Trump is his lawyers’ worst nightmare

(Door Hugo Kijne te Hoboken USA)

A couple of weeks ago CNN was widely criticized for broadcasting a Town Hall with Donald Trump in prime time, giving the former president over an hour of free campaigning with a national audience, but looking back the event did serve a purpose, albeit probably not CNN’s and definitely not Trump’s. Any lawyer will tell his or her clients to say nothing publicly about their case, for fear that something they say can be used against them in the courtroom, but Trump simply cannot keep his mouth shut. The Town Hall was held one day after he lost the defamation suit the writer E. Jean Caroll had filed against him and he was sentenced to pay her $5 million in damages, but when asked about the verdict by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins Trump repeated all the lies and insults that had produced the verdict, with as predictable result that yesterday E. Jean Caroll filed another defamation lawsuit that is expected to yield an even higher dollar amount in damages. This back and forth can conceivably go on until E. Jean Caroll has every dollar Trump now owns in her bank account, assuming that they both live long enough to get to that point.

Because of Statute of Limitations restrictions in rape and sexual assault cases E. Jean Caroll could only file a civil case against Trump, but the Former Guy came close to a public confession to the latter when Kaitlan Collins played the ‘grab ‘m by the pussy’ tape first shown on ‘Access Hollywood’ in the fall of 2016 and asked Trump if he still felt that way. Trump repeated his earlier deposition in the case that stars like him had had the right to grab women by their private parts for at least a million years, adding ‘unfortunately or fortunately,’ which had made it easy for the jury to conclude that that that was exactly what he had done to E. Jean Caroll, as she had testified. But the defamation case was not the only one where Trump’s big mouth got him into bigger trouble than he was already in. Asked about the documents Trump took from the White House to Mar-a-Lago he said that he had every right to take them and show all of them to anybody he wanted, because by taking them out of the White House he had effectively declassified the documents that before he took them could only be seen by people with a security clearance.

By telling Kaitlan Collins that he deliberately took the documents Trump torpedoed his lawyers’ attempt to build a defense on the argument that the documents had been packed in boxes by White House staffers without Trump’s knowledge. The declassification argument was debunked when the National Archives informed Special Counsel Jack Smith that Trump and his closest advisers had been informed in writing no less than sixteen times whether, why and how classified records should be declassified. Things got even worse when this week the news leaked out that one of Trump’s former lawyers, Evan Corcoran, who had been forced to resign from Trump’s team because of his role in misinforming the FBI about documents that had not been returned in spite of a subpoena, had shared fifty pages of real time notes about his interactions with Trump about the documents with the Special Counsel. And the team’s chaos became even more obvious when another lawyer who had resigned, Timothy Parlatore, accused Trump adviser Boris Epshteyn, also a lawyer, of stonewalling the legal team in their efforts to deal with the documents.

With so much proof of violations of the Presidential Records Act followed by obstruction of justice it is not hard to see why many commentators, among them former White House lawyer Ty Cobb and former AG Bill Barr, both of whom served under Trump, see the documents case as the one that will send the Former Guy to jail. Fulton County DA Fani Willis has asked the Chief Judge in her Georgia court not to schedule trials and in-person hearings during the first three weeks of August, indicating that her election fraud cases against Trump and some of his advisers will come to fruition then, but leaving enough time for Jack Smith to bring the federal documents case first. Meanwhile the Special Counsel has opened two new investigations, one into the fundraising by Trump after the 2020 election, when at least $250 million was collected, allegedly to finance the legal challenges of the election results. If it turns out that a significant part of that money has been spent differently Smith has a wire fraud case on his hands. He has also subpoenaed foreign project designs by the Trump Organization to see if they relate to documents Trump wanted to keep.

The big unknown is still if Smith has enough evidence to bring a seditious conspiracy case based on Trump’s role in the events of 1/6/21. Crucial questions here are how involved Trump was in the planning of the insurrection and what his intentions were when he sent the mob to the Capitol. CNN missed a big chance by not having Kaitlan Collins ask Trump ‘why did you encourage your followers to march on the Capitol and what did you expect them to do there?’ Chances are that Trump would have incriminated himself by admitting that he expected his goons to interfere with an official proceeding, the certification of the election results, a felony under US federal law. To top off the most recent events Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg today imposed a gag order on Trump in the Stormy Daniels hush money case. Trump is not allowed to publicly speak about any of the information the prosecutors will share with his lawyers. The lawyers who represent the Former Guy in this case are probably grateful for the order, and lawyers representing him in other cases may hope for a similar development, although that would probably come too late.


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