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We All Agree Trump's Trials Would Be More Exciting If Mob Lawyer Roy Cohn Was Still His Consigliere

We All Learned A New Word For Trump: "Contemnor"



There was a moment of national relief yesterday when Judge Juan Merchan finally sanctioned Trump for contempt and fined him $9,000— the maximum $1,000 per instance of violating his gag order. Jonah Bromwich, in court covering the case for the NY Times, wrote that Merchan is keenly aware of, and protective of, Señor T’s First Amendment rights but nonetheless, he wrote that “he would not tolerate continued violations of his orders and that if necessary and appropriate, he would ‘impose an incarceratory sentence.’ In plain language, he is warning Trump that he will send him to jail if necessary.” Merchan wrote that “While $1,000 may suffice in most instances to protect the dignity of the judicial system… it unfortunately will not achieve the desired result in those instances where the contemnor can easily afford such a fine.” Because he can’t impose a fine of $2,500 or $150,000, “jail may be a necessary punishment.”


When he’s not asleep in court, Trump’s been bitching to everyone he knows about his lead attorney, Todd Blanche, kvetching that he’s not aggressive enough. Trump, wrote Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan, “griped that Blanche, a former federal prosecutor and veteran litigator, has not been following his instructions closely, and has been insufficiently aggressive. Trump wants him to attack witnesses, attack what the former president sees as a hostile jury pool, and attack the judge, Juan Merchan. Trump, who often complains about legal fees and sometimes refuses to pay them, has also wondered aloud why his lawyers cost so much, according to the people, who all spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive topic… Trump views himself as own best legal strategist. Since becoming president, he has cast about for lawyers who would do exactly what he wanted, including helping him stay in office after he lost the 2020 election. He has vented to others that he does not have “a Roy Cohn,” a reference to his notoriously ruthless former lawyer. Cohn [a Mafia lawyer], who represented Trump in his formative business years, was repeatedly indicted and ultimately disbarred.”


In his Atlantic column yesterday, Trump's Contempt Knows No Bounds, David Graham asserted that through “Trump has made his contempt for the court clear throughout his criminal trial,” the fines yesterday would likely be the last. “He declined to levy the most serious punishment available to him— namely, tossing Trump in jail— but also had scathing words for Trump’s excuses for violating the order.”


Merchan is the third judge in recent months to reckon with the challenge of Trump, a defendant who not only is furious that he’s being called to account for his actions and is openly disdainful of the rule of law, but also sees political advantage in attempting to provoke sanctions on himself. Give Trump too much latitude and he undermines the standing of the criminal-justice system; act too forcefully and it could reward his worst behavior.
Lewis Kaplan, the federal judge who handled civil suits brought by E. Jean Carroll, scolded Trump for his behavior from the bench but went no further. Justice Arthur Engoron, who oversaw a civil fraud case, repeatedly fined Trump and chided him, but also allowed him to hector the court in closing arguments. Merchan, like them, seems to be trying to control Trump without being drawn into hand-to-hand combat.
Trump has tested the bounds of Merchan’s gag order from the start. Ahead of the hearing last Wednesday to discuss the alleged violations, Trump sent histrionic emails to supporters. “ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE IN 24 HOURS!” he wrote. “Friend, in 24 hours, the hearing on my GAG ORDER will begin. I COULD BE THROWN IN JAIL AT THAT VERY MOMENT!” In another, he wrote, “MY FAREWELL MESSAGE— I HOPE THIS ISN’T GOODBYE!” During the hearing, prosecutors specifically said they were not seeking jail time at this point and accused Trump of “angling” for it.
…Trump’s lawyers raised a couple of defenses during last week’s contempt hearing. First, they argued that several of the instances cited by prosecutors were simply reposts of other content on Truth Social. Second, they argued that Trump had to be allowed some leeway to engage in political speech.
Merchan made clear at the time that he had little patience for these claims. When the defense attorney Todd Blanche said that Trump had a right to complain about “two systems of justice,” Merchan sharply objected: “There’s two systems of justice in this courtroom? That’s what you’re saying?” At another moment, he warned Blanche, “You’re losing all credibility with the court.”
With some room to elaborate in his ruling, Merchan found that contra the old Twitter saw, retweets do equal endorsements. “This Court finds that a repost, whether with or without commentary by the Defendant, is in fact a statement of the Defendant,” he wrote. Although he allowed that reposts might not always be deemed a statement of the poster, Merchan added, “It is counterintuitive and indeed absurd, to read the Expanded Order to not proscribe statements that Defendant intentionally selected and published to maximize exposure.”
As for the argument that Trump should be permitted political statements, Merchan wrote that “to allow such attacks upon protected witnesses with blanket assertions that they are all responses to ‘political attacks’ would be an exception that swallowed the rule.” But he defended his gag order as carefully written to deal with competing interests and took an opportunity to rebut charges of political bias against himself. He had “narrowly tailored” the order because “it is critically important that Defendant’s legitimate free speech rights not be curtailed,” he wrote, “and that he be able to respond and defend himself against political attacks.”
…Already, a second hearing on further allegations of contempt is scheduled for tomorrow in court. And as the judge noted, the paltry fines involved here are unlikely to deter Trump. Merchan clearly wants to avoid a long and intense fight with Trump, but the former president may give him no choice.

Trump’s lawyers have now forced Trump to remove the 9 offensive posts that violated the gag order. Blanche refuses to say whether or not he forced Trump to pay his fees up front as other Trump attorneys have in recent years. But Blanche is no idiot so, presumably, he's sone exactly that. Trump keeps whining to him that the sessions are too long and courtroom too cold, as though Blanche could shorten them and get the bailiff to turn up the heat.

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3 Comments


Guest
May 03

a grand here and there. even a day in jail or two? won't make any diff for that guy.

in the words of john wayne, "stupid should HURT".

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Let’s hope Blanche gets thrown under the bus like TFGs other attorneys. Let’s also hope the judge throws TFG in jail for a little while.

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Replying to

Can you imagine Trump acting as his own attorney? Can you imagine a few days in, Merchan demanding that he submit to a mental competency exam for his own protection to ensure he has adequate legal representation?

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