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What A Day: Acquitters never win

Former President Donald Trump departs Manhattan Criminal Court at the end of closing arguments, Tuesday, May 28, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, Pool)

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Former President Donald Trump departs Manhattan Criminal Court at the end of closing arguments, Tuesday, May 28, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson, Pool)

KIND OF A VERDICT MOVE

Disgraced former President Trump could be a convicted felon by this weekend. But a guilty verdict is far from assured — and, even then, a prison sentence remains uncertain.

  • Prosecutors and Trump’s defense lawyers delivered closing arguments on Tuesday before the 12 jurors who will now decide Trump’s criminal fate. Trump’s team argued the whole case rests on Michael Cohen, and that he’s a skeevy liar nobody can believe. Prosecutors countered: You don’t have to like Michael Cohen, but his story is backed up by this document (and this one…and THIS one….) We can’t know what the jury will do, or how fast they’ll deliberate. But if you’ve been waiting years for Trump to see the inside of a jail cell, the odds are you’ll probably have to defer gratification a while longer.

 

  • Trump is charged with 34 felony counts spanning 11 reimbursement payments to Michael Cohen. The jury has to consider and decide each charge separately. That means 34 separate verdicts. We’re likely to be waiting for a while on this deliberation. The jury could convict Trump across the board, or acquit him on all charges. But it’s also possible that they return a mix-and-match verdict. Guilty on some, acquitted on others, an inconclusive or “hung” verdict on others still. An acquittal on any charge means Trump defeats it forever. A “hung” jury means he can be retried for that charge. Any “guilty” verdicts put Justice Juan Merchan in control of Trump’s fate.

 

  • But the reality, as ever, is that Trump is no ordinary defendant…or, potentially, convict. If he loses, he’s sure to appeal. And while the judge could jail him pending that appeal, that’s super unlikely. An appeal will eat up more time until the election. If he wins the presidency, Trump’s sure to sue claiming that a sitting president can’t be jailed while in office. He’d be counting on the Supreme Court to back him up. And THAT could set up the nightmare authoritarian scenario: A president who’s awaiting jail the day his term ends. And that guy has NO incentive to ever leave office.

 

  • There’s no roadmap because all of this is unprecedented. In another first today, the Biden campaign actually showed up at the courthouse to attack their opponent. The campaign dispatched Robert De Niro — a celebrity surrogate who knows a thing or two about wanna-be tough guys and showbiz mobsters — along with former police officers Michael Fanone and Harry Dunn, who talked about the Trump-inflicted violence of Jan. 6. This is new: Biden has avoided any comment or messaging around Trump’s legal problems. The White House is signaling that Joe Biden himself will speak out publicly after the verdict.

If Trump’s convicted, he’ll be a first-time offender with low-level felonies. Jail (several months or a year?) is possible, but so is house arrest or community service. Will Trump wind up in a  jumpsuit picking up trash in Central Park just steps from Trump Tower?

NEWS NEWS NEWS

Former South Carolina Gov. and GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley did a PR tour in Israel, where she signed “finish them!” on IDF artillery shells. A gross and crass gesture — and yet the moment also served up a lesson in the ease of spreading misinformation. This tweet accusing Haley of signing shells about to fall on Rafah, a city filled with Palestinian civilians, was viewed 3.5 million times and retweeted by prominent figures on the left. Haley was in fact on Israel’s northern border, where Israel is fighting Iran-backed Hezbollah. Either way, still pretty bad!

Special Counsel Jack Smith’s attempt to gag Trump was denied by the Trump-appointed judge overseeing the Mar-a-Lago documents case. Smith sought the order to stop Trump from telling brazen lies about a supposed FBI plot to assassinate Trump.

Trump endorsed Rep. Bob Good’s (R-VA) primary opponent, saying Good is “BAD FOR VIRGINIA AND BAD FOR THE USA!” That’s especially bad for Good (sorry, we had to), considering he’s the chair of the MAGA-boosting House Freedom Caucus, and went all the way to Manhattan with other Trump sycophants last week to shill for the boss!

Former U.S. Capitol Police are starting to fan out to swing states for Joe Biden. Officers Sgt. Aquilino Gonell and Harry Dunn, who both fought rioters on Jan. 6, will appear in Nevada for Biden on Wednesday to talk about defending democracy and law enforcement. Cops4Biden lol okay we’ll take it?

MAGA Republicans in Wisconsin are launching a second attempt to recall the Republican Speaker of the state assembly, Robin Vos. Organizers, including a former state Supreme Court Justice Vos appointed to investigate stolen election conspiracy theories, are angry that the speaker refused to impeach the chair of Wisconsin’s elections commission.

Supporters of the Jan. 6 riot tried to drive a memorial stone honoring rioters who died at the Capitol through Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day. The stone honored QAnon conspiracy theorist and insurrectionist Ashli Babbitt — who was killed by Capitol Police after breaking into the building — and others. The supporters were stopped by cemetery personnel.

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