Will the Trump Lawfare succeed? – part 2

In Part 1 I covered the first three of the seven legal actions or indictments filed against former US President Donald Trump.


The 14th Amendment case brought by the State of Colorado was predictably dismissed on the 4th of March by the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) and in the lopsided manner (9-0) that experts had predicted so Trump will be on the ballot in all 50 states in November.

The New York Attorney General fraud case took a turn decidedly in Donald Trump’s favour. The massive and unrealistic fine levied by Judge Engoron was designed to be so steep as to make it virtually impossible for Trump to raise a bond necessary to file an appeal. He had to lodge a bond to cover the entire $368 million fine plus a year’s interest making a total of $450 million. Despite Trump’s considerable assets, it proved impossible for him to find even a consortium of bond agents to raise the necessary bond for his appeal and so the NY AG James filed an application in Westchester County Court to seize Trump’s golf resort at Bedminster as a precursor to a forced sale to cover the fine. Trump appealed the size of the surety to the Manhattan Court of Appeal under his 8th Amendment right against excessive fines and the Court ruled that the bond amount necessary to be filed before an appeal could be lodged was reduced to $175 million and a one-week extension was granted to enable Trump to find either the cash or raise a bond. As reported in Part 1, Trump’s media company that owns Truth Social (his social media platform) had been cleared to merge with Digital World Acquisition Corp and with that merger came a listing of the combined entity (Trump Media and Technology Group Corp) on the NASDAQ and a few days before the bond filing deadline, TMTCC was floated with the ticker symbol $DJT and the listing price (despite a 40% retreat since the float) initially almost doubled Trump’s net worth by $3.3 billion to over $6 billion. Trump was able to deposit cash to cover the bond that was easily issued, and he formally posted the appeal bond on Monday March 25th. The Manhattan Appeal Court granted Trump an even more significant favour in that he has until the September court season to “perfect” his appeal which is a legal term to allow the appellant time to get together all the necessary paperwork. The autumn court season begins on 3 September and even if granted an expedited hearing at the New York State Court of Appeal and they uphold the Ergoron finding, Trump’s Federal Appeal Court appeal avenues would take this case well past the election. The Manhattan Appellate Judge finally stayed Engoron from any further action on the case until appeal.

The final four are all criminal indictments in that a specific criminal statute is alleged to have been breached. In the US these fall into two broad categories: misdemeanors or minor offences and felonies or more serious offences. I will again go over each case discussing the backgrounds of the prosecutors and judges and examine the likelihood of any convictions and that if so found, the likelihood any guilty verdict would withstand appeal. Each of these four cases cover so many issues and the status of each case have been changing dramatically (each in Trump’s favour) each week so I will cover each indictment in a single episode.

3 – Criminal Cases

(i) District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Manhattan Municipal Court – Campaign finance violations

Alvin Bragg is one of a wave of radical Democrat District Attorneys catapulted to power behind boatloads of George Soros’ cash. Soros is the Hungarian billionaire who made his fortune shorting against the UK Pound during the Asian financial crisis and he has spent billions over the decades funding a large variety of left-wing causes, Foundations and left leaning candidates for political office globally but especially in the US. A common feature of Soros backed District Attorneys are radical left law enforcement policies such as:

  • Decriminalising shoplifting and petty theft of amounts usually below $1,000 – jurisdictions that have such DAs and left leaning city councils that allow this have seen shoplifting rates and ram raids soar.
  • No cash bail – this has been a huge reason for the rise in crime in violent crime in cities where Soros backed DAs handle the flow of prosecutions. New York City, even before the influx of illegal immigrants, was notorious for releasing violent felons back onto the street where they go on to commit more crime. NYC courts have become revolving doors for criminals.
  • Early release of criminals with extremely generous parole administration which has led to serious offenders serving lengthy custodial sentences being released back on the streets.
  • Severe constraints on the activities of the police. NY Mayor Rudi Giuliani famously drastically reduced the crime and murder rate in NYC in the 1980’s from the so-called broken windows policing where even petty crimes like subway turnstile jumping and public urination were prosecuted which led to the NYPD ending up catching major criminals. Now there can be no targeted policing of any type and police cannot search and frisk known criminals for fear of being tagged as racist. This means that violent criminals operate almost with impunity.

When it comes to finding a jurisdiction to attempt to stretch any law to the absolute maximum, a DA like Alvin Bragg with a Manhattan judge being as anti-Trump as Judge Engoron in the civil fraud case and a heavily Democrat voting jury pool in deeply liberal Manhattan, it was a perfect location to bring charges against Trump that even the Biden Administration appointees at the Federal Elections Commission and the deeply politicised Federal Department of Justice wouldn’t bring.

Most readers will recall Trump’s tangle with porn actress ‘Stormy Daniels’ or her real name Stephanie Clifford. She accused Trump of being her client and paying her for sex, an accusation Trump denied but during the 2016 Presidential Election campaign, Trump instructed his then lawyer Michael Cohen to pay Daniels $130,000 in hush money for her to stay silent about the accusation during his campaign. Trump’s opponents alleged that the payment was an ‘in kind’ contribution to his election campaign even though the cheque to Clifford was paid by his lawyer Cohen and alleged he falsified business records to cover an unspecified underlying Federal Crime. Even assuming Trump DID violate New York campaign finance law, the failure to make a routine Federal Election Commission (FEC) filing is the campaign version of leaving your car parked by a fire hydrant and not paying the parking ticket. Routine minor campaign filing errors, if investigated by the FEC, are normally dealt with by either a retrospective filing and paying a fine and if prosecuted, being nothing more than a minor misdemeanor offence. For that reason and for the case being past the 7-year statute of limitations and the weak tea nature of the charges, all are part of the reasons why even Trump hating senior Biden appointees at the FEC and DOJ never brought charges. Bragg circumvented these normal objections by convening a Grand Jury deep in the heart of perhaps the most Trump hating city in America and, as the old aphorism goes, “you could get a Grand Jury to indict a ham sandwich”. In other words, obtaining an indictment in this jurisdiction is easy no matter how flimsy and trumped up the charges may be. The alleging of a Federal crime and yet never actually charging Trump (or even revealing in court what this felony might be) was the thin gruel Bragg used to turn a NY State and FEC filing misdemeanor into Federal felony business fraud, an attempt that no neutral judge would allow a prosecutor to get away with in any normal courtroom but Bragg’s courtroom under Judge Juan Merchan, another partisan Democrat appointee, in Manhattan was anything but normal.

Perhaps the greatest weakness of Bragg’s case was the fact that the only prosecution witnesses were Clifford herself who has flip flopped and changed her story multiple times and swore under oath in court that she never slept with Trump and Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer, who has been caught lying under oath in several court rooms AND to Congress. Challenging the truthfulness of both their testimonies became an easy defense for Trump’s lawyers to make.

The reaction has been a wall of skepticism even from legal analysts known to be unfavourably disposed to Trump. A sample:

  • Two of the DA office’s prosecutors resigned after the indictment
  • “It is said that if you go after the king, you should not miss,” wrote Richard Hasen, a campaign finance law expert at UCLA. “In this vein, it is very easy to see this case tossed for legal insufficiency or tied up in the courts well past the 2024 election before it might ever go to trial. It will be a circus that will embolden Trump, especially if he walks.”
  • Even Ian Millhiser, the liberal legal commentator for Vox, called the legal theory on which Bragg’s case is built “dubious.”
  • Constitutional legal analyst Jonathon Turley in his New York Post article on the subject noted Bragg’s frequent propensity to plea down violent and serious felony charges and yet being happy to turn an expected at most misdemeanor into a tortuous charge of business document fraud.

The verdict and what happens next

The trial went pretty much as most commentators expected. Clifford’s testimony was salacious but ultimately weak and contradictory, Cohen admitted to his prior lying under oath and further admitted to stealing $64,000 from Trump and yet still Trump was convicted by a jury pool said to be 94% Democrat on all 34 counts.

Grounds for appeal were described by esteemed Constitutional lawyer Jonathan Turley as so vast that he called it a “target rich environment”:

  • The selection of Merchan was unorthodox. Judges in trials like this are normally selected randomly from the pool of Manhattan Municipal Court judges. Merchan was hand selected from the New York Supreme Court where he had a long track record of politically biased decisions.
  • Merchan’s conflicts of interest in his donations to anti GOP and specifically Stop Trump causes along with donations to Biden and in particular, his daughter high profile use of the trail to fundraise for Democrats, would normally lead to a recusal.
  • Merchan disallowed Trump’s lawyers from bringing to the stand, as significant witness for the defense, Brad Smith, a former Chairman of the FEC, who would later testify to Congress of the spuriousness and lack of legal robustness of the charges laid.
  • Merchan’s multiple 1st Amendment right of free speech busting gag orders that saw Trump fined $10,000’s and threated with jail for contempt for public comments made about the trial, the judge and his daughter whilst Clifford and Cohen made frequent unrestrained references to the trial across multiple media outlets reinforcing the two tiered justice system that sees one set of law interpretations for Republicans and another more lenient set for Democrats.
  • Merchan’s requirement that Trump stay in court for the duration of the trial, a break from normal precedent in cases of this nature where normally the defendant is not required to be in court. Democrats thought tying Trump up in New York for 6 weeks would cramp his campaign.
  • Merchan arbitrarily changed the burden of jury proof from unanimous to majority as a way to circumvent any pro-Trump holdouts. The unanimous verdict right was recently affirmed by SCOTUS.
  • Merchan allowed disgraceful and normally legally inadmissible testimony by Clifford of her alleged sex with Trump, salacious material unrelated to the charges and yet designed to be as damaging as possible to Trump. Any normal judged would’ve stopped Clifford dead in her tracks.
  • Merchan’s directions to the jury were biased and distorted and he compounded the error by refusing to give the jurors the normal detailed information packet summarising testimony (in this case over 50 pages) merely allowing them to read it once and not have a copy forcing jurors to return to the judge with multiple clarifying questions.
  • The distortion of the misdemeanor charges of campaign violations to federal business fraud felonies alone is so tortuous as to not survive appeal in the eyes of many legal experts in part because right to the end of the trial, the underlying felony Trump was alleged to be trying to hide was never revealed and even MSM network legal commentators (not known for being pro-Trump) were baffled by the pretzel-like efforts Bragg resorted to to conflate the charges.
  • In the aftermath of the SCOTUS ruling on Presidential immunity, whole new lines of significant and deal changing appeal open as Trump’s lawyers can attack at various aspects of Trump’s conduct with respect to campaign finances as which of his actions might be within the scope of the immunity. This would require the trial judge to instruct the prosecutors to determine which if any aspects of the indictments (and the complex and questionable layering that Bragg’s team had undertaken to circumvent the statute of limitation and turn minor state misdemeanors into more serious Federal felonies) were not laid in contravention of the Presidential immunity ruling.

Electoral impact of the conviction

Did a flawed, convoluted and concocted prosecution by a jury in such a deep blue city laid by such a controversial, blatant anti Trump and tainted DA presided over by a biased, conflicted and incompetent judge have any effect on Trump’s popularity? For a few days he took a small hit but soon bounced back to stronger than ever leads over Biden in the battleground states and slight leads in national polls. And tying Trump down in NYC so he couldn’t hold rallies? Trump held a rally in Wildwood, New Jersey adjacent to NYC and 100,000 in total showed up, the largest outdoor rally in modern NJ history. And then over 30,000 packed into a park in the South Bronx in the heart of New York’s minority majority ghetto and over 70% of attendees were blacks and Hispanics. Whilst it is highly unlikely that Trump will win NJ and NY, his poll numbers amongst black and Hispanic voters are in some polls double or more what he got in 2016 and 2020 and exceed any polling in these communities of any Republican President since the Nixon and Reagan 49 state routs in 1972 and 1984. Finally, did Trump look affected in any way by the conviction during the debate with Biden? To the contrary he looked calm, measured and in control compared to the faltering and doddery Biden. The Democrats major attack line now is that Trump is a convicted felon. How’s that working out? Trump’s rise and Biden’s decline is such that left leaning and mainstream media are in freak out mode about how to replace their cognitively impaired President and party flag carrier.

Sentencing thoughts

Will Merchan send Trump to jail even for the period of days or weeks before his appeal can be lodged? Highly likely given the Democrats full throated lemming like rush into every aspect of the lawfare against Trump. Maybe Trump’s ability to weather the media storm of negativity over the conviction will finally mean saner heads will prevail. If Trump is incarcerated, that can do nothing but improve his electoral chances as he can claim an almost Nelson Mandela like status and reinforce his relentless attack line that the charges and prosecution are politically motivated (they are) and that, in the Land of the Free, the most popular candidate for President is effectively a political prisoner and that the Biden administration (and its allies in federal and state law enforcement) are conducting themselves like a 3rd world dictatorship by imprisoning their political opponent on spurious, tissue-thin charges. We can see the big bump Trump got in his polling in the black community after Fulton County DA Fani Willis forced Trump to be arraigned in person at the Fulton County Jail. That infamous mugshot became the catalyst for dozens of prominent black influencers and rappers to endorse Trump. We can read the tea leaves a little from Merchan deferring the sentencing hearing until mid-September from July 11 which enables Trump to be crowned as the formal GOP nominee at the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee nearer the end of July. Most commentators say that the deferral arises from the SCOTUS Presidential immunity ruling that, as said earlier, could unravel whole parts of the prosecution’s case. Either way, Trump wins. If he goes to jail, he becomes a martyr and if he doesn’t, he’s free to crisscross the country holding his signature huge rallies. But more significantly, the Bragg prosecution as a tool to remove, defang or pillory Trump into electoral oblivion has failed.

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