Trump's Odds Of Getting Conviction Reversed | Crooked Media
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June 16, 2024
What A Day
Trump's Odds Of Getting Conviction Reversed

In This Episode

  • Former President Donald Trump has vowed to appeal his criminal conviction on 34 counts of falsifying business records to sway the 2016 election. His sentencing is scheduled for July 11, just a few days before the Republican National Convention. Trump and his attorneys claim that the case was impermissibly flawed and that his constitutional rights were violated. Legal experts have raised possible issues for appeal, which run the gamut and include the charging scheme, the case venue, jury instructions, and evidentiary issues. Political reporter Sonam Sheth explains why Trump may have a shot at a successful appeal.
  • And in headlines: Ukraine and Western leaders have rejected a ceasefire plan floated by Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine, a wildfire in Los Angeles County burned more than 12,000 acres in a day while much of the rest of the country baked under a heat dome, and Kate Middleton made her first public appearance since announcing her cancer diagnosis.


Show Notes:



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Tre’vell Anderson: It’s Monday, June 17th. I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And I’m Josie Duffy Rice and this is What a Day where we are anticipating next week’s debate already because the mudslinging has already begun. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Over the weekend, at a fundraising event in Hollywood, President Biden said about Trump, quote, “I could have done nothing and done better than him.” 


Josie Duffy Rice: And it seems the jokes are working because the campaign raised $30 million at the event. 


Tre’vell Anderson: He’s going to need as much money as possible. So let’s go. Rake it in. [music break]  On today’s show, the Israel Defense Force announces a pause in fighting in Gaza to allow aid deliveries. Plus, a heat dome will bring record breaking temperatures across the country this week and other major weather events. 


Josie Duffy Rice: But first, former President Donald Trump is awaiting sentencing on July 11th in his hush money case after being found guilty of 34 felony charges of falsifying business records to sway the 2016 election. He was convicted in Manhattan Criminal Court last month. The question now, however, is whether that conviction will even stand. After the verdict was announced, Trump immediately vowed to appeal the case. 


[clip of Donald Trump] So we’re going to be appealing this scam. We’re going to be appealing it on many different things. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Trump and his attorneys claim that the trial was impermissibly flawed and that his constitutional rights were violated. Experts have raised possible issues for appeal which run the gamut and include the charging scheme, the case venue, jury instructions, and evidentiary issues, among others. 


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m sure they are throwing whatever they can against the wall to see what sticks here. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah, completely. And so to find out if the conviction stands a real shot at being overturned and whether or not that would affect the election. I talked to Sonam Sheth. She is a political reporter covering Trump’s various legal cases. I started by asking Sonam and what her reporting tells us about the former president’s odds of reversing his conviction on appeal. 


Sonam Sheth: Credible lawyers pretty much across the political spectrum in the mainstream, agree that the most likely scenario here is that Trump’s conviction will be upheld. But what I did find is that there is a pretty sizable minority of legal experts who don’t love the former president, but who think that he has a surprisingly large chance of overturning his conviction. One of those lawyers is Ty Cobb, who worked in Trump’s White House from 2017 to 2018 during the Russia investigation but has since become a pretty vocal Trump critic. For example, he recently signed on to a Supreme Court brief arguing that Trump’s absolute immunity claim should not be granted by the Supreme Court. He’s also never voted for Trump, and he recently told The Washington Post that he would vote for Biden in November if that’s what’s required to stop Trump. So obviously he’s no fan. But Ty Cobb told me that he thinks the odds of Trump overturning his conviction are as high as 35 to 40%. So here’s what he said. 


[clip of Ty Cobb] I think there’s a very good chance that this could be overturned. Most appellate cases have less than a 5% chance of being overturned. I think this case is in the 35 to 40% chance of being overturned. Uh. It’s not a sure thing, but there are a host of issues. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Okay. So obviously there are some people who believe that him overturning this conviction is possible. Who else is saying this? Like, we have some lawyers. Are there other people who really kind of believe that this could happen? 


Sonam Sheth: Yeah. So in addition to Ty, I also spoke to a lawyer who works in Joe Biden’s Department of Justice, who is also a former prosecutor. This person asked not to be named um because he is not publicly authorized to speak on the case. But he agreed with Cobb. And he also put Trump’s odds of getting the conviction reversed at 40%. I’d also note that neither this person nor the Justice Department had anything to do with the case that was brought against Trump in New York. What this person told me was their independent judgment. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Is the argument here that Trump is innocent or like what kind of is the basis for this belief that it would be overturned?


Sonam Sheth: That’s a really important distinction to make. Um. My DOJ source actually emphasized that just because Trump has a chance at winning on appeal, doesn’t mean that he didn’t do the things that he’s accused of. Basically, the argument that this person and that Ty Cobb made is that there are certain legal technicalities related to how the case proceeded in court and how the jury was instructed that Trump’s team could point to as far as saying that his conviction was not constitutional or the way that the conviction was reached was not constitutional. These people told me that Trump’s strongest arguments relate to a few things. So one of them is the theory that prosecutors relied on in order to turn 34 misdemeanor counts of falsifying records into 34 felony counts. Beyond that, they also presented three different theories to the jury in order to prove their case. And the judge who was overseeing this case said that jurors didn’t have to agree on a singular theory to reach a conviction, so they didn’t have to agree on a specific way that Trump may have violated the law in order to say that he was guilty. So Trump’s lawyers can point to this, according to my sources, and argue that the jury may have been confused and didn’t know which theory they were convicting Trump on. 


[clip of Ty Cobb] While the jury did its duty and did an excellent job with what they were given, two things can be true. The jury can have gotten it right as they were instructed, but they may have been instructed in a way that was unconstitutional, which I think is a compelling argument. 


Josie Duffy Rice: So there are some people who think he has a case for getting his conviction overturned, obviously. What about the other side? What are those lawyers saying? People who think that this is a strong conviction that really doesn’t have a chance on appeal. 


Sonam Sheth: You know, a lot of other lawyers, most other lawyers disagree with them strongly. I also spoke to Rebecca Roiphe, who is a former Manhattan D.A. prosecutor, who told us that the odds of Trump getting his conviction reversed are low. She also thinks that the argument that the jury should have been unanimous on a singular theory is quote, “a dead end.” I also spoke to Harry Sandick, who is a former prosecutor from the Southern District of New York, the Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s Office, who told us, you know, that while it’s true that some convictions are reversed, the majority of them are upheld. And so from that lens, he thinks that 40% is too high a chance. 


Josie Duffy Rice: What about timing here? Like, obviously we have an election coming up. Is there really any chance that this is overturned before the election? 


Sonam Sheth: No, there’s almost no chance. Trump will almost certainly still be a convicted felon by the time we reach Election Day in November. From a scheduling and a timing perspective, the next thing that’s going to happen is Trump’s sentencing hearing on July 11th. After that, Trump will probably try to get the fastest appeal that he can, but pretty much no one thinks that he’s going to get a ruling on this before the election. 


Josie Duffy Rice: That was my conversation with Sonam Sheth, a political reporter covering Trump’s various legal cases. We’ll keep you posted on Trump’s attempts to appeal the verdict. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Thank you for that, Josie. That is the latest for now. We’ll get to some headlines in a moment. But if you like our show, make sure to subscribe and share it with your friends. We’ll be back after some ads. [music break]




Josie Duffy Rice: Now let’s wrap up with some headlines. 


[sung] Headlines. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Ukraine and Western leaders have rejected a cease fire plan floated by Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war in Ukraine. Putin presented his plan on Friday. He called on Ukraine to withdraw troops from the four regions in east and south Ukraine that Moscow illegally annexed in 2022, and also renounced plans to join NATO, among other demands. The annexation was a power move to show the West that Russia would not back down. Ukrainian officials dismissed the proposal almost immediately. President Volodymyr Zelensky called the plan, quote, “an ultimatum,” and compared it to Hitler’s march across Europe before the outbreak of World War Two. Italy’s prime minister and Germany’s chancellor also denounced the plan. They were among officials from around 90 countries who gathered in Switzerland over the weekend for a peace summit organized by Ukraine to discuss ways to end the war. Russia was not invited, and most of the attending countries signed on to a joint statement Sunday calling for, quote, “dialog between all parties,” but offered no specifics on how Ukraine and Russia could even begin to negotiate peace. 


Tre’vell Anderson: The Israeli military announced on Sunday that it would pause fighting in the daytime hours, so that more humanitarian aid can reach Palestinian civilians. The designated area is a route of about seven miles near Rafah. Fighting will be paused from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time. According to the Israeli military, aid trucks will be able to pass the Israel controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, increasing the amount of aid to parts of the region like Khan Yunis in central Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has publicly opposed these plans to pause the fighting, but according to The New York Times, analysts say that the prime minister likely knew about these plans in private and is tailoring his response to different audiences. The announcement of this pause came on the first day of the Islamic holiday, Eid Al-Adha. Meanwhile, the Israeli military made it clear that its priority is still the operation in Rafah. Fighting has also ramped up between Israel and the Iran backed group Hezbollah recently. Over the weekend, Israel launched a fire weapon into Lebanon. The device, which looks like a catapult, has hardly been used since the 16th century. 


Josie Duffy Rice: A wildfire in Los Angeles County burned more than 12,000 acres within a day of its start on Saturday. The blaze, which has been named the Post fire, has prompted the evacuation of around 1200 people in Hungry Valley Park, just north of Los Angeles. The National Weather Service issued a warning for I-5, the major California highway running through the state’s Central Valley. Weather conditions are making it difficult to fight the fire with high winds and low humidity. Meanwhile, a heat dome is driving temperatures up across much of the Midwest and Northeast this week, in the first significant heatwave so far this year. Scorching temperatures above 90 degrees are expected in major cities in the coming days, including Chicago, D.C. and Saint Louis. 


Tre’vell Anderson: And finally, some news from across the pond. Kate Middleton made her first official public appearance since late last year. In March, Middleton said she would be stepping away from her public duties while she receives chemotherapy treatment for an unspecified form of cancer. The Princess of Wales was spotted at Buckingham Palace during the Trooping the Colour parade on Saturday, an annual occasion celebrating King Charles the third’s birthday. Now his actual birthday is in November, but British monarchs traditionally host a second birthday celebration in the summer, with public festivities throughout London. Middleton was seated with her husband, Prince William, and their three children. She released a statement ahead of the parade detailing her plans to attend. She wrote, quote, “I am making good progress. But as anyone going through chemotherapy will know, there are good days and bad days.” She also said that she has a quote, “few more months of treatment ahead of her.” 


Josie Duffy Rice: Perhaps the fact that she was seen publicly can quell some of the conspiracy theories that really made headway on social media. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Well, hopefully they will not be saying those things anymore. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. And those are the headlines. 




Tre’vell Anderson: That is all for today. If you like the show, make sure you subscribe. Leave a review. Celebrate your birthday twice a year and tell your friends to listen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: And if you are into reading and not just the latest warnings from the National Weather Service like me, What a Day is also a nightly newsletter, so check it out and subscribe at I’m Josie Duffy Rice.


Tre’vell Anderson: I’m Tre’vell Anderson. 


[spoken together] And stay cool out there. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Listen. Okay. Find you a tree with a whole lot of shade. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Hell, you might just want to stay inside with the AC. Okay. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Yeah. If you’re outside, you got to find a watering hole. Got to get a hat. You have to wear sunscreen. 


Tre’vell Anderson: Yes. Even Black people. You have to wear sunscreen. 


Josie Duffy Rice: Correct. [music break]


Tre’vell Anderson: What a Day is a production of Crooked Media. It’s recorded and mixed by Bill Lancz. Our associate producers are Raven Yamamoto and Natalie Bettendorf. We had production help today from Michell Eloy, Greg Walters, and Julia Claire. Our showrunner is Erica Morrison, and our executive producer is Adriene Hill. Our theme music is by Colin Gilliard and Kashaka.