Trump’s People Have Attempted to Cover Up That He Cheated to Cover Up Cheating in 2016 at Least Six Times

Among the things Trump said in his tweet yesterday complaining that he had been “indicated” is that his criminal prosecution was “a continuing attack on our once free and fair elections.”

Thanks to the former President for reminding us what the charges against him, in part, are about: That he cheated to win.

Whether it would have made a difference or not, Donald Trump believed it sufficiently important to lie to American voters about fucking two women– both Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels — that both were paid in the last months of his 2016 campaign to prevent voters from finding out.

Paying his former sex partners to hide from voters that he cheated on Melania is not, itself, illegal.

Having corporations pay sex workers for the purpose of benefitting a political campaign is. The company that owned the National Enquirer paid for the first payment, to McDougal; Trump Organization, by reimbursing the payment that Michael Cohen made, eventually paid for the second payment, to Daniels.

The charges brought against Trump in NY reportedly relate, at least in part, to the second payment — to the treatment of the reimbursement to Cohen as a legal retainer rather than a reimbursement for a political donation. That is, the cheapskate billionaire, who could have legally paid off the women himself, allegedly covered up his cover-up.

Trump’s eponymous corporate persons have already been found guilty of serving as personal slush funds. In 2019, he admitted the Trump Foundation had engaged in self-dealing. And last year, a jury convicted Trump Organization of compensating employees via untaxed benefits rather than salary.

The new charges against Trump aren’t so much unprecedented, as they simply charge Trump’s biological person with the same crimes for which his corporate persons have already been convicted.

But there’s more history here, too. On multiple occasions, agents of Donald Trump reportedly engaged in further attempts to cover-up this cover-up.

Trump Organization withheld multiple documents from investigators. Most known documents that were withheld — such as the email showing Cohen had a substantive conversation with a Dmitri Peskov aide during the election — pertain to Russia, but it’s certainly possible they withheld others.

In 2018, in the days after SDNY seized phones that included recordings of conversations about the hush payments, Trump is suspected of floating a pardon to Cohen to keep him quiet, about this and about the impossibly lucrative Trump Tower deal both had lied to hide from voters in 2016.

In an email that day to Cohen, [Robert] Costello wrote that he had spoken with Giuliani.1026 Costello told Cohen the conversation was “Very Very Positive[.] You are ‘loved’. . . they are in our corner. . . . Sleep well tonight[], you have friends in high places.”1027

Cohen said that following these messages he believed he had the support of the White House if he continued to toe the party line, and he determined to stay on message and be part of the team.1028 At the time, Cohen’s understood that his legal fees were still being paid by the Trump Organization, which he said was important to him.1029 Cohen believed he needed the power of the President to take care of him, so he needed to defend the President and stay on message.1030

Cohen also recalled speaking with the President’s personal counsel about pardons after the searches of his home and office had occurred, at a time when the media had reported that pardon discussions were occurring at the White House.1031 Cohen told the President’s personal counsel he had been a loyal lawyer and servant, and he said that after the searches he was in an uncomfortable position and wanted to know what was in it for him.1032 According to Cohen, the President’s personal counsel responded that Cohen should stay on message, that the investigation was a witch hunt, and that everything would be fine.1033

Note that the payments for Cohen’s legal fees — which stopped after he pled guilty — are another expense that Trump Organization may not have accounted for properly.

Later in 2018, during the period where he was feigning cooperation with Mueller’s prosecutors but really just stalling past the midterm elections, Paul Manafort attempted to lie about some aspect of a different investigation

Manafort gave different versions of events surrounding an incident in the summer 2016 that was potentially relevant to the investigation: one version that was more incriminating was given prior to signing the plea agreement (on September 13, 2018), and another that was more benign was made after on October 5, 2018, after his plea. When confronted with the inconsistency by the government and his own counsel, Manafort largely retracted the second version.

A footnote in that discussion cites the Cohen plea, suggesting the 2016 conversations that Manafort lied to prosecutors in an attempt to spin pertained to these hush payments.

83 See United States v. Cohen, 18-cr-602 (S.D.N.Y. 2018); Information, United States v. Cohen, 18-cr602 (S.D.N.Y Aug. 21, 2018) (Doc. 2).

Unlike Cohen, of course, Manafort did get a pardon.

In the months after Cohen’s plea, Main DOJ attempted to interfere in the Cohen investigation repeatedly, as laid out in Geoffrey Berman’s book. They did so first on Rod Rosenstein’s orders, by demanding the SDNY rewrite Cohen’s statement of offense to hide the degree to which Trump ordered the hush payments (Rosenstein’s deputy, Ed O’Callaghan tried to eliminate all reference to Individual-1).

We then sent a copy to Rod Rosenstein, informing him that a plea was imminent. The next day, Khuzami, who was overseeing the case, received a call from O’Callaghan, Rosenstein’s principal deputy.

O’Callaghan was aggressive.

Why the length, he wanted to know. He argued that now that Cohen is pleading guilty we don’t need all this description.

[Robert] Khuzami responded, What exactly are you concerned about? O’Callaghan proceeded to identify specific allegations that he wanted removed, almost all referencing Individual-1.

It quickly became apparent to Khuzami that, contrary to what O’Callaghan professed, it wasn’t the overall length or detail of the document that concerned him; it was any mention of Individual-1.


The team was tasked with the rewrite and stayed up most of the night. The revised information, now twenty-one pages, kept all of the charges but removed certain allegations, including allegations that Individual-1 acted “in concert with” and “coordinated with” Cohen on the illegal campaign contributions. The information now alleged that Cohen acted in concert and coordinated with “one or more members of the campaign.” But in the end, everything that truly needed to be in the information was still there.

Then, after Bill Barr came in, he amazingly tried to order SDNY to dismiss the charges against Cohen entirely, the functional equivalent of what he tried with Mike Flynn, undoing a successful criminal prosecution after the fact.

When Barr took over in February 2019, he not only tried to kill the ongoing investigations but—incredibly—suggested that Cohen’s conviction on campaign finance charges be reversed.

Barr summoned Rob Khuzami in late February to challenge the basis of Cohen’s plea as well as the reasoning behind pursuing similar campaign finance charges against other individuals. Khuzami was told to cease all investigative work on the campaign finance allegations until the Office of Legal Counsel, an important part of Main Justice, determined there was a legal basis for the campaign finance charges to which Cohen pleaded guilty—and until Barr determined there was a sufficient federal interest in pursuing charges against others.

Barr had Steven Engel write up an OLC opinion about the charges (which is likely one of the reasons SDNY didn’t charge Trump).

About six weeks later, Khuzami returned to DC for another meeting about Cohen. He was accompanied by Audrey Strauss, Russ Capone, and Edward “Ted” Diskant, Capone’s co-chief. Barr was in the room, along with Steven Engel, the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, and others from Main Justice. A fifteen-page memo, drafted by Engel’s office, had been provided to our team the day before, which they were still analyzing. I learned later that it was an intense meeting.

When SDNY refused to dismiss the case against Cohen, Barr tried to transfer the case to EDNY, under Richard Donoghue, so he could kill it.

 About a week after our office tussled with Barr and Engel, Barr attempted to do just that. Word was passed to me from one of Barr’s deputies that he wanted Richard Donoghue, the US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (who would later transfer to Main Justice to work under Barr), to take over supervision of anything I was recused from.

At the same time that Barr was trying to cover up that Trump cheated to win in 2016, Republicans on the FEC were joining in the cover-up. After FEC’s General Counsel recommended acting on several complaints about the payments, Republican Commissioners Sean Cooksey and Trey Trainor refused to do so because, they said, Michael Cohen had already been prosecuted for it and, thanks to Trump’s own actions, there was a backlog of other complaints.

Before the Commission could consider the Office of General Counsel’s (“OGC”) recommendations in these matters, Mr. Cohen pleaded guilty to an eight-count criminal information,2 and in connection thereto admitted, among other things, to making an excessive contribution in violation of the Act by making the Clifford payment from his personal funds. 3 The plea hearing transcript includes a step by step review of how U.S. District Judge William Pauley verified the plea, confirming that a federal judge was sufficiently satisfied with the circumstances surrounding the plea deal and the responses given by Cohen at the hearing, including the explanations given by Cohen, count by count, during his allocution.4 Ultimately Mr. Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and ordered to pay $1.39 million in restitution, $500,000 in forfeiture, and $100,000 in fines for two campaign finance violations (including the payment at issue in these matters) and other charges. In sum, the public record is complete with respect to the conduct at issue in these complaints, and Mr. Cohen has been punished by the government of the United States for the conduct at issue in these matters.

Thus, we concluded that pursuing these matters further was not the best use of agency resources.5 The Commission regularly dismisses matters where other government agencies have already adequately enforced and vindicated the Commission’s interests.6 Furthermore, by the time OGC’s recommendations came before us, the Commission was facing an extensive enforcement docket backlog resulting from a prolonged lack of a quorum, 7 and these matters were already statute-of-limitations imperiled.

This was one of 22 credible campaign finance allegations against Trump that Republicans refused to consider, nothing less than a partisan effort to make the leader of their party immune from all campaign finance rules.

There’s a lot of shite being written about how the indictment of a former President — for actions that stem from cheating to win — will test democracy.

But Trump’s serial cover-ups of his own actions in this and other matters already threaten democracy.

Trump is right: This is about free and fair elections. This is, like most of his allegedly criminal behavior, about his refusal to contest elections fairly. It’s about his corruption of the entire Republican Party, from top to bottom. And it’s about one of at least six times that Trump and his agents have tried to cover up that he cheated to win in 2016.

176 replies
  1. c-i-v-i-l says:

    Another element of the later cover-up: Trump omitted his debt to Cohen from his required 2017 financial disclosure form as President, and then certified it as “complete and correct.” He finally noted it on his 2018 disclosure while disputing that he was required to include it. Walter Shaub, former director of the Office of Government Ethics, stated that Trump violated 18 U.S.C. § 1001 and 5 U.S.C. § 104 by knowingly omitting the debt and certifying it, and that the OGE had notified the DOJ about this in 2018. Apparently Trump has also missed the 2023 deadline for his financial disclosure as an announced candidate.

    • emptywheel says:

      As noted above, I think the actual fraud may pertain to other issues, like how they accounted for paying for cohen’s legal fees.

  2. drhester says:

    (formerly hester now drhester according to site rules)

    Fantastic read. Ty. He’s blaming George Soros for his ills.
    and then there’s this

    “Matt Hodges @[email protected]
    Kinda fucked up that having a felony can prevent you from voting for president, but it can’t prevent you from becoming president.

    [Thanks for updating your username to meet the 8 letter minimum. /~Rayne]

    • Bombay Troubadour says:

      Kinda like the military; a soldier who losses his gun gets kicked out, but a general who losses a war stays, (and usually gets honored).

  3. JonathanW says:

    I have noticed that in much of the right wing media coverage of this that I read (fox dot com and townhall dot com), people keep talking about how bad this is because SDNY and the FEC both declined to follow up. So the actions Barr took and the FEC took that you mention here have born fruit now, in the punditry pointing to this as a reason for the current charges to be political.

    I say this knowing full well that many experts here think the case from Bragg is poorly done, ignoring statutes of limitations, etc (I’m sure I’m mangling what the experts actually think!). My point isn’t to disagree with that as I don’t have any expertise that would give me a basis to disagree. Just to point out what I’ve seen right wing pundits pointing to, which seemed relevant to this post about the cover ups.

      • JonathanW says:

        I do wonder if, in the bubble, the cover up still works. One would have thought, for example, that the discovery of loads of classified docs would have justified the search warrant in August, but no, in the bubble, it’s an “unprecedented raid”. Facts be damned. So it would not shock me to see these arguments about SDNY and the FEC working in the days/weeks to come.

        • JonathanW says:

          Apologies for the shorthand, bmaz, and I’m not trying to prove anything. I was just observing that in the world of right wing media, this may be a winning argument (the dismissals). I would not dare make a legal argument here as I have absolutely no legal training or expertise! Sorry again for not being clear with my language.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh no, understand what you meant. Hopefully the voir dire process will root out any bubble propensity in potential jurors. It is designed to do that, but this case may prove to be pretty challenging in that regard. Assuming it ever gets to trial, which is no sure bet.

        • JonathanW says:

          Thanks for the reply, bmaz. And I’m intrigued by what you’re saying here, which is an angle I hadn’t thought about. I’m going to do my best to ask this question coherently (feedback on that is always welcome): in your opinion, is the main intent legal cover or political cover? Or maybe both?

          I think I read this post to be describing a political cover up, with the intent to keep the MAGA base behind him, because that base brings power, whether in the form of influence on prosecutors (or to your point, juries), or in the form of a return to the office of President, where he thinks he is insulated from prosecution. And I’m really really really not trying to make any points about the validity of this prosecution (I’m a software engineer by training, not a lawyer), it’s more of a question/comment about his overall political strategy with respect to all prosecutions.

          Hopefully that made sense. Sorry I couldn’t find a way to ask it in a shorter form.

  4. Peterr says:

    There’s a lot of shite being written about how the indictment of a former President — for actions that stem from cheating to win — will test democracy.

    This was Gerald Ford’s argument for pardoning Nixon. In the short term, it might — *might* — have had some merit, as there were no rallies and riots, and no long drawn-out courtroom battles dominating the news at night.

    On the other hand, Ford’s pardon of Nixon only added to the “our democracy is too fragile to contemplate indicting a former president, even when he criminally cheated to win the election” mentality — a mentality encouraged and embraced by (among others) Roger Stone and other GOP ratfkers to embolden them in their latest ratfking operations.

    I’m glad we’re not going down that path again.

    • RipNoLonger says:

      I hope we’re not going down that path again, Peterr. But I think that is always a possibility – perhaps not in this round but in others in the future.

    • Knox Bronson says:

      Ford, as a member of the Warren Commission in 1964, had altered the language of the report to support the “single bullet theory” that claimed one bullet wounded both JFK and Gov. Connally. This was necessary to support the “lone assassin” story they were selling to the country.
      Right before the infamous eighteen minute gap in the Watergate tapes, Nixon was heard saying (I’m paraphrasing), “Tell them to back off. Tell them this all goes back to the Bay of Pigs thing.”
      H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s Chief of Staff in the White House, wrote, in his memoir, “The Ends of Power,” that “Bay of Pigs” was Nixon’s code phrase for the JFK assassination.
      At that point, we were only nine years out from the original coup, JFK’s murder, and the cover-up was in full force, still. We then then suffered through the subsequent killings of RFK, MLK, Malcolm X, and untold others in the years that followed as they reshaped our nation to their vision, of which Trump is the final manifestation.
      I am happy that he has been indicted and fervently hope it will lead to more of the Republican crime syndicate being brought to justice. And please please please Jared Kusher too.

      • Matt___B says:

        You had better hope that Trump is the “final manifestation”. I fear worse but hope for better.

      • PhoneInducedPinkEye says:

        I think the forensic evidence is pretty solid that no more than 2 bullets accounted for all the wounds and lead fragments, both fired from Oswald’s rifle. Check the wiki articles which also link to work done years after the Warren commission.

        • Richard Turnbull says:

          The wiki articles are marginally plausible at best, as they ignore, to cite just one especially egregious example, “The Girl on the Stairs,” Victoria Adams, who worked on the fourth floor of the Texas School Book Depository for Scott Foresman, left within 30 seconds of hearing the shots fired to go down the only stairway in the building Oswald could have used, and saw nothing and hear no one. Co-worker Sandra Styles verified that account, as she accompanied Vicky. Office Manager Dorothy Garner also left the office, but remained on the fourth floor, where she would have seen anyone come down the stairs. The elevator was out of order that day.
          This is absolutely crucial, as Oswald stated from the beginning that he was in the second floor lunchroom when the shots were fired. Also, there is no legally useful chain of custody for “Oswald’s rifle,” transiting from Klein’s Sporting Goods in Chicago in March, 1963, a model not the same as Oswald ordered (if he did order it; it was to be sent to a PO Box under the name of Alek J. Hiddell).
          Actually the “solid forensic evidence” you claim is evidence of two shots and one miss from that shaky old gun, killing JFK and wounding Gov. Connally, has been eviscerated over the years. Try the kennedysandking dot com website; also the excellent You Tube video “The Killing Floor,” about Victoria Adams et. al.
          It’s no wonder the Warren Commission never used Sandra Styles’ testimony, and altered Vicky Adams’ sworn testimony as well. And of course the Zapruder film is conclusive as to at least one shot from the front, which agrees with the accounts of dozens of witnesses in Dealey Plaza that day. As Attorney Mark Lane recounted, a judge of his acquaintance passed him on the stairs of the Criminal Courts Building in Manhattan that day, and after informing Lane that JFK had been shot (Lane was hurrying to a trial and unaware of the event), added “How did this Oswald shoot Kennedy from the back from the front? That will be an interesting question at a trial, I want to see how they answer that one,” or words to that effect.
          Again: Wikipedia is extremely dubious on the JFK-Tippit-Oswald allegedly connected homicides in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. Start reading the scholarly, serious, well-researched articles at the kennedysandking site and maybe you will see why! Good luck, it’s an incredibly complex set of facts by the time you add Oswald’s history, Ruby’s mobster background and his activities running guns to Cuba, and the role of 544 Camp Street (The Newman Building) in New Orleans, where ex-FBI Special Agent Guy Banister, right wing extremist and racist of the worst kind, seems to have some direct knowledge of Lee Harvey Oswald’s actions in August, 1963.
          Oswald was filmed distributing Fair Play for Cuba pamphlets stamped with the 544 Camp Street address in August`1963, where Banister and right wing Cubans (and allegedly David Ferrie AND Oswald) had offices. Anyway, good luck!

        • Rayne says:

          Stop now. Any further elaboration on Kennedy’s assassination in this thread will be binned. This is too far off topic, and this last comment by Richard Turnbull at 505 words is overlong, let alone poorly formatted for reading.

          The topic of this post is Trump’s coverups of his cheating. Let’s get back on topic.

  5. phred says:

    Thanks, as always EW, for the excellent summation.

    One other aspect of the indictment that brings me an enormous sense of relief and satisfaction is for the first time in my lifetime the law has been applied to a winning presidential candidate who cheated to win.

    Nixon’s interference with the peace talks to end the Vietnam War in order to improve his chances of winning in 1968 and Reagan’s interference in the hostage situation in Iran to improve his chances of winning in 1980 both should have been prosecuted.

    Perhaps Trump’s indictment will finally be the first baby step, to crack down on winning presidential candidates who cheat (and worse) to win.

    • harpie says:

      I might include Bush v. Gore in that group.
      How many total years of STOLEN republican administrations does that add up to?

      • posaune says:

        Yes, this exactly, harpie!! how much cumulative damage across all those R administrations? starting with the Nixon elimination Regulation Q affecting local banks (plus everything else), to the air traffic controllers, to all of W and all of DJT. Enormous damage.

      • harpie says:

        I set out to answer that question > [as always, check my math]:

        NIXON Jan 20, 1969 – Aug 9, 1974 = 68 months
        [>] FORD Aug 9, 1974 – Jan 20, 1977 = 28 months
        REAGAN Jan 20, 1981 – Jan 20, 1989 = 96 months
        [>] GHW BUSH Jan 20, 1989 – Jan 20, 1993 = 48 months
        GW BUSH Jan 20, 2001 – Jan 20, 2009 = 96 months
        TRUMP Jan 20, 2017 – Jan 20, 2021 = 48 months

        [308 months] 25 years, 8 months
        If we include the VP’s reigns: [384 months] = 32 years [out of 52]

        • posaune says:

          So painful to read, but it’s worth your doing the math, harpie. Can’t help but think it would only be 20 years if Bush v. Gore election and DJT election had been honest.
          THAT hurts. A lot.

        • gmoke says:

          Since at least 1968 (and possibly 1960), we’ve been living in a fake democracy where elections can be manipulated and stolen with impunity. USAmerican politics has been a rancid stew of lies for 50-60 years.

          The Republican Party is almost entirely a criminal enterprise these days but, truth be told, there are many Democrats who are not much better. And the Church of the Savvy which reports on them both continually looks the other way, “The honored gentlemen and gentleladies of our political and ruling class are above reproach. Just look at Clarence and Ginni Thomas!”

        • Rayne says:

          How to tell me you’re white without telling me you’re white. Do you seriously think all Americans were able to exercise their vote before 1968 or 1960?

          And get out of here with the both-sides crap. Gore would have fought the Florida vote for months longer while inciting violence and Al Franken would still be in the Senate if both parties were the same.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          gmoke, saying “many Democrats are not much better”–without giving a single example to show what you mean–is meaningless, except in one sense: politicians of any party are human beings. Human nature is notoriously susceptible to temptations of infinite variety.

          Some institutions build in wiser guardrails, and cope with human failings more constructively than others. Political parties, especially in the 21st century with the hegemony of Fox News and celebrity culture, do not excel in this. The art of governing, something our current president values and performs better than any other in my lifetime, has been devalued because–well, it’s just not entertaining.

          Destruction, conflict and violence? Those get clicks.

    • Bombay Troubadour says:

      Modern history election stealing? greatest hits has to also include year 2000 with Bush the dumber, the Brooks Brothers riot, and scotus being creative. (Justice Souter was brought to tears with that decision).

  6. BobBobCon says:

    That Peter Baker op ed masquerading as a straight news piece is astounding. The entire headline and lede is posed as if Trump is Jimmy Carter.

    The Politics desk at the Times is not only delusional, they’re exposing their own atagonism toward their internal rivals. Baker is memory holing the fantastic reporting by Times reporters on Trump’s extensive fraud shored up by the documents revealed by Mary Trump. But Mary Trump wisely didn’t go to the politics desk for the scoop — she worked with the Investigations and New York beats, which are in a different chain of command from Politics desk.

    The Investigations reporters skipped the nonsensical PR-based worldview of the Politics side of the paper and called what Trump did flat out fraud. And it certainly was, to the tune of millions of dollars.

    And now Baker wrote an extensive piece acting as if none of what his internal rivals exposed ever existed. His framework treats this indictment as if it was coming out of the blue, when even his own colleagues have established otherwise. But Baker and Politics desk work in a silo that means they will never honor the work of anyone at the paper besides themselves.

    • Rayne says:

      Speaking of “out of the blue” and relatedly, Maggie Haberman was on CNN yesterday talking about the indictment. She seemed extremely surprised — though she said this “caught Mar-a-Lago and Trump advisors very much by surprise” in what looked like projection — which is just fucking incredible for someone who should have a solid grip on the volume of Trump’s criming.

      In a nifty trick pointedly avoiding saying Trump was surprised, Haberman manages to make all the fraud sound to folks less online and less into following Trump investigations as if this indictment was some ex machina plot device. CNN attached this clip to an article in which “sources familiar” said Trump was facing 30 counts of business fraud which is a wholly believable number if one had read NYT’s investigative work into the Trump family’s past business. How anyone could be surprised by any indictment of Trump at this point is beyond me.

      • bmaz says:

        The indictment should not surprise anybody. It has been crystal clear Bragg was going to bring this bullshit for a long time. So, given that as obvious, cannot wait to see the “reported” 30+ counts in the indictment.

        Gosh, 30 counts against Trump and none for the people actually running things, such as the children, except Barron, at Trump Co? Is that not a little telling as to the motive of Bragg? This is now, and will remain, a shit prosecution.

        • emptywheel says:

          Or perhaps you have no idea what’s in the indictment?

          And it’s sort of nutty to say Bragg has been pushing this since he already rejected one set of charges. We get it bmaz. You’re outraged and therefore want to talk only the people and not the charges. But we don’t know what the charges are. We really don’t!

        • bmaz says:

          I never, for any second, said I know what the counts in the indictment are. That said, they can only be financial related, and will have to use serious bootstrapping to get to even a class E probation level felony, but lets forget all about such technicalities.

          Both Bragg and Willis have indeed been pushing this for a very long time. So, yes, I am talking about “people”, because they are what is currently known, while the charges are not yet.

        • Rayne says:

          I don’t want this to devolve into another pissing match, but let’s get serious about the fact some folks “actually running things” don’t want to serve time for Daddy, I mean, Trump, and are likely to have flipped so hard the question should be why we don’t see the folks “actually running things” hospitalized and in traction, apart from the obvious sin eater Weisselberg now in Rikers Island.

        • bmaz says:

          Really? Because where are they then? You think they have all flipped already?? Lol. This is NOT a “pissing match”, it is about how law is effected. And, yes, the how part really matters. People gleeful over this garbage are out of their minds.

        • bmaz says:

          Lol, and thank you “Clare”. Not that anybody, much less me, claimed to have seen the indictment. What a load of garbage. I am a doctor too, as is pretty much everybody associated with this blog.

        • RMD says:

          Dear bmaz, along with a few others, I wondered if you’ve any bandwidth or interest in posting a brief on your view of this case. I’m sure many would value your detailed overview.

        • Thomas_H says:

          As a veritable fly on the wall, as a clinical support staff member, for 39 years in medicine, I’ve seen bullying a plenty under the guise of not-suffering-fools-gladly.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          Bragg has been cautious around TrumpOrg to a surprising degree, so the reading of tea leaves in this case shows DA Bragg felt he would be able to prove beyond reasonable doubt, and that opinion was shared by the grand jury who aren’t rubber stampers in NYC. The fact the DA Bragg had already resisted public opinion pressure on the other case tells me he’s not doing this for show, but I may be wrong about that point. EW’s quite correct about reading the indictment first after it is made public at the arraignment.

          Most of the speculation I’ve seen centers around who the witnesses will be (for which we will get pointers from the indictment, as well as who exactly will prosecute), and that a case relying solely upon Michael Cohen will be dicey. Does anyone know how much mob boss prosecution DA Bragg has done? Most of those witnesses would be compromised as well and if Bragg’s team has experience in presenting such witnesses it would help seal this deal.

        • emptywheel says:

          I think there’s abundant evidence at each level of the crimes.

          For the hush payment, people forget that Cohen recorded his meetings with Trump.

          For the criminal payments, this builds on the prosecution from last fall.

        • Savage Librarian says:

          I’m hoping that Hope Hicks’ GJ testimony might become somewhat evident when the indictment becomes public. Perhaps she was a part of or heard conversations that are relevant.

        • bmaz says:

          Have you ever tried to get “documents” you think are obvious into a trial record? I will be here waiting. A real trial is not a blog comment section.

        • Joeff53 says:

          Wasn’t it legendary NYDA Louis Lefkowitz who first said a grand jury would indict a ham sandwich?

        • sandman8 says:

          I wonder who is “actually running things” at the Trump Org. Maybe there’s not much to run, but there should be something. Don Jr. and Eric are listed as the only “leadership” on the website, and they’re both EVPs. That appears to be the highest title at the company. Yet both of these guys spend all day on their nonsense politics. The ratio of their nonsense political comms to anything about hotels or golf courses must be in the range of 100:1 or even greater. I don’t know too many companies where the top leadership gets so much free press but doesn’t plug the company. Maybe the Trump Org should hire Mike Lindell. At least he knows to put in a plug for the pillows when he’s spouting political nonsense.

          DJTJ doesn’t even list the Trump Org in his twitter bio anymore. Eric still does. Maybe he’s the real brains behind the operation.

          Really, they’re not even pretending to run the company. Credit should be getting called in now that the company has been convicted of a raft of felonies. They need a new accountant for 2022 taxes since Mazars is out. Someone has to wash the MBS money now that Putin’s busy committing atrocities, supervise the staff that restocks the Aderall and coke so that they don’t steal too much, water down all the whiskey in the bars, etc., etc.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Sandman, Eric Trump is the member of the family most involved in running the Org. Contrary to public stereotype, he is the sibling most committed to and seemingly talented at management of the business, according to insiders like Mary Trump.

        • Katherine Williams says:

          Indicting Trump for these minor -tho real- crimes is a good way to avoid indicting him, and more importantly, his wealthy & powerful “friends”, for far, far more serious crimes.

          In a way, this is “the perfect crime”.

        • Peterr says:

          Or not.

          The folks making charging decisions in Georgia and DC don’t give a damn about what folks in NY are or are not charging Trump with doing.

          This is as “perfect” a crime as Trump’s “perfect” calls to Ukraine and Georgia.

        • PJB2point0 says:

          A couple of questions. I see some comments that seem to assume the indictment pertains only to Trump. What has been reported that implies that? I would have thought there might be a conspiracy to defraud charge but am confused about that since I understood both Wesselberg and Pecker may have been immunized to some extent and Cohen has already served his time.

          I have seen reporting that there are 34 counts as to Trump but my recollection is that there were 12 instalment payments. Assuming each could be charged as separate counts and the false recordation as a business expense to Trump Org is also 12 counts, what could the other 10 relate to? Also, why wouldn’t the recordation be a crime chargeable to Trump Org as well? Could it be, in part, false NYS tax filings?

      • BobBobCon says:

        You have wonder if both Trump and the Times are locked into the same set of faulty sources, and the extent to which they’re not only talking to the same people but the Times is sharing intel with Trump.

        Going back to Carolyn Ryan’s time as NY editor, the Times has blown its local coverage — Ryan completely blew off Cuomo’s record of assaults, and the way they were scooped on the George Santos story is the latest example.

        The Times usually gets away with its massive blindspots because it gets away with the approach that something isn’t news until they say it is. But this mindset keeps coming back to bite them on things like getting scooped on Cuomo, Santos, and now yesterday’s news.

        • emptywheel says:

          I think both Trump and the main NYT Trump-whisperer have been in a bubble of invincibility for so long that they could not cognitively imagine being charged.

        • BobBobCon says:

          I think part of the dynamic at dysfunctional organizations like the Trump machine the NY Times, and of course Fox is they’ve shut down all of the buzzkills.

          People like Trump, Rupert Murdoch and AG Sulzberger need people like Bmaz who are willing to openly take a stand for what they think is right even when it completely cuts against the grain.

          Everyone in the GOP folds before Trump. Nobody at Fox went beyond pissy emails. And AG Sulzberger has surrounded himself with toads like Joe Kahn, Carolyn Ryan and Patrick Healy. Of course nobody steers away from the iceberg.

        • harpie says:

          I’ve had this thought while listening to / trying to follow some of the defense counsel arguments in the PB trial. Roots for PEZZOLA comes especially to mind.

    • gmoke says:

      As I recall, Mary Trump was approached by Susanne Craig, an investigative not political reporter at NYTimes, originally and, at first, refused to talk to her. Then she reconsidered and turned over the documents she had to Craig based upon their previous contact.

      I doubt that the political desk had much to do with it. Wisely.

  7. Bad Boris says:

    I don’t worry about the validity of the charges; I take Trump’s guilt a priori. So much so I really, really want both Fani Willis and Jack Smith to leap onto the dogpile ASAP; what I worry about is the inevitble patented Trump delay delay delay tactics that may well push all trials out years ( esp. the DOJ prosecution. )

    I find it possible that if that happens, and Trump wins the 2024 presidential election ( NOT as far-fetched as we’d like to assume ), we might find ourselves in a Netanyahu situation, with a ( IMO ) corrupt SCOTUS backing him up.

    • c-i-v-i-l says:

      That’s one of the reasons that I’m glad that trials in some of the civil suits against him start this year. The trial in E. Jean Carroll’s civil suit for defamation and rape starts in April, and the trial in the NY AG’s civil suit for business fraud starts in October. There a several other civil suits pending (an overview: ), but I’m not sure if trial dates have been set yet.

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          Why? (Is that some legal norm I’m unfamiliar with?)

          I doubt that this criminal case is going to go to trial any time soon, and it seems unfair to the plaintiffs in the other cases to pause those cases due to this one, when we have no idea how this one will unfold.

        • Peterr says:


          The fact that E. Jean Carroll’s civil case against Trump is going to trial later in April, which, as some have noted, is a reason why Trump would not fight extradition in this case by remaining in Florida. He *has* to show up in New York for that other case, because if he does not, the court will automatically rule against him.

    • bmaz says:

      So, you want Willis and Smith to jump in because the water is nice…after this shit sandwich of an “indictment”? Swell.

      Okay, SCOTUS is “corrupt”? How exactly? Because you disagree with several of their views? Because you don’t like them? “Corruption” has legal meaning, do your allegations?

      • DDInChicago says:

        Bmaz, (IANAL) – regarding SCOTUS/corruption: curious (not baiting, that would be a gratuitous waste of time/energy – really literally and sincerely asking for your take) if you think at least a cpl of them knowingly lied under oath in their conf hearings when they said they’d respect precedent; also if you think Clarence T’s not recusing himself in matters wherein Ginni was deeply involved politically/financially constitute forms of corruption. I would think to a lot of folks – myself included – those were corrupt acts but perhaps don’t rise to the level that a lawyer would deem “corrupt”, perhaps in a legal or prosecutable sense. And yes, I am familiar with the lack of ethics “guidelines” r.e. SCOTUS, what an oversight (no pun intended).

        [Welcome back to emptywheel. Please use the same username each time you comment so that community members get to know you. You changed your name to “ChicagoDD” back on 03-DEC-2022. Thanks. /~Rayne]

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          Many people submitted ethics complaints alleging that Kavanaugh committed perjury during his hearings, including some submitted by people who had gone to school with Kavanaugh and had witnessed his sexual abuse and his drinking to the point of blacking out. Justice Roberts received many of these during the hearings, but waited til Kavanaugh had been confirmed before referring them to the 10th Circuit, which ultimately dismissed them after concluding that the panel lacked the authority to judge the complaints on their merits, as the Act under which they were referred did not apply to SCOTUS Justices. The whole thing made me furious. More info here:

        • ChicagoDD says:

          Bingo, can’t believe I forgot that one. I had been under the impression that there was going to be some inquiry (Senate Dems?) into why the FBI deliberately dropped the ball on the one-week-long “investigation-lite” of all the copious tip-line stuff r.e. Brett’s bad behavior. Would be utterly surprising if DJT’s peeps hadn’t had that nixed/downsized, and following that trail could just possibly lead to demonstrating Brett’s having perjured himself in conf hearings. Impeachment still unlikely but the public’s growing awareness of things like that could start a (slow?) groundswell of a need for change at SCOTUS, be it stricter ethics rules or adding Justices to the court. That’s Josh Marshall’s take, is that this type of info and public education, as it were, may be the only way going forward to change or rebalance the court. He’s not a lawyer either but a fairly keen observer from a political/historical lens.

      • Sloth Sloman says:

        Yes, the SCOTUS is corrupt – see: Ginni Thomas.

        Are you going to suggest the GOP isn’t corrupt because they haven’t faced legal ramifications? Legality is not the only framework for discussion.

        This is not to be taken as agreement with the OP other than the specific sentences I’ve used.

        • ChicagoDD says:

          (Note to Rayne: thx for the reminder, I’ll revert to the name you prompted me about and use that going forward.)

          It would seem eminently clear that the “Code of Conduct for United States Judges” is not enforced, has no teeth, is disregarded, is a waste of ink, or is a bad joke, – but here’s Canon 2A:

          An appearance of impropriety occurs when reasonable minds, with knowledge of all the relevant circumstances disclosed by a reasonable inquiry, would conclude that the judge’s honesty, integrity, impartiality, temperament, or fitness to serve as a judge is impaired.

      • Ravenclaw says:

        You are so often right about matters legal and (to be honest) so often kinda scary that I hesitate to bring this up, but: as far as I know, none of us has seen the indictment, so we really don’t yet know what’s in it. Sure, it may be a “reach” of a case over something relatively minor (if the evangelicals don’t care about illicit sex and corrupt cover-ups of sordid affairs, who am I to judge?). But it might have something more solid in it than you’re assuming. Shouldn’t we wait and see?

        • Ravenclaw says:

          You simply referred to it as a “shit sandwich.”

          However unlikely, there could turn out to be something in it that you will find substantive. There’s a lot of speculation kicking around without much basis in fact, and as a rule you’re good at not falling into that trap.

      • Harry Eagar says:

        One-ninth of it appears to be politically corrupt beyond question. Political corruption, narrowly conceived, is not a crime but it is corruption.

      • Bad Boris says:

        Good morning.

        I was careful to state that it was my opinion that the current SCOTUS is corrupt; like others commenting after me, I have several reasons for that belief.

        Sadly, that belief will never morph into ‘legality’ as SCOTUS is not subject to any ethical, much less legal oversight. That does not make my opinion untrue, however irritating that may be to some.

      • Ralph H white says:

        I don’t know if lying and giving misleading information in your hearings for the court count is corruption in a strictly legal sense, but many would consider them so. Several of the current justices did just that as far as their views on Roe vs Wade and some other precedents.
        Clarence Thomas vs Anita Hill was a litany of bs that included democrats as well as republicans. Ginny Thomas, wife of Clarence Thomas was actively trying to overthrow the election. Was Clarence aware? Kind of a silly question huh? Thomas’s decision not to recuse himself in a case of evident conflict of interest involving his wife is corrupt in my book. Kavanaugh skated on accusations of sexual misconduct and the FBI has admitted it did not follow up on many leads in the investigation. There are allegations of acceptance of “gifts” from concerned parties of Court cases that, because there is no ethics enforcement of the justices, are never investigated.

        Whether these and other acts meet a legal definition of corruption may be debatable. But, they certainly meet the dictionary definition.

    • Rwood0808 says:

      I don’t see trump as a viable candidate for 2024 at his point, and that will only get worse. The White House is wise to continue to believe that trump is their most likely 2024 matchup. It’s a rather easy prediction as trump’s ego will never let him drop out or tell his supporters to get behind someone else.

      Add to that the fact that he has already permanently lost a large percentage of the independent voters needed to win a general election and it’s a done deal. This makes him the easiest candidate to beat barring any idiotic moves (always a possibility) by the Biden camp.

      The fun fact in all this is that once the other indictments come down trump force one will be making round trips between DC, New York, and Georgia for the next couple of years. Add to this all the civil suits and the biggest challenge may just be getting all those dockets on the same page.

      • Rugger_9 says:

        Read the polls regarding Individual-1’s viability as the GOP 2024 nominee. He’s already sinking DeSantis. The VP slot on the other hand becomes quite important, since I see that if Trump wins (God help us) he would execute a quid pro quo for pardons (including of himself by himself) and let the erstwhile Veep take the reins. He’ll be pretty damned old and may prefer being a celebrity instead at that point, ego aside. All of the GOP pols running now know they would lose on their own in the general, so they would be willing to cut such a deal to get their foot in the door to the Oval Office.

        Something else about the cheating on Melania doesn’t add up. How can someone with the attitude revealed by the Access Hollywood tape have any scruples about banging other women? He’d already cheated on Ivana with Marla, and on Marla with Melania (and probably others for both marriages) so why would he care this time what Melania would think, especially with David Pecker running his catch and kill operations? Is there something in Melania’s prenup that was a land mine or is Ms. Knaus related to Vlad Putin?

        • Rwood0808 says:

          I’ve read a few of the polls and they all say the same thing.

          Quinnipiac’s latest survey shows that 75% of Republicans believe that an indictment should not disqualify him from running for president and 62% of the general public thinks the Manhattan DA’s case is motivated by politics, not the law. That will change as the facts of the case(s) come to light.

          47% of Republicans support him compared to only 33% for DeSantis. I don’t see DeSantis numbers improving much as his “war on woke” doesn’t play as well as he thinks it does outside of Floriduh. The GOP have no choice but to rally around trump, but they do so while ignoring one vital point:

          By a 57 – 38 percent margin, the general public disagrees and believes a criminal charge should disqualify him. That’s a HUGE margin, and it will only get wider as the cases go to trial.

          Trump may have a grip on the GOP base, but he can’t win without a large chunk of the independent vote, and they have already left him behind.

        • Sloth Sloman says:

          His grip on the base matters the more candidates the GOP fields in the primary. The more the vote is spread out, the more his 30% (or whatever) becomes significant enough to win the candidacy.

          He has no chance to become POTUS again, though. There are still 20 months before the election, that’s a lot of time for this and the other cases to develop further with more information becoming public over time.

        • joel fisher says:

          Your problem is you’re not a moron. Trump’s legal problems endear him to his loyal droolers. Try to think like a moron.

        • joel fisher says:

          Probably quoted elsewhere :
          Bill Maher on Trump vs Desantis:
          “Why go see a Beatles tribute band when the actual Beatles are still around?”

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          Stopped clock analogy fits Maher. His clock stopped twenty years ago, as far as I can tell.

        • Rugger_9 says:

          It’s about people, not concepts. The polls you need to review are the matchup ones and Individual-1 stomps his competition in all of the ones I’ve seen.

          I think the GOP understands that success in the general election requires a motivated base and that in turn requires Trump on the ticket. No one else excites the MAGA cult. Trump’s presence probably dooms the ticket and I do not see any way he’d accept being a figurehead only like W was for Cheney.

        • vicks says:

          Add me to the list of Americans who don’t need to look any further than Alexey Navalny to understand why an indictment shouldn’t disqualify anyone, including Trump from running for office.

        • Richard Turnbull says:

          True enough. Even further, being in prison shouldn’t disqualify anyone, Eugene V. Debs ran for president while incarcerated, the Socialist Party candidate. He got almost a million votes.
          The thing is, the intelligence and moral character of someone like Debs is to Trump’s intellect and moral character as Shakespeare would be to a very angry sewer rat granted the power of speech.

        • Ravenclaw says:

          Scruples about cheating? No. Nor about much of anything else. In a way, that’s why the case came into being. These women were paid to be quiet as he was declaring/running for public office. In the past, sex scandals have been a likely exit ramp from candidacy (remember President Gary Hart? Nope? Because he was sunk by an orchestrated sex scandal. Not to mention the close calls Clinton had). The payoffs aren’t illegal as far as I know, but there were shenanigans about the financing thereof.

      • Harry Eagar says:

        It’s really hard to read. I don’t trust the polls but even if they are off two or three sigmas, trump’s ahead. Yet his fanbois have not taken to the streets.

        My best guess –which is not worth much — is that all the at least semi-rational voters are holding themselves in suspense, waiting for something to clarify the landscape. They’ll go trump if they can but are worried about getting cornered with a rabid dog.

        The others blame Soros.

  8. Savage Librarian says:

    Make America Greed Again

    The American standard version
    of how Persona ditched the Person
    incorporates some immersion
    into coercion and diversion.

    That’s not to say desertion
    was the least bit less urgent
    but only to cast aspersion
    on thinking things can’t worsen.

    The Person found Persona
    at a dive bar in Daytona.
    They shared a cold Corona
    and yakked about Estonia.

    Then they both were shown a
    live shark that had grown a
    foot by a man in a kimono
    who claimed to be the owner.

    Soon Persona Non Grata
    entered too and got caught up
    where the talk, like fierce lava,
    was spewing up far hotter.

    This was no bourgeois drama
    with “thank you” and “de nada,”
    This was more like “not gonna.”
    Destination rock bottom.

    And, so it was. Lesson learned:
    Persona’s fate was well earned,
    The Person was duly spurned,
    Persona Non Grata, burned.

    But everyone else still yearned
    to murmur of the concerned
    who wanted it all adjourned
    as if the world had not turned.


    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      “shown a/grown a/kimono/owner” = brilliant! I wouldn’t have had the cojones.

        • Ginevra diBenci says:

          You probably saw it before I did, SL! Then I thought about playing with spelling to fit your scheme, but thought better to let it stand. You’re way too quick for me.

    • Richard Turnbull says:

      I can hear this as a song by Dylan, something akin to Desolation Row, or Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues, something melding darkness with a wry implication of Cosmic Absurdity. Might have to change some of the lines to repeat a phrase or whatever, but that verse could be sung, some minor chords and maybe more dissonance, then contrasted with the relative major.
      Really like it, anyway.

  9. flounder says:

    The Supreme Court in the Hobby Lobby decision ruled that the corporate activities of a “closely held” company should be considered to be unseverable from the personal convictions of the owner (the case was about religious convictions, but it’s hard to see where other moral and legal beliefs wouldn’t apply here). Therefore Trump Corp = Donald Trump. This new indictment isn’t “unprecedented”, because the recent indictment/conviction of Trump Org. as well as the fraud settlements for Trump University and Trump Foundation, which are all “closely held” should legally be seen as applying directly to the person whose personal and religious convictions the entities operate under.

      • Purple Martin says:

        OK, under the caveat that the thing about personally-applicable “convictions” is subject to a status update over the next couple of years.

      • gmoke says:

        Trmp has no convictions yet but he’s, so far, been indicted in only one criminal case so far. By the time this is over, I expect he will have many different convictions in a few different legal jurisdictions.

        As for personal convictions, he most definitely has at least one: me, me, me, mine, mine, mine.

      • flounder says:

        I think Trump has a conviction that the law isn’t supposed to apply to him. It might be his only one.

  10. Willis Warren says:

    When the charges come out, I’d be interested in a summary by Dr Wheeler or BMAZ about how this case is different from the John Edwards stuff. If I recall, the Edwards stuff failed because intent wasn’t proved, but I’m too lazy to google it. I remember he got off on a deadlocked jury, and argued the hush money wasn’t campaign related. Not sure how credible Michael Cohen will be, or if he’ll even come through in the clutch

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Edwards’s was a federal case in a far friendlier (to him) jurisdiction. The verdict surprised many.

  11. harpie says:

    Statement about the indictment put out by the New York Young Republicans Club:

    Statement on President Trump’s Indictment
    March 30, 2023

    Today, our nation careens toward tyranny at an unprecedented pace. An impudent cabal of radical figures abandons all propriety in their dogged attacks on President Donald J. Trump. We have taken a decisive step away from the values that define our national character.

    Every utterance that has escaped these monsters’ lips since President Trump first came down the escalator has built toward this moment; each falsehood, each misdirection, each deliberate misportrayal found its culmination in Alvin Bragg’s desperate action today.
    Radical leftist interests, beholden to an elite, internationalist cabal have taken the unprecedented step of indicting President Donald J. Trump, the leading candidate for the 2024 presidential election.

    Every American feels today the solid grasp of the Fifth Column on his throat; henceforth, we must openly acknowledge what so many have long known: that control of our nation’s fate has long been prised from our grasp. Let anyone who celebrates this downfall of our republic be forever branded a traitor to our nation. No one who mocks the people’s will can claim the title of an American.

    President Trump embodies the American people—our psyche from id to super-ego—as does no other figure; his soul is totally bonded with our core values and emotions, and he is our total and indisputable champion. This tremendous connection threatens the established order.

    The fix has always been “in” against our President, but his motivation and love for the American people drove him to pursue the national excellence that his unique vision perceived lay within our reach. In doing so, he opened so many eyes to reality.
    Last summer, in Tampa Florida, addressing a crowd of thousands of youths, President Trump stated that if he backed down from challenging the regime, he would have been left alone. That the regime now sheds the mask of “democracy” and unveils its true and hideous face shows how committed President Trump is to standing with the people. Every American owes him thanks.

    Despite our tremendous success holding marquee protests in Manhattan for critical rightwing causes, today we remain at home. Let our silence be a condemnation of the captivity of our nation; a polemic on the state of our republic. We will not allow another Fedsurrection; we will not be pawns in the Deep State’s perpetual effort to delegitimize Americans’ fundamental right of assembly.

    President Trump assured us that he was our retribution. [recently in WACO] Now we must return the rejoinder: our victory will be the joint vindication that our great President Donald J. Trump and our American people both deserve. This is Total War.

    From the SPLC in December:
    White Nationalists, Other Republicans Brace for ‘Total War’ A collection of radical right figures including white nationalists and ultranationalist European leaders gathered in Manhattan for the New York Young Republican Club’s (NYYRC) annual gala Saturday night, where that group’s president declared “total war” on perceived enemies. [] 12/11/22

      • Savage Librarian says:

        This sounds more like ‘saving face’ rhetoric, all bark no bite. I think all the J6 convictions and pleas have had a direct impact on these ‘Exhibit A..holes.’

        From the Statement about the indictment put out by the New York Young Republicans Club:

        “Despite our tremendous success holding marquee protests in Manhattan for critical rightwing causes, today we remain at home. Let our silence be a condemnation of the captivity of our nation;”

    • harpie says:

      An interesting paragraph from the SPLC piece:

      […] While answering questions, Posobiec grew testy with a Hatewatch reporter and described SPLC as a “domestic terror organization.” Posobiec called that reporter a “scumbag” and a “troll.” After Posobiec’s speaking tone became palpably agitated, a crowd formed and NYYRC executive secretary Viswanag “Vish” Burra escorted both Hatewatch reporters to the exit, physically shoving one of them. […]

      Vish BURRA met BANNON at the NYYRC in November 2019, and started working for him [War Room podcast] in January 2020. Beginning in mid-2020m BURRA assisted BANNON in disseminating the Hunter Biden laptop origin story.

      Now, BURRA is Director of Operations for George SANTOS.


      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        I was just wondering what “palpably agitated” feels like when “physically shoving” sort of answered my question.

    • Konny_2022 says:

      Most Germans of the older generation associate with “total war” the question asked as a rhetorical one by the NS propaganda minister Goebbels in the Sportpalast in Berlin in 1943. The crowd happily responded with “yeah” — and it’s what they got. I think it’s irresponsible to use this phrase in any case, let alone on situations like the Manhattan indictment.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Odds are much of this rhetoric comes out of the same propaganda mills as much of what passes for Republican legislation. Goopers probably use it for a small fee and to comply with the obligation to stay on the same page or be primaried.

    • Harry Eagar says:

      That is the most brilliant parody I’ve read since Alan Sokal duped SocialText. It is a satire, right? Please tell me it’s satire . . .

    • Savage Librarian says:

      It looks like the US is not only rolling up Russian yahoos in Brazil (as Marcy has told us,) but it’s also rolling up US fascists in Europe. Smoking ‘em out.

      IIRC, Rundo also has a connection to Florida (in addition to CA and NY,) where he or a family member had an apartment where brand merch was produced.

      “Violent White Nationalist Rob Rundo Arrested in Romania” -Hannah Gais, Jason Wilson and Michael Colborne, March 31, 2023

    • Richard Turnbull says:

      Substitute “Our Leader, Adolf Hitler” for the Trump references, and make comparable alterations through that embarrassing neo-fascist screed, and you have summoned up the soulless, wacky authoritarian rhetoric that Trump and his most devout cult followers have been bloviating out of their rear ends since 2015-2016.
      See also, if you have never taken a few minutes to read it, “The 14 Characteristics
      of Fascism” — a synthesis put together by Lawrence Britt, published in Free Inquiry in 2003, based on the policies and acts of Hitler, Mussolini, Franco, Suharto, and Pinochet. Trump fits right in, like a short-fingered hand in spiked glove:

      • bmaz says:

        Rayne asked you to politely STOP with this kind of nonsense. This is the last warning in that regard. Stop immediately. You are done DDOSing this thread.

        • Richard Turnbull says:

          Pleas explain; I have seen no “warnings” ever on here, would be glad to cease and desist from whatever policies these harmless suggestions of mine violate, c’est la vie!

          [Moderator’s note: I warned you at this comment. Perhaps you should check the About page so that you know who we are when we tell you to stop flooding the thread. / ~Rayne]

          [UPDATE – 3:19 P.M. ET: Dude, just stop. This site is not a chat room. This site is not Twitter. You’ve attempted to post +8 comments to this thread alone which veer away from the topic just to read your own chatter. We don’t do that here. /~Rayne]

  12. posaune says:

    OT (sorry) but mr posaune and I are wowed:
    Our special education litigation case was just assigned to Beryl Howell.
    Maybe we’ll get to meet Brandi!

    • Richard Turnbull says:

      I think at least three of my professors at William Mitchell – now Mitchell-Hamline – emphasized the prestige and influence of that court in various contexts. I am vicariously `wowed’ as well.

  13. Harry Eagar says:

    Not much about this puzzles me, but one thing is impenetrably baffling.

    Tacopina keeps saying that there was no campaign funding violation because trump ‘used his own money.’ But it is, I think, uncontested that Cohen was telling the truth when he said he used his money (mortgaged his home to do so).

    I keep reading that Tacopina is a well-regarded and successful defense lawyer, but damn if I can see anything but a blustering desk-pounder. Even Giuliani is more consistent.

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Rayne, thanks for the link to Dr. Brown’s thread. Very interesting, weedy stuff.

    • P J Evans says:

      It didn’t help when Tacopina said that the former guy considers his business’s money to be his personal money.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        I suspect he’s paraphrasing and taking out of context a SCt decision regarding there being no daylight between a controlling shareholder of a private company and that company.

        It doesn’t mean that there’s no wall between their asset, though. By analogy, an S corporation is disregarded solely for federal income tax purposes, with the tax being imposed on the shareholder. The S corp remains a separate legal entity for other purposes.

    • Rugger_9 says:

      Tacopina’s problem is that his client won’t shut up, to the point where he’s daring the DAs and AGs to indict him. There is also the ample evidence already in the public sphere so Tacopina would have a lot to do even without his client’s updates. Any of our lawyers: how did you manage clients like Individual-1?

    • c-i-v-i-l says:

      I’d read a good discussion (which I couldn’t re-find just now) explaining that it’s precisely because Trump didn’t use campaign funds that it was illegal — that it would have been legal for him to use campaign funds to pay off Daniels; he simply would have had to come up with a vague description of what the payment was for, and even that might not have had to be disclosed until after the election. And yes, Trump already admitted that Cohen used his own money, and Trump had a liability to Cohen.

    • TimothyB says:

      Hey, Matt___B, thanks for posting it. But I don’t think it is the first page of the indictment. Appears to be an order from the Court permitting Mr. Bragg to state publiclly that the GJ indicted.

  14. vicks says:

    Add me to the list of Americans who don’t need to look any further than Alexey Navalny to understand why an indictment shouldn’t disqualify anyone, including Trump from running for office.

    • timbozone says:

      Yes, in the US it would be foolish to assume that a simple indictment would disqualify anyone for any Federal office whatsoever. Similarly, being arrested and book should not be an automatic disqualifier…and it is not. The Bill of Rights is clear. You are presumably free of legal impairment to run for Federal office unless the 14th Amendment applies or you have been impeached and removed from office by a Senate trial.

  15. Ciurious George says:

    The main talking point by Trump supporters after an initial round of extreme name-calling is that Bragg has exercised politically motivated prosecutorial discretion and that in doing so is going way outside the normal practice of a DA. But isn’t prosecutorial discretion something that happens every day in every jurisdiction? Isn’t this a fundamental and generally unchecked power that we grant to prosecutors in our criminal justice system? I say this not in defense of the practice; I think this power usually serves the rich & connected and usually abuses the poor and unconnected.

    • Longtime_Lurker says:

      Prosecutorial discretion is an accepted (and with finite resources often necessary) part of our system. Appropriate prosecutorial discretion is something like the NYC DAs deciding to no longer prosecute marijuana crimes years before the state legislature got around to legalizing marijuana. There are also a ton of fact-specific scenarios where judgment would lead one to decline to prosecute (for example, if a citizen kills an active shooter to stop them, few DAs would actually indict that person and force them to affirmatively prove self-defense at trial; that person could technically be charged with a crime though.) This is also where implicit/systemic bias can come into play (“he seems like a nice young man, let’s not ruin his life…”) But, it’s about *declining* to prosecute. DAs can say “there’s a crime here, but I’m deciding not to prosecute it,” they can’t say “there’s no crime here, but let’s indict this guy anyway.” What’s anathema to our system is pointing to a person, saying “that’s a bad guy, let’s find something to pin on him” and digging for a crime to charge him with. That’s what some are saying Bragg has done here. (I don’t necessarily believe that – I will not and cannot judge the merits of the case before at least seeing the charges.)

      • Curious George says:

        Trumpsters are enjoying throwing around the line that “Everyone knows that you can indict a ham sandwich”, and that may be true. (I’m not sure anyone has ever tried.) But we all know that winning the necessary unanimous vote of a jury against a well-lawyered defendant in a hugely publicized case is not something any rational DA would want to take on with a weak case.

      • earthworm says:

        replying to L L :
        “But, it’s about *declining* to prosecute. DAs can say “there’s a crime here, but I’m deciding not to prosecute it,””
        as is often the case of sexual abuse of very young children, because their testimony is so mutable and subject to suggestibility. as in the infamous nursery school case. these cases are hard to prove and DA’s are known to decline to prosecute.

    • TomVet475 says:

      I think if you put your first and last sentences side by side and compare, you will find you have answered your own question.
      The rich and powerful do not like to be held to account. Ever.

  16. bmaz says:

    It is NOT just sympathetic to Trump, it is that Bragg appears to be bringing a shit case. And one that deserves to be not only scrutinized, but derided.

    • c-i-v-i-l says:

      How can anyone knowledgeably assess whether or not it’s a “shit case” when the indictment is still sealed? It doesn’t deserve either derision or lauding until we know what the case actually is.

      • bmaz says:

        Because I have done this a very long time. Because there is really only one path Bragg, at best, has ever had. Because the statutes in NY are pretty clear, and to get around them requires a certain dodge. So, you wait all you want, I have a pretty clear view. Any more questions?

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          Or perhaps there’s another path that will surprise you. We’ll find out more in a few days, and yes, I’ll wait to read the indictment before judging it. My tentativeness is certainly influenced by my not having legal expertise, but it’s also influenced by some of my work in grad school, which involved distinguishing among different kinds of belief: 1) knowledge (justified true belief), 2) T/F beliefs that aren’t knowledge (i.e., those that are false or have an unknown truth value, those with insufficient justification), and 3) beliefs that are only shared or not rather than T/F (e.g., values). To varying degrees, everyone sometimes treats the second and third categories as knowledge when they aren’t knowledge, and I now try to be clearer in my own mind about which of my beliefs are/aren’t knowledge. I don’t know enough here, so it’s appropriate for me to wait til I learn more.

        • bmaz says:

          I very much doubt I will be “surprised” by anything here. I have been paying attention from the start, have you?

        • c-i-v-i-l says:

          Yes, I have.

          But I don’t have the legal expertise you have. And you don’t have the expertise that I have researching how people draw on different kinds of beliefs in their reasoning. Both contribute to our views here — for me, a choice to wait to read the indictment before judging it, and for you, a conclusion that you already know enough to judge it a “shit case.”

  17. Bay State Librul says:

    When will Bill Barr be held accountable for his deeds.

    Appearing with Kudlow, who cannot open walnuts or peas correctly, Barr says.

    “Obviously, we don’t have the indictment, so there’s a little bit of speculation involved. But based on the news reports, if they’re accurate, this is an abomination,” “It’s the epitome of the abuse of prosecutorial power to bring a case that would not be brought against anyone else,” he continued. “They are going after the man, not a crime.”

    Barr, who served as attorney general in the Trump administration, also criticized the presumed legal theory behind the indictment as “pathetically weak.”

    • bmaz says:

      Barr is right this one time. And, what exactly is it you think Barr should be “held accountable” for? Do you have any understanding whatsoever of the concept of prosecutorial immunity? Or just does it just feel grand to lash out on the internet?

        • Bay State Librul says:

          To my point, Barr is biased — since he was deeply involved in the entire Cohen/Stormy/Individual-1 coverup. He is covering his ass.
          Bragg is not as naive as you. I’m betting that Trump will be hit with a tax evasion charge.
          Society is healthiest when everyone is equal.
          Instead of deriding Bragg, we should thank him for his work.

        • bmaz says:

          Oh, goody, now I am the naive one eh? Guess all those decades actually practicing law instead of bitching about it on the internet, like you, were wasted.

        • timbozone says:

          Are you pillorying Bragg because no other politician in NY state has been indicted before for making campaign finance violations that involve payoffs to those who might upset a campaign? Or is it your complaint that Bragg appears to be selectively investigating some politicians there for this and not others? Or that he’s even bothering to try to enforce campaign finance laws at all in this particular case as there’s basically no point in states trying to enforce their own campaign finance laws?

          I get that you don’t like (allegedly) grandstanding DAs. But since we’re stuck with them (until such time as the Platonic philopher-king ideal of DA model is implemented?) what exactly is your complaint about Trump eventually having to face some legal consequence after decades of being given a pass? “Not this way!”, “It’s a reprehensible circus!”, etc, is exclamatory and consistent for the most part, but what is it that you want to see changed about our process of electing DAs in this country exactly?

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Bill Barr is a deeply flawed man. Doesn’t mean he can’t be right, like a stopped clock, twice a day. And naive doesn’t enter into the equation with either Barr, bmaz, or Bragg.

          Personally, I’ll wait to see what’s in the indictment.

        • Bay State Librul says:

          I never said that Barr was naive. Au contraire, he is a snake in the grass and biased.
          I never said Bragg was naive. He is just doing his job.
          If Cohen spent time at Rikers for his role and if Individual-1 was cited, it makes no sense that the former President should get a pass.
          I do agree with you – let’s follow Snapple’s “real facts” messages on their bottle caps and wait until we read Bragg’s sweet words.

        • bmaz says:

          “Bragg’s sweet words”? Seriously? That is hilarious. People need to quit expecting the criminal justice system to fix bad politics.

        • Bay State Librul says:

          Thanks. You are right.
          I think my dead brain was thinking of CFO Weisselberg who pleaded guilty to dodging $1.7 million in taxes.
          That reminds me – The IRS is slow in catching up with these thieves. They need to down a bowl of nuts, chug a double whiskey on the rocks, and stop chin wagging.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Au contraire? “Bragg is not as naive as you [bmaz].” That leaves a lot of room on the naivete scale.

  18. Joberly1954 says:

    As with other commenters on Emptywheel, I have no idea what is in the indictment, but here’s a guess: the felony charge or charges that Trump faces in the NY County indictment might be obstruction of justice rather than, or in addition to, campaign finance violations. Recall that Trump wanted Michael Cohen to keep quiet about the Trump Organization’s plan for a Trump Moscow tower in the summer of 2016, after Trump publicly said he had no business dealings in Russia (Mueller Report, Vol II, p. 6). That was one bit of context for a pardon dangle via Trump personal attorney Robert Costello to Cohen in the spring of 2018–keep your mouth shut about Trump Tower Moscow. However, the Mueller Report circled back to the hush money payment to Stormy Daniels (Vol II, pp. 146-147), indicating that the 2018 dangle to Cohen might have involved the fixer keeping his mouth shut about prospective Trump Tower Moscow and continuing with his cover story that the payment to Daniels was solely Cohen’s idea to protect the boss. Mueller wrote that Costello sent an April 18, 2018 email to Cohen, “You are loved…Sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places.” That pardon dangle interfered with federal investigations into Trump, both Mueller’s and SDNY’s, and as we know there has been no indictment from DOJ on the obstruction charge. However, if the Costello email was sent during the NY County D.A.’s office investigating the Trump Organization for tax evasion (think Deutsche Bank and Mazars Accounting litigation), the D.A. certainly would have wanted Cohen’s testimony. I wonder if the NY prosecutors and grand jury asked Costello about the email when the attorney testified eleven days ago? One more detail for the timeline: the Costello email was sent April 18, 2018, and the five-year anniversary for the NY statute of limitations on a felony charge of witness tampering is later this month.

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