Here's the best summary of the Trump Hush Money trial we have seen | Eastern North Carolina Now

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Andrew Neil, writing for the Daily Mail, has one of the best summaries of the Hush Money trial of Donald Trump we have seen.  He writes:

Inside the court the closing arguments were treated with respect and silence. We didn't learn anything new but we were reminded of how much of a circus it's all been.

The prosecution has depended on probably the most untrustworthy witness, Michael Cohen, in American legal history.

The defense has denied events, like Trump's one-night fling with Stormy Daniels, which were not germane to the defendant's innocence or guilt but which undermined the defense's credibility.

Throughout it all, it remained something of a mystery exactly what crime Trump had committed, even for those who were following proceedings closely. This was a circus without a cause. But it has had plenty of pyrotechnics.

The trial will be forever remembered for the testimonies of Daniels and Cohen.

Daniels provided plenty prurient details of her hotel room encounter with Trump, which the media naturally lapped up but which were irrelevant to the charges against the former president.

Her testimony should not have been allowed but, because Trump was denying anything nefarious ever happened, she was allowed to get away with it. Trump's lawyers suffered for that.

Even so, the titillating testimony not withstanding, Daniels knew nothing about the crux of the case: the alleged reimbursement of Cohen after he paid her the hush money, and the falsifying of business documents to cover up these repayments to him.

This is why Cohen was the more important prosecution witness — because he knows about all these things — which was bad news for the prosecution.

In this particular circus, the porn star was more credible than the lawyer. Only in a Trump trial!

Cohen, once Trump's trusted attorney, took to the witness stand having already done jail time for illegal campaign contributions, tax fraud and other felonies. He also brought with him a reputation for being a serial liar and perjurer — not exactly the ideal witness around which to build a case against Trump.

Cohen proceeded to confirm everything bad already thought about him.

Perhaps the most emblematic moment came when he freely admitted stealing from Trump. Cohen had invoiced his boss's organization for $50,000 for a tech company. Cohen passed on $20,000 and pocketed the remaining $30,000.

Again, only in a Trump trial would the prosecution's star witness shamelessly admit to being a thief. You could almost hear the prosecution jaws hit the floor.

Understandably, the defense devoted most of its closing remarks to underline just what a shyster Cohen is.

That was the main reason federal prosecutors decided years ago not to proceed with this case. They didn't want to go into battle with Cohen as their main witness.

But Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg was elected on a 'get Trump' platform and doesn't really care who he has to rely on to convict him.

Amid the welter of words and commentary let's try to cut through to some simple truths:

I'm in little doubt Trump had his one-night stand with Stormy and that, when she threatened to go public on the eve of the 2016 election, he sanctioned Cohen to pay her off, then muddied the trail of repayments. I don't believe Trump's denials to the contrary and the evidence against him is strong.

But while much of this case is unsavory, none of it amounts to criminality.

It may be wrong but it is not illegal to have an extra-marital assignation and Trump would not be the first presidential candidate or president to have had one — not by a long chalk.

It is not illegal to pay hush-money, even if it is underhand.

It is not illegal to insist on a non-disclosure agreement in such circumstances. America is awash in NDAs.

It is illegal to falsify business documents but that is a misdemeanor under New York law, which usually results in a slap on the wrist and not jail time.

You can regard all this as conduct unbecoming for someone who wishes to sit in the Oval Office. You might even regard it as reason enough not to vote for him. But it does not amount to criminality.

And so, Bragg has had to argue that Trump falsified his business records with the intent to commit or conceal a crime. That's what would turn a misdemeanor into a felony (and potential jail time). But what exactly was the crime?

Even as the trial comes to an end, that is something the prosecution has failed to establish.

Bragg has suggested three possible underlying crimes: a violation of state election law; a violation of federal election law; and tax fraud/evasion.

The tax crime possibility seems especially weak. Cohen was reimbursed with far more than the $130,000 he was out for hushing Daniels because he would face income tax on the reimbursement. So he was repaid by enough to cover his tax bills too — grossed up in the jargon.

If anything, the taxman was a net gainer from the cover up.

Nor has a violation of election laws been established. Yes, it's reasonable to assume Trump wanted to bury the story to facilitate his election. Politicians try to bury bad news all the time.

The money didn't come from campaign contributions. It came from Trump's own resources. Yes, buying off the porn star might have helped Trump get elected. So might the state of the economy and Hilary Clinton's lackluster campaign.

It's a weak basis for claiming criminality, the prosecution has not proved an underlying criminal intent and I can see why the feds passed on it.

The jury will begin its deliberations after Judge Juan Merchan gives it his final instructions.

His words will be closely scrutinized. He is widely seen to have fallen over backwards to accommodate the prosecution and, if his instructions are in the same vein, the grounds for an appeal – should Trump be convicted – will be all the stronger.

If we are struggling to identify the criminality so will some in the jury. But Trump's biggest danger is not that he's found guilty on the facts but simply because the whole episode is seedy, sleazy and unedifying.

Porn stars. Dodgy lawyers. Hush money. Trashy tabloids. Fiddled company accounts. The mood music surrounding the whole farrago is Trump's biggest danger.

Trump, of course, could be acquitted. But that is unlikely with a New York jury.

He could be found guilty on all or most of the 34 counts against him (the number is misleading since it merely reflects the repayment of Cohen in instalments), which is possible. But any jail time is likely to be stayed pending appeal, which could take forever. Trump will be free to campaign through to November and beyond.

Or there could be a hung jury: it only takes one holdout for the judge to be forced to declare a mistrial.

Bragg will then have to decide if he really wants to go through the whole rigmarole again, by which time Trump could be in the White House.

So, whatever the outcome, the attempt to use the law to derail Trump's attempt to be re-elected looks like failing. There is no prospect of any of the other legal cases against him making court before November.

The New York case was the Democrats one shot and it was always their weakest — a circus which should never have been allowed to come to town.

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Big Bob said:
( May 30th, 2024 @ 12:16 am )
Little Marco! If you can’t trust that wimp, who can you trust?
( May 29th, 2024 @ 9:26 pm )
Here is another good summary but much shorter. Sen. Rubio says it is like the sham trials used in the Soviet Union against political opponents. He is spot on.
Big Bob said:
( May 29th, 2024 @ 2:51 pm )
Thanks for the pic!
( May 29th, 2024 @ 1:23 pm )
This is a column by a British newspaper columnist for the largest circulation newspaper in the UK, and is typical of foreign reporting. Imagine how this circus makes the US justice system look to foreign citizens.

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