give her monthly columns to write and would put her on magazine covers.

    AMI said in a written statement the company was pleased to hire Ms. McDougal as a columnist….

    ….Ms. McDougal, who continued modeling after appearing in Playboy, told several of her friends she had a relationship for about 10 months with Mr. Trump, beginning in 2006 and lasting into 2007, according to people familiar with her account. Another friend told the Journal that Ms. McDougal’s relationship with Mr. Trump lasted about a year.

    A friend of Ms. McDougal’s recalled attending the Miss Universe pageant at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles as a guest of Mr. Trump in 2006. Mr. Trump’s limousine picked up Ms. McDougal and her at Ms. McDougal’s Beverly Hills home, and the two women sat in the front row with Mr. Trump and music producers Quincy Jones and David Foster. Mr. Trump escorted them home, the friend said.

    Messages left with representatives for Messrs. Jones and Foster weren’t immediately returned.

    In July, Ms. McDougal was in talks with producers at ABC News to tell her story, but she ultimately agreed to the deal with AMI, guided by her lawyer Keith Davidson, according to two people familiar with the discussions.

    “I did indeed represent Ms. McDougal and currently represent Ms. McDougal in her negotiations with American Media Inc. to provide services to them,” Mr. Davidson said.

    Mr. Davidson also represented Stephanie Clifford, a former adult-film star whose professional name is Stormy Daniels and who was in discussions with ABC’s “Good Morning America” in recent months to publicly disclose what she said was a past relationship with Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the talks. Ms. Clifford cut off contact with the network without telling her story. She didn’t respond to requests for comment.

    [Karen McDougal and “Stormy Daniels” had the same agent-lawyer. And something about her story also broke before the election!]

    Mr. Davidson’s work for Ms. McDougal was in connection with “claims against Donald Trump and or assisting client in negotiating a confidentiality agreement and/or life rights related to interactions with Donald Trump and/or negotiating assignment of exclusive press opportunities regarding same,” according to a copy of Mr. Davidson’s agreement to represent her, which was reviewed by the Journal.

    The agreement between Ms. McDougal and AMI doesn’t mention Mr. Trump by name, but gives the publisher the rights to “any romantic, personal and/or physical relationship McDougal has ever had with any then-married man.” The document says AMI is entitled to damages of at least $150,000 if she discloses her story elsewhere on social media or gives interviews about it.

    Ms. McDougal hasn’t appeared in or written for any AMI publications since signing the agreement, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    Mr. Trump’s relationship with Mr. Pecker, the chairman of American Media, is well-documented. In the 1990s, when Mr. Pecker was president and chief executive of Hachette Filipacchi Magazines, the publisher put out “Trump Style,” a custom quarterly magazine distributed to guests at Trump properties.

    As the presidential race ramped up last year, the Enquirer published a series of columns by Mr. Trump. One began, “I am the only one who can make America great again!” Another was headlined, “Donald Trump: The Man Behind the Legend!”

    Correction: Amplifications:

    David Pecker cited the Enquirer’s coverage of Donald Trump’s extramarital affair with Marla Maples as evidence of his commitment to investigative journalism. This story has been updated to make clear that the affair occurred and was first revealed in the early 1990s, predating Mr. Pecker’s arrival at the company. The Enquirer did publish articles about Mr. Trump and Ms. Maples before his arrival in 1998 and continued to do so afterward. (Nov. 6, 2016)

    The columns by Donald Trump would probably be considered to be in the normal course of business and therefore not an illegal corporate campaign contribution, unlike its purchasing the right to Karen McDougal’s story which was done under false pretenses. Alternatively, the columns are a grey area, but “catch and kill” was definitely over the border.

    Sammy FInkelman (1d215a)

  55. Now what the Statemment of Facts says is

    10. A few months later, in or about October or November 2015, the AMI CEO learned that a former Trump Tower doorman (the “Doorman”) was trying to sell information regarding a child that the Defendant had allegedly fathered out of wedlock. At the AMI CEO’s` direction, AMI negotiated and signed an agreement to pay the Doorman $30,000 to acquire exclusive rights to the story. AMI falsely characterized this payment in AMI’s books and records, including in its general ledger. AMI purchased the information from the Doorman without fully investigating his claims, but the AMI CEO directed that the deal take place because of his agreement with the Defendant and Lawyer A.

    11. When AMI later concluded that the story was not true, the AMI CEO wanted to release the Doorman from the agreement. However, Lawyer A instructed the AMI CEO not to release the Doorman until after the presidential election, and the AMI CEO complied with that instruction because of his agreement with the Defendant and Lawyer A….

    14. In a conversation captured in an audio recording in approximately September 2016 concerning Woman 1’s account, the Defendant and Lawyer A discussed how to obtain the rights to Woman 1’s account from AMI and how to reimburse AMI for its payment. Lawyer A told the Defendant he would open up a company for the transfer of Woman 1’s account and other information, and stated that he had spoken to the Chief Financial Officer for the Trump Organization (the “TO CFO”) about “how to set the whole thing up.” The Defendant asked, “So what do we got to pay for this? One fifty?” and suggested paying by cash. When Lawyer A disagreed, the Defendant then mentioned payment by check. After the conversation, Lawyer A created a shell company called Resolution Consultants, LLC on or about September 30, 2016.

    15. Less than two months before the election, on or about September 30, 2016, the AMI CEO signed an agreement in which AMI agreed to transfer its rights to Woman 1’s account to Lawyer A’s shell company for $125,000. However, after the assignment agreement was signed but before the reimbursement took place, the AMI CEO consulted with AMI’s general counsel and then told Lawyer A that the deal to transfer the rights to Lawyer A’s shell company was off….

    22. On November 8, 2016, the Defendant won the presidential election and became the President-Elect. Thereafter, AMI released both the doorman and Woman 1 from their non-disclosure agreements.

    I don’t know what paragraph 22 means. Did they pay them any money> Did they get the money back?

    The Doorman story is about a real person who was born in or around 1989 – but it is just not a fact that Donald Trump was the father.

    `

    Sammy FInkelman (1d215a)

  56. New York Post about some of the history of the National Enquirer’s purchasing stories to kill them

    https://nypost.com/2023/04/07/history-of-enquirers-catch-and-kill-tiger-leblanc-more/

    Bob Hope was a target – he gave interviews to stop the National Enquirer from publishing stores about his infidelities. Other celebrities also gave interviews to avoid bad stories. Harvey Weinstein gave them information about other celebrities.

    In 2001, the National Enquirer published reports about his Arnold Schwarzenegger’s seven-year affair with former child actress Gigi Goyette. In 2003, when he announced for Governor, it bought the rights to her story for $20,000 and, according to her, they added language about her not telling anyone outside AMI about her “interactions” with Schwarzenegger in perpetuity. . that last was not in the original contract she signed she says.

    AMI also promised, separately, in a contact signed just two days before he took office in November, 2003, to make Schwarzenegger editor of two magazines it published, but the deal was cancelled after it became public.

    And then there’s Tiger Woods whom they put on the August 2007 cover of Men’s Fitness magazine. That issue sold maybe 30% more than an average issue. In exchange maybe for not publishing pictures.

    Bill Cosby got a favorable interview in March, 2005. And the National Enquirer buried a story about his assaulting a woman named Beth Ferrier.

    The Enquirer published an interview with Matt LeBlanc in which he gave a more palatable version of a story about him and a stripper.

    Sammy FInkelman (1d215a)

  57. When all your women are store-bought, you gotta watch your tail.

    nk (71c6a6)

  58. New poll finds Donald Trump leading Ron DeSantis in Florida
    ……..
    Among likely GOP Primary voters, Trump comes out on top in a crowded field with almost 43% of the vote, while DeSantis lands at just under 35%.

    Author and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy pulls in at a distant third with about 4%, while Former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley has support of just over 3%. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson shows with a little over 1%, while longshot businessman Perry Johnson barely polls above 0%.

    But in a head-to-head contest between Trump and DeSantis, the Florida Governor actually polls worse. In such a situation, Trump wins about 47% to DeSantis’ 32%.
    ……..
    Victory Insights also tested a field of only candidates who actually declared their candidacy, leaving out DeSantis. In that circumstance, no one but Trump polls in double digits.

    Instead, Trump grows his support to nearly 66%. Haley bumps into second place but with under 8%. Hutchinson and Ramaswamy earn support of less than 2% of those polled while Johnson remains a non-factor.
    ……….

    From the Poll:

    In November 2022, our polling showed DeSantis with a 10.9-point lead over Trump in the Sunshine State. Five months later, Trump has retaken the lead in astounding fashion, beating DeSantis by 14.8 points. The number of undecided voters has also inched upward, increasing by 5.5% over the past five months.
    ……..
    We asked voters to rate each of the candidates on a scale from 1 to 5, with 1 being very negative and 5 being very positive. Voters could also indicate that they have no opinion of the candidate. …….
    ……..
    DeSantis received the highest average rating (3.85), followed closely by Trump (3.69), distantly by Haley (2.19), and very distantly by the other three candidates. In addition to just their average ratings, the table below compares Trump and DeSantis’s numbers across several other metrics. In each one, DeSantis receives better marks than Trump.
    ……..
    ……..(T)he DeSantis camp should be worried by the fact that the Florida Governor can be more “popular” than Trump in every measure, yet till register far behind him in the polls. It reflects a core truth that will heavily influence this race: Donald Trump has a base of diehard supporters who will vote for him no matter what. Even if these voters give both Trump and DeSantis a “5 out of 5” rating, they’ll still vote for Trump every single time. Trump’s strength is not in his broad appeal, but rather in the tight grip he has on a sizeable portion of the electorate.
    ……..

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  59. Mr. Frey you’re from Texas I believe. It seems to me that the Bragg indictment of Trump is subject to the old Texas aphorism. ‘You kin put feathers on a dog, but that don’t mean it kin fly.” That would certainly be true if this case were tried other than in New York City. But there are a lot of strange birds in New York City, so who knows?

    Comanche Voter (f944f8)

  60. ABC News/Ipsos Poll:

    ………
    …….(J)ust over half of Americans (52%) view the charges against Trump as serious (was 50% last week). Additionally, half of Americans (50%) say Trump should have been charged with a crime in this case, up five percentage points from last week. The slight changes in both cases look to be drawing from people who said “don’t know” in the earlier survey, a number that is down six percentage points in both questions.
    ……..
    ……..While the topline number has barely changed from 50% serious / 36% not serious last week to 52% serious / 39% not serious this week, the percentage saying “very serious” is up 6 points while the number saying “not serious at all” is up 4 points.
    ……..
    ……..(M)ore Americans are making up their minds — While 14% of the public did not know how they felt about the severity of the charges as of April 1, that figure has shrunk to 8%.

    Independents had an 11-point point shift in their views of the severity of the views, the polling showed. Last week, 43% of independents found the charges very or somewhat serious. This group, a critical voting bloc for the once-again presidential candidate, has swung against him, as 54% now say the same.
    ……..
    Slightly more Americans (48%) also believe Trump should suspend his bid for the White House, compared to the 43% who suggested so in the last ABC News/Ipsos poll. Again, independents were most likely to shift on this question, going from 41% saying he should suspend his campaign on April 1 to 52% now.

    Views of Trump overall have taken a hit too, with only 25% thinking favorably of him, down 10 points since right before the last presidential election. In comparison, President Joe Biden’s favorability rating currently stands at 34%, according to the poll.
    ………

    Toplines

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  61. LOL!

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  62. What didn’t happen before the 2106 election was Karen McDougal on camera, and the story better sourced, and on major networks and media – and the same thing for Stormy Daniels, where the WSJ onlt=y had vague knowledge. They ran a fuller story on her payments in January, 2018.

    Sammy Finkelman (1e2ea4)

  63. * the 2016 election, of course,

    The NYT published what looked a more balanced selection of letters the day after Trump was arraigned.

    One went like this:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/04/opinion/letters/trump-arraignment.html

    To the Editor:

    In the mountain valleys of rural Pennsylvania (where our county voted about 75 percent for Donald Trump in both 2016 and 2020), I read your April 2 front-page story “How the D.A. Resurrected the Case Against Trump.”

    Is that how you folks do it in New York City? You pick a political figure you hate and you dig into his past until you find something to build a case on? What a dangerous precedent you have set.

    My friends say, “They have turned us into a banana republic,” where it is common to attack former leaders. Manhattan’s first-ever indictment of a former president has put President Biden, every future president and our country’s future in danger. It was not worth it. Shame on you.

    C. Arnold McClure
    Shirleysburg, Pa.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  64. The article he cited, which appeared on the front page the previous Sunday, literally describes how Bragg targeted a person and sought to find a crime.

    (This is considered legitimate when applied to crime bosses_

    https://www.nytimes.com/2023/03/31/nyregion/alvin-bragg-trump-investigation.html

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  65. I have great respect for the attorneys in the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. I have exchanged emails with two retired Deputy DAs and had lunch with one concerning a trail he had that received national attention. I believe Patterico would know both.

    I hate Trump’s guts.

    The term “might be” isn’t enough. As has been asked innumerable times, why does the Manhattan DA not show the same aggressiveness in prosecuting street criminals?

    DN (b4f97f)

  66. But we’re stuck with a toxic political climate that’s hard to break out of.

    AJ_Liberty (5f05c3) — 4/10/2023 @ 7:06 am

    We’re stuck with less than astute voters who don’t elect better people in the primaries.

    norcal (15fce4)


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