The Shambolic Criminal Case Against Donald Trump

It’s hard to know what to say about the criminal case against Donald Trump, as set forth in the indictment and Statement of Facts made public yesterday because it’s such an empty bag. I’m going to find it painful to have to pay attention to it as it moves forward. This is the best a Democratic prosecutor, who ran on getting Trump, could gin up?

Although I have not read the press coverage as extensively as Lambert has, both he and I don’t see much conviction about the case, even from outlets that are Trump hostile (admittedly, neither of us has had the stomach to check out MSNBC). And the filings don’t have the Mercedes solid door clunk, well-engineered feel routinely found in Federal and important state and local indictments. The Statement of Facts, which sets out the narrative, is even a bit shrill.

Aside from looking an awful lot like trampling over the rule of law to take down Trump (who between being a New York City developer and a casino operator should have been an easy target), the case runs the risk of violating the rule, “If you shoot at a king, you must kill him.” The freakout about the prospect of another Trump term in office grants him that status even though he doesn’t have it.

The indictment relates solely to Trump fixer Michael Cohen’s payment of hush money to National Enquirer to kill stories they had bought from Stormy Daniels and another woman, believed to be Karen McDougal. Those payments were reimbursed, some by Trump personally, some out of Trump Organization accounts. All payments were recorded in Trump Organization records (perhaps because Trump Organization also keeps records for Trump personally? Because all or some of the personal payments were later reimbursed by Trump Organization entities?). The indictment’s 34 counts all invoke § 175.10:1

§ 175.10 Falsifying business records in the first degree.

A person is guilty of falsifying business records in the first degree when he commits the crime of falsifying business records in the second degree, and when his intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.

Let us stop and point out one elephant in the room. A big reason the DA has to try to bootstrap the alleged business records falsification into a first degree violation is that its statute of limitations is five years, versus two for a mere second class violation. If the Trump legal team can argue that there was no bigger crime this records hanky-panky was covering up, the case goes poof because the statute of limitations expired on the lesser offense.

In simple terms, Cohen paid $180,000 to get what were sometimes called “bimbo eruptions” paid off. The Statement of Facts is not clear as to whose idea it was,2 but the Trump Organization doubled the amount to be paid to Cohen so Cohen could characterize it as income, not a reimbursement, then added a $60,000 bonus. That $420,000 amount was then paid in 12 monthly installments. That was billed monthly as a payment against a retainer agreement, even though there was no retainer agreement. Trump then allegedly confirmed this arrangement in person.

The indictment gets to 34 counts by taking each of monthly payments Trump made to Cohen and each of the related entries in Trump Organization records as a separate count. Some experts have suggested Trump’s lawyers will get them consolidated into fewer counts.

To get to a first degree falsification, there has to be an intent to commit or aid in or conceal the commission of another crime.

Oddly, the Statement of Facts discusses Team Trump pressuring Cohen not to cooperate in a Federal investigation but does not talk about obstruction of justice…..presumably because a New York prosecutor does not have standing to pursue obstruction of justice in a Federal investigation. And that begs the question of why the Department of Justice didn’t go that route. It’s exactly the one used with Clinton in l’affaire Lewinsky, and has the advantage of being simple to explain and prove.

The Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg also mentions tax fraud in passing. That seems odd since the “fraud” here involved choosing have Cohen report income he never had and therefore pay unnecessary taxes. Perhaps the supposed fraud instead is having the Trump Organization treat all of the payments to Cohen as tax deductible, when if they were all to effect payoffs to help the Trump campaign, they were Trump Organization/Trump personal contributions to the Trump campaign and hence not tax deductible. Since these deductions would ultimately reduce New York State and New York City income taxes, it would seem to offer a clear path to tying the alleged records abuses to another fraud. But you’d expect to see that presented more clearly in both the indictment and the Statement of Facts if so.

The Statement of Facts instead bangs on about the payoffs to American Media Inc. (AMI), the parent of National Enquirer, to kill the stories for the benefit of Trump’s election efforts, and depicts that as trying to illegally influence the election. As many readers know, there are a lot of problems with trying to make that the actual or intended crime that turns a second degree records violation into a first degree one.

The first is that the election laws in question are Federal, and a New York state prosecutor lacks standing to enforce Federal law. This is even a more questionable approach since not only did the Department of Justice not pursue this case, the Federal Election Commission didn’t issue a civil fine either. Put it anther way, if New York courts nevertheless back this dodgy theory, it would show the rule of law is being tossed out the window to get Trump.

The second is that Federal law requires that for a payment to be an election law violation, it must be made for the sole purpose of influencing the election. Recall the John Edwards case. Some election supporters paid his pregnant paramour $1 million during the election. The jury acquitted Edwards on one count and deadlocked on five others, apparently because the Edwards team argued the payments were not made exclusively to keep her quiet so as to help the election, but also to hide it from his wife, who was fighting a fatal case of cancer. They also argued Edwards had no idea these payments could be construed to be campaign-related (the donors didn’t send these monies to the election organization). Even the section of Bragg’s Statement of Facts contends that the payments were not made solely but “principal purpose of influencing the election.”

Finally (although I have not parsed it super carefully), the Statement of Facts appears to rely on Cohen as the sole source for what Trump’s intent was. Cohen is not a reliable witness.

But as we pointed out in Links today, Biden is on the record that he will prevent Trump from becoming President again:

And as Kevin W pointed out, this statement strongly echoes Biden’s remarks that the Nord Stream pipeline would be ended if Russia invaded Ukraine, and when challenged, he said he had the means to do so.

Is Trump harder to blow up than Nord Stream? It looks like we’ll find out.


1 Since you asked:

§ 175.05 Falsifying business records in the second degree.

A person is guilty of falsifying business records in the second degree
when, with intent to defraud, he:

1. Makes or causes a false entry in the business records of an
enterprise; or

2. Alters, erases, obliterates, deletes, removes or destroys a true
entry in the business records of an enterprise; or

3. Omits to make a true entry in the business records of an enterprise
in violation of a duty to do so which he knows to be imposed upon him by
law or by the nature of his position; or

4. Prevents the making of a true entry or causes the omission thereof
in the business records of an enterprise.

Falsifying business records in the second degree is a class A

2 Cohen’s guilty plea to eight Federal counts, most related to tax evasion separate from the Trump dalliances, depicted Cohen acting on his own in negotiating with AMI and making the payoffs, and then later going to the Trump Organization to get reimbursed.

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  1. fresno dan

    I think this shows a problem I have always had with the US legal system, and that is the wide, WIDE berth given to prosecutors. When are they EVER demoted, fired, prosecuted themselves for their well documented misdeeds and crimes against the innocent? Just like with the police, there is a defacto policy that prosecutors are exempt from any serious oversight. Will there actually be any consequences to this foolish prosecution? And even if Trump or a republican were elected as president, at the granular level nothing changes. So in the US, it has to be a former US president to show that prosecutors can behave totally irresponsibly and that justice is NOT blind?
    I remember as a child the baloney I was fed about how the US system would rather have 10 guilty go free instead of 1 innocent man go to prison. Despite all the supposed safeguards, in fact the constitution and judges do precious little to protect the innocent, as the Innocence Project has shown.
    And when one looks at the US incareration rate, we are either prosecuting and convicting waaaaay too many people eroneously, OR we have way, way too many laws (which never seem to catch any rich criminals) which means the vaunted US freedom is a myth (I certainly don’t dispute the freedom to be poor /sarc).
    Like so much in US politics, all kayfabe. Good for those whose business plan is riling people up to sell advertising…

    1. griffen

      Are we going to get Trump defending himself on the stand, ala Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men? “You can’t handle the truth !”

      Surely there is more meat to be found on the bone, but I would concur this appears much ado about very, very little. But pearl clutching and anything to tear apart MAGA-Land and Orange Man. I don’t actually like Trump much at all, but it’s quite logical to argue that some of his domestic policies actually proved beneficial. And we had pretty reasonable growth and modest but increasing inflation.

      1. fresno dan

        I’ve said it many times: What a quandary – Trump or the status quo…
        But when I look back on Bush and Iraq, and now Biden and Ukraine, and the continuation of US status quo foreign policy…
        CAN Trump rachet his rhetoric down??? I think he would stand a chance if he could be clear and focus on what the uniparty has been doing for 50 years and why it is not good for any but the elite.

        1. Ashburn

          Yes, for sure, but let us not forget Obama and the mega-banksters he let slide, Obama and the torturers, Obama and his war on whistle-blowers, Obama and Libya, Syria, Yemen, and his widespread drone assassination campaign. Also, it was under Obama that Biden and Nuland orchestrated the 2014 Maidan coup in Ukraine. Any reckoning with our corrupt political system needs to first confront the disastrous legacy of Obama.

        2. NYT_Memes

          Trump or the status quo

          Reminds me of Julian Assange’s assessment of the 2016 Presidential election. We had the choice between the plague or cholera. My view was Hillary is “the plague” and Trump is “cholera” simply because “the plague” just won’t go away. I see no/little improvement since then.

          1. NYT_Memes

            Allow me to add that “the plague” won’t go away because of elite support while “cholera” lacks similar institutional support. As is often said here, our elites have form.

          2. griffen

            Along with the same thought or notion, I recall a South Park episode where the school was picking a new mascot. The rumor was that the choices were down to a turd sandwich or a douche (I’m only passing the info along here).

            The episode roughly intersected with the US election in 2004 between Dubya and Kerry. Every four years America is presented with supposed choices and so it goes.

            1. c_heale

              The episode mentioned was more apposite, since the two characters parodied were Trump and Hillary Clinton.

      2. flora

        Having been a registered Dem my entire adult life, I am no more.
        What a f*ing embarrassing party it’s become. No foreign policy, no economic policy, and now no democratic policy.

        Is this a charge to act as a shiny object while Congress tries passing the RESTRICT act? Wouldn’t surprise me.

        1. Tim

          Just remember the Republican party has no platform anymore either. The parties are ruined with no relief in sight.

          1. JG

            Yes, I registered “Unaffiliated “…yesterday. The “uni party” leaves little to desire.

        2. Piotr Berman

          I wish there was no foreign policy. Just shutting down all non-consular services and trips of DoS would be a vast improvement. Not that a more active foreign policy is NECESSARILY bad, but what we see is worse than nothing.

        3. Rolf

          They are worse than a party with no policy. Their actual policies — those illustrated by deed, as what they say is often just virtue-signalling — do not support the interests of average Americans, whose fragile income depends on their labors, not their wealth.

        4. Rob

          Don’t get me started on the Democrats, but the Republican Party is every bit as bad, if not worse, in a different way, namely the fascistic way. All the hallmarks of nascent fascism are readily apparent to those with open eyes and clear minds. Just look for it!

    2. hk

      “When are they EVER demoted, fired, prosecuted themselves for their well documented misdeeds and crimes against the innocent?”

      Oh, I think we are going to see this in a few years, for sure. There will be a massacre that’ll make St Bartholomew’s like a picnic.

    3. scott s.

      Well I suppose that is why prosecutors and sheriffs are elected under the theory that elections provide the check. In contrast to appointed federal prosecutors and marshals. But again in theory fed jurisdiction was to be limited except in a few areas like forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards.

    4. Spider Monkey

      I thought similarly.

      my logic was, if they go after Trump:

      1) Great, let’s go after ALL politicians who commit a crime regardless of party. Just because somebody works for the federal government doesnt mean a prosecutor from their local jurisdiction shouldn’t be able to go after them.
      2) If people really do feel that politicians are needlessly being jailed under silly laws, then great, they will seek to change that and the everyday man/women will benefit since they are ultimately the ones who suffer the most consequences from our terrible legal framework.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      You may have read this before I was done. It’s Cohen who claimed that the payoffs were “primarily” for election purposes. Cohen also pleaded guilty to tax evasion, but none of that was related to the payoffs. See:

      The detailed narrative in the DoJ statement above makes clear that Cohen first negotiated with AMI and only a couple of months after fronting the money for both payoffs and getting the deals done and dusted did he then approach the Trump Organization about getting reimbursed. He did all of his negotiations with and payments to AMI on his own.

      Thus even though Cohen’s motivation in quashing the stories might indeed be “primarily” to influence the election, that does not demonstrate that the Trump Organization had the same motivations. Trump has his name all over real estate. He’s also a reality TV star. He has a brand to protect as well as his relationship with his wife. The motivation even could have been, “Dammit, Cohen got out over his skis. He’s a loose cannon. Simplest to pay him off even if he went out on his own than get in a huge row and have him angry.”

      1. wolfepenguin

        There’s a part of this that also confuses me. Doesn’t the federal case rely on a novel interpretation of the statute of limitations on the federal crime as well: they paused the statute of limitations during Trump’s time in office given the allegations take place in 2016. Is there any precedent for actually pulling this off in any other case scenario? That’s the weakest link here, imo.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The statute of limitations for Federal election fraud is five years. The last payment to Cohen was I believe in January 2018 (12 payments starting in Feb 2017). So yes, it looks like they just missed the statute of limitations even if they try making the crime Federal election misconduct (although they have IMHO a bigger problem with trying to argue a Federal crime in a state court).

          However, if they argue the payments were for election influence, they would not be tax deductible in New York State or City. Payments made in 2017 and 2018 would be on Trump’s returns filed in 2018 and 2019. Because he gets a lot of K-1s, no way does he file on time (March 15, April 15). But the statute of limitations for tax fraud is 3 years from the filing date. So unless Trump later amended his returns for either of those years, that’s out too.

          The only way is if they can argue for tolling. I don’t see how that works because Trump was in the US and is very findable.

          1. MinNYC

            Re statute of limitations and tolling of the clock: this article directly addresses NY law, which is somewhat different than other states and the Feds.


            TLDR: NY law allows the clock to stop when a defendant is out-of-state. If the last check was paid in Dec. 2017 (when DJT was already living in DC as the President) and Trump moved his residency to FL in 2019, even the 2-year limitation on a misdemeanor — much less the felony — probably isn’t time limited.

            Disclaimer: I’m no lawyer, nor am I familiar with, other than it is based at NYU Law School.

            1. dommage

              FWIW, NY lawyer here. An earlier proceeding in this matter, enforcement of a subpoena duces tecum, got to the Supremes. Alito, dissenting, even addressed the NYS tolling statute. Trump v. Vance , 140 S.Ct. 2412, 2449. He was arguing against the claim of Vance (Bragg’s predecessor) that if the President could not be served while in office, the statute of limitations would expire! Alito pointed to a Court of Appeals (NYS highest court) decision interpreting the tolling statute to suggest that Trump after leaving office would not have significant protection from the NYS statute of limitations:
              “See N. Y. Crim. Proc. Law Ann. § 30.10(4)(a) (West 2010) (statute tolled when defendant outside the jurisdiction); see also People v. Knobel , 94 N.Y.2d 226, 230, 701 N.Y.S.2d 695, 723 N.E.2d 550, 552 (1999) (explaining New York rule for tolling the limitations period when a defendant is “continuously outside” the State and concluding that “all periods of a day or more that a nonresident defendant is out-of-State should be totaled and toll the Statute of Limitations”).
              Also Cuomo tolled its operation, explicitly including the Criminal Procedure Law, from March to November of 2020.
              Yves is surely correct in saying the indictment is shambolic. It has multiple layers of weakness. But there are more substantial reasons for its implosion than the NYS Statute of Limitations.

              1. square coats

                That tolling business seems like it could easily be impossible to determine in many cases (no idea about trump particularly, but just in general it seems like an absolute nightmare if someone travels in and out of nys frequently…)

            2. Yves Smith Post author

              Trump was regularly in NYC. He could easily have been served.

              The other bit is how the records violations are pinned on Trump personally when they were made by the Trump Organization, which has operations in NY.

      2. Dwight

        At that point, the crime allowing step up to first degree would be tax fraud.

        Interesting that in all cases surveyed in this document, the step-up crime was included in the indictment, including in the Trump Organization/Weisselberg cases involving tax fraud:

        Here are model jury instructions for 175.10:

        The possibility you posit almost sounds like Cohen was extorting Trump or the Trump Organization, and the tax fraud if any was used to cover up payment to him, and/or the payment to Daniels. Election law and dual motivations wouldn’t matter if the step-up crime was tax fraud or even extortion.

        Can the crime being aided or furthered be the crime of another? Could it even be extortion by Daniels? (What we usually call blackmail is considered larceny by extortion in NY law.) But are you defrauding the organization if you’re protecting your reputation on which the value of the organization is based?

        Totally ignorant speculation on my part.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          As said repeatedly, tax statute of limitations is 3 years after returns are fined.

          Latest check might have been Jan 2018, so with extensions, returns filed Sept 2019. So too late for that to be used.

    2. GiGi

      Especially since, by the specific language of the statute, the falsifications must also be accompanied by “intent to defraud”. Since Trump is the defendant, not the Trump organization or the bookkeepers and accountants, it would have to be proven that Trump himself intended to defraud…..who exactly?
      From what I have read elsewhere, the falsifications took place in 2017, after Trump had divested.
      Trump famously never sends emails, texts, or otherwise puts incriminating information in writing. And Cohen was probably not yet surreptitiously recording conversations. So, good luck with proving the intent to defraud element with a convict lawyer.

  2. The Rev Kev

    Between losing the NATO-Ukraine war, major bank collapses at home, the US Dollar being abandoned by country after country, ramped up tensions with China, tensions with Mexico in the south, rising inflation, etc., etc., etc., the Biden administration has decided that the best thing that they can do is to have New York arrest Trump and stage a show trial for the next year or two as a major distraction. I know that I should be paying more attention to what is going on here but the media is already disgracing itself with their coverage of this slow motion train wreck. Every bit of this fiasco is being endlessly analyzed by the media who hasn’t been this happy about Trump since the profitable years of his Presidency. But that Court itslef should be warned that fighting Trump in a court room is like fighting a pig in a pool of mud. You end up muddy and filthy while the pig enjoys it.

    1. fresno dan

      You know TV has reruns, and the movies have sequels…. the most profitable way to run the media…
      RussiagateII! RussiagateII! RussiagateII! The Walls are Closing in!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Pat

        The media has been struggling since Trump. Does anyone really want to watch anyone in the Biden administration? Trump got admirers and hate watchers. Broadcast and cable networks fell all over themselves to broadcast court hallways and motorcades. (Per descriptions from people I know who did watch, I had better things to do.)

        Bragg has nothing going for him. Vance had years in office, an air of competence and enough status and political acumen to be able to tell our spoiled toddler Democratic power players to get over themselves. Bragg only has the office because he was willing to do this. I would not be surprised if that break in the grand jury hearings was so Bragg could beg his backers to let this grand jury refuse the indictment and start fresh (I could be wrong but Unless the terms have changed, the grand jury Bragg was dealing with indicted on one of their last scheduled days of service.) Those power players want Trump severely crippled and are stupid enough to think he can’t win in NY no matter how weak the case and the media wants to cover Trump without facing PMC wrath for doing so. Any voice of reason about this was never going to be heard.

    2. Benny Profane

      Slow motion is an understatement. I just heard that the next time all parties meet in the courtroom, including, I think, Trump, is November. I can’t believe the media can keep this alive, day to day, until then, and then we’re talking about dragging a guy into a legal tussle that is an expert at delay tactics and, well, winning in court. It’s been a big part of his business career.
      Another example of how rotten and dumb the Democratic party has become. They could have just left him alone, let him sort of whither on the vine, and maybe lose the nomination, although that seems very unlikely now. It’s as though they’re repeating 15-16 all over again, by actually helping him get nominated so they could trounce him in November (re: The famous picture of the Trumps and Clintons side by side at Donald and Melania’s wedding). How did that work out? And here we are again.

      1. Paul Harvey 0swald

        Agreed. The opposite of love isn’t hate. The opposite of love is indifference.

        1. Janeway

          Yes! I remember a classic back and forth on the sitcom Cheers:

          Diane Chambers:
          Everyone knows that hate is not the opposite of love. Indifference is.

          Sam Malone:
          Oh, whatever you say. I really don’t care.

      2. Rolf

        they could have just left him alone, let him sort of whither on the vine

        Exactly. If nothing else, Trump has a keen and practiced sense of how to exploit media attention, and how to appeal to people as an underdog outside the tent. What better opportunity than this? What a gift to the black hole of Trump Media Attention.

        Just like RussiaGate, like Ukraine, like blowing up pipelines in an act of international terrorism, like Biden’s What?-Me-Worry? attitude toward the damage visited on ordinary citizens by inflated prices, sh*t wages, COVID, etc., and now his promise to prevent Trump from re-gaining office (WCGW?), these dogs will come back to bite Dems, and hard.

    3. Oh

      You mean a pool of sh^t.
      Biden knows he has o distract people with Trump like he did last time if he has any chance to be “re-elected” (I don’t think people elect anybody in this USA.). The Democrat party in collusion with some of the Republicans used the Jan 6 hearings but apparently were unsuccessful. Now the trial using the NY DA. They probably have other anti Trump maneuvers planned this year and next.
      Biden, Obama, Bush, Cheney and a host of politicians should be in jail for killing people around the world. US foreign policy is politically motivated and result in wars that get innocent people killed.

  3. DJG, Reality Czar

    Many thanks for this explanation. Well, I guess that tax evasion is how they got Al Capone.

    Max Blumenthal at the GrayZone has a new video up in which he makes some amusing comments about Clinton and his intern-relationship problems (Bill, ever the mentor, even knowing how to conjugate the verb is, if it is). Yet the U S of A has reached a point where change is brought about mainly through sexual scandal (Clarence Thomas, Bret Kavanaugh, John Edwards, as mentioned in the posting). This is not real politics–it is all rock n roll high school, although a high school that possesses nuclear weapons.

    The mind boggles.

    As a leftist, I have little interest in voting for Trump (or Hillary Clinton). I am more concerned about the crushing of the First Amendment and the current raging McCarthyism. Example: The Harpies Plaskett, Garcia, and Wasserman Schultz trying to sink fangs into Shellenberger and Taibbi.

    I have been contemplating this long article by Jacob Siegel from The Tablet. It was posted here, although I originally read it as a link in a post by Taibbi, so I will pop the link in.

    Insightful paragraph (explaining the sweaty attempts to indict the miscreant Donald): “No one thought Trump was a normal politician. Being an ogre, Trump horrified millions of Americans who felt a personal betrayal in the possibility that he would occupy the same office held by George Washington and Abe Lincoln. Trump also threatened the business interests of the most powerful sectors of society. It was the latter offense, rather than his putative racism or flagrant un-presidentialness, that sent the ruling class into a state of apoplexy.”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I think our comments crossed. Bragg didn’t allege tax fraud, and he’s relying heavily on the Cohen guilty plea to the DoJ. Cohen did plead guilty to tax evasion, but none of that was related to the payoffs.

      The detailed DoJ discussion of the payoffs makes it utterly clear that Cohen freelanced in negotiating with and paying AMI to kill the babe stories. Only AFTER did he go to the Trump Organization to seek reimbursement. So even if Cohen’s motivation was “primarily” to influence the election, that does NOT prove it was the Trump Organization motive. In fact, the Trump Organization had no motive because they did not cook up the scheme! Cohen was on his own!

      So why pay Cohen? Wellie, the $60,000 bonus does say they appreciated his initiative. But that does not establish why. Note that the Trump Org could contend that since they has not authorized the payments to AMI, they couldn’t treat them as reimbursements. You can argue they were trying to have it both ways, not technically reimbursing Cohen but making him whole economically. We’ll see how this gets argued if it becomes an issue in the case.

      The long-winded point here is that if Team Trump can argue they were paying Cohen for something other than election influence efforts, then it’s a legit tax deduction.

      And aside from THAT problem, the statute of limitations on tax fraud is 3 years from the filing of the return. Ooops!

      1. Dwight

        Does statute of limitations for the step-up crime matter if statute of limitations for the falsification crime is 5 years?

  4. James E Keenan

    This sentence, which appears about halfway through the post, is incomplete:

    As many have pointed out

  5. Lexx

    I was wondering this morning if Al Capone had ‘fans’ equivalent to Trump’s, when he was charged with tax evasion, and how they responded when he was convicted. I haven’t found an account yet. It was two years into The Depression (1931). Plenty of angry poor people throughout the country and on the south side of Chicago. Were it not for modern antibiotics, Trump would probably also have syphilis. Both men operated in the world as though they were/are ‘above the law’, ‘untouchable’.

    I think this is what the Trump case is about… is anyone in this country, no matter how highly placed in our society, above the law? All of the laws? Apart from his narcissism, I thought it was why he ran for president to begin with; it was the ultimate ‘get out of jail free’ card, past and present. A ‘catchall’ for his lifetime of crime. The enshrinement of his criminal enterprise in the office of POTUS. There’s no one serving in high office or who has great wealth who doesn’t have dirt on their hands, who isn’t a ‘criminal’. Are there any billionaires serving time? Yes, a few millionaires, but not many and not for long.

    The illusion before the eyes of the public that we live in a democracy is coming undone. Trying Trump is a small effort at repairing the holes in that illusion. I’m not sure it would be a good thing for the Feds to win this case.

    There was a small special effect in Luthen’s monologue that keeps coming back to me… the wind. You can almost hear the sound of the wind blowing through his soul. He’d say he’s become a hollow man who sacrificed his humanity to fight the empire, and we’re to suppose he had such virtuous qualities to begin with until the Empire showed up and took control. He sells high end antiquities from around the galaxy to rich people for a living and gets rich off their need to grow and display their private collections. Does such a man have many virtues to claim, much less sacrifice? If not, what then does Empire represent to him that he’d sacrifice himself and anyone else to destroy it?

    The Donald’s fan base comes from the lower classes where they feel most acutely their ever growing lack of choices in their slowly shortening life expectancy. The middle and upper classes have been slower to catch on. I wonder if Donald Trump walking away from the charges will bring the lesson home?

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Trump’s base is not the lower classes, but the Petit Bourgeoisie and local eleites: general contractors, real estate agents, franchisees, car dealers, etc.

      He may have been pushed over the top in 2016 by disaffected former D voters in the Rust Belt, but like any authoritarian, his political power flows from the Petit Bourgeoisie.

      1. Benny Profane

        Oh, so, actual successful “small” business people? Not financiers and media grifters?
        Why the Gallic sneer? Sounds so…petty.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          You have quite the talent for inferring physical behavior from online text, but I’d recommend not giving up your day job.

        2. TimH

          Trump appealed to people fed up with the status quo, as did Obama. Different messages, different target audience in each case. But both ‘popularist’, in a way that Biden’s pitch was not. I think that ‘illary tried to be popularist too, but it didn’t work.

          I am curious (and can’t ever know) how many votes in the election that Trump won were not-Clinton or not-Trump.

      2. Lexx

        Given the many many ways workers are creating income streams, do terms like petit, haute, or proletariat still apply? The lines seem blurry now. My parents qualified for all three, plus capitalist, over a lifetime. Likewise every Trump voter I’ve met, all identifying as ‘lower class’. My mother voted Trump and the entirety of my ‘proletariat’ extended family. Husband’s too.

        Two men showed up at our house on Monday, each general contractors. They’ve worked for other contractors, they are contractors now with subcontractors that work for them. They grew up poor and now they’re ‘well-off’. One of them had ‘Trump’ supporting stickers on the back of his truck. We swapped stories out in the backyard. They identify as ‘lower class’, their incomes would suggest otherwise.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          How they “identify?”

          Just goes to show that Identity Politics isn’t confined to the Woke so-called Left.

          How they subjectively “identify,” and even their cultural and class backgrounds, have far less valence than their relation to production. That’s Old Graybeard 101, and as analysis it’s aged quite well.

    2. spud

      is this reply a attempt at comic relief? with bill clinton, george w. bush, cheney, obama and joe biden plus a host of others that have killed untold millions of people world wide, besides dooming them to grinding poverty and slavery, you cite trumps so-called crimes he is being charged with?

      i mean, i could be mis-reading your reply?

    3. hk

      Al Capone didn’t have a serious chance to become the president. And having the president hear serious grudge on you for having tried to “kill” him is not a good thing. Surely, people must realize that before pulling the proverbial trigger you’d think.

    4. Lysias

      There has never been a bigger criminal in the White House than Lyndon Baines Johnson. I once had the unpleasant experience of sitting through an opera that glorified LBJ in the Kennedy Center.

    5. ForFawkesSakes

      Al Capone ran a soup kitchen where the unemployed of Chicago could eat three hot meals a day, so it’s arguable that Capone was well-liked by the working class of Chicago.

  6. Katniss Everdeen

    If the Trump legal team can argue that there was no bigger crime this records hanky-panky was covering up, the case goes poof because the statute of limitations expired on the lesser offense

    According to former federal prosecutor in new york, Andrew McCarthy, yesterday on Fox, the underlying violation is a federal campaign finance crime.

    McCarthy claimed that a fair “reading” of the statute Bragg is invoking would be that the underlying crime must be a violation of a new york law, and that Bragg does not have jurisdiction to use a federal law for that purpose.

    Per McCarthy, if his read is correct, the whole thing goes away.


    1. Yves Smith Post author

      See upthread, statute of limitations also expired on any election fraud. Five years. Even if you try using the last Trump payment to Cohen with respect to the AMI payoff, I read that as Jan 2018.

      1. WombatPM

        What’s frustrating about that is how the statute of limitations conflicts with the policy of not indicting a sitting president. So if you commit fraud and win your election everything is good? We knew all about Michael Cohen and the activities of Individual 1 back in 2018. But no one could do anything. The rule of law seems to break down when applied to the immensely powerful. No one considered the possibility of America electing a grifter and conman to the highest office in the land. And the assumption of honorable men acting in good faith goes out the window when the parties in congress devolve to nothing more than tribal antics.

        Personally, I’d like to see him convicted and have it go all the way to the supreme court to get a ruling as to how laws apply to Current and Past Presidents.

    2. Jim Thomson

      To base this case on covering up an underlying federal crime, does not the underlying crime require proof, or a conviction for it.
      One is innocent until proven guilty, and the underlying crime is merely alleged at this point. There has been no conviction. And in fact, the lack of indictment by the DOJ is evidence that there is no underlying crime.
      It seems that this case has already gone poof.

      1. Dwight

        It would require proof of the underlying crime as an element of the felony falsification crime, but not clear it would require prosecution for the underlying crime, or that a shorter statute of limitations for the underlying crime would affect prosecution for the felony falsification crime.

        To address a point others have made, I don’t think that the underlying crime would have to be a state crime, but using a federal crime would give Trump grounds for appeal and might raise a federal question that would allow him to remove the case to federal court.

        1. Lysias

          If proof of a federal crime is necessary for the state charge, isn’t trying to prove the federal charge outside the state prosecutor’s jurisdiction?

          1. Jim Thomson

            And in our system the only proof of a crime is a guilty conviction by a jury.
            One more pillar of sand for this whole project.

    3. pjay

      Why does this remind me of all the effort to prove “obstruction of justice” in the investigation of a crime that wasn’t actually committed: Russiagate? I remember reading part 1 of the Mueller Report, which admitted no evidence for Trump’s “collusion,” then the whole second part dealing with “obstruction” for this non-existent crime. This is truly “banana republic” level lawfare at work here.

  7. Lex

    Trump should have been indicted on numerous actions that harmed tenants, employees and contractors over the years, I’m sure. But instead we get this which should tell us just about all we need to know about the US legal and political system. That said, if he’s in jail and running for president I’ll vote for him. I think having POTUS being on work release is just the kind of Gogol’s bitter laugh we’ll need to embrace.

    1. Lysias

      Prosecuting Trump for those charges would be a threat to a lot of landlords and real estate developers who have a lot of power in New York.

  8. Alice X

    Thank you for this. Last night (4/4/23) Glenn Greenwald had a seemingly reasonable treatment of the charges, which brought up the same problems with the case.

    I don’t know what forum could bring charges for the assassination of Qasem Soleimani, who was traveling on a diplomatic passport, and that was a crime, but there must be one.

    1. Ready Go Set

      What struck me about yesterday’s news was the comment coming from the El Salvador Presidente Nayib Bukele.

      ‘Sadly, it’ll be very hard for US Foreign Policy to use arguments such as “democracy” and “free and fair elections”, or try to condemn “political persecutions” in other countries, from now on.’

      He also tweeted

      ‘Imagine if this happened to a leading opposition presidential candidate here in El Salvador’

      Those communications counter the aims of the American democracy summit. Where are journalists on that issue?

      1. Dwight

        Domestic and international “lawfare” is destroying the law, democracy, and diplomacy.

      2. square coats

        I’m pretty cynical about this ever dawning on u.s. politicians, their dutiful MSM scribes, and most MSM consumers. Fully expecting the hypocrisy to carry on as it always does :(

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      Of course killing Soleimani was a crime, and Trump also killed the Iran nuclear deal, and the INF Treaty with Russia… but the #McResistance never said a word about those things. In fact, I remember Van Jones gushing on CNN about how “Presidential” Orange Man had become when he bombed Syria in 2017.

      For me, the defining political vanity and bankruptcy of the #McResistance occurred in 2018 when, after years of shrieking that Trump was Hitler, the Patriot Act was re-authorized for Hitler to govern under.

      These imbeciles are rejoicing now, convinced they’ve caught their White Whale, but they don’t seem to have read to the end of the book.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Thank you. Every time i hear somebody whingeing about Trump’s “crimes”, they never mention that one, which is just about the only clear and easy to understand criminal action I’m aware of that he has committed. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump had never even heard of Soleimani before the spooks asked for the OK to drone him, but the buck stops here and Trump is ultimately responsible for that clear criminal action. Problem is, the DC Blob is just fine with that one since offing foreign leaders is standard operating procedure and has been for many decades now.

      If people want Trump in jail, then go after him for the assassination or the attempted coup against Maduro. Otherwise, shut the [family blog] up and stop wasting everyone’s time trying to invent some technicality to charge him for. The US is a laughing stock right now and has been for a awhile.

      This full court press to get Trump on something, anything has almost convinced me to vote for the guy just out of spite towards the ruling class. The only thing keeping me from doing so is that assassination. Bush and Cheney deserve to be in the Hague for war crimes and voting for Trump after committing his own would be like exonerating all politicians who do such things.

      1. Lysias

        The killing of Soleimani and the persecution of Arrange were the two main reasons I vowed circa 2019 never to vote for the guy. But then in 2020 I saw what his opponents were doing, and ended up voting for him.

    4. Alan Roxdale

      The US permanent government would rather Trump back in office than make assassinations like Soleimani’s illegal.

  9. Stephen

    One speculation I heard was that if this is the first indictment to be made against Trump in this flurry of pre election cases in various jurisdictions then the others must be super weak. Or embarrassing for his would be prosecutors. For example, indicting him for retaining sensitive federal documents might be tricky from a PR perspective when every other senior politician seems to be doing the same thing.

    Not sure how true that speculation is. It kind of presupposes a coordinated conspiracy to get Trump. My suspicion is that various prosecutors with their own jurisdictions are instead acting bottom up in accordance with perceived tacit approval to get him and the Manhattan team was ready first. They have their own career ambitions and this might be good for those. Whatever the outcome.

    Will be very hard though for the US ever to criticise other countries for prosecuting former leaders for alleged political reasons. Of course, with the usual sleight of hand they will still do so but no one outside the western propaganda bubble will see anything other than hypocrisy.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      It kind of presupposes a coordinated conspiracy to get Trump.

      Gee, ya think?

      1. Stephen

        My question is about how coordinated and centrally planned the get Trump movement is. A conspiracy presupposes that, rather like a play in American Football.

        Am not sure that the people driving things are that omnipotent or smart. But there is clearly an alignment of interests that people are responding to.

  10. Glossolalia

    I’m conflicted. On the one hand, despite the fact that Trump will rubber-stamp all sorts of awful right wing social social and moral legislation I do love the existential threat that he poses to the establishment. On the other hand, I do think he is a real threat to democracy in this country but by endlessly pushing election fraud stories and essentially saying that unless he wins there was cheating.

    1. semper loquitur

      Same here. I despise Trump for the parasite he is. He will cause great harm to the country should he be reelected. At the same time, I despise the liberal establishment wholeheartedly. At this point for me, it’s all about which dumpster fire will burn higher and hotter.

    2. pjay

      You could also see the coordinated effort by powerful networks within the DOJ, the Democratic Party, the CIA, the FBI, foreign intelligence agencies, and the mainstream media to overturn the 2016 election by framing a sitting President for traitorous collusion with a foreign power as a “real threat to democracy.” Even if evidence of 2020 voter manipulation is lacking, would you really blame Trump or any Trump supporter for believing it? Throw in *two* nearly groundless impeachment efforts (especially the first one), the suppression of the Hunter Biden story, all the “twitter files” revelations, and the current multi-pronged legal effort to prevent Trump from running in 2024, and I think you could argue that Trump is not the most significant “threat to democracy” revealed over the last 8 years.

      Trump is a small time street-corner conman compared to the mafia dons and their consigliere arrayed against him. For me that’s the real issue, and why, though a lifetime Trump hater, I feel like I have to defend him on *these* issues.

    3. John k

      I don’t see much chance for fundamental change from either party, but imo trump is more likely than Biden/Harris. He might even do something for little people if he thought it would help him.

  11. Dr. John Carpenter

    “Aside from looking an awful lot like trampling over the rule of law to take down Trump (who between being a New York City developer and a casino operator should have been an easy target)”

    To paraphrase Trump in the debates, they don’t want to go there as they and their benefactors benefit from those same things. I’m sure a stronger case could be made, but the risk of blow-back would be strong. (Also, I’m not 100% convinced the will to go the full monty is really there. Yes, there are certain people braying to see him behind bars. But at the top, they have to realize the prescient this would set and am sure would rather just keep him tied up until election season is over rather than incarcerated.)

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Disagree. The Feds threw the book at Manafort with criminal charges for offenses that are normally pursued as a civil case and result in fines only.

    2. flora

      The precident has been set now. They’ve crossed the Rubicon. The rest is afterthought and after action.

      1. Questa Nota

        Bragg may be a fall-guy. Does he have some immunity deal? The NY DA people seem unstable given past actions and sudden departures. Bite the smaller apple, don’t mind the maggots as Mick might sing now.

        The little players eventually suffer while the big ones go free. See Bush, Cheney, Clinton, Holder, Obama, Nuland, the other Clinton, Pelosi, Schiff, so many others doing their bidding or having it done.

        Some day there should be a Whatever Happened To, or a This Is Your Life show update to bring up all those memory-holed, out of news cycle scandals and miscreants. Maybe even a new word since miscreant is redolent of misdemeanor, so, felcreant?

  12. Watt4Bob

    The whole production is embarrassing, Alvin Bragg being forced to center-stage by the secret committee for the preservation of the status quo, and doing all he can to hide his shame and disappointment at having his career besmirched by participation in this low-rent kabuki.

    The committee has been doing everything they can to maintain the ‘Elite Norm’ Yves mentioned, but in the end, they decided they “…have to DO SOMETHING…”.

    For the gang that couldn’t shoot straight, doing something is very often a mistake.

    In the end, this whole thing is a gamble on the part of the committee, that their production will, in some way impede Trump’s efforts to become president again, and I suppose build a presidential library in Central Park.

    The committee, well known for their love of performance and bluster, has long contributed enthusiastically to turning our economy into a casino, and so I suppose that it makes a lot of sense that they would decide to gamble at this point.

    The problem is that committees move to slow and what with all the disagreements, side-shows, and an obvious lack of imagination, these guys ended up missing any real opportunity they had to effectively slow Trump.

    The whole thing is a large, desperate bet with long odds.

    This how chumps gamble.

    1. Michael Fiorillo

      Well, if he’s going to follow Obama’s slick precedent, it won’t be The Trump Presidential Library, but The Trump Presidential Center…

  13. Peter Nightingale

    As always, far more important than what’s in the news is what’s not. Justice Robert H. Jackson, Chief Prosecutor, Nuremberg War Crimes Trials said:

    If certain acts and violations of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them. We are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us.

    And then there is Rule 158:

    States must investigate war crimes allegedly committed by their nationals or armed forces, or on their territory, and, if appropriate, prosecute the suspects. They must also investigate other war crimes over which they have jurisdiction, and, if appropriate prosecute the suspects.

    Am I wrong when I conclude that we are in flagrant violation of Article VI of the U.S. Constitution, which states that U.S. treaties are the supreme law of the land?

  14. Wukchumni

    I’m reading through the indictments, just hoping there was a Federal offense (such as reusing a previously canceled stamp) or at least something meaty, but nope.

    The shonky Donkey Show is a 2-trick-pony.

  15. Carolinian

    Is this any more over the top than accusing Trump of being a Manchurian Candidate for Putin–a long time Russian sleeper agent? The press, the Dems, Mrs. Clinton, Obama, all disgraced themselves years ago. And it goes back much further than that since the media have long had an attitude that their role is to “vet” presidential aspirants to make sure anyone too far outside the mainstream is kept out. When Perot ran Bon Woodward said to his fellow reporters “we don’t want to go there” or there’s the Dean scream or the Miami Herald hiding in the bushes to catch Gary Hart. Watergate became their precedent and excuse, but they were and are very selective moral prosecutors as we saw with the Hunter laptop suppression.

    So the country has become a swamp of dishonesty and to combat this Trump is a very dubious champion given his own slippery business past and talk (jokes?) about taking other country’s oil and contempt for the third world. The Repubs used to spend al their time talking about “values” but their values are the problem. Dems too.

    1. Questa Nota

      The journalists stenographers got jealous of the publicity surrounding campaigns, and never got over being slighted by the cool kids in high school. Or so it would seem. Look at their behavior at any White House Briefing.

      They decided to get revenge, but forgot that they were digging two graves. The second one will fill up and won’t be in Potter’s Field but on display for future generations. A monument to:

      Eccentricity and

    2. wendigo

      To start with, I am not a lawyer.

      There does not appear to be any tax evasion allegations.

      The Trump Organization recorded the payments as legal fees.

      The Trump Organization made the payments from Trump’s personal accounts, so technically his money, not Trump Organization money.

      There are no allegations he claimed the payments as tax deductable.

      There are no allegations the Trump Organization reimbursed him for the payments.

      The filings indicate Cohen paid $ 180 000 in taxes on the payments.

      They will have to prove, beyond any reasonable doubt, Trump himself directed Trump Organization to make the payments to further his re-election and directed them to record it as legal fees.

      Technically Trump was recused from running the Trump Organization at the time.

      Trump is still married.

      It appears he has hired a couple of real lawyers besides a gaslighting lawyer. They have a lot to work with.

  16. David in Friday Harbor

    As a preface, I agree that the timing of this indictment is an exquisite example of the hypocrisy of American politicians and how they have debased our justice system through “rules for thee but not for me” elite impunity and mass incarceration of the poor. I further agree that this defendant should be in the dock in the Hague for the murder of Quasem Soleimani, an open-and-shut case.

    However, I worked as a state prosecutor during four different decades. Reading the Indictment and the Statement of Facts does suggest to me that there are “smoking gun” emails, telephone memos, and recorded statements to be disclosed during the evidentiary portion of the case that will clearly substantiate that the payments by AMI and Cohen were explicitly timed to suppress public news during the election about the defendant’s escapades in order to influence the election and not to preserve his business or personal reputation — in fact the inclusion of the Access Hollywood statement is clearly there to show that the defendant actually took personal pride in his escapades.

    I’m not familiar with New York state law but in other jurisdictions a violation of state law perpetrated in order to cover-up a violation of federal law may provide a proper legal basis for “bootstrapping” a misdemeanor into a felony charge. This is a proper legal basis to extend the statute of limitations.

    What bothers me here is that the timing of the indictment is so clearly political and related to the defendant’s candidacy for the presidency. Even if the evidence shown by emails, telephone memos, and recorded statements is very strong, experience tells me that a jury will be quite leery of a politically motivated prosecution and that many jurors — like many of us here — will be tempted to “nullify” the evidence and vote to acquit in order to “send a message” about use of the criminal justice system for partisan political purposes.

    This defendant’s entire political career has hinged on the fulcrum of his presentation of a false aura of victimhood at the hands of the elites. Such an acquittal — even in the face of strong evidence presented at a public trial — would virtually guarantee the election of the defendant in 2024 against the idiot who currently holds the office that the defendant wishes to reclaim.

    How depressing this all is…

    1. Mark Gisleson

      I haven’t heard the words “jury nullification” for a while. Wouldn’t a corrupt hyperpoliticized judicial system throw out any jury verdict they disagree with?

      Using Chevron and Donziger as exemplars of NY justice would suggest this ain’t over until the Fat Guy sings, apologizes, grovels and abases himself. Anything less than that is a win for Trump and that can’t happen so anything goes.


      1. David in Friday Harbor

        A “jury nullification” verdict may not be overturned due to the constitutional prohibition on double jeopardy, even though it necessarily requires the jurors to violate their oath to follow the law as instructed and to only determine facts based on evidence given in the trial.

        Only the accused may seek to overturn the verdict of a jury, even if it’s crazy. The prosecution is barred from seeking to overturn the verdict of a jury. This is why “jury nullification” is so powerful.

        1. Mark Gisleson

          Wow, so every time a judge canceled a jury’s verdict, it was at the behest of the defendant? Never picked up on that angle. Thanks muchly for the reply!

    2. Alan Roxdale

      experience tells me that a jury will be quite leery of a politically motivated prosecution and that many jurors

      The jurors are from a very anti-Trump constituency, and similar to the Hillary Clinton case are very likely to vote politically. The jurors like the rest of the public have become highly politicized and I’d bet most of them are willing to hang Trump regardless of evidence presented.
      Juries can nullify yes, they can also positivify if that’s a word.

      1. David in Friday Harbor

        I have tried close to a hundred jury trials to verdict and have supervised many other jury cases. I have found that it is a mistake to base trial strategy on the political bias of twelve citizens sworn to impartiality.

        My experience has been that most people who get through the jury selection process will have a strong sense of fairness. However, this defendant is by all reports and appearances a loathsome human being and juries do tend to be swayed unfavorably by their perceptions of character.

        A successful prosecution requires a unanimous vote to convict by all 12 jurors. Citizens today are not just politicized — they are also swayed by greed and the desire for notoriety. A person like this defendant wouldn’t even need to “get to” a juror for one of them to be swayed by hopes of fame and a future jackpot. A successful defense in a case such as this only requires finding one juror who will hang-up the unanimous verdict, causing a mis-trial.

        Meanwhile this defendant would not be barred from standing for election while claiming that he is being unjustly crucified — a very appealing strategy to an electorate chafing under the yoke of elite oppression. If this defendant wins the election prior to a felony conviction there would be a serious constitutional crisis over whether he could be retried in state court without first being impeached in the U.S. Senate.

        1. Watt4Bob

          Meanwhile this defendant would not be barred from standing for election while claiming that he is being unjustly crucified — a very appealing strategy to an electorate chafing under the yoke of elite oppression.

          Also meanwhile, Biden’s being committed to making believe the pandemic is over, is resulting in millions loosing emergency healthcare coverage, millions of children falling back into poverty, and the continuation of excess deaths.

          The war with Russia has resulted in a host of negative impacts, most affecting the poor and working class much more than the well off, and I would argue, adding to the burden born by those already chafing under what you correctly call “the yoke of elite oppression“.

          I have a very hard time seeing this as anything other than a huge mistake.

        2. Michael Fiorillo

          Everything you (reasonably) say points to the complete and profound folly of this effort.

          I’m a lifelong New Yorker who has had a bemused contempt for Trump, the person, and total opposition to his politics – see his vile statements concerning the youths who’ve come to be known as the Central Park Five – for five decades, but what they’re attempting is tactically and strategically stupid, legally weak, hypocritical and dangerous.

          Also dangerous is how this venue is one of the few forums for heterodox thinking, and where the insights in this article and comments can breathe freely.

          It’s mighty claustrophobic out there.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Even in New York City, 22% of voters voted for Trump. Statistically that means at least 2 of the 12 jurors, before getting to the fact that NYC juries are skewed toward the working class because anyone who is white collar absolutely cannot take the time to sit for a trial. They are very good at getting themselves disqualified.

        1. David in Santa Cruz

          I could share war stories from Silicon Valley jury pools — do you think that Steve Jobs or George P Schultz didn’t get out of jury duty? Of course, one of the most fossilized judges in the Valley had to be “educated” about who the guy in the black turtleneck was who had more important things to do…

        2. Pat

          As someone who loves to listen to others in public places and rides a lot of buses in Manhattan, I can tell you that there is no chance they will get a jury that isn’t 1/3 to 1/2 Trump voters or people who would have voted for Trump if they voted. There are far more of them than the bubble dwellers would care to admit.

          And that is before they lose the people who will never serve. Even if this is one trial where more of the middle bureaucratic PMCs will avoid pulling any of the usual “I am too important to waste my time on this” get out of duty tricks that generally work.

        1. Lysias

          I agree that a hung jury is a likely result, but a hung jury is not an acquittal. After a mistrial resulting from a hung jury, the prosecutor is free to undertake another prosecution.

          For either a conviction or an acquittal, the jury must be unanimous.

          1. David in Friday Harbor

            But again, see above. After the election: constitutional crisis precedes any retrial…

  17. Jade Bones

    I could well have missed it but, has anyone else hit on Trump as a metaphor for where this Country is at?
    And so: The distraction by an abstraction while the destruction is under construction…

    1. Questa Nota

      Team Dem hitched their wagon to got wagon-jacked by Hillary Clinton and Company. It was Her Turn, dammit, and no one will be allowed to forget it, ever. First Monica, then 2008, then 2016.

      How much can one candidate party country take?

      1. rowlf

        As I travel overseas and dinner mates like to play with USians on US politics, I like to make the same point that Trump was a protest vote. The US citizens does not like their politicians and media. Don’t Vote For Him? (Said by the serious people) Hold my beer.

        Good manners and foreign policies make me reticent to asking how they feel about their politicians.

  18. JonnyJames

    The Freak Show that passes as serious public discourse in the USA is a giant distraction to further the illusion of choice.

    After SCOTUS formalized unlimited political bribery and money as “free speech” in the Citizens United case, some (including Jimmy Carter) called the US an oligarchy with no functioning democracy. It seems very clear to me as well, yet most of us are in serious denial.

    As others here point out: when your “choice” is between two criminal geriatrics, we can call US democracy simply the world’s most profitable public relations stunts. Elections Inc. generate billions in political contributions (bribes), billions in advertising, consulting, PR firms etc. Elections Inc. is an industry in and of itself.

    Instead of prosecuting war criminals, abusers of power, high crimes etc., the US has a Freak Show of cheap soap-opera proportions. Rule of Law? Recall Holder telling the nation that the TBTF folks are ABOVE THE LAW. Taxes, prison and the law are for the “little people”. Do we really think Trump will go to prison?

    Meanwhile, average life expectancy continues to drop. The world’s most expensive so-called health care system produces the WORST outcomes. Cuba has a higher average life expectancy than the US. The empire is burning while the Neros talk about the Freak Show. The US is on a path to nuclear war with China and Russia, good times ahead eh.The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists report puts us at 90 seconds to midnight. But hey, the good Freak Show is entertaining us to hell.

    Democracy? The Rule of Law? Where?

  19. CitizenGuy

    Blast! We’ve been found out, comrades. Unplug the router and get back to planning to steal the 2024 election, hacking Clinton’s email server, and giving financial advice to SVB, Credit Suisse, etc.

  20. Michael Fiorillo

    Dmitri, my Russian control agent, has instructed me to say nyet, er, no, I would never betray my fellow American pippuhls.

    And as for Russian Troll Farms, you do recall that Mueller dropped the charges against them, don’t you?

    Be that as it may, here’s a fond trip down Memory Lane courtesy of #McResistance Media, though this immortal bit of TDS idiocy was also included as evidence in the 2018 Senate Intelligence Committee Report on Russian Interference:

  21. ian

    Isn’t it possible that this is about influencing the independent voters? I mean, sure, if the DA gets a win, that’s a bonus but there will be the spectacle of a trial with all kinds of tawdry stuff coming out, possibly with Trump pleading the fifth.

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