The People v. Donald J. Trump
November 13, 2020 11:52 AM   Subscribe

The criminal case against him is already in the works — and it could go to trial sooner than you think. To assess the odds that he will end up on trial, and how the proceedings would unfold, I spoke with some of the country’s top prosecutors, defense attorneys, and legal scholars. For the past four years, they have been weighing the case against Trump: the evidence already gathered, the witnesses prepared to testify, the political and constitutional issues involved in prosecuting an ex-president. Once he leaves office, they agree, there is good reason to think Trump will face criminal charges. posted by Ahmad Khani (185 comments total) 91 users marked this as a favorite
 
Pornography on the front page of Metafilter. My goodness.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:57 AM on November 13 [163 favorites]


Love the simultaneous “seems like a coup might be happening” discourse and truly orgasmic stories of this one small bit of justice being done coexisting at the same time. What a time to be alive.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:03 PM on November 13 [20 favorites]


LOCK HIM UP
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:05 PM on November 13 [25 favorites]


2020 isn't over, yet.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 12:06 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


And given the convictions that have been handed down against many of Trump’s top advisers, there’s reason to believe that even pro-Trump jurors can be persuaded to convict him. “The evidence was overwhelming,” concluded one MAGA supporter who served on the jury that convicted Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman. “I did not want [him] to be guilty. But he was, and no one is above the law.”

I'd like to believe this, but I also think that most MAGA supporters feel more strongly about him than about his staff.
posted by bassooner at 12:06 PM on November 13 [32 favorites]


I feel like I can't get my hopes up until late January. I don't know the ramifications if he blanket pardons everyone who could be called as a witness against him.
posted by BrotherCaine at 12:06 PM on November 13 [6 favorites]


LOCK HIM UP subject him to an unbiased investigation and the due process of law which based on his publicly known actions I believe has a good chance of leading to imprisonment
posted by allegedly at 12:08 PM on November 13 [111 favorites]


I hope he faces of a jury of his pee-ers.
posted by Joey Michaels at 12:09 PM on November 13 [16 favorites]


I’ve got a hard on. Is this how cybersex works?
posted by floam at 12:16 PM on November 13 [5 favorites]


Half seriously, I think no one should be writing or talking publicly about this. The more we talk out loud about his potential legal perils, the more likely he is to resort to desperate measures. Let's give him a soothing two months, the way Geraldo did today, and ease him out the door. Then the next day let the (socially distanced) squad of process servers appear at his door.
posted by PhineasGage at 12:18 PM on November 13 [72 favorites]


I live in Canada, so my perspective is somewhat different. But my unrealistic hope is that all the facts finally come out. For example, I hope that we discover, once and for all, whether the Russians had leverage on anybody.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 12:18 PM on November 13 [13 favorites]


Let's see ol' Donnie Trump wriggle his way out of this one
posted by Sokka shot first at 12:19 PM on November 13 [22 favorites]


I don't know the ramifications if he blanket pardons everyone who could be called as a witness against him.

To quote the article:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he issues a broad, sweeping pardon for any U.S. citizen who was a subject, a target, or a person of interest of the Mueller investigation,” says Norm Eisen, who served as counsel to House Democrats during Trump’s impeachment. Since scholars are divided on whether a self-pardon would be constitutional, what happens next would depend almost entirely on which judge ruled on the issue. “One judge might say, ‘Sorry, presidential pardons is something the Constitution grants exclusively to the president, so I’m going to dismiss this,’ ” says Gershman. “Another judge might say, ‘No, the president can’t pardon himself.’ ” Either way, the case would almost certainly wind up getting litigated all the way to the Supreme Court, perhaps more than once, causing a long delay.
He’s an older, obese American who will suffer from the long-term ramifications of getting COVID, so there’s something of harder limit than the statute of limitations on the clock.
posted by Going To Maine at 12:20 PM on November 13 [14 favorites]


There is a reason I will not ever run for a leadership position. One is that I am half inclined to, in exchange for his conceding and shutting the fuck up, offer him a ten-minute head start on January 20.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:20 PM on November 13 [9 favorites]


And like Sokka shot first, I feel like Trump has been able to fuck everyone over effectively enough to get out of this somehow. He was even able to fuck over COVID. People like him live to be old as hell.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:23 PM on November 13 [11 favorites]


Meh. As is his way, he'll just throw an infinite army of lawyers to drag things out forever, contesting every breath the prosecution takes. He'll die a lonely, angry mango down in Mar-a-Lago before he even steps a toe inside a courtroom.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:28 PM on November 13 [17 favorites]


It's good to want things.
posted by Iris Gambol at 12:32 PM on November 13 [21 favorites]


subject him to an unbiased investigation and the due process of law which based on his publicly known actions I believe has a good chance of leading to imprisonment

Indict him, subject him to a bail hearing, and argue that he's a considerable flight risk.

LOCK HIM UP.
posted by explosion at 12:34 PM on November 13 [16 favorites]


Half seriously, I think no one should be writing or talking publicly about this. The more we talk out loud about his potential legal perils, the more likely he is to resort to desperate measures.

Historically, appeasement has not been a good strategy with fascists.
posted by axiom at 12:35 PM on November 13 [45 favorites]


He's going to pardon himself and everyone around him like Michael Scott declared bankruptcy
posted by photoslob at 12:37 PM on November 13 [7 favorites]


You really think that the US will set a precedent of charging ex-presidents with crimes? Betting against the standard "it's time to look forward not back" playbook?

I admire people with the ability to maintain that level of optimism during 2020, it's inspirational.
posted by Infracanophile at 12:37 PM on November 13 [49 favorites]


STOP SPOOKING THE PERP HE STILL HAS HOSTAGES
posted by lalochezia at 12:37 PM on November 13 [83 favorites]


I just happened to get a "verify your eligibility for jury duty" in NYC, and I had a brief moment of "WHAT IF" before realizing that my comment history here would almost certainly disqualify me from serving on a jury in a Trump trial.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:38 PM on November 13 [21 favorites]


he's a considerable flight risk

Former presidents get a security detail for life, no? That makes it hard to disappear. They could be dismissed, but if there's one former president that there might be a mob hit out on, this one's pretty well up there. Also, this former US president is too vain to disappear: except perhaps to a luxury dacha in Russia.
posted by scruss at 12:39 PM on November 13 [7 favorites]


You really think that the US will set a precedent of charging ex-presidents with crimes?

"The US"? I don't know. New York State? Sure. Why wouldn't they? Lots of people stand to gain politically from doing so. Cuomo for one.
posted by showbiz_liz at 12:41 PM on November 13 [20 favorites]


LOCK HIM UP

Please don't say this. Choruses mindlessly repeating Trumpisms (even "ironically") is something I want to see go away as soon as possible. One of Trump's greatest strengths was the way he dragged the dialog down to his level, which is the only level he can win on.
posted by mark k at 12:44 PM on November 13 [110 favorites]


I read the McSweeney's thing for like half an hour before realizing I was still in early 2017.
posted by jquinby at 12:47 PM on November 13 [17 favorites]


I'll be very disappointed if Trump's trial is not preceded by Trump's attempted escape from justice -- similar to the OJ thing but much longer and more complicated and international in scope, weeks and months of TRUMP ON THE RUN. It will be a TV show obviously. I've seen it already in my dreams.
posted by philip-random at 12:57 PM on November 13 [8 favorites]


Appeasement? Gee, axiom, nice of you to quote out of context. Please read the rest of my comment, wondering if we should talk quietly just for a short while before dropping the full weight of the law on the Toddler Tyrant. This country is in a hostage situation. Let's gently talk the guy out of the house first, and then toss him in the back of the squad car.
posted by PhineasGage at 1:00 PM on November 13 [10 favorites]


[insert Hawkeye Don't Give Me Hope meme]
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 1:01 PM on November 13 [6 favorites]


Trump's attempted escape from justice

It would be like McAfee's flight: ultimately undone by his need for an audience.
posted by fatbird at 1:01 PM on November 13 [17 favorites]


I wasn't joking, I think trying to be civil or cajoling with these motherfuckers just normalizes their behavior more. It has the same flaw that appeasement had with the Nazis: if you give them an inch they'll take a mile. Someone somewhere will ask, well if he's so bad, why did they wait until X to do something about it? And the longer that the tip-toeing around them continues, the more of those people there will be. I think there needs to be a sharp and full-throated rebuke. I don't believe the same folks who booked a presser at Four Seasons Total Landscaping are capable of a coup.
posted by axiom at 1:06 PM on November 13 [13 favorites]


Surely these...
posted by Foosnark at 1:12 PM on November 13 [3 favorites]


You really think that the US will set a precedent of charging ex-presidents with crimes?

“The US”? I don't know. New York State? Sure. Why wouldn't they? Lots of people stand to gain politically from doing so. Cuomo for one.

These wheels are already turning, and its worth noting that NY has already banned the Trumps from running charities because of their foundation fraud. (Maybe I’m getting that detail wrong? There’s so much crime!) The states are the laboratories of democracy, hooray.

I wasn't joking, I think trying to be civil or cajoling with these motherfuckers just normalizes their behavior more.

I always find this framing a bit difficult because “these motherfuckers” means a lot of different people, in the same way that “the media” includes press that covered the current situation well and press that covered it badly. President Trump is in power, and reading about how he could shoot the hostages may well make him shoot the hostages. But, as seems more important - I’d rather live in a country where we could express our true feelings openly, and I don’t think anyone is turning to MetaFilter to plan actual tactics, so: yes! Please lock him up sooner, and leave it to the state AGs to try their best to gget it done.
posted by Going To Maine at 1:14 PM on November 13 [9 favorites]


A federal pardon doesn't prevent him from a state government charging him and his family with a crime.

And right now, New York State is looking into a couple of cases - and one of the people behind those cases is New York State's Attorney General Letitia James, who earlier this year made waves for filing a suit to dissolve the NRA.

She's also been developing a "long list" of ways that the Biden administration could undo Trump's actions, and has already expressed interest in working with them.

She was my city council rep before she became the AG, and she is badass, and she will strike in January, and I cannot freakin' wait.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:31 PM on November 13 [85 favorites]


She was my city council rep before she became the AG

Me too! I've been a bit envious of my friends in Queens who get to tell friends back home "I voted for AOC" - now maybe soon Tish James will be a household name and I'll get to say I voted for her way back when.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:43 PM on November 13 [4 favorites]


AITA for wanting to write lyrics about T's legal woes to the Scots tune "Johnnie Cope"? ("Trump tweeted insults near and far...")
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 1:49 PM on November 13 [4 favorites]


A federal pardon doesn't prevent him from a state government charging him and his family with a crime.

Nor does it stop Scotland from charging him with a crime, which is apparently now a thing as well.
posted by jmauro at 1:58 PM on November 13 [21 favorites]


Right now an inquiry is being 'urged,' and it's been 'urged' before. (I vaguely recall Scotland was looking into Russians laundering money a couple of years ago, and shining a light on Trump's golf business would seem to naturally follow.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:06 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


From the first link: constitutional onanism.

Heh.

*choke*

If he leaves the country or not, he can reveal so much about what, how and how much and what information has been gathered by Russian penetration of American intelligence services -- a frightening security breach of enormous proportions.
posted by y2karl at 2:09 PM on November 13 [4 favorites]


Even if governments around the world don't end up pursuing charges against Trump he has at least two defamation lawsuits outstanding and those plaintiffs are unlikely to drop their cases.
posted by Mitheral at 2:10 PM on November 13 [2 favorites]


You know what they say about wrestling with a pig...
posted by panama joe at 2:10 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


These fantasies are from a completely different reality where the purpose of the criminal legal system is related to justice, and where the rich and powerful are subject to that justice. Christ they didn't prosecute Bush and I'm to believe Trump will see serious consequences? 72 million people voted for him this election, and a good portion of those people think there's some conspiracy of elites against him. If the law acted in a manner in complete contradiction to all previous American history by sending a rich man to prison for lying and not paying his taxes, that would probably be correct.
posted by jy4m at 2:10 PM on November 13 [15 favorites]


Nor does it stop Scotland from charging him with a crime, which is apparently now a thing as well.

Well, that would be magnificent. I've already had an American friend apologising to me that Trump might spend more time here in Scotland once he's no longer President. It would be truly something if that was because he ended up moving into the great Bar-L.
posted by penguin pie at 2:11 PM on November 13 [2 favorites]


For all of the people saying, "Do you really think they..." Yes I do. The SDNY hasn't spent all of this time and money just to toss it all in the trash and walk away.
posted by Splunge at 2:16 PM on November 13 [8 favorites]


y2karl, WaPo ran "National Security: As an ex-president, Trump could disclose the secrets he learned while in office, current and former officials fear" on Nov. 10 (cached link). (The former officials are named and quoted.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 2:17 PM on November 13 [4 favorites]


Christ they didn't prosecute Bush and I'm to believe Trump will see serious consequences?

This is a sincere question - what are the crimes you would charge Bush with?

I have a feeling you're thinking of the war crimes, and I agree he committed them. However, I don't think that Bush failing to have been charged is a function of lack-of-justice in the way you're thinking - I think it's simply a matter of how assembling the evidence for such a case is simply a greater magnitude more difficult. One of the reasons why things are moving so much faster with Trump is because the dude has left that much more evidence in his wake.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:20 PM on November 13 [27 favorites]


For all of the people saying, "Do you really think they..." Yes I do. The SDNY hasn't spent all of this time and money just to toss it all in the trash and walk away.

SDNY is an office of the federal DOJ. They are not going to file charges against Trump. But maybe they can share their materials with the State of NY?
posted by suelac at 2:21 PM on November 13 [2 favorites]


I don't know that I buy the idea that Trump paid enough attention in security briefings to reveal any secrets, or that if he did, he didn't just blab them on Twitter the next day.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:23 PM on November 13 [12 favorites]


"As is his way, he'll just throw an infinite army of lawyers to drag things out forever, contesting every breath the prosecution takes."

The thing is, he's running out of lawyers who will work for him. The top-shelf firms who are still taking the election cases are doing so because they know the RNC will pay -- but even at those firms, people are expressing uneasiness, because filing meritless cases is an ethical violation, and sooner or later they're going to run up against a judge who hands down sanctions for shitty-ass ethically-questionable lawyering.

But Trump is well-known for stiffing law firms. And firms that work with him lose other clients, who refuse to work with a firm that represents Trump. Sometimes they lose rainmaking partners, who quit the firm rather than work for Trump.

Keeping the RNC happy is one thing, and a relationship that can last beyond the current administration (although, obviously, WHY WOULD YOU WANT TO?). But the RNC pays bills and has ongoing legal needs and provides access to federal appointments. And, sure, representing the President -- even a terrible president -- has some upsides.

But representing Donald J. Trump, ex-president, most loathed man in America, with clear evidence of multiple state crimes already public record? And loooooooots still to come out about taxes but that will doubtless involve felonies? Who doesn't pay lawyers, and is about to go hugely bankrupt? Who demands his lawyers behave in unethical ways that already got one disbarred? Who can't keep his fucking mouth shut and would be the worst witness in the history of the world if he were put on the stand?

What's the upside?

I think NY will charge him before the Fourth of July, honestly. I don't know if he'll live long enough to go to prison, but NY can prove misdemeanor falsification of business records just from what's already public, and I'm 100% positive that with his taxes in hand or bank documents subpoenaed, they'll have felony fraud related to the falsification of business records. Moreover, there are accountants and lawyers involved who are already cooperating with investigators, whose choices right now are "go to prison for lying on these documents" or "sing like a little birdie about what Trump told you to do so we can prove intent."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:23 PM on November 13 [66 favorites]


Right now an inquiry is being 'urged,' and it's been 'urged' before. (I vaguely recall Scotland was looking into Russians laundering money a couple of years ago, and shining a light on Trump's golf business would seem to naturally follow.)

I vaguely recall that they didn't want to look too hard into it while he was a sitting President and investigations since then in the US have turned up evidence that things aren't on the up and up (i.e. books reported to the US don't match the books reported to the UK), probably makes the investigation more likely once he leaves office.
posted by jmauro at 2:31 PM on November 13 [2 favorites]


Oh, also, my husband did white collar crime defense for a while, and it suuuuuuuucks, because most* white collar criminals don't think they did anything wrong. And you can coach them and coach them and coach them, but they think they're smarter than everyone else, and they don't think they did anything wrong, so they're on the witness stand and the prosecutor just says, "So you falsified the numbers on this filing?" and the White Collar Criminal is like, "Yes, BUT I HAD A REALLY GOOD REASON," and then goes on to explain a) why he felt the rules didn't apply to him and b) exactly how he broke them, but c) why that's OKAY because he had a REALLY GOOD REASON.

White collar criminals honestly think once a jury understands their self-justification for committing crimes, the jury won't convict them. Because they knew the rules, and they knew it was against the rules, but they weren't committing a CRIME; crime is something bad people do, and they had a really good reason!

Trump is obviously, obviously that guy, in spades. He can't shut up, he can't stick to a script, and he thinks he just OUTSMARTED the rules, and that that's praiseworthy, not a crime.

*(Most white-collar crime is really penny-ante embezzlement and petty fraud type stuff, rather than gigantic Enron stuff.)

(My husband honestly preferred when he'd get the drug-dealing sons of corporate clients that the firm took on as a favor to a big corporate honcho, because drug dealers understand they're up shit creek and follow their lawyer's fucking directions in court. White collar criminals, because they're sure they're smarter than everyone else but most especially the prosecutor, just. can't. do. it.)

posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:43 PM on November 13 [140 favorites]


If the law acted in a manner in complete contradiction to all previous American history by sending a rich man to prison for lying and not paying his taxes, that would probably be correct.

My default response to this argument: The Rich White Guy Bargain is that you do what you want in office against other countries, and when you leave office you go do speeches and make some money and don't rock the boat. In return we will never send you to the Hague and you get a library. But Trump is not a regular politician and he is incapable of shutting up and keeping his part of the bargain. He will probably be getting investigated by the secret service for inciting violence against a sitting president while he himself has secret service protection.
posted by benzenedream at 2:45 PM on November 13 [19 favorites]


His ignorance may be the best counterweight to the risk he poses.

Well, that is cold comfort, Iris Gambol -- cold enough into which one could store Pfizer's coronavirus vaccine.
posted by y2karl at 2:50 PM on November 13 [4 favorites]


Is there an actual statute that would prevent him from running for president in '24 as an incarcerated felon? Then if he wins does presidential immunity allow him out (on good, non-tweeting, behavior perhaps) to serve under (white) house arrest for those years?
posted by sammyo at 2:51 PM on November 13


No, felons can run for office. (They just can't vote in a lot of places.) But it's really hard to manage a campaign from behind bars. And Donnie Two-Scoops doesn't want to "become president again"; he hates the job. He wants rallies and campaign visits and crowds cheering for him - which he can't get from prison.

As fanatic as his followers are, they're not going to increase enthusiasm for a candidate who wears an orange jumpsuit and whose only speeches are recorded on a phone in 5-minute visits with a lawyer.

Oh, and once he's out of office, Twitter's claim that "he's an elected official and therefore immune to the TOS" goes away. I hope someone's archived his tweets, because there's going to be a push to delete all of them and close the account. If nothing else, there'll be a push for Twitter to lose its safe harbor provisions by selecting some accounts to be exempt from the TOS, and with a different administration, that might get results.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:56 PM on November 13 [3 favorites]


Twitter's claim that "he's an elected official and therefore immune to the TOS" goes away

If I recall they literally made this rule for him, so I am not hopeful that they will suddenly turn on him once he leaves office.
posted by Literaryhero at 3:00 PM on November 13 [4 favorites]


As fanatic as his followers are, they're not going to increase enthusiasm for a candidate who wears an orange ...

cough, orange seems to hypnotize them ;-)
posted by sammyo at 3:15 PM on November 13 [3 favorites]


White collar criminals honestly think once a jury understands their self-justification for committing crimes, the jury won't convict them. Because they knew the rules, and they knew it was against the rules, but they weren't committing a CRIME; crime is something bad people do, and they had a really good reason!

Statistically, in any jury of 12 Americans, 3 have already voiced approval for exactly that argument in regard to this defendant's many other well-documented crimes.
posted by bjrubble at 3:19 PM on November 13 [4 favorites]


> Is there an actual statute that would prevent him from running for president in '24 as an incarcerated felon?

in 1920 eugene debs ran for president on the socialist party ticket, despite being in prison for sedition. however, it goes without saying that there are certain key differences between debs and trump, chief among them that debs was awesome and trump sucks.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:22 PM on November 13 [44 favorites]


Trump has spent his entire life evading justice one way or another in that special way only very rich can. There is an excellent chance he'll just keep on doing that, and his supporters will keep cheering him on as if he were a legal Bugs Bunny or some such shit.
posted by JHarris at 3:22 PM on November 13 [6 favorites]


Even if Trump himself manages to avoid punishment by either exile or the sweet release of death, I expect his large, adult children will also be looking at the inside of a jail cell in the near future. Along with Jared Kushner.
posted by SansPoint at 3:23 PM on November 13 [4 favorites]


Oh shit, the instant a criminal trial is floated jury nullification is going to be all over the right-wing media, isn't it? There goes what's left of an independent judiciary.
posted by bjrubble at 3:28 PM on November 13 [4 favorites]


White collar criminals honestly think once a jury understands their self-justification for committing crimes, the jury won't convict them. Because they knew the rules, and they knew it was against the rules, but they weren't committing a CRIME; crime is something bad people do, and they had a really good reason!

Statistically, in any jury of 12 Americans, 3 have already voiced approval for exactly that argument in regard to this defendant's many other well-documented crimes.


That's a lot less true in, say, New York county; there Trump earned less than 15% of the votes (with roughly 50% turnout). On 40% of 12 member juries randomly chosen from the registered voters, there would be no Trump voters. A further 40% would have only 1, and another 15% would have only 2. Only 5% or so of juries would have 3 or more Trump voters. (I have no idea how jurors are chosen for a NY state case).
posted by nat at 3:35 PM on November 13 [2 favorites]


in my fantasies trump’s lawyers argue for a change of jurisdiction based on the impossibility of their client getting a fair trial, and as a result the trial gets moved to the hague.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:40 PM on November 13 [11 favorites]


The law is coming

For the last six months six weeks or so, Josh Marshall of TPM has been using this phrase as he when he talks about some of the more criminal scandals of the Trump world.
posted by mark k at 3:41 PM on November 13 [2 favorites]


If I recall they literally made this rule for him, so I am not hopeful that they will suddenly turn on him once he leaves office

They have already said that he will no longer receive special Twitter treatment if he loses the election.
posted by soundguy99 at 3:41 PM on November 13 [8 favorites]


Hey folks, remember:
You can't pardon debt to the mob!
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:44 PM on November 13 [22 favorites]


"Statistically, in any jury of 12 Americans, 3 have already voiced approval for exactly that argument in regard to this defendant's many other well-documented crimes."

Fortunately, that's not how juries work. Juries don't actually decide guilty/not guilty out of clear blue space; they are the deciders of fact. The questions they answer are, "Was this document falsified, yes or no?" "Did Trump order his accountants to falsify this document, yes or no?" and so on through all the elements of the crime.

Also American jury selection involves striking potential jurors, for cause and for no cause (which I actually think is far too broad a power in most cases, but), which means that prosecutors will be asking a LOT of questions to discover which jurors are deadass Magaheads who will never rule against Trump, and removing those jurors from the pool.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 3:52 PM on November 13 [8 favorites]


I just realized something hilarious.

Imagine being the lawyer who lost a criminal case representing Trump.

Do you think the Magahats are going to leave you alone again? Ever?
posted by MrVisible at 4:17 PM on November 13 [8 favorites]


Is there an actual statute that would prevent him from running for president in '24 as an incarcerated felon?

Former House Rep Jim Traficant was able to run for a return to congress while he was in prison. He lost because he was a) in prison, b) running as an Independent, and c) a grade-A nutbar, but he was able to mount a campaign.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:18 PM on November 13 [2 favorites]


Do you think the Magahats are going to leave you alone again? Ever?

Nearly everyone who works for Trump ultimately ends up in a witness protection program. I'm sure this will include his lawyers.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:28 PM on November 13 [6 favorites]


I read the McSweeney's thing for like half an hour before realizing I was still in early 2017.

I'm a speed reader and I am still not out of 2017 after like an hour of reading.

He wants rallies and campaign visits and crowds cheering for him - which he can't get from prison.


God, why didn't he just like, go on tour? Kevin Smith makes a living rambling to audiences.
posted by jenfullmoon at 4:28 PM on November 13 [14 favorites]


I find it very hard to believe a super-rich white man in America with millions of supporters will spend a day in jail. He may pay a fine or something, but I really can't imagine there is anything that his high priced lawyers can't get him out of. It seems to mostly a fantasy that people like him ever go to jail.
posted by chaz at 4:32 PM on November 13 [8 favorites]


I hope they nab him in a big net...like a big butterfly net.
posted by sexyrobot at 4:38 PM on November 13 [9 favorites]


Imagine being the lawyer who lost a criminal case representing Trump.

Every legit law firm in the country knows he doesn't pay his bills. And they all also know he is guilty as shit. So, while everyone has the right to legal counsel, he isn't going to be represented by a white-shoe firm, unless they are already MAGAs. In which point, they're doing it for political/tribal reasons, and not because they expect to be paid.

Also, he's supposed to be the world's worst legal client anyway, beyond the way he stiffs his contractors. He lies to his lawyers and doesn't listen to them.

So no sane lawyer is gonna take it on, or so I should think. But I've been wrong before.
posted by suelac at 4:40 PM on November 13 [11 favorites]


Has he even faced criminal, as opposed to civil, charges before? In addition to his lawyers really not wanting to work for him, they may be pointing out that they don't normally do criminal defense.

I don't doubt he can find a lawyer or a lawyer team. There's always the next wave of grifters. But finding talented ones is getting difficult for him. He doesn't want to do pay-in-advance and no firm that actually cares about income is going to take "I'll pay you eventually" from him, and that's aside from the bad press they'd get for working with him.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:47 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Lawyers can make the retainer large enough to feel comfortable, also they're pretty good at getting paid, there are even insurance policies they can take advantage of if they're that concerned. And Trump only stiffs people he thinks he can get away with, and has a history of using and paying top shelf attorneys, accountants, and other professionals for decades. Most of the cases where he didn't pay, it's smaller companies that have no resources to go after him. He preys on the weak.

Again, this all strikes me as a fantasy by people that don't like Trump. He'll have top flight council, he'll work out a deal, and neither he nor his kids will ever see the inside of a jail cell. At least that's what seems likely to me based on the history of ultra-wealthy white people in the USA.
posted by chaz at 4:48 PM on November 13 [19 favorites]


Given that his regime is on record re: allowing COVID to spread because they thought it would harm his political enemies, what do we have to do to just let the ICC take care of this little issue?
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 4:52 PM on November 13 [6 favorites]


He is not going to prison, ever. I'll be happy to be proven wrong, if I am, but right now I'd stake a lot of money on his never seeing the inside of a jail or prison cell.
posted by holborne at 5:03 PM on November 13 [8 favorites]


What odds are you giving?
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 5:08 PM on November 13 [6 favorites]


Is betting Allowed under the terms of service? Or is there a website we can go to for odds on different bits? I doubt he would see a prison cell after a criminal conviction but I would bet money on him paying big civil penalties as well as getting a plea bargain on a criminal indictment.
posted by CostcoCultist at 5:15 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


I find it very hard to believe a super-rich white man in America with millions of supporters will spend a day in jail.

Does super-rich mean in terms of assets minus debts due, or is it more like a cultural identity? Because if it's the former, he probably isn't, or won't be for long.
posted by acb at 5:21 PM on November 13 [6 favorites]


"He'll have top flight council,"

I truly don't think he will. (And he doesn't really have a history of it as a private businessman -- he hired local bottomfeeders.) Jones Day lost a senior partner -- and his book of business -- when they decided to represent Trump. There's apparently a brewing rebellion amidst the non-cap partners, who are furious the firm took Trump on, and a lot of lawyers refusing to touch the cases because they think it's an ethical minefield that will end in disbarring. They're having other clients ask questions -- about who exactly in the firm is representing Trump, and whether those lawyers ever touch Client X's file, and whether the probity and ethics of some of the firm's lawyers is still to be trusted.

For a white shoe lawfirm? Trump is not that big a client. Jones Day has reportedly made $20 million from Trump and his affiliates since 2015, but that is PEANUTS. That's $4 million a year. You can pull in more than that from a non-profit midwestern hospital. I'm 100% positive Jones Day has clients in Cleveland worth more than $4 million/year, let alone New York or DC. Jones Day represents WAL-MART. They represent GM. They represent ACTUAL rich people, and multinational businesses, and huge Fortune 500 companies. The backlash against Jones Day's representation of Trump -- from employees, from the legal community generally, and from clients -- has been so intense that Jones Day released a statement that they're not representing Trump right now -- just the RNC on behalf of Trump. (Just this afternoon, reportedly, Jones Day's management informed the employees they would accept no further cases from Trump.)

Porter Wright actually filed a motion to withdraw from an ongoing case (the PA litigation) and has dropped Trump and the RNC. They also had employees resign in protest when they took on Trump litigation. An Arizona firm has withdraw from ongoing litigation representing Trump. The scuttlebutt on law student forums is that Jones Day isn't filling its interview slots this year at top-10 schools, because students don't want to go work for a Trumpy law firm.

Also remember that the big white-shoe law firms are all trying to be multinational firms right now -- how many European clients and lawyers are you willing to lose over Trump? How many in Singapore? How many in Hong Kong? How many in Toronto?

How many employees, clients, and law students can a big law firm afford to lose over a tiny client that pulls in $4 million a year and routinely demands his lawyers violate ethics rules?
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:22 PM on November 13 [123 favorites]


I hate that we probably have to hear about Trump for another four years or more. No way will he go gentle into that good night. Trials also mean free publicity for his brand, and a fight his followers can latch onto. He will become an even uglier and louder creature than we have seen, cornered and unburdened of the distractions of high office, his voice magnified by minions of coal-rolling racists and conspiracy addicts.

But the symbolic value of an American president facing justice in a serious way, of the "no man is above the law" adage coming to life before our eyes for the very first time, will change the course of history, if it happens. It'll be worth it. Place your bets.
posted by swift at 5:25 PM on November 13 [11 favorites]


I'm not a betting man, nor can I see the future. But I wouldn't be entirely surprised (or disappointed) if Donald J. Trump ended up going out like Jerry Lundegaard at the end of Fargo ...
posted by philip-random at 5:43 PM on November 13 [11 favorites]


The way you can tell if someone is seriously stanning for Trump or if they have legitimate reservations about the possible future consequences of prosecuting a former President is to ask if they think he should be prosecuted for all the shit he did before he was elected or that was obviously unrelated to the job.

If they think that the State of New York shouldn't prosecute him for his financial crimes, they're no better than Sean Hannity or Rush Limbaugh. Even the claim that the IRS should ignore his tax evasion is specious at best, but at least it's possible to hold a good faith belief in the value of avoiding even the appearance of politically motivated criminal prosecutions.
posted by wierdo at 5:54 PM on November 13 [5 favorites]


Curious as to the degree of overlap between people who think he could be the Forever President and people who think he could go to prison?
posted by atoxyl at 6:39 PM on November 13


This is a sincere question - what are the crimes you would charge Bush with?

For the answer to this I would refer you to Elizabeth de la Vega, Indicting Bush
Assistant United States Attorney: Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen. We're here today in the case of United States v. George W. Bush et al. In addition to President Bush, the defendants are Vice President Richard B. Cheney, former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice -- who's now the Secretary of State, of course -- Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

It's a one-count proposed indictment: Conspiracy to Defraud the United States in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371. I'll explain the law that applies to the case this afternoon, but I'm going to hand out the indictment now, so you'll have some context for that explanation. Take as long as you need to read it, and then feel free to take your lunch break, but please leave your copy of the indictment with the foreperson. We'll meet back at one o'clock.
posted by mikelieman at 6:40 PM on November 13 [8 favorites]


cornered and unburdened of the distractions of high office

what

are you saying he was somehow constrained by the presidency
posted by benzenedream at 6:47 PM on November 13 [9 favorites]


Also just as a matter of courtroom strategy, if I were the prosecutor given the case, I'd make DAMN sure to have a woman of color on the prosecution team, and I'd ideally have her lead the questioning of Trump, because that dude loses his fucking mind when women stand up to him, and he doubly loses it when women of color stand up to him, and in an effort to reinforce his masculinity when he finds it under threat from a woman of color who's ten times smarter than he is (and, you know, not on trial for multiple felonies), he's gonna say all kinds of shit he's not supposed to say. He's going to openly perjure himself, or threaten the prosecutors, or shout at the judge, or brag about how he's SO smart he did [very illegal thing] in [very illegal way].

In interviews, he can walk out of the room, or dodge the question, or talk about random shit, or bluster and bluff and act very manly, or be rescued by his aides, and even then when women have pressed him for an answer, he's said stupid stuff he knows he's not supposed to say, because he knows she's making him look like a fool. (Letitia James, who is sharp as a tack, knows this to the bottom of her soul, and he is going to suffer as a result.)

Wait until a woman has him on the witness stand and he can't dodge and he can't answer unrelated questions and he can't bluster or threaten or shout or leave. It's going to be fucking amazing.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:07 PM on November 13 [113 favorites]


they didn't prosecute Bush and I'm to believe Trump will see serious consequences?

An obvious difference is that Bush committed those crimes while president with the full authority of the office, and as far as we know committed no crimes at the state level. Many of Trump's alleged crimes, and certainly most of those for which various state DAs are likely to go after him, were not committed during his term, and were committed at the state level.
posted by aspersioncast at 7:44 PM on November 13 [4 favorites]


Counsel/council, principle/principal -- when it comes to homonyms, autocorrect is not your friend.
posted by y2karl at 7:58 PM on November 13 [5 favorites]


The backlash against Jones Day's representation of Trump -- from employees, from the legal community generally, and from clients -- has been so intense that Jones Day released a statement that they're not representing Trump right now -- just the RNC on behalf of Trump. ...
Porter Wright actually filed a motion to withdraw from an ongoing case (the PA litigation) and has dropped Trump and the RNC.


This has been one of the more unexpected things this week for me -- these firms clearly miscalculated and didn't expect to get the backlash that they have gotten, particularly in terms of their professional reputations. Trump will never lack for lawyers, but hopefully he will lack for good, reputable lawyers.
posted by Dip Flash at 8:15 PM on November 13 [11 favorites]


I have a feeling he's going to end it like OJ: trying to rob Trump memorabilia at gunpoint.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:38 PM on November 13 [4 favorites]


just give me a golf-cart chase
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:47 PM on November 13 [35 favorites]


>> they didn't prosecute Bush and I'm to believe Trump will see serious consequences?

> An obvious difference is that Bush committed those crimes while president with the full authority of the office, and as far as we know committed no crimes at the state level.


something i’ve been thinking about a lot lately — and please don’t take what’s about to come as trump apologism, because it is not — but i have lately been chewing on the idea that bush jr’s impact on the world as a whole might be in the final analysis even worse than trump’s. the difference is that bush’s chaos resulted primarily in damage to countries other than the united states (see: the nonsensical deliberate destabilization of the middle east), while trump did extensive direct damage to the united states itself. after bush brought pointless destruction to america through his lack of response to katrina, his popularity plummeted. trump was always already about bringing destruction to america (indeed, this is the essence of his “america first” policy), and he only got away with it because his supporters are on the whole more awful and bad at life than the average bush jr. supporter was.

anyway. it’s not just that trump committed crimes at the state level and so might be prosecuted for it, it’s also the less narrowly legalistic idea that trump committed crimes in the united states, and that the public is more interested in / tolerant of prosecuting elected criminals when they commit their crimes here.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:51 PM on November 13 [13 favorites]


re dubya and company: in addition to international law, torture is a crime under u.s. law.
posted by 20 year lurk at 8:56 PM on November 13 [7 favorites]


I hate that we probably have to hear about Trump for another four years or more. No way will he go gentle into that good night.

Say what you will about Dubya, he left office and except for the occasional glimpse of his weird primitive paintings, we’ve barely heard a word about him for twelve years now.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:09 PM on November 13 [12 favorites]


the public is more interested in / tolerant of prosecuting elected criminals when they commit their crimes here

Well, generally yes. Voting is, at its base level, a selfish act; citizens choose leaders based on which will make their own lives better. Citizens usually don't care (or care a lot less) about people in other countries; an easy excuse is that it made their lives better in some unknowable way.

There's us, and there's them. This isn't a US-specific concept or a modern one.
posted by meowzilla at 9:16 PM on November 13 [2 favorites]


Not to sound like a broken record, but jury nullification.

Whether or not it shields Donald J. Trump from all his crimes is a long shot, perhaps, but if you think Trump wouldn't (or couldn't) convince a substantial portion of the populace that this means "law is just an opinion" or that the effect on the right-wing nuthouse wouldn't be like a nuke on the Andromeda Strain, I ... I ... I wish I had your optimism.
posted by bjrubble at 9:16 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Counsel/council, principle/principal -- when it comes to homonyms, autocorrect is not your friend.

I know I bang on about the working scale model of 45, Toronto mayor Rob Ford, way too much lately, but indulge me on final point. At one point circa 2013, city council was actively pursuing ways to reduce the mayor’s power, which caused RoFo to seek the advice of lawyers; the council members of course lawyered up as well. Let me tell you, if you were a proofreader, it was wince-inducing to read comments and indeed newspaper stories which included council, councillors, counsel, and counsellors written by people who were vague on the distinction or frankly didn’t realize there were distinctions to be made.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:17 PM on November 13 [11 favorites]


his supporters are on the whole more awful and bad at life than the average bush jr. supporter was.


Other than the Lincoln Project folks and their ilk has a significant line been established between W and Trump supporters? I'm told it exists, but the stats I've seen don't really seem to back that up.

Regardless, the point wasn't who is more culpable, but who's more prosecutable. With the benefit of the last 12 years of hindsight and inability to see the future, Trump seems more likely than Bush to actually face trial for some of the things he's done, although probably none of the things he's done as president.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:31 PM on November 13 [3 favorites]


This is all entertaining, but I really doubt that the US would let one of its former presidents see the inside of a prison cell, foreign or domestic. I really really really wish it would happen, but it won't.
posted by dazed_one at 10:01 PM on November 13 [5 favorites]


just give me a golf-cart chase

a fleet of Rascals might be more poetical
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 10:15 PM on November 13 [3 favorites]


but I really doubt that the US would let one of its former presidents see the inside of a prison cell,

Trump is unprecedented
posted by philip-random at 10:23 PM on November 13 [3 favorites]


There are dark mutterings about things in the intelligence reports to Congress, one wonders if they'll ever see the light of day.

But I can't wait to see a mountain of civil and criminal suits take turns seeing who can interrupt his life the most. How can Donnie have ghost writers pen the sure-fire get-rich-quick book post-Presidency that he needs, if he's too busy giving depositions all the time?
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 10:41 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Even if Trump himself manages to avoid punishment by either exile or the sweet release of death, I expect his large, adult children will also be looking at the inside of a jail cell in the near future. Along with Jared Kushner.

Good point. I never understood the whole "Biden crime family" thing, but I forgot about Trump's mirror.
posted by gueneverey at 10:41 PM on November 13 [12 favorites]


Also just as a matter of courtroom strategy, if I were the prosecutor given the case, I'd make DAMN sure to have a woman of color on the prosecution team, and I'd ideally have her lead the questioning of Trump...
Kamala Harris, for the people!

Oh wait, she has a different job now. Never mind.
posted by inexorably_forward at 11:49 PM on November 13 [1 favorite]


Pardon Power, from a 2017 episode of What Trump Can Teach Us About Constitutional Law.
posted by bartleby at 12:23 AM on November 14 [2 favorites]


Ending scene: A Face in the Crowd, 1957, Elia Kazan.
posted by bartleby at 12:27 AM on November 14 [8 favorites]


In some ways I think it would be better to routinely investigate all outgoing leaders, rather than treat it as some terrible taboo that should not be breached. Like, ensure that every leader knows going in and is aware throughout their tenure that they will face a formal investigation at the end of their term.

To be fair, whatever's left of the RNC will presumably charge Biden with everything 45 is charged with so that they can claim equivalence, so maybe this will just become a norm by default.
posted by Wrinkled Stumpskin at 3:04 AM on November 14 [22 favorites]


yeah everytime someone solemnly admonishes me that the problem isn't just the current shithead, it's the next person who decides to follow in his footsteps but with more competence at being evil, I'm like that was Bush. We've already had that guy. Hundreds of thousands dead. Wars of choice, not self-defence. Katrina response. Homeland Security. PATRIOT Act. Torture. Halliburton.

Just as evil as the current dude, but better at it.
posted by um at 4:01 AM on November 14 [18 favorites]


Bush and Cheney will not go to jail, will never go to jail, because they and their families are on the inside, looking out. They will always be looking out. W's dad was a CIA boss and VP, and the whole family is made up of Yale legacies and Skull and Bones types. Cheney is a useful, ruthless servant who kept the oil flowing. That buys a lot of protection.

Despite being born into wealth, Trump has always been on the outside looking in, as far as how he has interacted with other upper-class American families, and how they see him and treat him.

He had to bribe his way into an Ivy League business school, which came out and told everyone he was a bozo, anyway.

A lifetime of that builds up a lot of grievances, which he figured out how to play into popular appeal. So we get the last four years because of that. So it goes.

Be that as it may, Trump might manage to ooze his way out of the US without facing justice. But he knows he'll never be one of them, that he'll never be insulated from the law, the way some families are.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 4:13 AM on November 14 [9 favorites]


The point that Bush and Cheney committed crimes that on a superficial level of observation primarily hurt other people is really good. I think that might make a huge difference.
I also believe that NY will convict him and send him to jail. And then he will loose his suit, his spray tan and his hairdo. I am not joking about this: that will completely turn the MAGA-hats' loyalty away. They are not loyal to the actual human being that is Trump, they are loyal to the Trump Show. It's like with the Wizard of Oz. Everything about Trump is about the show, about appearances and also about fantasy. Many above are joking that this post is like porn. But Trump is like porn. He is the fantasy of "owning the libs", of "running the nation like a business", of "listening to the working class whites". He doesn't actually do any of these things or the others he promises, he pretends to do so, at every imaginable scale. In that way he is a very consistent performer.
But when the costume and the makeup go off, he will be lost.
And at that point, I suspect that it will be both possible and popular to indict and convict him for his federal crimes as well.
posted by mumimor at 4:52 AM on November 14 [20 favorites]


Rich people don't go to jail, with very few exceptions. Those exceptions are generally limited to those who screwed over other rich people (Bernie Madoff) or those who are exceptionally stupid, arrogant and widely hated (Leona Helmsley). I don't count Trump in the last category, because face it, half the country loves him (apparently).

So I think the thing hinges on whether he is actually rich. If, as I suspect, he's about $450 million in debt to some exceptionally nasty people he's screwed. Since a majority of his mystique depends on him being a rich businessman I think a lot of his acolytes and enablers will turn on him if it turns out he's broke. The high powered law firms won't work for him if they can't get paid. I picture him being defended by a shit faced Rudy Giuliani going further and further off the rails.
posted by lordrunningclam at 5:20 AM on November 14 [3 favorites]


In some ways I think it would be better to routinely investigate all outgoing leaders, rather than treat it as some terrible taboo that should not be breached. Like, ensure that every leader knows going in and is aware throughout their tenure that they will face a formal investigation at the end of their term.

To be fair, whatever's left of the RNC will presumably charge Biden with everything 45 is charged with so that they can claim equivalence, so maybe this will just become a norm by default.


I simply don't get this concern. The Republicans already do this. They investigated the Clintons for more than a decade. Hilary Clinton was grilled by the senate for 12 hours over security at a foreign embassy where just 3 people died and there were dozens of investigations. By simple arithmetic Trump officials should be grilled from here to eternity just over the Covid-19 response. It's ridiculous for the Democratic Party to live in fear of the Republicans doing what they already do. Throw the book at every single one of them who broke the law. Take the gloves off. If you want to pardon them out of some sense of political fair play.... do it after they are convicted. Forgiveness preceding repentance is both morally wrong and positive reinforcement of bad behavior. And if it means that Democratic Party members have to stay clean themselves that is also a win for the country.
posted by srboisvert at 5:40 AM on November 14 [70 favorites]


A U.S. President will never go to prison. Donald Trump will never go to prison. I hope to hell he has to face a shitton of shit that flummoxes and annoys him, but prison is a complete fantasy. That said, reach for your dreams!
posted by tiny frying pan at 6:12 AM on November 14 [5 favorites]


I'm just hoping for a series of embarrassing trials that drain his already-empty coffers and permanently stain everyone who enabled him, most of all his complicit children. An overdue reckoning about what dark money and foreign interference do to politics would be a nice plus.

Even those feel like two very big asks.
posted by box at 6:21 AM on November 14 [7 favorites]


The Post-Presidency of a Con Man (Michelle Goldberg/NYTimes Opinion)
Trump is already trying to profit off his avid base, and he will surely continue. But it’s an open question whether, without the intoxicating aura of presidential power, he can sustain their devotion. There are several examples of once-formidable right-wing leaders reduced to footnotes after leaving office.

As Republican House majority leader, Tom DeLay was frequently described as the most powerful man in Congress. Then, in 2005, he was indicted on a charge of campaign money laundering. Though his 2010 conviction was eventually overturned on appeal, the last time he had any significant public profile was when he appeared on “Dancing With the Stars” in 2009.

Sarah Palin, too, was once a Republican icon; in many ways she presaged Trump. “Win or Lose, Many See Palin as Future of Party,” said a New York Times headline just before the 2008 election. It quoted the right-wing activist Brent Bozell: “Conservatives have been looking for leadership, and she has proved that she can electrify the grass roots like few people have in the last 20 years.”

But since resigning as Alaska’s governor in 2009, Palin has lost her luster. Once a likely presidential prospect, she recently made headlines for wearing a pink and purple bear costume on the Fox reality show “The Masked Singer.”

Trump is in for years of scandals and humiliations. We will doubtlessly find out more about official misdeeds he tried to keep secret as president. Republicans who hope to succeed him will have reason to start painting him as a loser instead of a savior. He’ll have to devote much of his energy to trying to stay out of prison.
posted by mumimor at 6:58 AM on November 14 [17 favorites]


Here it is in the Baltimore Sun, if you've already run out of NYT articles.
posted by box at 7:37 AM on November 14 [3 favorites]


Not to sound like a broken record, but jury nullification.

Jury nullification is very difficult to impose in real life, requires unanimous consensus from the jury, and my experience as a citizen in jury duty selection pools is that the single instant that any prospective juror mentions the term 'jury nullification' or shows any awareness of the concept, judges send them packing immediately. While it's a possibility that prosecutors could ineptly select a full jury of die-hard MAGAists for one of the many Trump trials that are coming, it's just very highly unlikely; and even in the event that such an unlikely concurrence of luck for Donald happens at one of these trials, it will definitely not happen at all of them.

But these processes will take years, and Trump is not young and healthy. He may be desperately searching for his next act, but time marches forward for us all and DJT is running real low on his life juice or force or whatever it is he thinks powers the human body; he'll die before all this is sorted out.
posted by LooseFilter at 7:47 AM on November 14 [8 favorites]


maybe soon Tish James will be a household name and I'll get to say I voted for her way back when.

She was the last person I ever literally pulled the lever for, in her runoff for public advocate. (I loved voting by lever).
posted by lampoil at 8:06 AM on November 14 [5 favorites]


Again, the danger of jury nullification isn’t primarily that it will practically shield Trump from prosecution.

It’s that when the Trumpist “intellectual zamboni” — Tucker and Hannity and the Twitter chud legions — jump in with their standard “flood the zone with bullshit” it’s going to leave the notion of legal objectively as dead as (points to the corpses of all the other forms of consensual reality that have been stamped into meaninglessness over the last four years).
posted by bjrubble at 8:10 AM on November 14 [1 favorite]


> Jury nullification is very difficult to impose in real life, requires unanimous consensus from the jury, and my experience as a citizen in jury duty selection pools is that the single instant that any prospective juror mentions the term 'jury nullification' or shows any awareness of the concept, judges send them packing immediately.

i thought best practice for someone wanting to do a jury nullification is to:
  • never say the words "jury nullification"
  • never propose the idea of "jury nullification" in any way to anyone
  • doggedly express vague but unshakeable doubts as to the appropriate way to interpret the facts of the case rather than expressing any underlying doubts about the law itself
  • just in general keep your mouth shut about what you're actually doing
this is a serious question: the plan above is my plan for what i'll do if i ever have the good luck to be part of a jury deciding on a drug-related crime. if there's a better or more reliable way to do a jury nullification — or if there are wrinkles that i'm not anticipating — i would love to hear about it.

note: if we're smart enough to know how to do a jury nullification, i assure you the fascists are also smart enough to know how to do a jury nullification.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 8:14 AM on November 14 [14 favorites]


nat said:

That's a lot less true in, say, New York county; there Trump earned less than 15% of the votes (with roughly 50% turnout). On 40% of 12 member juries randomly chosen from the registered voters, there would be no Trump voters. A further 40% would have only 1, and another 15% would have only 2. Only 5% or so of juries would have 3 or more Trump voters. (I have no idea how jurors are chosen for a NY state case).

I think this is misleading, in that there are presumably some people who didn't literally vote for Trump but do support him in theory. The math you have to do to get that nice 40% result assumes that these people don't matter and/or wouldn't have trouble convicting him. If instead you imagine that among non-voters his support is also around 15%, you'd see at least one Trump supporter on roughly 86% of juries.

(My own gut feeling is that the closest we will get to justice, or at least safety, is "Trump continues existential fear of prosecution and assassination, opts to retire somewhere sunny with no US extradition treaty." I cannot for the life of me imagine an America that prosecutes a former president and I think he will live out the rest of his life without so much as paying a parking ticket. Wonder if there's a prediction market that'll take that bet.)
posted by eirias at 8:14 AM on November 14


Also hey are we going to talk about the fact that the photo with this NY Magazine article is basically a deepfake, or nah?
posted by eirias at 9:13 AM on November 14 [4 favorites]


The idea of Trump being brought low by laws has a history. Old History.

Anacharsis

Written laws are like spiders’ webs; they will catch, it is true, the weak and poor, but would be torn in pieces by the rich and powerful.
Laws are spider-webs, which catch the little flies, but cannot hold the big ones.

These decrees of yours are no different from spiders' webs. They'll restrain anyone weak and insignificant who gets caught in them, but they'll be torn to shreds by people with power and wealth.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:56 AM on November 14 [7 favorites]


Is betting Allowed under the terms of service? Or is there a website we can go to for odds on different bits? I doubt he would see a prison cell after a criminal conviction but I would bet money on him paying big civil penalties as well as getting a plea bargain on a criminal indictment.

Predictit is that website, but I don't go there anymore after getting way too into it in 2016 and losing like $300. But I'm almost sure you can go there and bet money on this exact thing right now.
posted by showbiz_liz at 10:07 AM on November 14


While Predictit offers 'Will Trump self-pardon?' and 'Will Trump resign?' (the former is more than twice as likely as the latter), and questions about charges and pardons for, among others, Hunter Biden, Rudy Giuliani, and Jeffrey Epstein, I don't think they're currently offering either 'Will Trump take a plea?' or 'Will Trump pay big civil penalties?'
posted by box at 10:41 AM on November 14


Also hey are we going to talk about the fact that the photo with this NY Magazine article is basically a deepfake, or nah?

Magazine articles are often illustrated with photo illustrations, and his one is labeled as such. There is no attempt to deceive, so I don’t think deepfake is the right term for this.
posted by snofoam at 11:36 AM on November 14 [10 favorites]


>i thought best practice for someone wanting to do a jury nullification...

This is my understanding, too, but also that at the right moment in the process you must be able to persuade your fellow jurors to nullify, which seems like a pretty big weakness in any conspiracy that would need to span dozens of different court cases all with separate jury selection processes. But also, IAverymuchNAL, so yeah.

Again, the danger of jury nullification [is] that when the Trumpist “intellectual zamboni” — Tucker and Hannity and the Twitter chud legions — jump in with their standard “flood the zone with bullshit”

Well, but that’s sound and fury and really signifies nothing when it comes to actual courtrooms and legal processes. Hannity enthusiastically fellated Trump on air for the past four years and Donald still lost the election, so I’m definitely not giving these assholes any more power than they earn at this point.
posted by LooseFilter at 1:11 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


Ideally he'd go through the court process, be found guilty and punished accordingly. Ditto his enablers & sidekicks (in NZ we're particularly looking forward to pillorying Chris Liddell a Kiwi who was part of his team). If only to act as a deterrent to political grifters of all persuasions globally. His name should join the ranks of Quisling as a byword for treasonous behavior. However, I bet nothing happens and if it does, he'll wangle his way out of it, join the lecture circuit, sell books on how to be president and be given way more oxygen than he deserves.
posted by phigmov at 1:56 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


> Trump is unprecedented.

And very soon, much to his surprise, he will be unPresidented also.
posted by cenoxo at 2:18 PM on November 14 [8 favorites]


However, I bet nothing happens and if it does, he'll wangle his way out of it, join the lecture circuit, sell books on how to be president and be given way more oxygen than he deserves.

Are you speaking of metaphorical oxygen or actual oxygen?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 2:27 PM on November 14 [6 favorites]




Has he even faced criminal, as opposed to civil, charges before?

Any time the cops got close to him he flipped. Amongst all the other things he is, he's a rat too. That's why the mob speak comes so easy for him.
posted by ryoshu at 3:03 PM on November 14 [3 favorites]


Hannity enthusiastically fellated Trump on air for the past four years and Donald still lost the election,

Hannity normalized Trump’s authoritarianism to the point that 70 million people thought his Mussolini cosplay was “Presidential” — that it didn’t completely succeed is a blessing but that doesn’t mean it didn’t do a hell of a lot of damage.
posted by bjrubble at 4:45 PM on November 14 [4 favorites]


Honestly, January 21st can't come fast enough so we can find the fuck out.

As I've mentioned in another thread, Biden needs to direct all of the federal IGs to audit their respective departments and report on how much money Trump grifted from the federal government in violation of the domestic emoluments clause. To this day, I have seen virtually no coverage of this topic in the mainstream media. Like, yeah, they'll have articles about how the Secret Service paid Trump hotels for rooms when Trump visited his properties, or how USAF crews were paying to stay at his golf course resort during stopovers in Scotland, but they never, ever, as far as I can remember, actually quoted the relevant text in the constitution.

I mean, it's air tight. There are no congressional exceptions like the foreign emoluments clause -- Trump can only receive his salary when he is in office. I'd like to see all those originalists explain how they silently acquiesced to his graft while he was president.

Now, you can make the argument that it isn't a criminal violation since there probably isn't a relevant section of US code that speaks to presidential payments, but that doesn't mean Biden shouldn't pursue civil damages and recover every last penny that fucker took.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 5:32 PM on November 14 [19 favorites]


There are no congressional exceptions like the foreign emoluments clause -- Trump can only receive his salary when he is in office.

I am confidently assured that because he didn’t draw a salary while in office, the whole emoluments thing is something that no one cares about.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:49 PM on November 14


I am confidently assured that because he didn’t draw a salary while in office, the whole emoluments thing is something that no one cares about.

Until someone shows how he profited many times over the salary he made a show of donating away? I doubt that very much.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 5:53 PM on November 14 [2 favorites]


I am confidently assured that because he didn’t draw a salary while in office

He actually did draw his salary (and is responsible for taxes on same) but he donated an amount equal to his salary every year.
posted by Mitheral at 6:19 PM on November 14


Much like a guy running a Three Card Monte game, you pay out money in an obvious way to demonstrate to the squares that your game is the level. “No presidential salary for me! See how honest and patriotic I am?”

He came in grifting, and he’s still grifting on his way out.
posted by mosk at 6:35 PM on November 14 [17 favorites]


Until someone shows how he profited many times over the salary he made a show of donating away? I doubt that very much.

It is possible I should have put a /hamberder tag at the end of that...
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:54 PM on November 14 [1 favorite]


I don't get the self-pardon thing - how can you do this for a crime you have not yet been accused of?
posted by piyushnz at 7:17 PM on November 14


I don't get the self-pardon thing - how can you do this for a crime you have not yet been accused of?

The president can pardon for federal crimes that have been, or may have been committed, as Ford did for Nixon. The pardon power does not require that the pardoned be accused, tried or convicted of the crime. It's a bit of a wild power afforded to the office. The question of self-pardons has never been definitively addressed by courts.
posted by mrgoat at 7:30 PM on November 14


Okay, so there is DNA on the dress of one of the plaintiffs suing Trump for defamation related to her rape case. They don't need a sample from Donald Trump to show a high probability of a match. Mary Trump could do that. Two different near relatives would be even better.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 8:17 PM on November 14 [5 favorites]


They don't need a sample from Donald Trump to show a high probability of a match.

IIRC, the court has said that DJT must provide a sample, so let's just let it play out. So far, although it's now in federal court, the judge refused to substitute the USA for Trump, personally and I expect discovery to recommence.
posted by mikelieman at 8:28 PM on November 14 [5 favorites]


...how much money Trump grifted from the federal government in violation of the domestic emoluments clause. To this day, I have seen virtually no coverage of this topic in the mainstream media.

David Fahrenthold has been covering this for the Washington Post non-stop since the day Trump declared his candidacy. Follow him. Read his work. I bought a WaPo subscription just because of him.

He won the Pulitzer in 2017 for investigating Trump's supposed claims of charitable donations during the campaign.
posted by JoeZydeco at 12:30 PM on November 15 [15 favorites]


at the right moment in the process you must be able to persuade your fellow jurors to nullify

For civil, yeah, but not for criminal, where a single "not guilty" vote can hang the jury. Prosecution could re-try, but that's often not done because the theory is, it's a whole lot of hassle and expense that's likely to get the same results.

One holdout can prevent a conviction. And I'd honestly give up Trump going to jail in order to widely inform the public how jury nullification works and that it's legal.

(Easy way to get out of jury duty: just mention that you know fija.org exists at any point in the questioning process. Jury nullification is legal, but courts have upheld that courts are literally allowed to lie to jurors about their rights.)
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:45 PM on November 15 [8 favorites]


And I'd honestly give up Trump going to jail in order to widely inform the public how jury nullification works and that it's legal.

Damn straight.

Think of all the future drug crimes that could get tossed. (or any of the so many laws they are not able to be counted.)

If the duty of a citizen is to know the laws - what happens if there are so many you can not know them all?
posted by rough ashlar at 2:23 PM on November 15 [4 favorites]


Going to Maine: He’s an older, obese American who will suffer from the long-term ramifications of getting COVID, so there’s something of harder limit than the statute of limitations on the clock.

Mmmmmaybe? There has been no evidence of long-term issues or symptoms for him (clots, and it's well past a month since diagnosis.
posted by tzikeh at 2:27 PM on November 15


Frankly, I'm skeptical that he ever had it and that it was just a ruse to support a mythology of health and strength. Fuck that guy.
posted by rhizome at 4:53 PM on November 15 [8 favorites]


Shit, does that make me some kind of truther? Re-evaluating my life choices now.
posted by rhizome at 11:43 PM on November 15 [11 favorites]


Look, Trump lies and lies but he lost rather than gained support from catching Covid. All those stories about super spreader events, balcony triumphs, and mask less meetings at the White House added to the narrative that he couldn't and wouldn't handle the virus. The I'm immune now stuff made him look like an idiot to everybody but his base. Also, everyone who works for him is out for themselves. You know there'd be people lined up to leak to the nearest reporters if he faked his illness. Even if they didn't intend to leak this administration can't tell a consistent lie. Lastly, given his behavior and the way they were running the White House it would have been a miracle if he had not caught the virus.
posted by rdr at 4:48 AM on November 16 [7 favorites]


The public is well aware of jury nullification, in practice if not the term. See any white person getting a not guilty verdict for a blatant murder of a person of colour. Wide spread adoption of jury nullification would likely mean harsh drug penalties for non-white defendants while the white guys go free.
posted by Mitheral at 5:57 AM on November 16 [5 favorites]


I'm not surprised that Trump survived COVID because despite his poor health I suspect that he had a top-flight medical team that did every intervention that they usually can't afford to do for everyone.
posted by Merus at 6:07 AM on November 16 [7 favorites]


Mmmmmaybe? There has been no evidence of long-term issues or symptoms for him (clots, and it's well past a month since diagnosis.

Those things usually roll in about 8wks after illness, as antibody production peaks. The antibody-virus fragment complex does a lot of damage that shows up around then. (Srsly that spike protein is such bad news.)
posted by sexyrobot at 7:01 AM on November 16 [2 favorites]


The public is well aware of jury nullification,

I'd like to see some numbers on this claim of what the public is well aware of.

With things like this If you tell a judge that "I believe in jury nullification” would you be dismissed from jury duty or would you get in trouble? and the bulk of the responses are 'you won't be on a Jury' I'm not seeing the support for your claim.

And considering people who hand out Jury Nullification information near courthouses get arrested and claims of attorneys being bar grieved by Judges when mentioned in a court case I'd like to see actual data on the effects.
posted by rough ashlar at 10:05 AM on November 16 [1 favorite]


Emmett Till

Rodney King


Paul Butler - Racially Based Jury Nullification:Black Power in the Criminal Justice System
The first discovery occurred during a training session for new Assistants conducted by experienced prosecutors. We rookies were informed that we would lose many of our cases, despite having persuaded a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was guilty. We would lose because some black jurors would refuse to convict black defendants who they knew were guilty
Samuel R. Sommers; Phoebe C. Ellsworth - Race in the Courtroom: Perceptions of Guilt and Dispositional Attributions:
In the 1990s, race captured the public’s attention in a number of high-profile, controversial trials, but the prevalence of racial issues in American criminal law is hardly a new phenomenon. [...] White suspects in crimes committed against Black victims were rarely brought to trial, much less convicted (see Kennedy,1997)
Gerald Stanley acquitted in Colten Boushie shooting.

That's like three minutes of googling, mostly for the supporting links. Jury nullification is not a rare thing even if the jury members don't have a name for it.
posted by Mitheral at 10:40 AM on November 16 [4 favorites]


Trump is a near Platonic ideal example of how the American system refuses to even investigate, much less, charge rich white men for white collar crime, and how that refusal leads to bad outcomes.

In a hypothetical America with a truly functional criminal justice system, Donald John Trump would never have been President, because back in the 1990's he'd have been arrested, charged, convicted, and sentenced for the many crimes he was committing back then.

But he wasn't.

Our system allowed him to ignore the law, to profit by breaking the law, and to become a famous rich guy with the ability to become President.

We see the failure of the system in the fact that if he hadn't indulged his ego and made his run for President he never would have received any real scrutiny from any quarter, be it the public, the media, or the courts.

Which explains why I have so little faith that he will be convicted and face any serious penalties. The system had hundreds of chances to convict him. It didn't. Instead it allowed him to flourish and grow and become the malignant force he is today. Why should we think that same system will now suddenly start functioning properly?

If the system worked he wouldn't be President.
posted by sotonohito at 8:42 PM on November 16 [54 favorites]




Shit, Trump probably doesn't need DB anymore because now he's got a direct line to half the mattress money in Asia and the Middle East.
posted by rhizome at 1:07 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Shit, Trump probably doesn't need DB anymore because now he's got a direct line to half the mattress money in Asia and the Middle East.

I'm not sure. Who would want him to launder their money when he is under investigation? Those people used him like a dog, now they will dump him like one. To use Trump's own language.
posted by mumimor at 1:18 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


Exclusive: Tired of Trump, Deutsche Bank games ways to sever ties with the president - sources

What a weird headline. A corporation is not a living creature, it is not 'tired'.

Awfully convenient these executives are looking for ways to cover their asses now that he seems to be moving out of power, though.
posted by StarkRoads at 8:41 AM on November 21 [2 favorites]


Corporations are people, my friend.
posted by PhineasGage at 10:29 AM on November 21 [5 favorites]


In today's NYTimes Magazine: Can America Restore the Rule of Law Without Prosecuting Trump?
My answer is a clear nope, but I am not American, and this article probably comes closer to how the Biden administration are weighing pros and cons.

In our country, it is not unheard of (though extremely rare) to prosecute political leaders. And it shouldn't be. The risk of being fined or sent to jail if you commit crimes while in office helps people focus. As I see it, letting Nixon off was a huge mistake. And so was the frivolous impeachment of Bill Clinton. Since both these were Republican actions, this becomes a partisan issue, but it shouldn't be.
posted by mumimor at 5:57 AM on November 22 [4 favorites]


He has no real wealth except perhaps the properties that belong to his corporation. His brand might bring him some money, but not the riches he craves. By public accounts, he's underwater financially. But he will be inoculated against jail time according to his usefulness as somebody's cat's paw. Maybe some, maybe none.

My simple version of this theory is that Putin used him to help advance his agenda. Putin was successful (probably) beyond his wildest dreams: assuming his long-range goal was to weaken the US's stature on the world stage and put us in a state of possibly irreparable political disarray. The chain of events emanating from Trump's presidency included weakening the EU. All of this enhances Putin's global influence even if the hegemony shifts to China. Putin's immediate objective, probably, was to get the US to lift a few sanctions, but he seems to have hit the jackpot. He must be having such sweet dreams these days. The question is, can Trump be of any further use to him? I believe the GOP evaluates Trump's potential to draw votes from their ever-constant base, the 30 percenters, a generous portion of whom are clearly nuts.

Republican legislators are trying to figure out how to dismount from the whirlwind. They'll be fine. McConnell and Linsday, who represent some purple epitome of Republican ethics, have shown that shame just doesn't apply to them.

Joe Biden doesn't want to dwell on Trump's lawlessness. He's happy to let New York handle Trump. It's clear to me that he'll use the Obama Protocol (Let'em take the money and run) rather than feed red meat to the great unwashed who (for various reasons) voted for Trump and who continue to look upon him as their Mr. Smith in Washington. They want to believe they're revolutionaries standing at the bastions of freedom to protect us from socialist demons. They are pathetic, but they have lots of ammo. The paradigm has changed. It's no longer conservatives v liberals; it's Earth I v Earth II.

If New York succeeds in putting Trump and his family in jail, I hope they put them in windowless boxes, where the lights never go off, and the TV plays MSNBC re-runs 24 hours a day. I volunteer--hell, I'll be first in line--to visit their cells weekly to feed them dead rodents with a slingshot. That's a longshot, I know. But I will practice my neeners just in case. I have run out of holy-shits and WTFs. I no longer believe Trump and ilk can't lower the bar, won't devise another outrage, can't do yet another worse thing. I have stopped wondering what else could go wrong, so I brace myself and avoid apoplexy until this epoch passes.

Ah, shit. Then there's COVID.
posted by mule98J at 6:32 AM on November 22 [6 favorites]


Back in the early days of AIDS, there was a particularly nasty fight over the production of a test for HIV infection between the American test and the French test. The American test, created by Gallo's labs, was later discovered to be proven to be the result of Gallo's lab stealing the virus from the French.
Over several months, before there was proof of such a crime, and before the French had a test of their own, the French government refused to use the American test. This led to thousands of infections and deaths by not being able to screen blood transfusions and products for hemophiliacs. By not being able to inform those with the virus that they were HIV positive contributed to more deaths.
The French prime minister was put on trial for this. He was found not guilty. The French head of health department was put on trial and found guilty.
What Trump and his administration has done with COVID-19 response is much worse in terms of numbers of deaths.
I'm sure that if Trump were put on trial and Giuliana was his lawyer, Giuliani could argue the sentence down from life plus 400 years to life plus 200 years.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:10 AM on November 22 [5 favorites]


It's not at all clear he can pardon himself.
https://www.lawfareblog.com/self-pardons-president-cant-pardon-himself-so-why-do-people-think-he-can

Pardon Pence and everyone else, resign before Jan. President Pence pardons Trump. The mechanics of that appear a lot more robust, but it does rather beg the question of what Pence gets out of it.

That said, what Pence gets out of it might well be the aforementioned pardon.
posted by jaduncan at 7:30 AM on November 23


I'm sure that if Trump were put on trial and Giuliana was his lawyer, Giuliani could argue the sentence down from life plus 400 years to life plus 200 years.

I can only assume you mean "up from life plus 200 years to life plus 400 years." The Four Seasons Total Landscaping School of Law has only one alumni, and it's not gaining it a stellar rep.
posted by jaduncan at 7:32 AM on November 23


My simple version of this theory is that Putin used him to help advance his agenda. Putin was successful (probably) beyond his wildest dreams: assuming his long-range goal was to weaken the US's stature on the world stage and put us in a state of possibly irreparable political disarray. The chain of events emanating from Trump's presidency included weakening the EU. All of this enhances Putin's global influence even if the hegemony shifts to China. Putin's immediate objective, probably, was to get the US to lift a few sanctions, but he seems to have hit the jackpot. He must be having such sweet dreams these days. The question is, can Trump be of any further use to him? I believe the GOP evaluates Trump's potential to draw votes from their ever-constant base, the 30 percenters, a generous portion of whom are clearly nuts.


My Russian is not great; can anyone confirm that "useful idiot" is correctly translated as полезный идиот (poleznyy idyot)?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 9:59 AM on November 23


And so was the frivolous impeachment of Bill Clinton. Since both these were Republican actions, this becomes a partisan issue, but it shouldn't be.

Is perjury frivolous? I mean it seems trivial compared to now, but at the time I felt like we didn't owe him a get out of jail free card just because he was ideologically aligned with things I wanted. He got a popularity bump out of the Senate trial, which he might not have if there'd been endless whitewater rumors but no investigation. It's hard for me to imagine we'd be worse off as a country today if Clinton had been convicted in the Senate given what's come after.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:00 AM on November 23 [2 favorites]


Whitewater was like Benghazi. Absolutely nothing. The perjury was about his affair, which I find despicable, but it was not illegal to have an affair with an intern. He didn't lie to protect himself against the law, but to protect his wife and rescue his marriage. (And yes, if I were his wife, I'd prefer he told the truth, whatever it was, but those were other times).

The whole thing was the usual Republican playbook: since we, the Republicans, always do something illegal while presidenting, the same must be true for the Democrats. So we must investigate and hopefully reverse the eternal shame of Watergate.
posted by mumimor at 10:41 AM on November 23 [7 favorites]


Corporations are people, my friend.
So they say, but I wonder why those corporations under the age of 18 (or 17 or 21 as the case may be) are not subject to the same restrictions of human minors.
posted by MtDewd at 12:59 PM on November 23 [4 favorites]


He was defending himself in a sexual harassment lawsuit when he perjured himself. Hard to argue that wasn't self-interest even if it was a civil rather than criminal issue. Yes, very, very small potatoes compared to what we have now, but once again, I don't feel like we owed him anything. To the extent that forgiving Clinton his much more trivial but still loathsome misbehavior set the stage for the GOP to ignore the current travesty of a president I think we should regret that decision. At the time of Clinton's presidency I was almost 100% in alignment with his policies (I've grown since), but I still hated the guy. He was a charming asshole and the women around him paid for all the apologists who tripped over their morals to defend him.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:55 PM on November 23 [2 favorites]


>>It's not at all clear he can pardon himself.
https://www.lawfareblog.com/self-pardons-president-cant-pardon-himself-so-why-do-people-think-he-can

>Pardon Pence and everyone else, resign before Jan. President Pence pardons Trump. The mechanics of that appear a lot more robust, but it does rather beg the question of what Pence gets out of it.

>That said, what Pence gets out of it might well be the aforementioned pardon.


Can't Trump invoke the 25th, make sure Pence pardons and then rescind the 25th to pardon Pence? Seems like the most assured route to getting his pardon.

Mind you, I'm still hoping the state of New York goes after Trump hard, and no Federal pardon is going to cover that.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 6:18 PM on November 23


Can't Trump invoke the 25th, make sure Pence pardons and then rescind the 25th to pardon Pence? Seems like the most assured route to getting his pardon.

Well, Trump can't unilaterally do anything regarding the 25th, so it would be a fairly complex route requiring cooperation from multiple people. Possible, I guess, but I also don't think he's really capable of that sort of planning, and unlikely to "show weakness" by taking the 25th (which hinges on the President being "incapable".) He's a bully, a bluffer, a bullshitter; seeking a pardon in the first place requires admitting to himself and others that those tactics won't work. I doubt he can actually make that mental leap.
posted by soundguy99 at 7:08 PM on November 23


He was defending himself in a sexual harassment lawsuit when he perjured himself. Hard to argue that wasn't self-interest even if it was a civil rather than criminal issue.

I've said it for years, Clinton's mistake was in not owning it. He painted himself into a political corner where the obvious thing to do is never the right thing, because everything always has to be subject to compromise, and a solution without compromise is invalid by definition. But here there territory was clear: "It's none of your fucking business but yeah I fooled around with her. Look at her, she's hella fine! Don't tell me over half of the people in this room (no matter what room he's in) aren't doing or trying to do the same exact thing right this minute. Now fuck off or I'll have your balls cut off." He shoudn't necessarily be proud of it, but...

Cheating is so common as to almost never be a scandal anymore. Kevin Hart is the only one in recent memory? He's doing fine now. Now imagine how prevalent it is in DC. Clinton could have spelled out how it's just a family issue.
posted by rhizome at 11:14 AM on November 24 [2 favorites]


I agree with the sentiment but he wasn't just cheating though. It was cheating with an intern as one of the most powerful executives in the world. And a form of cheating that put the intern in a subservient role. I'm not sure a case of sexual harassment could be more definitive.
posted by Mitheral at 12:12 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]


For the record, they had apparently done some flirting when she was a White House intern, but the affair started when she had a job at the Pentagon. That's where she met up with Pentagon co-worker Linda Tripp whom she confided in.
posted by JackFlash at 12:40 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]


I'm not sure a case of sexual harassment could be more definitive.

You're not wrong. The problem there, though, is that the scope of the investigation he was being interrogated about covered a series of real estate deals, and there was no legal reason for them to even be asking him about in-office hanky-panky.

This is not to say that Clinton shouldn't have been dragged over the coals for it. Rather, this is to say that if you want your case to stick, you get a case together first, and then you call in your witness. You don't call in your witness and then when they disprove your allegations, you don't keep asking them random questions about other things they maybe also did because "we just wanna get him, we don't care for what".

It also does a disservice to Monica Lewinsky this way. Because she deserved a trial in which someone wanted to punish him specifically for sexual misconduct. That's not what happened - Clinton was impeached by people whose only mission was "we just don't like the guy". Her own involvement and her own dignity was 100% incidental. She deserved to have someone champion her case expressly.

Granted, I think a lot of us are feeling "we just wanna get Trump, we don't care for what" right now - but in his case, the evidence is so overwhelmingly in-our-faces that I think the "case-building" bit can be considered done.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:41 PM on November 24 [9 favorites]


It was a relationship with an intern that lent weight to Paula Jones accusations of sexual harassment. I barely care about what he did with Lewinsky who seemed like a fairly enthusiastic participant, I care about a pattern of behavior involving sexually harassing women who he had authority over.

EmpressCallipygos is right though that they gave Ken Starr way too much power to endlessly broaden the investigation.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:27 PM on November 24


In the documentary "The Hunting of the President" (not that great a documentary, unfortunately), the film included a jaw-dropping moment when Paula Jones is at a press conference and asked why she was coming. (From memory:) she answered, because I am being paid to. But I'm not supposed to talk about that. In the meantime, someone standing behind (her lawyer) is waving his hands frantically for her to shut up.
That scene colored my thoughts on Paula Jones. For me, it was always, I can believe the others, but not her.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 4:13 PM on November 24 [1 favorite]


Well, Trump can't unilaterally do anything regarding the 25th, so it would be a fairly complex route requiring cooperation from multiple people. Possible, I guess, but I also don't think he's really capable of that sort of planning, and unlikely to "show weakness" by taking the 25th (which hinges on the President being "incapable".) He's a bully, a bluffer, a bullshitter; seeking a pardon in the first place requires admitting to himself and others that those tactics won't work. I doubt he can actually make that mental leap.

I was thinking more along the lines of the formality of using the 25th for such things as surgeries under general anesthesia. This has been done three times. All by R presidents. One named Reagan. The other (twice) by Bush the younger.

On one hand, he could lie and say he was having a routine medical procedure and do his grift to force Pence to pardon in exchange for.... whatever Pence needs in exchange. (He's done a helluva job keeping his mouth shut for four years.)

On the other hand, I could see Trump, with his NPD, thinking that general anesthesia is a sign of weakness and no one will stick the charges to him anyway, so he doesn't even need a pardon.

I have about 57 days to not care one way or the other.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 6:04 PM on November 24 [2 favorites]


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