Thursday, August 31, 2023

People Fleeing For The Exits

 Behold the genius of Donald Trump:

The first time Donald Trump was deposed by New York Attorney General Letitia James – who's spent more than two years calling him an inveterate fraudster – the former president pleaded the Fifth repeatedly.

But in a second deposition held this past April, the AG's office couldn't get him to shut up, including about the "beautiful" marble bathrooms in his "tremendous" properties, a newly-released transcript shows.

In a seven-hour grilling that's a prelude to Trump's October 2, $250 million civil fraud trial, his answers were so long-winded, that one of James' lawyers worried aloud that if he didn't speed it up, everyone in the room would "be here until midnight."

At least, I expect it to be reported that way by mainstream media:

"We're going to be here until midnight if you keep asking questions that are all over the map," Trump's lawyer Chris Kise complained early on to one of James' top lawyers on the fraud case, Kevin Wallace.

"Chris," Wallace responded, "we're going to be here until midnight if your client answers every question with an eight-minute speech."

Trump had just launched into a stem-winder about his "brand" when the tiff broke out.

"If I wanted to build a big statement just for the sake of a statement, I would go out and I would value the brand and — which is much more than the $3 billion," Trump said. "And as I said once before today, I became President of the United States because of my brand."

Wallace attempted to get Trump back on track. 

"I just want to go back to a couple of things you said," Wallace said. "The first is, you said, 'I didn't need banks for the most part.'"

"So why did you use banks?" he asked.

"Because you do it. It's better tax wise," Trump said. "You do it."

Trump told the lawyer he paid off all the loans that he took out from banks to pay for his properties.

"Politics hurt. When I get sued by you — fortunately, I don't need banks," Trump continued. "I mean, paid off all that stuff that you used to talk about. I paid it off."

He went on to claim that "prior to [getting] sued by the Attorney General of the State of New York, banks wanted to do business with me so badly."

In other ramblings, Trump launched into a soliloquy about the beauty of the marble bathrooms at his Miami golf resort, Trump National Doral Golf Club.

"In the case of the villas, 800 rooms, they were gutted out down to the steel and rebuilt and they're incredible," he said of his renovation of the property.  

"I could have done what I called a paint and wallpaper job. You just paint and wallpaper it.  But it was time — it was tired," he said.

"I started using marble instead of carpet," he added, continuing a line of thought that was irrelevant.

"They're all marble bathrooms. I mean, they're beautiful."

There's a character in "Derry Girls" who always starts giving long, rambling stories at the drop of a hat, meandering tales that somehow relate to the conversation, if you've got the time.  People around him start looking for the exits when he starts one of those.

Trump sounds like that, except he thinks that, as long as he talks, he's winning.  This is not a "beautiful mind" at work, or a feral genius cunningly eluding the traps laid by his interlocutors.  This is a rambling old fool who still equates "fancy" with "better," "talking" with "obfuscation," and who can't clearly answer business questions related directly to the business he's been operating for decades:  

"So why did you use banks?" he asked.

"Because you do it. It's better tax wise," Trump said. "You do it."

...

"Politics hurt. When I get sued by you — fortunately, I don't need banks," Trump continued. "I mean, paid off all that stuff that you used to talk about. I paid it off."

He went on to claim that "prior to [getting] sued by the Attorney General of the State of New York, banks wanted to do business with me so badly."

I'm not saying he gave away the store here, revealing matters that clinch the case for the NYAG.  I'm saying this is hardly the voice that commands millions and holds them in his thrall.  This is a sad, rambling old clown who would need directions to the bathroom written down for him.  This is not a commanding figure the jury will see as a wizard of Wall Street and a titan of New York real estate.

This is Grandpa telling you a long, pointless story at Thanksgiving. 

πŸ¦‚ πŸ¦‚πŸ¦‚πŸ¦‚

 


Just putting a few things together:

Two of Trump's co-defendants in Georgia, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesboro, have filed for a speedy trial for strategic reasons. This was likely done as a ploy so that they can pin much or all of the blame for their conduct on defendants who will not be tried with them and won't be in the courtroom. This is a common tactic in conspiracy cases. One of the people they will blame is likely to be Donald Trump, others are Rudy Giuliani and John Eastman. 
Trump responded to their speedy trial demands by moving to sever his case so that he will not be forced to have a speedy trial. In the motion, he cites his other pending cases. The real reason, of course, is that Trump's entire strategy on all the cases is to attempt to delay them until after the 2024 election.
Splitting into separate trials is to be expected. While it gives Trump a chance to see what the state has, it also locks in evidence Trump will be hard pressed to challenge later, since he waived his chance at that by severing his case. It’s not a strategy without consequences, in other words.

But The Messenger’s senior legal correspondent Adam Klasfeld adds, “Willis wants to advise all of the defendants in the Trump racketeering case that decisions by Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell to invoke speedy trial rights come with certain consequences.” 
Those consequences, based on Georgia law, according to a legal filing Klasfeld posted, include four constraints on the ability to demand discovery materials and call witnesses: 
“Defendants cannot now argue that they are entitled to the State’s discovery responses ten (10) days in advance of trial.” 
“Defendants cannot now argue that they are entitled to notice of the State’s similar transaction evidence ten (10) days in advance of trial.” 
“Defendants are now precluded from calling any witnesses whose statements were not provided to the State at least ten (10) days in advance of trial.”
I’ve heard Meadows lawyer described as the most capable among the defense lawyers in this case so far. But while I’m sure he’s hoping an immunity defense gets his client’s case dismissed (bonne chance, IMHLO), it seems to have put his client’s defense at risk by waiving his 5th amendment rights (arguably not, but that’s really putting all the money on one spin of the wheel.) 

I’ve heard nothing from Cheseboro’s lawyer, and I think removal is going to fail for everyone if Meadows can’t do it. I can’t decide whether Sidney Powell is representing herself, or has found a Georgia lawyer as incompetent as she is, because the reported content of her pleadings is atrocious.

Meanwhile
"I wouldn’t give him a nickel,” said billionaire investor Leon Cooperman, who donated to Giuliani's failed 2008 presidential bid. “I’m very negative on Donald Trump. It’s an American tragedy. He was ‘America’s mayor.’ He did a great job. And like everybody else who gets involved with Trump, it turns to s--t.”
Rudy needs a new sugar daddy. I’m seeing more and more public statements like that from people who are supposed to be Trump supporters. I think Trump has overstayed his welcome. The GOP primary schedule may assure him the nomination, but his oxygen supply is starting to run out already.

And Letitia James is coming after Trump’s other oxygen supply:
Yeah," said Snell. "It's the financial pain, Joy, but it's also then the fact that the AG's office as part of the law they will be asserting against Trump here includes the ability to seek the cancellation of corporate charters for these entities that were overvaluing the worth of these properties. So, in New York, that would mean, say, 40 Wall Street LLC getting its corporate charter cancelled, which then throws everything into doubt about Trump's ability to charge rent to those tenants, and the rent is the money that comes in, the lifeblood of his sort of empire of debt, if he can service all of these debts because he's getting this rent in the door from these properties. If he's not allowed to collect rent on his New York properties, it throws a whole bunch of things into major limbo." 
"I think the one thing to look out for that we haven't been talking about that much yet is the possibility that he could lose the ability to do business in the state of New York because of his persistent fraud and illegality," said Snell. "Not just in this matter alone where it's years and years of overstatements allegedly, but also we have the Trump University matter, the Trump Foundation matter, and then the finding of tax fraud by a criminal jury in Manhattan that happened last year is more than enough to establish a pattern of persistent fraud and illegality, for which New York State courts will order the extraordinary relief of cancellation of corporate charters."
The iron rule of FAFO is quite a bitch.

Closed For Repairs

 


Xitter finally stopped me.

I seem to recall some public threat from Elmo to shut down Xitter threads that don’t xweet; and I don’t. I’ve no interest at all in finding my voice on another platform. There’s a brutal struggle for authenticity/authority on any newcomer, real Lord of the Flies stuff, and I’m not that interested.

I started out using Twitter because I was (am) doing much of this on my phone, and it was (is) hard to embed links, especially on a virtual keyboard my fingers are too big for. Embedding tweets was easier. I also developed the custom of adding pictures to my posts. Tweets usually had pictures, so that was easier, too.

At first I didn’t need a Twitter account to embed tweets; and then I did. And now even that’s not enough, so I haven’t left Xitter, Xitter has left me. So it goes.

It mostly means I’ll have to type more and string together xweets less (i.e., not at all). Which is fine; that was turning into a dead end anyway. The main thing is, I’ll have to rely on the keyboard more, because this tiny virtual keyboard sux.

Until then (I have to start writing again!), I’ll leave you with this, gleaned from re-watching “The Big Short” last night. “The truth is like poetry. And most people hate poetry.”

And this thought, relative to social structures, economic systems, even ideas of government (and raised by the movie): if it’s fraud but we agree it’s true anyway, is it really fraud?

I’ve not begun to be through with that.


Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The GOP Cineplex Is Open!

"I think it's becoming exposed because their strategy, the left strategy, is to get us so riled up and so angry about the corruption of Joe Biden and his family that at the last minute, they're gonna have Biden bailed," she argued. "He's not going to be the nominee. They're going to throw in somebody else who will be their messiah, their new savior." 
"And then that will take away so many of the arguments that the right has against the left in this presidential campaign season," Palin added. "It's all planned, it's all strategy."
And we’d have done it, too! If not for those meddling kids! I keep thinking of the Price Day story “Four O’Clock,” where a man is going to reduce all evildoers to half stature at the titular hour, the better to identify them. Against his expectations, he is one of those so reduced. To be sure you got his point, he made 49 social media posts in one hour of the morning. Campaigning is hard work the courts have no right to distract him from! Unlike Biden, who only campaigned from his basement! Gotta agree!

Remembering The Halcyon Days of MAD's "Snappy Answers To Stupid Questions"

Asked and answered. 

Although judges would also accept: "It's not a coincidence. It's a consequence."
Memory aids (a bonus feature!): And back to Florida: "Your question is flawed in so many ways..." (Here's one more!)

Isn't He Supposed To Be, I Dunno, Campaigning?

He announced early, he dominated the polls, he refused to attend the first GOP debate OR sign a pledge to support whoever the GOP candidate is, and he keeps claiming his indictments are "election interference!" But 2023 is not an election year and every other GOP candidate is on TeeVee somewhere or spending weeks in Iowa and Trump....

...is posting 49 posts to social media about his criminal cases?  Is that interfering with his ability to fund-raise and attend rallies and give speeches, or just explain what his policies will be in Trump 2.0?

He seems to pretty much think he's a shoo-in and he doesn't need to lower himself to being sullied by his opponents by even being seen in public with them.  Which is fine with me, but what's this "election interference" he keeps talking about, when he brags that every indictment raises his poll numbers?
Yeah, I'll believe that line about poll numbers when I see these pins going around.  And that $7 million he says (!) he's raised from the Georgia mugshot?  He'll need that just on pre-trial practice in Georgia and D.C.  Especially if he pushes Lauro to take the trial date to the D.C. appellate court.

Or is the media doing it for him?
I heard about this poll on MSNBC, where they chewed it over after noting that the follow up question (apparently in this poll) is: "So would you vote for Trump because of Biden's age?", and the overwhelming answer (in paraphrase) was: "Oh, hell, no!"

Gotta keep those horses running somehow.

And gotta keep overlooking the fact, despite announcing his candidacy in mid-November of 2022, Trump is not....campaigning. (or that much younger than Biden)

Trump Has Made Legal Experts Of Us All

(This isn't even close to a criminal defense. This is like saying I went into the bank, told the teller to give me all the money, forgot my gun, and ran out of the bank. I'm still a bank robber. "Quid pro quo" doesn't even enter into it.  Trump was not negotiating a contract.  Or the Senator has confused this with a bribery charge; which it isn't.)

Derp Walk

On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Beryl A. Howell entered a default judgment against the former New York mayor. A defendant can be ruled in default if they don't answer a complaint against them or fail to attend hearings. 
The order states that a "default judgment will be entered against defendant Rudolph W. Giuliani on his liability for plaintiffs' defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, civil conspiracy, and punitive damage claims, pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure." 
The judge ordered both sides to agree on a future trial date for damages. Giuliani was also ordered to pay attorney fees for the plaintiffs. 
"As a sanction for defendant's failure to timely to reimburse plaintiffs' $89,172.50 in attorneys' fees by July 25, 2023, the jury will be instructed that they must, when determining an appropriate sum of punitive damages, infer that he is intentionally trying to hide relevant discovery about his financial assets for the purpose of artificially deflating his net worth," Howell concluded.
How is Rudy paying for his lawyer in Georgia? I suspect he couldn’t afford his lawyers in this civil suit any longer. "Strategic ‘admission arguendo’!” 😹😹😹

Vivek Is Not Donald

Trump believes his own lies. He’s not self-aware enough to agree with George Costanza: “It’s not a lie, if you believe it!” Trump just can’t distinguish between lies and reality. For him, there is no distinction. Challenge him on a statement, he just crawfishes and makes up a new lie. He escapes in a cloud of squid ink; or tries to.

Vivek isn’t even George Costanza. Vivek knows he’s lying and tries to defend his current lie. That only keeps attention on the lie and his defensiveness. He doesn’t escape, he digs in, and soon the interview is only about his lies. Trump believes what he says; truth doesn’t even enter into it. Vivek knows he’s lying; that makes him just another sleazy politician.

He’s trying to be Trump-lite without being as unlikeable as DeSantis. But the GOP doesn’t need a “mini-Trump,” and Trump will never pick someone like that to be his VP.

πŸ‘Ž

If federal aid depends on the politics of the state and of its representatives, and who’s in the White House…

How are we any better than Trump?
But we don’t like Rick Scott so, fuck ‘em, right?

Covering The Horse Race From The Right POV 🐎

(The real ones are the best.) (Trust the cliches. The cliches are your friends.) (Ross Douthat, behind a paywall. But this is probably a fair summary:)

“Vote For Me Or Go To Hell!”

I think this is definitely true of the GOP, and I see echoes of it in-line by Democrats (those who hunt dragons become dragons themselves).

But I don’t think it’s why Biden is going to win re-election and Democrats may re-take control of Congress. Because I think this sentiment is very strongly one-sided in our politics.
That’s gonna work out real well for ‘em.
Many of the impeachment-skeptical Republicans hail from districts that were won in 2020 by President Joe Biden, which means that primarying them with hardline MAGA candidates would likely doom the party's chances of holding those seats in 2024, thus ending McCarthy's term as Speaker of the House after just two years.
"Vote for me or go to hell!” is not the voter outreach campaign that wins elections.

May You Live In Interesting Times

Government As Vengeance Porn

Trump went on the Glenn Beck show and was asked if he had regrets about not trying to have DOJ arrest and prosecuted Hillary like he vowed at so many campaign rallies in 2016, and if he would lock up his political opponents if he won election. 
Trump's response: "The answer is you have no choice because they're doing it to us." 
He went on to say that when he was president, "I never hit Biden as hard as I could have."
It’s deja vu all over again. Everybody remember 2016, when we all agreed Trump was “just kidding” and was using that chant just to rile the crowds up?

Good times, good times.

Analogously

Exactly.

The NYT article refers to Trump’s choices on challenging the trial date:

1) a motion to change the date, which would probably be denied without a hearing (no “delay,” IOW, which is everybody’s favorite buzzword now.  Here’s a hint to lower your blood pressure: motion practice (i.e., pleadings that require hearings) are not “delays.” They are an ordinary part of trial proceedings.)

2) an interlocutory appeal (appeal before final hearing/adjudication of the case: dismissal, verdict, etc.). 

3) writ of mandamus, asking a superior court to direct a lower court to correct its egregious error).

The NYT article could lead you to think one of these efforts could prevail. Odds of any of them prevailing? Zip and none.

Mark Meadows Didn’t Help Anyone Yesterday

The question of the role of the federal government generally, and of agencies of that government specifically, will continue to obsess us:
Cross zeroes in on the latter “federal policy,” asking Meadows to explain the role of the president in state elections. Meadows replies that there is some role for the federal government in that area. He notes that the Justice Department has a role in investigating fraud allegations and another federal agency, the Department of Homeland Security, deals with cyber threats to voting systems. 
At one point, as Meadows reiterates his view that there is an “interconnection” between state elections and federal policy, Judge Jones interrupts: “Let me ask this,” he says. Is there a role for the president in state elections under Article II of the Constitution? 
“I don’t know enough to opine on that,” Meadows replies sheepishly. “That’s fair,” Jones replies. 
Cross, for her part, doubles down on quizzing Meadows about the federal policy at stake. She narrows the scope of her prior question: “Do you know of any federal role in the certification of state elections?” she asks. “I do not,” Meadows concedes.
And what it means to be “acting under color of office”:
Next, Cross grills Meadows on the message he allegedly sent to either Watson or Fuchs, in which he queried whether financial assistance from the Trump campaign could “speed up” the Fulton County signature verification audit. In reply, Meadows claims that he wasn’t making a “financial offer” on behalf of the campaign. Prior to sending that message, he explains, the state of Wisconsin held a recount, which the state agreed to do so long as it was paid for by the Trump campaign. In Fulton County, Meadows says, “we” wanted an answer “quickly.” And considering the circumstances surrounding the recount in Wisconsin, he asked Fuchs about campaign assistance in order to advise the president on whether the audit would place a “financial burden” on a state entity. 
Cross follows up: But you had no ability to offer federal funds, right? “No,” Meadows admits.
I would note that goes not just to the removal question, but to his immunity defense.
Meadows testifies that he believed the purpose of the call was to reach some sort of “compromise” between Trump attorneys and the secretary of state’s office with respect to pending litigation in Georgia. The purpose, he insists, was to find a “less litigious” way to get a signature verification audit in Fulton County. “The president said he wanted that,” Meadows claims. And that was a goal of the campaign? Cross asks. “I don’t know. … I don’t speak for the campaign,” Meadows replies.
If it wasn’t a goal of the campaign, it was illegitimate for POTUS to be inquiring. If Meadows was acting on behalf of a litigant to affect litigation, he was approaching a party to the case on behalf of that litigant, which is an improper (at least) action. If he was trying to get the SOS of Georgia to settle the suit, again: improper and end run on the lawyers (the Georgia AG): same analysis, IOW. And Trump had to be bringing suit as a candidate, not as POTUS; so Meadows grossly overreached his authority,  or he acted for the campaign (the true litigant). He can say he didn’t mean to, but that doesn’t change the facts.
Cross next shifts to Meadows’s role in the “fake electors” plot. When asked if he had “any role” in coordinating the fake electors, Meadows replies “No, I did not.” 
The prosecution then submits its first exhibit. It’s an email exchange between Meadows and a Trump campaign adviser, Jason Miller. In the email, Meadows appears to attach a copy of the “Chesebro memo” that set out a strategy for coordinating “alternate” electors across several contested states. “Let’s discuss,” Meadows tells Miller. In a later email, Meadows writes, “If you are on it then never mind the meeting. We just need to have someone coordinating the electors for States."
Oops. And funny no one is yet talking about this bit of news:
After a short break, the prosecution calls its first witness: Kurt Hilbert, the attorney who worked on the Trump campaign’s litigation in Georgia and who was on the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call. Hilbert, a burly man sporting a charcoal suit, takes his seat at the witness stand. Hilbert testifies that, in the lead-up to the Jan. 2 call, he was at his office preparing for an upcoming hearing related to one of the Trump campaign’s pending lawsuits in federal court in Georgia. Hilbert says that Alex Kaufman came into his office and said, “There’s going to be a call.” He says his understanding was that the call was going to involve the president. And he reveals for the first time that a separate call took place prior to the Raffensperger call. That call, he says, included Trump, Meadows, Mitchell, and Hilbert’s legal team. 
Hilbert refuses to testify more about this, however. When Cross presses him to reveal more about the substance of either call, he claims that doing so would violate Rule 408 of the Federal Rules of Evidence, which bars the admission of statements related to certain compromise offers or negotiations. 
On cross-examination, Hilbert similarly refuses to discuss the substance of the call, though he tells Meadows’s attorney that he believed Meadows participated in the call in his capacity as chief of staff. 
It is unclear what the point of Hilbert’s testimony is—except maybe that Hilbert was a lawyer working for the Trump campaign, not the White House or any federal agency, and the White House chief of staff was engaging directly in the campaign’s litigation.
I think that was the point exactly. And there was this point, too:
Ratffensperger, the mild-mannered engineer turned Georgia secretary of state, strolls into the room through the doors to my left. After being sworn in just after 3:30 p.m., Raffensperger begins by explaining that he is the chief elections officer in the state of Georgia. Describing how elections operate in the state, Raffensperger says that neither the federal government nor the president plays any role in certifying the state’s elections.
The judge got that point:
Under questioning by Cross, Raffensperger turns to the circumstances behind the Jan. 2, 2021, phone call. He says that his deputy secretary of state, Fuchs, reached out and said that the White House called and wanted to speak with him. “It was Mr. Meadows who reached out to her,” Raffensperger testifies. 
While Raffensperger says he was initially reluctant to take the call, he ultimately agreed to speak to Trump at Fuchs’s suggestion. According to Raffensperger, his understanding was that Trump wanted to speak with him about election-related matters. 
“Those were Trump campaign lawyers. I thought it was a campaign call,” Raffensperger says. 
Judge Jones interjects to ask if Governor Brian Kemp had already certified the election at this point. “Yes, your honor,” Raffensperger replies. So, Jones wonders aloud, was there “anything to settle” at this point in time? “I don’t think so, your honor,” Raffensperger replies.
And again, the propriety of these actions:
As Raffensperger testifies, Cross plays several excerpts from the call. In one excerpt, Meadows raises the prospect of getting “access to the secretary of state’s data” to either validate or invalidate claims of election fraud. 
Who wanted that data? Cross asks. “The Trump campaign,” Raffensperger replies. 
As Cross wraps up Raffensperger’s direct examination, John Moran strides to the lectern to conduct cross-examination on behalf of Meadows. At Moran’s prompting, Raffensperger agrees that there can be a “law enforcement function” in investigating voter fraud allegations. And, when asked if there was anything inappropriate about Meadows’s statements on the call, Raffensperger replies, “I didn’t take it as inappropriate.” 
On redirect, Cross asks Raffensperger a single question: When the federal government investigates voter fraud allegations, do they ask you to hand over data to the campaign? No, Raffensperger says. They ask you to send data to the FBI agents on the case.
I can’t say how this determines the removal issue, although I’m sympathetic to the state’s argument that there is a bar to clear, however low, and Meadows didn’t clear it. I also don’t think Meadows’ analogy if “landing the plane “ (i.e., trying to get to transition) is “King’s ‘X’” he wants it to be. His actions mark him as both a COS and a campaign official. He’s preaching it round and square, but he only gets the benefit of one position.) Regardless, the state’s case for prosecution is looking pretty good at this point.

And Yet…

...everyone on that debate stage, including sanctimonious Michael Pence, signed a loyalty oath to support Trump if he’s the nominee.

The one person who didn’t sign the oath swearing to support the GOP nominee but still would have been allowed on that stage? Donald Trump.

Rats, tying themselves to the mast of a sinking ship.
I think not having the moral compass of an axe murderer is more minimum than that.

Trump’s Very Bad Lawyers: A Continuing Series

And once more, with feeling: And in 60+ cases, Trump & Co. failed to produce any evidence of fraud, which failure ended their legal avenues to challenge the election outcome. So they turned to illegal ones; and here we are.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

In Re: Trial Date In U.S. v Trump

Tl;dr: Trump ain’t appealing the trial date unless he just wants to set fire to money (well, it’s not his…). Then again, he could direct Lauro to do it.

Lauro seems to like getting his ass handed to him in court.

Byron Donalds’ No Good, Very Bad, Rotten Day

Cujo Wasn’t So Bad

Scorpion Bottle Watch πŸ¦‚

Show Me The Evidence, You Drunken Sot!

And in somewhat related legal news: Fani Willis has put all the scorpions in a bottle, and put a cork in it. This is going to do as much damage to the GOP by itself as Trump’s four indictments together.

Is it wrong of me to enjoy that? πŸ˜‘ 

Take Me Out Of The Ballgame

I was in Chicago when this happened. The official story for two days was that they were investigating whether the shot had come from outside the ballpark. Which, had it been at Wrigley, might have been plausible, if you conjecture the shot could have come from the rooftop bleachers overlooking the field.

But nobody was buying the story that the shot didn’t come from inside Guaranteed Rate Field (yes, that is an awful name). But officials didn’t want to allow that their security had been defeated.

I’m wondering what they do going forward… πŸ€” 

I Have A Constitutional Obligation…

...to repost anything that references the childishness of Trump.

Or it’s a civic duty; or something.

The One Where Chris Christie Threatens Me With A Good Time

"Sloppy Chris Christie, who was rated the Worst Governor in the History of New Jersey, had the lowest approval rating, 8%, had 11 straight downgrades of New Jersey Bonds, a record, was thrown out of New Hampshire after his last debate, and endlessly suffered from the horrible and never ending Bridgegate scandal, SHOULD DROP OUT OF THE RACE. HE IS GOING NOWHERE AND IS VERY BAD FOR THE REPUBLICAN PARTY!" Trump wrote.
Gee, why would Trump feel that way?
"We simply cannot expect that someone who is facing this number of criminal trials, and, quite frankly, the conduct that underlies those charges, can be a viable fall election candidate against Joe Biden,” Christie said. “And if we lose to Joe Biden, Republicans need to understand that we’re going to be looking at a packed Supreme Court, we’re going to be looking at the end of the filibuster, and a number of other issues that folks like me and the rest of the folks in our party can’t have.”
You know, maybe Trump has a point. He really should have a clear run to the nomination… πŸ€” 

When The Shoe Fits

I don’t know the man; but that description fits with what I’ve been reading.

It could be Lauro is baiting the judge. It also could be that Lauro is just an asshole.
Being an asshole makes it more likely Trump will keep him around. IMHLO, anyway.

Power Has Its Privileges

So, the Texas House has 4000 pages of documents, as well as testimony, chronicling (among other things), Paxton’s efforts to represent Nate Paul, an Austin real estate developer. The crux of the matter is Paul’s reversals of fortune (it’s almost a Greek tragedy):
Though Paul had once boasted of a portfolio worth $1.2 billion, in the preceding 18 months his businesses had defaulted on five loans or settlements, been sued by three creditors or investors and filed five bankruptcies, a Tribune analysis found.
Paul claimed he had been harassed by state and federal law enforcement officers in a raid of his home and business headquarters in August 2019. He also alleged they had altered the search warrants after they had been approved by a judge.
In short, Paul thinks a conspiracy involving business rivals, state and federal law enforcement, and judges, caused his problems. Paul went to Paxton, who went to the Travis County (Austin) D.A. to get authorization to open an AG investigation (AG has no criminal jurisdiction otherwise). When Paxton’s staff rejected Paul’s “evidence,” Paxton hired Brandon Cammack as a “special prosecutor.” But Paxton didn’t tell anybody on the staff about Cammack.

Cammack basically took his orders from Paul, drafting applications for subpoenas using language Paul provided. It was a recipe for harassment of Paul’s “enemies.”

The article brings this all to a conclusion here:
By Sept. 30, Paxton’s top deputies realized that Cammack had been working with Paul without their knowledge for four weeks. Horrified, Penley sent a letter to Cammack demanding that he stop work immediately. Cammack forwarded the email to Paxton an hour later with the subject line “URGENT.” 
Penley on Oct. 1 asked a judge to throw out the subpoenas Cammack had obtained because he lacked the authority to issue them. There were 39. 
When Paxton found out about the motion, he called Montford, the first assistant Travis County district attorney. He said his staff had lied, that Cammack’s appointment was legitimate, and that the court needed to know this information, Montford told investigators.  
“I would like to be heard by the judge,” Paxton said to Montford. 
But it was too late, she informed Paxton. The judge had already quashed the subpoenas. 
Cammack ceased working as Penley instructed and sent an invoice for $14,025. The agency has yet to pay it. 
Paxton on Oct. 2 placed Penley and Maxwell on investigative leave and fired both a month later. 
Wynne [Paul’s personal lawyer, who introduced Paxton to Cammack] wrote a letter to Paxton on Oct. 11 outlining a new complaint. The attorney general’s top deputies had inappropriately intervened to stop Cammack’s investigation, he said, and falsely stated that it lacked merit. 
“The actions of employees of the OAG have severely harmed and disadvantaged a Texas citizen and his family of their constitutional rights,” Wynne wrote. 
The victim, once again, was Paul.
Strong presumption of entitlement there. I guess access to powerful public officials grants you that, huh? And Paxton fired two of his top deputies one day after finding out he couldn’t revive Cammack’s 39 groundless subpoenas. That sense of entitlement runs throughout this case.

Paxton’s in this right up to his eyeballs. I wonder if there’s a sealed federal indictment waiting for the conclusion of the Senate trial to be opened. There would a a criminal investigation in Travis County if the Lege hadn’t abolished the office for investigating state corruption there.

We’ll have to see if there’s any appetite in Austin to pursue public corruption.

Curing Past Discrimination With Present Discrimination

I’m pretty sure this A.P. lesson is an attempt to cure past discrimination by present discrimination; or something offensive to Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy. Apparently the way to cure past racism is to continue the status quo of present racism.

A Problem He Brought On Himself…

...and continues to bring on himself.
We've never been here before – four complex criminal trials potentially all unfolding over the next year," NBC News correspondent Ken Dilanian told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "You know, there's a lot of bombast and hyperbole when Trump's lawyers go into court saying how long this will take. In this respect, they are correct – they have their work cut out for them here. It's just the amount of work they have to do to get ready for all four of these separate trials, plus the civil case you mentioned. There's some overlap between the legal teams, some people are different. It's just mind-boggling. Then you have Donald Trump who is going to be trying to run for president even as he is devoting some resources, because a defendant has to be involved in his own defense. You know, there are certain things only the defendant knows, so we are in for a real show next year to see how this all plays out." 
"Frankly, Donald Trump, from where I sit, doesn't appear to have enough lawyers and enough legal resources to really successfully defend all these cases in this compressed period," Dilanian added. "That's really part of the argument his lawyers were making. They've made it in both Florida and in Washington before these federal judges, that, 'Look, we need more time because we just need to get more legal resources onto this.' He's at a real disadvantage here, and that's not something to be taken lightly."
No, he doesn’t have enough legal resources. And who’s fault is that?
"Donald Trump doesn't have enough legal resources right now, but partially that's because he keeps playing legal musical chairs," Rubin said. "Judge Chutkan made it clear yesterday, the fact, [Trump attorney John] Lauro, 'You're just coming onto this case doesn't mean Donald Trump hasn't been sitting with these allegations for a long time. I'm not going to allow this rotating cast of lawyers to be the occasion for delay here.' I think you'll see that from the other judges, as well. The fact that he can't assemble a legal team is not the judge's problem."
Pretty damned much. If Trump wants to screw himself into the ground, the courts are not obligated to stop him.

Good Old Days

That’s a very good parody of Trump speech. It’s virtually indistinguishable from the original. But for some reason people see clearly that this is a joke, but Trump is…not?

And what if we realized he was, and behaved accordingly. I remember Lyndon LaRouche, who ran for president every four years and talked like MTG crossed with Mike Lindell times Donald Trump. But nobody ever took LaRouche seriously. We all agreed he was a clown.

Ah, dem was de days!

Monday, August 28, 2023

Central Park 5? No, Scottsboro Boys!

At first I thought Trump couldn’t get good lawyers because of his reputation. Then I thought he couldn’t get them because he wouldn’t pay. But then he gave Chris Kise (IIRC) a $3 million retainer, and fired him when Kise wouldn’t be as manic and unreasonable as Trump. But still I thought Trump was scraping the bottom of the legal barrel for some combination of these reasons.

Today the scales fell from my eyes and I saw the truth. Trump isn’t getting shitty lawyers because he has to, or due to circumstances or his reputation for stiffing people he hires. It’s because the only lawyers he’ll keep around think like him and will argue in court like him: stupidly and pointlessly and to the damage of the client as much as possible.
“It's absolutely fair," Cordell explained. "Judge Chutkan deliberated, heard everyone on both sides, and set a date that I think is a reasonable date. It may change, but for now, I think it's reasonable. But I’ll tell you Kaitlan, the moment in that hearing that struck me, I only have two words to describe it as ‘stunningly stupid.' And that was when Trump's attorney compared their desire to delay the case to what happened in the case of Powell v Alabama, a 1931 case involving the Scottsboro boys who were convicted of raping two white women and the case went to the U.S. Supreme Court and their convictions were reversed." 
In that case, the boys were forced to go to trial with little preparation. Trump demanded two years. 
“What the Trump team did was say that, ‘well, what happened in that trial is what could happen here in this trial,’ which is absolutely absurd," she continued. "In the Scottsboro case the Scottsboro boys were indicted, and were on trial six days later, not even given the opportunity to choose their attorneys. In this case, there was an indictment, but …the trial date is seven months out. He has experienced lawyers, a whole team of investigators. And it was stunningly stupid because, one, the comparison is ridiculous, but second, if you want to alienate a judge in a case, this was exactly what to do." 
Cordell suggested the comparison risks aggravating Chutkan. 
“A female judge, a Black judge, and to talk about that case and compare it to Trump's case was absurd," closed Cordell. "And Judge Chutkan really took them up on it and said, this case is entirely different. I think she was absolutely offended. It was really a stunningly stupid thing to do.”
Not much worse than this: Go on, try to slip a piece of paper between Trump and Lauro. I don’t think you can do it.

Trump is not hiring these lawyers because he has to. He’s hiring them because he wants to. It’s somewhat akin to this:
It’s the same failure of perception, of failing, as Orwell said, to see what is right in front of your nose. Trump’s posts appear insane because he’s secretly clever! His mis-spellings are not signs of illiteracy or creeping dementia, they are signs of genius as he teaches JD Vance and Josh Hawley how to pretend they couldn’t find an Ivy League school with a map and a guide. Because, ya know, ordinary people can’t spell!

Is that condescending? Well at least it ain’t racist!πŸ‘

We can’t admit the truth in front of our eyes: Trump is stupid and ignorant and emotionally stunted and all but incapable of rational thought. He’s not “feral” and cunning and charismatic: he just appeals to people as deplorable as himself. And a lot of people voted for him in 2020 just because he was the incumbent and people don’t like change; not because they were paying attention and approved of the job he’d done for four years. Likely as not, Joe Biden will be re-elected for much the same reason. Why do people re-elect Ted Cruz and Gym Jordan, who do nothing whatsoever except grab microphones? Every six years Cruz sweats bullets that he’s finally going to be found out and he’ll have to get a real job and actually work. Even he can’t believe he gets re-elected for doing absolutely nothing he’s paid to do.

There’s a lot of truth in front of our noses we simply refuse to see. Trump being a completely ignorant clod means our system doesn’t protect us from ourselves. And we can’t be adults and take responsibility for ourselves and our governance, so we expect the system, or the strong man, to do it for us. And even if the “strong man” is an apparent dolt, we have to find some quality in him that explains his prominence and rise to power.

Otherwise we have to admit we’d rather duck responsibility, and the problem is in ourselves for being so easily led about by such a blatant incompetent. Rather than chasing him to the fringes of the body politic where he can do no harm, we treat him seriously because of poll numbers (our modern Oracle of Delphi). Much easier to say there’s just something about him that appeals to other people. It’s not our fault those people like him.

What appeals to them is that he is as deplorable, demented, and unfit as they are. But we can’t admit that, either. Sounds sort of elitist, ya know. And we don’t want to be responsible for that!

Alone, alone, about a dreadful wood 
Of conscious evil runs a lost mankind, 
Dreading to find its Father lest it find 
The Goodness it has dreaded is not good: 
Alone, alone, about our dreadful wood. 

 Where is that Law for which we broke our own, 
Where now that Justice for which Flesh resigned 
Her hereditary right to passion, 
Mind His will to absolute power? 
Gone. Gone. 
Where is that Law for which we broke our own? 

 The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss. 
Was it to meet such grinning evidence 
We left our richly odoured ignorance? 
Was the triumphant answer to be this?
 The Pilgrim Way has led to the Abyss. 

 We who must die demand a miracle. 
How could the Eternal do a temporal act, 
The Infinite become a finite fact? 
Nothing can save us that is possible: 
We who must die demand a miracle.

—W.H. Auden 

But if you pay attention, you’ll find I’m both harsher and more pessimistic than Auden is.

“LOCK ‘EM UP! LOCK ‘EM UP!”

"THEM!! NOT US!!!"

????

The trial is in Georgia either way. Larger, more rural, jury pool in Federal court. But Georgia law still applies. And if the federal judge takes his case, but decides he waived the 5th in getting there, where is the victory?

And if he stays in state court, I understand under Georgia precedent he may be more likely to have waived his 5th amendment protection.

So this looks like a lose-lose.
Yeah, I’m still not seeing the strategy, here.

I Stand Corrected

Judge Chutkan did set jury selection for May 4, 2024.

If I see something in that, it is that she may punish Trump’s trash talk by moving jury selection earlier, thereby moving opening arguments to the 4th.

It would be a clever way not to have to mess with her docket much, either. And to not have to coordinate all over again with other judges.

The Fire Next Time πŸ”₯

Stephen Feucht was joined at the Aug. 20 “Let Us Worship” event by Matt Shea, a former state representative accused of domestic terrorism who has since become a pastor, and Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward, the report said. 
Feucht at the event said “We don’t care about the smoke. Let’s pray for a fire that would consume Spokane” and “sweep our city like a fire sweeps through the woods.” 
... 
Feucht said in a statement to The Washington Post that his events “routinely have pastors, elected officials, community leaders, along with addicts, the lost, the hurting, and the forgotten onstage praying, praising, and worshiping Jesus.” 
He added, “Not all of them agree with each other on every issue, but we all agree that there is only ONE WAY under heaven to be saved, and that’s by the blood of Jesus Christ.”
Or barring that, a forest fire.

(Yes, I am an ordained Christian minister. No, at a minimum, I do not believe these people worship the same God I do.)

Trump’s Gonna Be So Pissed At His Lawyers

He can raise the issue on appeal after the trial, as his lawyers preserved their objections today in court. But he can’t make an appeal before trial (an interlocutory appeal) on the issue.

Trial courts have discretion over handling their docket, which can be reviewed for abuse of discretion, but only after a final judgment.

They might want to remove the ketchup at Bedminster. And Chutkan will probably store this for use in moving the trial earlier, if he keeps shit-talking her (i.e., disparaging the legitimacy of the court and the process) in social media.

She’ll give him enough rope that, if she does it, he’ll have a hard time claiming denial of due process.

And by the way: even talking to the lawyers about this shit is going to mean legal fees he needs more money for. He really has no idea what a money pit four criminal trials are going to be.

"Every Man For Himself!"

Let's start here:

Mark Meadows was questioned by a prosecutor with Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’ office about then-President Donald Trump’s January 2021 phone call with Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. 

In the call, which is included in the Fulton County indictment, Trump asked Raffensperger to “find” enough votes for Trump to win Georgia.

Meadows said that Trump had “a concern” about potential fraud in Atlanta and was hoping to figure out "a less-litigious way of resolving” his issues with the election results in Georgia. 

At this point Trump had lost 60+ cases alleging fraud.  "Less-litigious" here doesn't mean more reasonable; it's means "extra-legal," at best, or flat out "illegal," at worse.  Brad Raffensperger reportedly thought it was the latter, and I understand he's present to testify today.

Let's see if he does.

Willis’ prosecutors have repeatedly highlighted that Meadows included outside, pro-Trump lawyers on that call – people who were not federal employees and didn’t work at the Department of Justice, for instance.

Meadows said multiple times that he could not recall all of the outreach he did to set up the call.

“I don’t recall. I’ve tried to recall a number of times,” Meadows said when asked who he reached out to among attorneys who took part on the call on Trump’s side.

Meadows said he didn’t recall a specific conversation with Cleta Mitchell, a private attorney assisting Trump, to get her on the call with Raffensperger. He said he also couldn’t recall looping in members of Trump’s campaign to the call.

Meadows grew somewhat exasperated as the prosecutor questioned why his role would include setting up a call to settle private litigation. Meadows pointed to Trump’s needs as he perceived them.

“I dealt with the president’s personal position on a number of things. It’s still a part of my job to make sure the president is safe and secure and able to perform his job,” Meadows said. “Serving the president of the United States is what I do, to be clear.”

I don't know what the judge thinks, but this doesn't help his "course and scope" argument to get this case removed to federal court.

Prosecutors asked Meadows why he wanted them on the call. Meadows responded: “My understanding was that the president wanted signature verification.”

Meadows is continuing to distance his politically adjacent activity while he was chief of staff from Trump’s campaign. Instead, Meadows is trying to connect these post-election actions to his official-government job.

“There is a role for the chief of staff to make sure those campaign goals and objectives are implemented at the federal level,” Meadows argued. 

In one instance, Meadows was pressed about a text message he sent to a Georgia election official where he asked if the ballot signature-matching process could be sped up if the Trump campaign paid for it.

Meadows testified that he made that offer without discussing it with the Trump campaign, and claimed he was trying to learn about the election process so he could advise Trump about the speed of the process.

In other words, even though the outcome Meadows was seeking would have benefited candidate Trump, Meadows is arguing that he was asking about the signature matching to advise Trump as president. 

Again, not damning nor decisive on the point Meadows needs to make; but it underscores the problem he had in bringing this motion to remove.  He has little evidence to offer besides his own testimony (else why risk waiving his 5th Amendment rights to trial later?  Odds of a dismissal are even lower than for removal.) and even that isn't helping him all that much. 

I'm not so sure Meadows didn't throw himself under that bus, too.  Either way, expect this headline a lot going forward and 19 defendants crawl over each other to escape the sinking ship and find a life boat.

Pounding On The Table

After today's hearing, all I can say is: Good luck with that.  Chutkan has already presided over a number of J6 cases, where all manner of mad defenses have been raised.  I expect her to swat this one like a fly.  There's no immunity argument because: His actions, then, weren't within "course and scope" of his office; hence, no immunity.
In a legal analysis published by The New York Times on Monday, New York University Law School professor Burt Neuborne walks through how the 2011 opinion affirmed that proving willful blindness to the falsity of one's words and actions is legally equivalent to proving someone's consciousness of guilt.

In one particular relevant passage in the ruling, Alito argued that "many criminal statutes require proof that a defendant acted knowingly or willfully, and courts applying the doctrine of willful blindness hold that defendants cannot escape the reach of these statutes by deliberately shielding themselves from clear evidence of critical facts that are strongly suggested by the circumstances."

As for how this would apply to Trump, Neuborne argued that testimony from multiple former Trump administration officials and campaign officials provides a track record to show that Trump had been told again and again that he had legitimately lost the 2020 election.

Neuborne concludes that "while this argument is not a slam dunk, there’s an excellent chance that 12 jurors will find, beyond a reasonable doubt, that Mr. Trump hid from the truth by adopting willful blindness."
And then there's the problem of how he presents such evidence:
"Trump himself would be the logical witness to his own innocent beliefs," wrote Lubet, a professor emeritus at the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law. "Testifying, however, would carry many risks for him. To start with, upon voluntarily taking the stand, Trump would waive the Fifth Amendment’s protection from responding to questions whose answers could be self-incriminating, thus exposing himself to cross examination on every aspect of the charged crimes. He could not refuse to answer questions, as he did over 400 times in a deposition taken in the New York attorney general’s civil suit concerning his business practices."

"The result would likely be devastating," Lubet wrote. "At a minimum, Trump would be questioned about every false statement alleged in the indictment. If he denied making the claims, there would almost certainly be prosecution witnesses to contradict him."

The former president's other key defense -- blaming his alleged crimes on advice he received from his lawyers -- could also backfire.

"Mounting an advice of counsel defense, for its part, means waiving attorney-client privilege," Lubert wrote. "In other words, John Eastman, Rudy Giuliani and the entire 'gaggle of crackpot lawyers,' as Mike Pence called those who advised Trump, could not claim confidentiality if subpoenaed by the prosecution to testify against their erstwhile client."

Those lawyers have either been indicted themselves or have been identified as unindicted co-conspirators, so they could assert the Fifth Amendment themselves and undermine Trump's defense, and even if his attorneys and former aides were willing to testify on his behalf, much of that would be impermissible as hearsay.

"In the end, Trump will have to deal with the key accusation in the indictment: 'Despite having lost, the Defendant was determined to remain in power. So for more than two months following election day on November 3, 2020, the Defendant spread lies that there had been outcome-determinative fraud in the election and that he had actually won. These claims were false, and the Defendant knew they were false,'" Lubet wrote.

"For once in his life," he added, "Trump cannot count on talking his way out of it."

Yes, that's addressing a different defense, but what evidence can Trump present of a conspiracy between Biden and the House Democrats to...use Hunter Biden?  Selective prosecution?  Most legal experts agree Hunter wouldn't be facing these charges at all if his father wasn't POTUS; much less be the subject of a special counsel investigation (the same special counsel who screwed the pooch so badly on the plea deal the judge wouldn't accept it).  Yeah, that dog won't even hunt.  But the questions of "best evidence" and "hearsay" behind the analysis above apply to the "Hunter Biden defense," too.  Except that defense isn't even a "Hail Mary."  It's just a wild attempt to appease an ignorant and belligerent client.  It won't run into problems of how to present it, because I expect Chutkan to limine it out before trial.

So Lauro can pound the table some more. 

Nah; it's for the client (been there, done that. Never with a client from the depths of hell like Trump, but trust me, Lauro is making this case this way because he's got either mud nor straw nor any way to dry the bricks.) Thomas doesn't enter into it. DOJ laid out an entire calendar for pre-trial motions, limine practice, and jury selection, prior to a January 2, 2024, proposed trial date. I'm confident the judge has a similar calendar in mind, with trial ready to begin opening arguments on March 4, 2024. Remember the announcement from the bench is one thing, the signed order another. I expect the signed order to have a calendar attached.