Donald Trump Conviction Open Thread

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Dear patient readers,

Normally, such a big story would merit a proper post. However, this and other Trump cases have been Lambert’s beat and he is not on duty for an original post today. I am not well positioned to step into his shoes since the press coverage has been so awful over the course of the trial that I have often gone into MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) when encountering it. Lambert said that he would have had to spend twice as much time as he has to have a better grasp of what happened in the courtroom, and also put on a moon suit instead of his usual waders.

Obviously the Trump side will appeal. They need Constitutional theories since it seems vanishingly unlikely any New York court will reverse, no matter how sound the argument. I assume they will be looking hard at the Sixth Amendment for a basis:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence

Lambert and other commentators pointed out that the original indictment did not specify what crime the prosecution was relying on to turn the misdemeanor records offense into a felony. Can that be depicted as a failure to inform Trump of the accusation with sufficient specificity to enable him to prepare a proper defense?

Lambert did point to an additional issue, although I have no idea whether it can be ginned up into a basis for appeal. In yesterday’s Water Cooler, he had gone through the judge’s instructions in detail, including the jury’s verdict sheet:

On “The Charged Crimes,” p 27:

“Verdict Sheet,” p. 53:

[1] These are the counts in Bragg’s indictment; each of the 34 counts is a separate business records offense.

[2] Notice the checkboxes that Merchan does not include:

Surely the voting public has an interest in knowing which object offense caused Trump’s misdemeanors (if any) to be converted into felonies. An absurdly minor tax violation? The much bruited and salacious catch-and-kill scheme? A campaign finance violation? Merchan, apparently, has no care for the voters. I would speculate that — with the possible assistance of the flex-net working the lawfare on this project — having maximized the paths to conviction with capacious definitions of unanimity, Merchan would prefer not to “show his work,” and reveal how those definitions worked out in reality. Whether this is grounds for appeal I don’t know, but I find it appalling. “Our law”! “Our democracy”!

This verdict sheet obscures what the jury’s findings of facts were on which object offense(s) led the misdemeanor business records offense to be upped to a felony. Is that an arguable due process violation?

I trust readers will opine on what this conviction means for the campaign. You can be sure both parties will be flogging it. Trump has apparently started a new round of fundraising based on it. If the Biden campaign makes his case significantly about Trump having been found guilty, does that give him a boost, or is it simply a variant of “Orange man bad and I’m not him”?

Some of the reactions. Pointedly middle of the road USA Today had a headline over the fold that Truth Social shared tanked after the verdict. From its main story on the implications, How will Donald Trump’s guilty verdict hit his reelection bid? Is his political fallout here?:

Former President Donald Trump’s 2024 White House campaign now enters unknown territory: Voter reaction to the first major party nominee to be convicted of crimes….

While the challenge is unprecedented, Trump’s approach is very familiar: Attack the legal system.

“This was a rigged decision, right from day one,” Trump told reporters at the courthouse on Thursday less than an hour after being found guilty and echoing past comments the Republican has made designed to brace voters for the possibility of a guilty verdict…

One thing Trump likely won’t have to worry about anytime soon: Prison. He plans to appeal the verdict, and that process could drag out for years.

NBC has a much splashier landing page as far the verdict is concerned than USA Today:

Contrast with ABC, which almost seems to be treating the decision as oldish news:

At CBS, clearly the big story but no big caps, banner headline across all columns treatment:

From Edward Luce, Larry Summers’ former speechwriter, in Trump’s guilty verdict puts America’s political system on trial in the Financial Times:

The Republican party’s nominee now joins his former campaign manager, senior political adviser, chief White House strategist, and national security adviser as a convicted criminal. The jury’s speed and unanimity leave little doubt about the watertightness of the verdict….

Within minutes of the verdict, senior Republicans rushed to condemn the trial as a politically motivated sham and a travesty of justice. Democrats were commensurately jubilant that justice had been served and that no man is above the law. These polarised reactions were both unsurprising and ominous. They seal this presidential election’s fate as a contest over the rule of law….

The big question is whether the verdict will sway the relatively small number of US voters who neither hate nor love him. Polls suggest that a large share of swing voters would view Trump differently if he were a convicted felon. But what people tell pollsters in the abstract has little bearing on how they will respond to the onslaught of contradictory propaganda they will now face.

Yet it is hard to imagine there could be an upside to Trump’s conviction. Even after his chief rival for the nomination, Nikki Haley, had dropped out of the race earlier this year roughly a fifth of Republican voters still voted “uncommitted” in the ensuing primaries. Were even a small share of those either not to vote, or go for Biden, it could tip the outcome in a close election. Democrats should nevertheless be wary of pocketing a legal verdict as a political win.

A much longer discussion at CNN, Trump conviction heralds a somber and volatile moment in American history, similarly focuses on the “rule of law” issue and related threat to “our democracy”. The initial remarks by Biden spokescritters suggest that the campaign will double down on those themes. They no doubt hope that this messaging will work better than it has now that convictions are in hand. We’ll see soon from polling data what the impact is.

The CNN article interestingly points out that this prosecution was risky:

CNN presidential historian Timothy Naftali said Thursday that Trump’s call to arms for a campaign against the legal system will mean that every Republican will be forced to put it at the center of their 2024 campaigns. “That is going to create, in my view, a torrent of poison that will be likely worse than we saw in the ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign that preceded January 6. And that is going to further unsettle an already sensitive country,” Naftali said. “I worry about it because the ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign created widespread doubt about the honesty of our electoral system and led many people to believe that fraud had been committed in 2020.”

A question that long hovered over this trial is whether the crime — falsifying financial records to hide a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to mislead voters in 2016 — was sufficiently serious for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg to risk the extraordinary political consequences of indicting an ex-president. Prosecutors’ use of Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen as their star witness, despite his own conviction on tax charges and for lying to Congress, was deeply controversial. Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche told CNN’s Kaitlan Collins Thursday that the timing of the trial — in the middle of an election campaign — was unfair to the ex-president.

But the charges were not just cooked up by prosecutors as Trump claimed. They were brought by a grand jury. The ex-president was offered the presumption of innocence until proven guilty, and he was judged by a jury of his peers. Even now, the Constitution he claims has been hijacked will protect him with a full array of appeals, as in all of his other criminal cases.

But once a jury has delivered a verdict, justice is considered served. So the immediate Republican attacks on the judge, the court and the verdict represent an extraordinary effort by one of the country’s two major political parties to turn against the integrity of the legal system.

Fox interestingly looks to be first to run a story based on talking to voters. One can assume big-time sample bias, so again we’ll need polls and more focus groups to get a reading (paging Frank Luntz)

And to round things out, some takes from the Twitterverse. Weirdly tweets on this conviction are not prominent in my feeds (“following” and “for you”). Is Musk suppressing the story? From a search, mainly triumphal reactions:

But there are others:

So we are in fog of politics. More will become clear in the coming week, most of all the impact on Trump in the polls.

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  1. Jeff V

    The BBC news yesterday evening repeatedly referred to it as “Trump’s hush money trial”.

    I got fed up of yelling “paying hush money is not illegal” at the TV.

    The impression I got was that the BBC can’t contemplate anyone now voting for “convicted felon Donald Trump” in November but were struggling to see who else the Republicans could put up as a candidate – especially since they believe “convicted felon Donald Trump” has achieved such status within the party
    that nobody dares cross him.

    1. griffen

      At the very core of this trial and the 34 indictments determined as guilt, Trump had sex with a notable pron actress like when, back before 2008 I think? Not exactly a tale of woe from a monogamous husband gone suddenly astray. Trump got some “strange ” and hoped it went away.

      I’m not a lawyer, but I just look at this example of state specific, highly unique lawfare against a Presidential candidate and His business organization as well…it stinks to high heaven. Meanwhile I’m sure Michael Cohen status as a celebrity of a sort will be elevated. I also don’t grasp why a legal expert on the Federal campaign laws was not permitted as a witness for the defense either.

      Hunter Biden remains a free citizen of the US. Gun charge and possession of an illicit substance and the laptop was certainly a real laptop owned by Hunter. Does not compute by comparison.

      1. Belle

        Fortunately for the USA, the rule of law, and accountability, the Hunter Biden prosecution is continuing.
        I do wish Trump’s real high crimes (Bombing Syria at HTS’s request, assassinating Soleimani, assassinating Reinoehl) Were treated as such.
        That said, it’s a civilized nation that holds it’s leaders accountable under law. This puts the USA ahead of the UK.

        1. juno mas

          …so why wasn’t Obomber put on trial for approving torture and other extra-judicial killing? Remember the ‘W on T’ Tuesday Hit List?

        2. CarlH

          “That said, it’s a civilized nation that holds it’s leaders accountable under law. This puts the USA ahead of the UK”. Is this sarcasm?

    2. Another Scott

      From what my British friends told me last year, I’m not sure that the BBC could ever contemplate why someone would vote for Donald Trump. As for me, I’ll be trying to avoid any news for a few days (the PMC dominates everything local).

      The actions of the judge and prosecutor strike me as really bad. If a prosecutor in Russia campaigned on jailing on the former President, who ran as an outsider and got a judge who’s daughter works for the former president’s political opposition, would anyone in MSM think the President got a fair trial? And that’s before getting into the Calvinball rules that both used to convict Trump. Yves mentioned the 6th Amendment issues, I would also say that at times this looks dangerously like a Bill of Attainder.

    3. Bryan in Tokyo

      The level of cope from people who reflexively hate Democrats is hitting stratospheric levels. A jury of Trump’s peers found that he committed 34 felonies. The fact that annoying Democrats are happy doesn’t make that a bad thing. If it were me, I would simply not commit 34 felonies.

      1. griffen

        I think many are to the contrary of what you suggest, and many have grown highly opposed to either party in broad terms, or either of our current main party candidates for US President. I’m in my early 50s and now with hindsight recognize the lies of the empire that date back several decades & likely go further than that, of course. And yes many normal citizens would follow their correct instincts and not break the law.

        Here in my current state of South Carolina, I get the likes of a Haley or a Graham ready to foment for war and fund it without end. Blech.

  2. OnceWere

    Edward Luce : “Yet it is hard to imagine there could be an upside to Trump’s conviction.”

    I don’t have enough insight into my fellow man to lay serious money on which way this is going to send Trump’s poll numbers. But if you can’t imagine how there could be an upside for Trump then you’re too insulated in your own little bubble to be a serious commentator on politics and election campaigning. Yet they’re all like this. I hate-listen to “Pod Save America” every now and again and the thinly veiling subtext is always “Oh why on earth can’t the voters see that Biden is a great President and Trump is the greatest threat since Jefferson Davis.” I’m not masochistic enough to listen to the latest episode all-caps “TRUMP FOUND GUILTY!” but if its anything like the last couple of months of episodes, I’d end up inchoately angry enough to vote Trump. If top-tier Democratic strategists can do this to me – someone who has not voted once for a conservative candidate in my entire life, for any position, at any level of government – then I have faith that they can find a way to blow the exploitation of this opportunity.

    1. none

      which way this is going to send Trump’s poll numbers.

      Two possibilities: 1) Up. 2) WAY up.

    2. hk

      There are a couple of interesting pieces (one references the other–they may have been in the links as well in recent past:; The likely outcome is that this will exacerbate the existing trend: Trump goes higher with the “disengaged” voters,while lower with the “likely” voters. Combine this with an active vote suppresssion campaign by Democrats (or bad weather come the election day in key states–it doesn’t have to be a manmade conspiracy), down goes Trump.

  3. SocalJimObjects

    Whatever happened to Hunter Biden’s laptop and why didn’t the Republicans pursue an impeachment of Biden? Surely there’s stronger grounds for Congress to take on the later as opposed to this so called conviction?

    All in all, I would say it’s been a pretty good week for the Administration because they’ve unleashed not one, but two Black Swans to close out the month. The first one is allowing American weapons to be used inside Russia’s territory and now this. At this rate, Biden will be pushing Taiwan’s Lai Ching Te to declare Taiwan’s independence sometime around July 4th, because why not?

    1. Arizona Slim

      Yeah, what about that laptop?

      I don’t know about the rest of you, but I know where my laptop is at all times. I wouldn’t dream of just leaving it somewhere.

      But then again, my last name isn’t Biden.

      1. JohnA

        To be fair, Hunter likely spilt some booze over the keyboard or some other liquid that rendered the laptop useless. That is why he took it for repair (or were there 3 laptops in need of repair, I vaguely recall). Then in his drug or booze addled state, he could not remember what he did with them. A clumsy kid by all accounts.

        1. Martin Oline

          Sung to the tune of Maxwell’s Silver Hammer:

          Daddy had to coddle him
          A bottle of laudanum
          Emptied out his mind
          The drive he left behind
          Had shots of crack and hos, oh no!

          But as the pipe was leaving his lips
          A memory unbinds
          Beau Beau
          Why did daddy love you
          and gave me the teat behind
          Beau Beau
          Once the coast was clear
          My future would be fine.

    2. Cesar Jeopardy

      Maybe, just maybe, there was nothing illegal or incriminating on Hunter’s laptop. You should consider that possibility. It’s my understanding that the laptop in question is in the possession of the FBI. Give them a call and hold them accountable.

      1. Milton

        In the same storage closet as Seth Rich’s…
        They will see the light of day roughly the same time as when Pfizer mrna data is released.

        /not to be taken seriously, sort of

    3. Grayce

      You are confusing a federal situation (Biden) and a state conviction. There may be additional cases to try, all over the country, but they are not either “this one OR that one.” One man’s laptop is neither more nor less important. Different. Separate. Individual.

    1. ilsm

      Selective prosecution in NY a democrat feifdom since the 1850’s!

      While the whole Biden career is sitting in some drawers in DoJ!

      Cannot understand why the NY machine did not put Trump in one of Mao’s white 6 foot dunce caps while they read the screeds!

      1. Bugs

        She’s setting herself up for the presidency I guess – my choice would be to name her Secretary of State. I honestly don’t think she’s VP material for Papa Don. He will probably choose someone he sees as weak and who can pull in a constituency that is still slightly out of reach for him. I think it will be Tim Scott.

      2. IMOR

        Tulsi as campaign proxy for the GOP candidate would be ideal for them, him, her- and maybe us.
        Otherwise, the weak bench/campaign staff problem that’s prominent in the Dem and non-Trump Republican parties is a near-vacuum in Trump’s camp.

    2. Carolinian

      Why “even”? She’s been on his VP list for some time.

      And he’d be smart to pick her IMO.

      1. John k

        Trump really, really wants to win. He will pick the one he thinks will pull in the most votes, especially in the swings. Tulsi previously demolished Kamala, a plus for the vp debate. And the public knows she supports m4a, a plus for many workers in both parties. Plus she’s anti war, which imo trump and the public are, too. (If she’s seen as more anti war than he is, she might be a useful insurance policy.). And tucker likes her. I’m encouraged, though an attractive swing state gov would be tempting.
        I also wonder if this picks off more already shaky minorities that feel persecuted by the legal system.
        Politics seem dirtier now than any time in my lifetime, including the Nixon era. I would really hate it if this law fare works for Biden.

  4. James Holmes

    Great to see that he finally got convicted after his retard GOP friends saved his ass from indictment when he should have been put away back then. He is destroying our party with is egoistic one-man-freak-show. Make GOP great again – put trump away for life (not that it will take that many years).

    1. Afro

      Reminder: The GOP was on the road to oblivion under Romney/Ryan/Jeb!

      Part of the reason DJT won the nomination is that he ran against the best the party establishment had to offer: some dwarfs.

    2. Bugs

      What else does the party have on offer? Haley? De Santis? Rubio? These are not serious people. What happened to the real Republican Party of Edward Brooke, Javits, Rockefeller, Scranton… even fairly weak tea old guard like Ted Stevens or Lowell Weicker are better than anyone, literally anyone in the GOP today. Who could you possibly be thinking of?

      1. lambert strether

        > the real Republican Party

        Or anti-imperialist Thomas Reed. Or, for that matter, Lincoln.

      2. Pat

        Can you imagine a debate between any of those and Buttigieg or Harris? Pritzker would fare better but not by much.
        Not for nothing but both major parties are populated with faded cardboard show pony cut outs.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      Yes, it would be so much better if we could have Jeb! back again. Or maybe that nice lady who writes her name on bombs destined to take the heads off Gazan children.

    4. Sue inSoCal

      Yes. Appeal from….jail. That’s all I’ve got to say. I have no idea what these Rs have to offer other than awfulness and retribution. For example, Mr Jordan should understand this wasn’t a federal case. Don’t get me wrong, I am not rah rah Dem. I’m an equal opportunity fed up voter. (Bushco, Obama, all these people should have been tried. And I wish H Clinton would find a rock to climb under and shut.up.) But this has descended into utter lunacy. Defamation of the judge, etc. claiming no right to defend oneself or take the stand? Daring to be cuffed for contempt? Please. I wish there were a real R party.

  5. zagonostra

    Yesterday a friend texted me a video clip she took of MSNBC or some other MSM dramatically checking off the 34 convictions, one at time and with great fanfare. She has been watching court TV through out the whole trial. I have spent almost zero time following the story.

    For me, it’s people’s reaction that is the more interesting aspect, though eventually when the dust settles I’ll want to understand the legal machinations and how it reflects on our judicial/political system. But for right now, it’s the spectacle that is interesting for me.

  6. Pensions Guy

    Justice Merchan has the ability to order a complete physical and mental examination of Trump, now that he has been convicted of a felony. Many health care professionals have concluded that, at a minimum, Trump has phonemic paraphasia, which is evidenced by his frequent resort to word salads when he can’t find the right word he needs. This condition can be caused by a stroke or even dementia. Back while Trump was in the White House, there was an occasion when he hurried off to Walter Reed for an unscheduled examination, prompting speculation that he may have suffered a stroke. There are plenty of world class neurologists in New York City who could be tapped to run through a standard battery of neurological exams, including an MRI, and report back to Justice Merchan.

      1. Uncle Doug

        Perhaps we could convince those professionals to administer the therapeutic Ludovico technique to patient Biden. I know where to obtain appropriate video footage.

    1. OnceWere

      That’s such a normal thing to do. Nothing strange about ordering a complete neurological workup and MRI in a pre-sentencing report for document falsification. I’m sure that’s standard in New York for every crime from jaywalking on up. Wouldn’t look like a transparent effort to influence the election at all. My suspicion is that Democratic strategists could, with ideas like this, still pull defeat from the jaws of victory and lose to a convicted felon.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Hmmm. Maybe they should check out Kamala Harris while they are at it because of her word salad history. In fact, I would insist on old Joe being tested out for advanced dementia. As he has access to the nuclear football, it would only be fair. Maybe too “Glitch” McConnell because of his freezing up in public. Sound fair to you?

    3. Judge Barbier

      Erm, can you remember anything coherent that Biden has said recently?

      I don’t like Trump but in comparison to Biden, he is at least not visibly significantly mentally impaired.

      1. Grayce

        Some people would say he could be ethically impaired. That might be a show stopper for an American president.

  7. CanCyn

    From one of the tweets above “ I’m not voting for the man. I’m voting for the pissed off bull-in-a-china-shop who wants to burn DC to the ground.” It is amazing to me that people can’t use their power of observation to see that Trump is no revolutionary iconoclast. What changed during his presidency? What institutions did he break up? Which insiders and lifelong DCers did he get rid of? He didn’t even drain a tiny part of the swamp. Why can’t people see that Trump really is no different in practice than anyone else in DC – he doesn’t walk his talk at all.
    I don’t know if he’ll be elected or not, but if he is, he’ll pardon himself and start the same game with the Democrats – in which case look out Joe and Hunter!

    1. pjay

      Trump is definitely no revolutionary. He is a narcissistic con-man. And every time I start to feel a bit of sympathy toward him he opens his mouth and I think “f**k it.”

      But Trump is different in one sense. He is not part of the Establishment. He is an outsider. It is precisely his unpredictable “bull-in-a-china-shop” features that terrify the Swamp. He threatens to expose them. His words and actions make the usually hidden mechanisms of power visible. The furious, all-out war waged against him by the Establishment has shown the “china shop” to be much more dangerous than the bumbling Trump himself. He has *no* support from anyone or any institution with real power. He only has the support of a lot of common people, which is why most Republican office holders pretend to back him. This “populist” appeal might be misplaced, but it’s certainly understandable.

      I used to say the only possible way I would ever vote for Trump is if they hauled out Hillary again to run against him. But if they manage to throw Trump in jail after four years of Russiagate, two sham impeachment efforts, and a monumental lawfare offensive that was clearly coordinated at the highest levels, then I may just do it. And yes, I would not be voting for the man, but against the china shop. Why not?

      1. Pokey

        I do not believe that anyone who claims he or she will vote for Trump because of his conviction ever had any other idea. “Two sham indictments”? The first was weak, but the second was of a traitor.

        Hats off to Alvin Bragg. He took a POS case and brought it home but more importantly, no one seemed interested in prosecuting the career criminal until he did. It’s about time that cowardly loser faces one small consequence of his behavior. Looking forward to bigger and better convictions.

        1. ambrit

          Oh my. Then what are you going to do about Biden’s influence peddling, extra-judicial drone murdering, and extra-Constitutional conduct in Foreign Affairs, just to name a few?
          The Democrat Party is working mightily to split America down the middle by acting like Third World Oligarchs. This will come back to bite the Democrat Party in its donors.

          1. Wukchumni

            The evil of 2 lessers hardly makes for a choice, so I’m once again going for the Wink Martindale/Wink Martindale ticket.

            You get a game show host and an NFL defensive coordinator all in 1 name.

            Whats not to like?

            1. ChrisFromGA

              Wink was not the host, but I think that this classic might be a good metaphor for the 2024 Election:

              Jokers Wild

              Jack Barry:

              “Our current champion, whose winnings total $40 million in campaign donations, he’s an octogenarian quasi-lucid plagiarist who supports genocidal lunatics in two proxy wars. Meet, Joe Biden!”

              “And his opponent, a convicted felon who hails from New York City, he’s also a serial adulterer and murderer of Iranian generals!”

              Here are the categories in the game you’re about to play. They are:

              (1) Genocide;
              (2) Declining empires; and
              (3) Fraud in the Inducement.

              Let’s play Joker’s Wild! Spin that wheel, Donald!

          2. griffen

            Biden’s alleged influence we can’t jump to conclusions but discerning minds can and will indeed vary as to what was going down on those “phone calls about the weather”. And some comfy roles on the board of directors for a Ukraine energy concern.

            Nothing to see there, no siree nothing. “our Democracy has rules that apply to all citizens!”

        2. pjay

          LOL! If you think I always intended to vote for Trump or view him favorably, then you obviously know nothing about me. I usually don’t go the “lesser evil” route. But when the Evil is this big And your vote is so meaningless…

          And yes, two sham impeachments.

        3. Michael Fiorillo

          Yes, thank God he was convicted, lest we face rapidly- widening proxy war with Russia, genocide in Gaza, provocations against Iran, intense attacks against the First Amendment and public dissent, and…

          Fifteen million people lost Medicaid eligibility on the day the Stormy Daniels indictment dropped; since then, millions have been forced out of the program. These people didn’t lose health insurance because of Trump or mean Republicans; they lost health insurance because Uncle Joe and the D’s apparently don’t want them to have it.

          Sure, Trump is awful; I’ve been observing him for his entire public career, but his political emergence is the direct result of the gross betrayals of the Democrats over the past four + decades.

          Empires in decline can be expected to puke up a figure like Trump; ‘he’s the hairball caused by the merger of neoliberal political economy and neoconservative imperial reflex.

          1. Saffa

            It’s very similar to the UK labour effectively betraying their core ideals and becoming more conservative. The situation there right now is gobsmacking.

      2. Cancyn

        “But Trump is different in one sense. He is not part of the Establishment. He is an outsider. It is precisely his unpredictable “bull-in-a-china-shop” features that terrify the Swamp.”
        He may not be part of the Washington establishment but he is one of the wealthy and he proved that he is just as protective of the status quo as any lifelong politician of either stripe. I think that Trump is just a useful idiot for the swamp creatures. Everyone else is paying attention to the Trump circus while they carry on destroying the planet in order to profiteer for themselves and they paymasters

    2. redleg

      I don’t think the presidential power to pardon includes state crimes, only federal. The NY governor would have to pardon him. Someone correct me if I’m wrong, Because IANAL.

      1. Leftcoastindie

        You are correct. Presidents can only pardon someone who has committed a federal offense.

  8. Different opinion

    Trump’s defense team had full control in the jury selection and along with it, veto power on who to choose . Then the defense team had to follow Trump’s instructions on defense strategy and questions posed to witnesses on the stand. Then, the defense had no witnesses if their own?. All a recipe for failure.

    On Bragg’s side, the strategy was disciplined a thorough. Stormy Daniel’s was a solid, strong witness, much like Jean Carroll in the rape trial. And Cohen owned to his shenanigans, which were confirmed in clear detailed by the Enquirer’ David P. actions of payment that followed a pattern, confirming Cohen’s testimony.

    As noted by most on the left/ right, thought that paying for assignations may not reach the level of the illegality until it was conflated with the presidential election – there in is the crime along with a well documented trail of checks, messages, email, video, etc. the mountains of evidence is inescapable

    As for the other litigation, the charges are more serious. So many of his minions have been found guilty have or are doing jail time. Lawyers have been disbarred in states outside NY.

    Trump is a sociopath, user, abuser and cheat of vendors to his organization, and a clear racist. Trump’s casinos went bankrupt. That never happens, the bank always wins, except for Donald Trump. The producer of the Apprentice is quoted this AM of saying Trump having used the “N..” word.

    While Trump’s followers see him as a conduit to undo the state, not sure how much they like him as a person. Of course, he’s already criminalized abortion, the pill is now an illegal drug. Voting rights are eroding. Our institutions are due for elimination, though he’s promised to use them pursue revenge against his personal enemies: real and imagined.

    Is this what the country deserves? Yes, the system desperately needs a reset. Witness the clear admission by SCOTUS Alito and his wife Martha (fighting with neighbors and flying the MAGA flag at two if her homes), or Clarence Thomas and his wife, Gennie Thomas emailing to Meadow’s at the WH not to accept the election results. Or trying to murder Pence. Who does all that? Yet, daily the NC documents how the country is in decline. Whatever is left of foreign moral dissipating quickly as headlinesofneesparesacross the world testify.

    1. Uncle Doug

      “Trump’s defense team had full control in the jury selection and along with it, veto power on who to choose.”

      No. That’s not how jury selection works. Both prosecution ad defense have only limited ability to influence jury selection.

      “As noted by most on the left/ right, thought that paying for assignations may not reach the level of the illegality until it was conflated with the presidential election – there in is the crime . . .”

      Which crime, exactly?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Yes, which crime exactly. And why is it different than what Clinton did with Marc Elias and was merely fined for, and that after blatantly lying about it if I remember right?

        1. Belle

          One was trying to suppress a story, while another was seeking to come up with a story. (Also, one was picking up on work others from another party started. Lest we forget, it was REPUBLICANS who first paid for Orbis and Steele.)
          Of course, with this precedent, I would love to see a NY Republican DA go after others like the 40-some spies who lied about Hunter Biden’s laptop.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            How is trying to suppress a story a crime? As one witness testified, they suppressed stories on behalf of all kinds of people all the time. None of them have been put on trial.

            So we had a claim that payments to Cohen, a lawyer, were not legal fees, but campaign contributions, which is pretty dubious right there. The court did not specify what the legal definition of a legal fee was as far as I could tell. But even if they did, covering up a story could be construed as completely unrelated to the campaign, and done to protect Trump’s marriage or his business. Yet somehow through some Rube Golbergian process I have yet to understand, paying a lawyer a legal fee that may or may not have really been a legal fee, in order to suppress a story, which is not in itself a crime, suddenly becomes one. Who came up with this theory, the underpants gnomes?!?!???

            I would think to most reasonable people not suffering from TDS, there was no obvious crime here and one had to be manufactured. Pretty clear this was a purely political prosecution and party of the democrat party’s ‘any stick to beat a dog’ tactics.

            Any stick that is, except providing concrete material benefits to the electorate at large. Doing that would defeat Trump in an historical landslide, but that type of thing was taken off the table back in the Slick Willy days.

            1. Saffa

              Just an average Joe, as I understand it it’s not about the suppression of the story per se, but the cooking of the books (1) to hide something that interfere with the election process (2)
              **btw not commenting on the good or bad of the situation**

              My understanding is that if the financial records stated clearly and honestly that someone was paid off, rather than obscuring it, then there wouldn’t be a financial crime component (1) and if it was at any other time not run up to an election then there wouldn’t be the interference component (2).

              My understanding is that the way candidates disclose their finances in the run up to the election has to happen a certain way, so any small deviation from this could even be excused if it was by accident. But in this case when it directly happens as a result of the candidate withholding information from the public in such a way as to manipulate the outcome, and especially if they win the election, it becomes all the more telling.

              Sure maybe the elites engage in these activities all the time, but the point is you shouldn’t be stupid enough to get caught, by leaving traceable evidence.

              At least that’s how I understand it.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                Trump did not disclose his finances and publishing tax returns is a custom, not a requirement.

                Candidates are allowed to donate to their own campaign. There are no legal restrictions.

                The judge would not allow the defense to call an expert on campaign finance. The judge said he would tell the jury what to think about that.

                1. Uncle Doug

                  ^ This. Exactly.

                  One may find Donald Trump thoroughly creepy and despicable and still understand that this was an entirely political prosecution, one based on a sloppily-concocted legal theory that shouldn’t survive appeal and likely won’t.

                2. Saffa

                  Ok. Thanks for willing to clarify. So the ‘falsifying of business records’ being a crime in the state of New York does not apply in your view here? Cos wouldn’t the falsification be a problem whether or not a candidate chooses to reveal their records or not? If it can be shown with evidence that they falsified it, then isnt that still a crime whether the information was volunteered or discovered? And regardless of whether if was for the purpose of fraud or election interference? Since either of those would still be criminal in the State Of New York?
                  I agree that it’s hardly a major issue given the overall corruption and so many people probably get away with it, but in this case he was just stupid enough to get caught?

                  P.s I do really abhor judges being biased along partisan lines, but given how the Republican judges and Supreme Court Justices behave, it’s probably just the nature of the beast now and if you want to play in the political cesspit you better have the best lawyers who can wiggle you out of situations effectively. Crying foul when an outcome doesn’t suit them but being ok with it when it goes their way, is hardly credible. And that’s for both sides of the line as far as I’m concerned.

                  I’ll need to look into more analysis of why the campaign finance guy was refused again. That’s significant for sure. I tuned out a bit over the last few weeks so need to check that out again.

                  Lastly, no doubt the case was politically motivated, but that just gets the ball rolling, it surely can’t be used as a reason for nailing a verdict.

                  1. Yves Smith Post author

                    His falsifying business records was only a misdemeanor and then in the lowest degree. It had to be purportedly connected to a second crime to become a felony. The prosecution NEVER specified what the other crime was in its indictment, when the Sixth Amendment requires that crimes be specified so a defensed can be made. The jurors’ verdict sheets did not either.

              1. Yves Smith Post author

                No one deleted your comment but accusations like that do not put you in good stead. You likely put in somewhere else in the thread or on another post entirely.

                1. Saffa

                  Not an accusation, just a notification assuming it could be web gremlins. Apologies if it came across more harsh than intended. Still getting used to the waiting time between posting and it appearing. I’m noticing it with another comment of mine as well, though not all. Maybe it’s a time of day thing, I’m on the other side of the world.
                  The missing one must have appeared later cos it’s here now.

                  Good vibes!

    2. pjay

      “…Yes, the system desperately needs a reset…”


      Your description of Trump the miserable man is pretty accurate. And no one is really disputing whether Trump actually carried out the deeds with which he is being charged. We all knew about Stormy Daniels in 2016. The Feds considered the election law angle back then as well, but decided against it. With this, as with the other various charges, “guilt” in the technical sense, is not the issue. The issue is the *system* that has been exposed in this massive, eight-year offensive to eject this threatening outsider from any position of power. The entire array of Establishment institutions have coalesced around this task. In doing so they have been forced to pull the curtain back, exposing a lot of how this “system” works.

      Trump the miserable individual may deserve his fate. A whole lot of other rich and powerful people do, too, and would be at least as culpable if “the system” decided they needed to be ejected. I’m much more afraid of “the system” itself and its many mechanisms of hybrid warfare that have been turned inward toward this little man who seems to be such a threat.

    3. Michaelmas

      Different opinion: Is this what the country deserves? Yes, the system desperately needs a reset.

      A critical mass of Americans have reached the opinion that you go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had, to quote someone or other. And while the country may need a reset, the people on top now will fight to the last American to stop that happening.

      So, yes, Trump may be an appalling person. But he is a fighter and he’s less appalling than his enemies in Washington.

      Thankfully, I left the US at the end of 2021.

  9. Louis Fyne

    to watch as collateral damage: this verdict might literally break the Libertarian Party.

    in the past 2 cycles, in the swing states, Libertarians did much better than the Greens.

    If 30 to 50% of historic Libertarians finally decide to hold their nose and vote Trump because of the trial, that is enough to turn a very close election into a solid 300 electoral vote Trump win

    1. ChrisFromGA

      If this isn’t enough to propel RFK Jr. to high 30’s in the polls, I am not sure what could break the Uniparty hold on America. The Libertarians have been a fraud for a long time now.

  10. LawnDart

    I kinda agree with Steve– “This is what they’re distracting you from..!”

    Democracy became a dead letter some time ago, as far as we are concerned– precisely “when” doesn’t really matter all that much: it is what it is, and that would be an oligarchy, one backed by an expansive, well-funded, and heavily-armed police apparatus.

    Enjoy the show.

    1. Saffa

      As dire as things are, I still think many people in “the best democracies money can buy” as someone said (can’t remember who) severely underestimate the difference between a troubled democracy and an outright fascist state, oligarchy.

      I wouldn’t wish the acceleration of the one toward the other as glibly as many people seem to out of understandable frustration.

  11. ilsm

    Selective prosecution! Aided by the media

    NY refuses to try too many crimes!

    In November I am voting against Maoist show trials.

    1. Oh

      But the charges were not just cooked up by prosecutors as Trump claimed. They were brought by a grand jury.

      Oh really? Grand Juries are only shown one side (the charges by the prosecution). A grand jury can indict a ham sandwich.
      I detest both Trump and Biden but if we had any justice in this country we should prosecute the other crooks in our system – (minimum number =435+100+9)

  12. petal

    My PMC friends are gasming big time. From a very well-off German MD former coworker working in US: “Something is making me irrationally happy today and I can’t put my finger on it”, their sibling in Germany commented “That will still not stop this ugly piece of s…. becoming president again”, and another friend of theirs commented “I only hope… “he will do the hardest time there is, no more protection from the guards, they’ll cast him down with sodomites… he’ll think he’s been f-d by a train!”
    My extremely tribal vote blue no matter who(to the point of irrationality and facts don’t matter) mother re-shared a post from Hillary Clinton of a coffee mug with “Turns out she was right about everything” on it. It’s the new product Hillary is flogging as of last night.

    1. Vicky Cookies

      There’s detectable sadism bubbling out of the cauldron of fear which PMC types brew their Trump dreams in. One I know, an otherwise mature person, remarked that she’d like to see Trump beheaded and his corpse paraded around Penn Ave. This same person also said to me, after I’d shared that I’d been to a Jill Stien fundraiser “How’s Putin?” Not a serious country.

      Gleefully anticipating a human being violated in prison is pathological, no matter who it is.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I might make exceptions for Ben-Gvir and Smotrich although I do agree the gleeful part is pathological. Grim satisfaction is about as far up the emotional register as seems warranted. It seems a sign of the times that this is the second time I have run this clip in a week. And recall that Sansa was sexually tortured repeatedly by Ramsay Bolton, and he’d just killed her brother for the fun of it:

        1. hk

          By the end of the show (Granted, the last two seasons sucked), Sansa was not really a heroic figure any more, but someone whose soul was darkened and had serious issues, even if not a villain per se…

        2. Vicky Cookies

          Vengeance is certainly understandable, but not justifiable, IMO. From a view which wants the violence and tit-for-tat to stop, and with respect to the nuttier Israelis, I stop quite short of torture in what I hope for their future. That they’re hateful people is not my issue with them; it’s that they have the power to commit genocide with relative impunity. They can hate all they want, so long as they’re not massacreing people. Understanding that they will not stop until they are stopped, whether through the depletion of the material means to continue their assault, or of the economic reserve required (such as pricing of international debt, or migration from a warzone), what I care about is that they be stopped, not that they be punished. Nuremburg was fairly just, and did not include torture.

    2. William Gruff

      Sure, the people with “Trump Derangement Syndrome” are getting their brief moment of schadenfreude, and they are making the most of it. It is understandable considering how much they’ve been suffering for years now. Let them have their fleeting respite from their own self-inflicted torment.

      What is important is these TDS people were never going to vote for Trump anyway. Their manic glee at the very predictable outcome of an obvious political show trial does not reinforce the legitimacy of the conviction delivered by that show trial, rather it reinforces the farcical nature of the show trial.

      This show trial, on top of the ludicrous show trials for the January 6 protesters, might very well have pushed the number of people who have lost faith in “our democracy” over the critical threshold. While it may seem like a winning strategy to stupid people, having a majority of the population view the process as a sham has serious consequences.

      1. farmboy

        Nils Gilman, “is there any way to overdose on schadenfruede?” The freakout by MAGA is truly entertaining, and then somebody says democrats and the fun is over.

  13. bertl

    Leaving aside the fact that aristocracies/oligarchies tend to favour judicial tyranny as a means to gain and maintain a semblance of legitimacy, I can’t understand why Trump’s enemies decided to stroll down this particular path when it pretty much ensures his return to power when he will be able to use the same or similar weapons against his opponents in the deep state and the coastal élites with the full support of his increasing base.

    After following the trial carefully from the UK (where, of course judicial tyranny is also being to hold a great defender of the public’s right to know as a political prisoner in conditions of torture on behalf of the US and UK élites), I still don’t understand what was the initial crime to support any conviction, let alone a conviction of a felony crime.

    If it is having someone sign an NDA (whether to cover up a sin or a crime), then pretty much every corporation, politician, judge or lawyer will require office space in a prison cell. And I can’t quite grasp why someone who, from the evidence, was not directly involved in the classification of a low value NDA as a legal expense, is somehow guilty of anything other than paying a working girl to stay schtum about something which may have an adverse reputational effect on a fellow’s business, election campaign or, most importantly, his marriage.

    Very strange place, this America…

    1. old ghost

      Bert asks: ” I can’t understand why Trump’s enemies decided to stroll down this particular path…”

      LOL. It is probably the most trivial thing he could be charged with. If his “so called” Deep State enemies really wanted to put him away for life, they would be talking about all the boxes of Top Secret Documents he stole and ran off to Florida with. But that trial is being slow walked and obstructed at every turn.

      If there was anything, anything at all, on the “Hunter Biden’s Laptop” that was serious, the R Tribe would have trotted it out long ago. But all they could come up with was some Dick Picks for his girlfriend. I would be far more interested in what Jared Kushner did for the Saudi’s that they gave him $2 Billion.

      Cohen served 3 years in jail for his involvement with Trump’s crimes. I expect Trump will get something silly, like maybe a $500 fine. Equal justice for all is just a slogan.

      Trump is not a reformer of any kind. Some people here have likened him to a bull in a china shop. I for one would not want to be in any shop with a rampaging bull. Be careful what you wish for.

      1. Uncle Doug

        “Cohen served 3 years in jail for his involvement with Trump’s crimes.”

        Cohen entered guilty pleas to tax evasion (not Trump’s crime), lying to Congress (not Trump’s crime) and making campaign contributions to a single candidate in excess of the legal limit.

        That last offense could not apply to Trump because there are no limits to the amounts candidates may contribute to their own campaigns.

        Accuracy counts, if one cares about such things.

        1. Pat

          Gee remember when James Clapper went to prison for lying to Congress…. Oh wait that didn’t happen, in fact the DOJ never charged him despite a recommendation by the House Judiciary Committee. And that one was for something of a little more importance except to those suffering from TDS, it was that the NSA didn’t illegally collect data on millions of Americans. Something else that he and the other heads of the intelligence services should have been prosecuted for.

          Priorities, they have them they’re just not about making life less of a minefield for the public.

        2. old ghost

          Doug wrote: “Cohen entered guilty pleas to tax evasion (not Trump’s crime), lying to Congress (not Trump’s crime) and making campaign contributions to a single candidate in excess of the legal limit.

          That last offense could not apply to Trump because there are no limits to the amounts candidates may contribute to their own campaigns.”

          Trump contribute money to his own campaigns? Trump has bragged that he made money from his presidential campaign. But then Trump lies every time he opens his mouth. According to WP “ In the final weeks of the (2020) election, the president is in hyperdrive — and is on track to exceed 25,000 false or misleading claims by Election day …”

          But you are correct about what Cohen was sentenced for. They got him for tax evasion, and lying. An appeals court even said Michael Cohen can’t hold ex-president Donald Trump, his former boss, liable for allegedly jailing him in retaliation for criticizing him in his book about his involvement in the 2016 campaign.

          Hunter Biden’s laptop scandal is a nothingburger. Lets hear what Jared Kushner got $2 Billion from the Saudi’s for doing.

      2. Judge Barbier

        If a President can’t decide what is not ‘ declassified ‘, then you accept that the unelected security services decide. Good luck with that.

        The CIA etc strongly support this opinion…

  14. Neutrino

    The country was founded on what used to bedrock principles. The Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights were not supposed to be dusty papers in a sealed archive.

    To observers across the spectrum, the violation of Constitutional Rights is just one of the means that the New York judiciary apparatus justified in pursuit of their ends.

    Yesterday’s Water Cooler showed many initial reactions of disgust at how the proceedings were used. Reasonable people can disagree, but once they discard their founding documents they become unmoored and their country degenerates into a banana republic. World opinion of the US continues to sink.

    1. The Rev Kev

      George Bush once in an argument shouted-

      ‘Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!’

      And he and Cheney acted on this belief. Cheney himself said –

      ‘It will be necessary for us to be a nation of men, and not laws’

      The Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights were the glue that held the US together. But then the smarties figured that they did not need them anymore in their quest for more power. And that is where we are at now.

  15. Olde Mate

    I look forward to analyses of the case as to whether everything was legal, but really while interesting it doesn’t matter very much whether things were consistent with whatever usually passes for due process. To focus on the technicalities is to miss the point.

    Famously, no fat cats went to gaol after the GFC. Are we to believe none of them broke laws equal to or worse than mislabeling a payment? Boeing made fake planes that killed hundreds and their share price didn’t budge. Bush lied to destroy Iraq! Yet strangely, none have appeared in court.

    Trump copped a half a bil fine for optimistic property valuations, like, a few weeks ago. Trump is obviously targeted by (some of) the powers that be through the courts, and so they threw sheet at the wall untill some stuck. The fact that he’s a gross buffoon is not the point – the significance is that the USA and Pakistan are the same now except one has nice food.

    Personally, I want Trump to win as it will force the vassal state in which I reside to think about what empire membership really means. I’d rather not end up as Ukraine style cannon fodder, so this may be colouring my input

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Funny that you should mention the GFC and optimistic property values. Right now, there are lots of empty or mostly empty multistory office buildings, with little to no prospects of attracting tenants, and quite possibly infested with vermin. And yet I am sure that some banks are carrying them on the books as worth the same $ as before COVID and the WFH revolution.

      How is that not falsifying business records?

      1. old ghost

        Hey Chris from Ga. The banks bundled up and sold off those Commercial Real Estate loans to investors. If you have life insurance or an IRA, you probably own some of them.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I think it is very important to note all the obvious criminals in government and the corporate world who are not going to jail for any of their misdeeds.

      To me, finding Trump guilty of scrabbled together “crimes”, while ignoring Trump’s own far greater crimes like assassinating Suleimani or attempting a coup in Venezuela to name just a couple, and ignoring the far worse crimes of his predecessors, normalizes all of that behavior.

      Trump is just a convenient bogeyman used to make these other psychopaths look like just regular folks by comparison.

      1. John k

        Deep does not want trump convicted for odious acts as a president, those are things deep really wants continued. This was perfect in deep’s eyes ‘if it works’. As I’ve said, I expect more minorities, and maybe more indies, too, to vote trump as a result of the trial.
        I was surprised they could get 12 to convict, even in deep blue ny.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Considering that two of the jurors supposedly worked in the legal field, I thought they might have a hung jury, especially given the fact that a few people including Bragg, refused to bring the case previously.

          My understanding is you don’t bring a case you don’t think you can win, so given the change of heart, prosecution must have made sure the fix was in before finally bringing it to trial.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            I have not confirmed but I was told in NY it would take two, not one, jurors to hang the jury. But they still got all 12.

    3. LifelongLib

      “…no fat cats went to gaol after the GFC.”

      Maybe they didn’t actually break any laws. That’s even scarier than thinking they got away with something.

      1. griffen

        Having direct experience and knowledge about the accounting and control frauds, let alone numerous securities reg violations on countless private securitization offerings…yes laws were indeed broken even if the intent was not willful.

        That’s a non starter around here. Many thanks are owed to the Holder doctrine, and Timmy Geithner. Oh and highly useful gatekeepers named Moodys corporation and Standard & Poors, the rating agencies that minted millions providing ratings on those securitzation offerings referenced to above.

        1. LifelongLib

          Political and economic systems should be judged by their likely results when functioning as legally mandated. The system in the U.S. is deeply unfair even if nobody breaks the law. Illegality is a red herring.

          1. griffen

            I literally do not grasp the point you seek to making. Bankers weren’t sent to jail because Eric Holder and asst AG Lanny Breuer just couldn’t bother to follow legal methods to prosecute. There were literally millions of emails that would provide proof of ressonable illegality and methods to skirt or circumvent securities regulations.

            Much of it occurring within the sphere of the southern district NY. Sorry but your reply is just partly confusing. Lot of lawbreakers weren’t chased after the GFC.

            1. LifelongLib

              I concede that laws were broken and that people who should have been prosecuted weren’t.

              My (poorly made) point was that even if no laws were broken and the U.S. political/economic system functioned as legally mandated, it would still be deeply unjust and we would still be faced with the enormous task of changing it, a far more difficult thing than just prosecuting people.

  16. Dr. John Carpenter

    I have a lot of thoughts, most of which I’m sure others here will express more eloquently. But my initial impression, and still biggest one, is this sure is a risky move for someone with Joe Biden’s poll numbers (and Dear Hunter’s laptop) to be making. Of course, doubling down on risky and bad ideas is how the Dems gave us President Trump in the first place.

    Blowback is going to be a b*tch. The Dems, in typical fashion, have pushed the envelop without thinking things through all the way. Even if Trump loses, is locked up and sent to the execution chamber, they’ve just handed the Rebubs a new tool to use against them. The Dems love their norms enough to assume this was a one shot deal. The Repubs, not so much.

    Regardless, bills are still eating up 80% of my paycheck, the US is still supporting genocide in Palestine and we just gave Ukraine the greenlight to escalate our proxy war with Russia. Blue-MAGA may have won this news cycle, but nothing has fundamentally changed for all of us down here on the ground.

  17. Bobby Gladd

    The Oaf of Office.

    Post headline at EW: “Trump convicted by the truth of his Pecker.”

  18. JohnA

    Was the payment really about concealing the story of his philandering from the electorate? Trump has been married several times and likely has a wandering eye as it were. It strikes me as more likely he put the payment through his accounts as a business expense to claim against tax, rather than as a private expense that would not be tax deductible. Accounting fraud rather than electoral fraud perhaps. Conrad Black went to prison for claiming private expenses against his business, but then again, he headed a public listed company and was effectively defrauding shareholders.

  19. ChrisFromGA

    Big hat tip to Lambert for an outstanding job of wading into the legal stuff. Thanks for the open thread, it gives folks a chance to vent. I’ll just comment on the political aspects.

    Trump is learning what black folks have known for a long time. There is no such thing as “equal justice” or fairness in the legal system. If they want to get you, they’ll find a way. That’s why the OJ verdict resonated so strongly with the black community. Finally, a defense attorney and a jury stuck it to the man.

    Therefore, he may get a decent bump in the black community, particularly among males. That could easily be offset though by the loss of white suburban women.

    Taking a view that I suspect won’t be popular. Adultery is still a misdemeanor crime in several states, including in NY state where the legislature passed a law abolishing that section of the code, but Hochul has yet to sign it.

    The only victim in this “crime” was arguably Melania. Daniels is also an adulterer, along with Trump. That “wrongful act” was the genesis of this whole awful episode. Everything else afterward was just the moral consequences. A biased Judge convoluted the law to convince a jury (that was probably about as unbiased as a bunch of KKK members judging a black man) to upgrade it to a felony is just “Breaking Bad” level stuff. I hope he rots in Hell but Trump wins no points from me here. Trump’s own lack of morality caught up with him but as others have posted, it’s a pecadillo compared with the genocide sponsored by people like Biden, Schumer, and Mike Johnson.

    I guess if you’re gonna be a criminal, it pays to “go big.”

    1. inchbyinch

      ‘Trump is learning what black folks have known for a long time.’ Trump taught black Americans a very important lesson back in the 1980’s, when he accused five black young men with attacking a woman in Central Park. Believing, without a trial, without due process, that these five young people were guilty, he took out full page ads in a number of metropolitan newspapers in New York, calling for the reintroduction of the death penalty in New York State. Certainly, Trump was out for their blood, and his actions more closely resembled the actions of powerful white men in the age of the old Jim Crow. The men were sent to prison for a number of years, and were released not very long ago when, I believe, the truth of the criminal activity that day in Central Park was revealed in new testimony. Donald Trump has never apologized for his behavior. To say that Donald Trump is somehow akin to black Americans who suffered mightily in a prejudicial and bigoted legal system falls far, far short of an evenhanded analysis of his current troubles.

      1. ChrisFromGA

        Two wrongs do not equal a right.

        As I put in my comment, I shed no tears for Donald Trump the man. He got what he deserved, and if he also got a taste of unequal justice similar to what black males have had to go through for many years, that’s icing on the cake.

        But to focus only on the bad inside the person and lose sight of the larger issue of using the criminal justice system for political prosecutions, is not going to end well for the country.

        1. inchbyinch

          Michael Cohen spent several years in prison for his part in this crime (?). Was that a fair dispensation of justice? (Incidentally, I think that the ‘Department of Justice’ is a misnomer. Perhaps it should be called ‘Federal Legal Department.’) Was there a great cry and outrage when Cohen was convicted? Or does the POTUS get a pass, because he’s above the law? The law almost always works in the interests of the rich and powerful. Trump is rich and powerful, Cohen only a journeyman lawyer and fixer. Time to stand up and be counted. Do you think that Michael Cohen was a victim of a political persecution? And remember, his case took place while Trump was President.

          And stretching the argument, was Richard Nixon an earlier victim of a political prosecution, and were congressional democrats at that time playing with fire?

  20. Milton

    I have no idea why the Elite class is continuing to aim its lawfare cannons at Trump when he’s obviously been neutered of any remaining populist urges in his politics. I figured the elites would call it a job well done and allow him to occupy the Whitehouse just as they have allowed Meloni to “govern” Italy and given the A-OK to Le Pen. There is no worry anymore that the elites will be threatened by anyone, anywhere, in the West with the small exception of perhaps Orban.

    1. ChrisFromGA

      Muscle memory?

      If the past few months were any indication, Trump was headed full neocon in his potential next administration. Haley invited back into the fold, Tom Cotton mentioned as a frontrunner for VP.

      I have a lingering suspicion that Trump cut some sort of “drugs for guns” deal with Mike Johnson. You save me, said Genocide Mike, and I’ll make sure the GOP evangelical wing comes around in supporting adultery. As a side deal, no “America First” nationalist cabinet appointees.

      I am at the point where though I can never vote Biden, I can see a small upside to him winning (Lina Khan.)

      1. Oh

        Even if Lina Khan means well she’ll be prevented from bringing anti trust lawsuits. The Democrats will make sure of that.

        1. ChrisFromGA

          Quite possibly. Don’t forget though about Trump’s recent boast that he was going to get rid of the Federal Reserve’s independence from the executive branch. That would not have ended well. ZIRP would be forever carved out as permanent.

          For every evil of Tweedledum, I can give you an evil of Tweedledee.

        2. Bob

          This is false. She is already bringing antitrust lawsuits. What are you talking about

  21. Tom Stone

    My take?
    This just destroyed what faith many Americans had in our legal system, and I also believe that this verdict makes it much more likely that the election will be cancelled.
    I see the odds of the election being cancelled as 66.6 %.
    TPTB recognize no limits, no red lines, they have made it clear that they will do whatever it takes to keep Trump from regaining the Presidency.
    Keep in mind that these are the people who destroyed the Nordstream Pipeline and who have made the Genocide in Gaza possible.
    The utter recklessness and disregard for the consequences of their actions is no less than madness.

  22. David in Friday Harbor

    This circus-sideshow is evidence that America is a failed state that has fallen under Lewis Powell’s corporate-finance controlled vision of Inverted Totalitarianism.

    In a functional polity petty mobsters such as Donald-Dummkopf and Joe-Totenkopf would never even be considered for the office of Dog-Catcher, let alone President. They’re a couple of crooks and their paranoia makes them both craven servants of our Billionaire Overlords. The Orange One’s exemption from Elite Impunity may make him a martyr even though he’s a liar, serial bankrupt, and convicted fraudster.

    His otherwise righteous conviction certainly isn’t going to drive a dispirited electorate into the arms of Genocide-Joe. Many will simply stay away from the polls — the goal of Inverted Totalitarianism to create a toss-up and further weaken our vestigial “democracy” in favor of plutocracy.

    Meanwhile the genocide and financial looting continue unabated…

    1. jobs

      I agree this whole trial is an idiotic sideshow to detract from our many real issues, one of the ones I find most depressing being the millions of USians that will vote for candidates supporting countries committing genocide.
      And this time, NOBODY can claim “Ich habe es nicht gewußt”.

      Many USians really are not nice people.

  23. Alice X

    As Jay Leno said of Keith Richards: you know he’s guilty of something

    So lock Donnie up, but:

    I only would feel better were Hillary also in the hoosegow for the Steele Dossier hoax (which was worse than what DT did) and war crimes (which was way, way worse), and Biden is at the Hague for war crimes (which beats them all) along with their respective retinues.

    I’m going for a walk for my health.

  24. Dean

    Definitely a historical moment in our democracy. A twice impeached now convicted felon former president. Part of me wants to see Trump win just to see talking class’s collective heads explode. That would be fun to watch. But I worry Trump’s Christian Nationalist base and what it’s doing to my former party. I can’t vote for Biden either except the one bright spot is the anti-trust and pro-citizen wins.

    But we continue to poke the bear, encircle the dragon, and let our client-states run riot with our weapons and blessings. This is the stuff of global conflict we should be worried about. But The Blob continues on doing what it does.

  25. IMOR

    “But the charges were not just cooked up by prosecutors as Trump claimed. They were brought by a grand jury.”
    Ahhh hahahahahhah!
    ‘Everybody knows’ a lot of things about our courts and law (and lawyers!) that simply aren’t true, or haven’t been true for decades…
    …but the reasons every single reader of this line smiled ruefully or plain guffawed are, indeed, correct.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      And everybody knows grand juries operate completely independently from prosecutors and the legal system. Why just this morning I spotted one walking down the street looking for ham sandwiches to indict.

    2. lambert strether

      > “But the charges were not just cooked up by prosecutors as Trump claimed. They were brought by a grand jury.”

      A ham sandwich has entered the chat

      1. John k

        Indicting a ham sandwich is nothing. We’ve now shown we can convict one of a felony.
        I’m so old I recall when we were aghast at what those autocratic Russians do to political opponents.

  26. Fred

    I enjoyed watching Fox News melt down. I have questions tho, why is this judge corrupt but not Alito and Thomas? If Biden arranged all this doesn’t he have immunity?

    1. old ghost

      LOL. Watching the heads of all the cult followers explode is entertaining. The cult leader has always been a career criminal, and now he is a convicted felon too. They better get their wallets out and send the alleged billionaire all of their money.

  27. IM Doc

    And so it begins……

    One of my first encounters this AM was with a political office holder in our state from the Democratic Party. Not as a patient – it was in a meeting about rural medical issues in our state.

    He just announced that he is extremely upset by this entire situation, the precedent it sets, and the enormous damage it has done to the reputation of the entire legal system. He seemed shocked that his party had gone to these lengths.

    But the interesting part – the attorney general of the state has apparently already put out feelers last night. The grand jury and possible indictments of 2 Democratic politicos in the state is now almost assured. They had been holding back so as not to be unseemly. As he stated this AM – no need for that feeling anymore – the Rubicon has been crossed.

    As I have felt nauseated about this yesterday realizing that we had indeed crossed a threshold that was not able to be uncrossed in this country – and how gravely ashamed I am of the whole situation – a line from Shakespeare keeps coming to my mind – CRY HAVOC, AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR.

    I have a feeling there are a lot of Democrats in red or red leaning states that are about to experience some fun.

    Fascinating that Manchin chose today to leave the Democratic Party.

    1. Daniil Adamov

      “Fascinating that Manchin chose today to leave the Democratic Party.”

      Citing “partisan extremism” no less.

    2. irenic

      While the “geniuses” in the Democratic party celebrate the destruction they have done to the legal system, they will eventually rue this day. Just like Democrats came up with the brilliant idea to remove Trump from the ballot for “insurrection”, and if the Supreme Court hadn’t reversed it, what eventually what would have happened is what always happens with Democrats brilliant maneuvers: the Republicans would use the same tactics but only better(more effectively), than Democrats. The Republican lawfare against Democrats is about to go nuclear, bringing us to full third world status.

    3. Pat

      Since last night I have been crystallizing both my dread and my depression over this. As you say the rubicon has been passed. I would say with every legal “victory” they have had with Trump NY state officials have lost more and more grasp of reality. I doubt they even recognize how every one of them have been clearly partisan and dare I say it fixed they appear. And yes I include the supposedly civil Carroll case in this. And still there are idiots like the gentleman in yesterday’s watercooler who kid themselves that this is not only good but will lead to better things, like less corruption of elections.
      In the wee hours of the morning I finally got the image that was knocking at the back of my brain. It was of Biden and Harris ripping off their masks to promote the so called vaccines. I told someone at the time they had just put the shiv in a struggling public health system. As with public health, our legal system has been ill treated by the corporatization of America. And it always dealt with human flaws. But this put the shiv in public trust of the system. I truly believe that there is hardly anyone left who really believes our public health officials. They will embrace it if it suits them, but otherwise…no. And it may take a few months to set in, and may even need a few of those prosecutions of Democrats, but this ends the trust in the legal system as well.
      It is only somewhat bipartisan, but the Democrats really just didn’t care enough to bother to keep up the front.

      1. inchbyinch

        Very late reply, but since when have people had trust in the legal system? It seems to me, and I will remain brief, but the only people who still have trust in the legal system are the people who own it, the rich and the super-rich. And this has always been so in this country. The rich in 2024 have bought the legal system, as well as the political system, because they are, in fact, the owners of the economic system. I have absolutely no confidence that a person like me has any representation in this country. Look at Gaza. The dems and repubs chase after the Zionists, and their money, like little children running after the ice cream man, and congress cooly dismembers the first amendment to suppress any protestations, however nonviolent, opposing the genocidal actions of Israel and the US. Do I trust the courts to protect our basic rights? No. But we shall see, as they say.

  28. Jason Boxman

    So as a practical question, after sentencing, isn’t it possible Trump is immediately incarcerated? Or is that just TV? Would he do the debates from prison?

    1. David in Friday Harbor

      Bail pending appeal is discretionary. If a jail or prison sentence is imposed it is likewise discretionary to either set a future date for self-surrender or to remand the sentenced person in open court.

      After all the grandstanding and contemptuous nonsense I know what I’d do, but most judges self-regard makes them want to appear to be above the fray…

      1. Jason Boxman

        As a follow-up, can they just lock him in a box in prison? No calls, no visitors? What privileges are you entitled to if any? Can they claim he’s threatening people and therefore must not be allowed outside contact? The media claimed he was threatening the judge, ect. during trial. Now he’s not a free man. What if he makes other statements interpreted as threats?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          No, you need to watch SVU!

          New York is very restrictive about remand. Even violent people can be let out.

          The one basis for whether they are put in jail is whether they are a flight risk.

    2. ChrisFromGA

      Yes, one of the preconditions for sentencing is a parole officer interview. And showing remorse wins you brownie points. No chance of Orangemanbad showing any remorse, combined with a Judge who’s predisposed to put him in the slammer, equals club fed.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        No, no, no. This is New York, which is VERY restrictive about remand.

        And I don’t see how he can be required to show remorse, as in accept guilt, when he is appealing.

  29. spud

    as i watched what happened from 1993 on wards, unravel our weak democracy and weak safety net. i encountered my first inkling of what constitutes the PMC class, who gloated over the demise of the blue collar worker, and we no longer have to put up with grievance and strikes, now we can make some real money.

    i replied, you already make lots of money, and what has happened to the blue collar workers, now can happen to you.

    reply, we do not make enough, and of course the dim wits never acknowledge they to can be eliminated.

    so to the PMC class and country club republicans that are befuddled as to why trump is popular, and why aren’t the rest of us excited over what happened, if they can do it to trump, they can and will do it to you.

    trump was the best president america has had since nixon. now that is not saying much, that bar was set so so low by bill clinton, obama, and now biden, any drunk could stumble over it.

    that being said, trump did do some good. just ask the minorities that saw trump reverse some of bill clintons and bidens jim crow laws. who were jailed, sent to bill clintons corporate forced labor jails.

    or that wages exceeded inflation, or that america came close to a European style social safety net, doing away with corporations suing us for blunting their imeanse profits from exploitation, and of course getting us out of the TPP, besides other things.

    here is the mess that the PMC and the country club republicans made, and they are just to selfish and greedy to be cognizant about it.

    this is why we got trump, 1993 was the year,

    “”By the time Clinton became president, America’s free-trade crusade—backed by the IMF—broadened beyond simply slashing trade barriers, into clearing the path for foreign investment. Though it bore scanty resemblance to the simple model that Ricardo sketched out, its prophets—a.k.a. Davos Man, free-marketeers, the Washington Consensus—still touted free trade deals as benefiting all. When Trump blames US leaders for favoring “globalism” over “Americanism,” it’s this world order he is condemning. The North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) is its watershed.

    “By the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, when Nafta was being drawn up first by George H.W. Bush, then by Bill Clinton—the Keynesian presumption that workers are also consumers had long since been jettisoned. Tellingly, the most crucial focus of its many thousands of pages was on installing legal protections that encouraged and protected American corporate investment (which for Mexico marked a departure from its 1980s policies more focused on nurturing local industry and human capital).

    Nafta—and many free trade agreements that followed it—opened up Mexico to corporate capital, while enshrining weak labor protections and environmental standards. By facilitating “race-to-the-bottom” offshoring, it did little to boost the skills base or purchasing power of Mexico’s consumer class.

    In at least one sense, however, Nafta worked: Investment gushed into Mexico.”

    “Despite its many flaws, Nafta set the stage for the US-led multilateral trade pacts that followed. In addition to opening up developing nations to the fickle flows of global capital, US negotiators demanded excessively lengthy patent, licensing, and copyright protections that enriched corporate giants in pharmaceuticals, entertainment, and information technology, says CEPR’s Baker—at the expense of both American consumers and its trading partners’ industries. And despite the careful attention to those details, American leaders consistently avoided confronting a problem that, not long after Nafta, began warping the US economy into the unstable mess that brought Trump to power.””

    1. hk

      Trump as a less honorable, phonier Ross Perot. God, I miss Perot and wonder what really made him quit campaigning for a while before coming back in 1992.

  30. John k

    Bad as trump is, he’s not a warmonger. For me that would be enough to vote trump if I were in a swing. But imo this verdict does serious damage to our legal system. How can we keep a straight face when we disparage autocratic states?
    Interesting to see the fallout from the polls in mid-june.

      1. John k

        I know he’s the godawful same re Gaza. But at least he never started one, and seems less likely to continue baiting Russia. There seem to be thoughts he’d be smarter with appointments this time.

        1. Michael Fiorillo

          Regarding Trump’s less warlike intuitions, well, maybe, but I’ve been observing the guy for his entire public career, and the single overriding constant, whatever the domain, is that he’ll eventually renege and screw you over.

          1. tegnost

            Agreed.While the dems are institutionally worse with their class based polity (we’re the rich people, and we’re rich because we’re smarter, and trickledown works to give the deserving their due) trump will do what flashes the pan. Just because sometimes thats a good thing (TPP, no wars started, insurance mandate) there’s plenty more room for shenanigans of every kind (solemani,tax cuts… would he bail out CRE? Probably…)
            Where’s the deus ex machina?

            1. spud

              the thing about trump is that, i think a lot of people understand what he is, held their nose in anger and desperation, and voted for him. and he turned out to be a better president, than anyone since nixon.

              when i tell the pmc class that i know, name one universal concrete material benefit did americans get after 8 years of clinton, 8 years of obama, and four years of biden.

              either dead silence, facial expressions flashing on their face so fast i think they are about to explode or keel over, or they say obamacare.

              but obamacare was simply a cheap street thug type of policy, either pay up your insurance, or a firebomb might get tossed through your window.

              but on the other hand, almost every single benchmark on the economic, social and physical health of americans has dangerously deteriorated, till the point of collapse under the nafta democrats.

              let alone what they have done to the country.

              so, trump did deliver a few universal concrete material benefits, and americans now know this.

              not much, but it did not take much.

        2. Grayce

          Remember when Indiana Jones brought a gun to a knife fight? Similar to that, this is a man willing to assassinate a leader as a way to “avoid war” itself.

          1. Wukchumni

            Really, a Muslim with a sword in a make believe story is equal to assassinating a Persian on a plane?

            1. Grayce

              No it is not equal. It was a reference to someone who did not do the expected thing in an adversarial setting. In the case of the candidate who is anti-starting-a-war with a country, he did not do the expected thing. He went around it and cut off its head.

    1. Saffa

      Maybe I’m just cynical but if Putin and Netanyahu are Trump buddies, it makes a lot of sense that they would wage war during Biden’s time because it undermines Biden so much.

  31. Martin Oline

    My, my, look at all the commenters coming out of the weeds. Traffic must be way up, or maybe people are feeling it. Personally I’m a long time commenter and a first time reader. . .

  32. Blowncue

    I keep thinking about Brazil. The intramural fighting between branches of government, all of it. Just feels like we’re running parallel.

  33. JustTheFacts

    Glenn Greenwald pointed out in his System Update #275 that Hillary was also taken to court for misclassifying election funds. He said she lost, and was found to have misclassified them on purpose to hide the fact she paid for the Steele Dossier which was later used as proof that Trump was blackmailed by Russia, and led to a vast amount of hot air and wasted money. Her penalty? A fine.

    Trump on the other hand got 34 felony counts for perhaps having an affair with a porn star, who apparently denied it previously.

    This suggests a significant double standard in the “justice” meted out to these two presidential candidates… dare I say, lawfare?

    1. Grayce

      You know that is not accurate–not for having an affair. He bought his way out of public knowledge, with campaign donations, of something he deemed a blot on his campaign–in defiance of campaign finance law. The media had too much fun with the “hush money” label to get intelligent about the legal case.

  34. john r fiore

    So Trump now has a guilty verdict against him as well other “money judgements” against him…his opponent, the sitting prez’ son has criminal cases pending…the sitting prez himself may be impeached for shady business dealings ith that hotbed of democratic martial law, the Ukraine….Boys and girls, the US political and economic system is rotted to the core…If the two men at the very top are corrupt and immoral (notice you never saw Mrs. Trump at the court or next to him for his speeches), one can imagine what is below them….

  35. AG

    This is depressing, not a single one of those “left” US outlets which have done a pretty good job on Gaza (less so on Ukraine) has a serious legal assessment of this case.

    There is this Jacobin piece, but obviously not with what I am looking for – which I most likely find only here and probably on THE DURAN, even if some of those legal experts appear a bit odd sometimes.

    You won´t find more “criticism” than this….

    “(…)It’s disgusting that our courts take millions of foreigners being killed, tortured, maimed, or displaced from their homes less seriously than a relatively petty crime like falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to a porn star. And that Obama, for example, wasn’t criminally charged when he extrajudicially executed American citizens Anwar and Abdulrahman al-Awlaki with drone strikes.

    That doesn’t mean that it’s a bad thing that Trump was just found guilty, though. It’s good for presidents and ex-presidents to be subject to the same laws as the rest of us.

    When Trump supporters notice double standards, they seem to want them to be corrected in the wrong direction. Rather than objecting to the fact that Bush walks free, they seem to think that the fact that Trump used to be president and very well could become president again soon is enough to make the prosecution “political.” But that’s just a demand for presidents and ex-presidents to have a pass to break whatever laws they want.(…)”

    This would be “truthout”:
    By Chris Walker

  36. bernie

    Nothing to watch here, just endgame corruption.

    Anyone voting for either of the two major parties, in this good cop/bad cop skit, is contributing to the further deterioration of our democracy

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