Trump did not have a good day in court

After the jury was seated last week, yesterday was the second day of the trial for serial sex abuser Donald Trump (SSAT) on the charges of fraud arising from his payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 election. The only witness yesterday was the former publisher of the tabloid newspaper National Enquirer David Pecker who testified to working with then SSAT fixer Michael Cohen about arrangements to buy the rights to any damaging stories about SSAT’s affairs and then not publish them. He testified that his newspaper would be on the look out for those stories.

But that was not all. Pecker was also asked earlier in the campaign to publish negative stories about SSAT’s opponents in the Republican primaries

David Pecker is saying that during the campaign, Michael Cohen would call him and said “we would like you to run a negative article” on a political opponent, such as Ted Cruz, or Ben Carson, or Marco Rubio.

The prosecutor then got Pecker to describe what kinds of stories were involved.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass is now running through Enquirer articles which were in keeping with the alleged Trump-Cohen agreement.

One headline about a political opponent, featuring a photo of a girl with an uneven mouth, stated, “Bungling Surgeon Ben Carson Left Sponge in Patient’s Brain.”

Steinglass asked:

Were these headlines run in accordance with your agreement you had struck at Trump Tower in August 2015 with Mr Trump and Michael Cohen?.

“Yes,” David Pecker said.

Steinglass pointed to another example. “Ted Cruz Shamed by Porn Star” with a photo of a buxom blonde.

We would communicate what we were doing and the direction of the article with Michael Cohen and we would also send him the PDFs of the story before it was published so [they] could see the direction they were going and he would comment on them.

Of course all these people Cruz, Rubio, and Carson whom SSAT smeared are now sucking up to SSAT. They have absolutely no shame.

Another question about the trial is whether SSAT will testify. With his usual bravado, he has said that he will but opinions are mixed as to whether that will happen.

Trump told reporters on March 25 that he “would have no problem testifying” at the trial, stating that his testimony “could also make me more popular because the people know it’s a scam.”

Choosing not testify, however, cannot be held against him because the Fifth Amendment prohibits the jury from taking it into consideration. Even then, Schultz said, jurors “effectively” do it anyway. 

Should the former president take the stand, his defense attorneys have to concern themselves with his “hot temper” and ensure they control their client while being “very scrupulous” in imparting to Trump that he can’t lie under oath, Schultz explained. Trump being caught lying would both “hurt” him with the jury and “make it possible” for prosecutors to request to bring even more information in to “further impeach” him. 

Rahmani said he expects Trump will testify during the trial both because “this is as much political as it’s legal” and because Trump previously testified in his civil fraud suit.

He speculated that the former president will either further deny the affair and “blame his accountants” for the false business records, or admit to an affair with Daniels and say he paid her so not to “embarrass his family.” While Rahmani believes the latter outcome is “unlikely,” he said it could reduce Trump’s charges from felonies related to campaign finance violations to misdemeanors if true. 

Aganga-Williams argued, however, that Trump taking the stand would be a “terrible decision that would put him on the road to a conviction” because of his “history of lying.”

“Trump testifying would likely be a gift to the government,” he said.

My feeling is that SSAT will not take the stand. Opening himself to direct hostile questioning would be far too risky and his lawyers are likely to argue against him doing so.

SSAT’s intemperate behavior has already hurt his defense. It is the custom, though not a requirement, that prosecutors give the defense the list of witnesses the day before so that they can prepare in advance of the testimony. But because SSAT has been attacking Cohen and Daniels on his Truth Social social media, prosecutors says they are not going to do so in this case.

That would place Trump’s defense team at a disadvantage, a fact his lawyer, Todd Blanche, immediately recognized. Blanche promised [judge Juan] Merchan he could change Trump, claiming that he could “commit to the Court and the People that [former] President Trump will not Truth about any witness,” The Washington Post reported.

Merchan was unimpressed. “I don’t think you can make that representation,” he responded, also rejecting Blanche’s proposal that he be given the witness names with the promise that he not share them with his own client.

It was an extraordinary commentary on Trump’s self-defeating irresponsibility; the sort of behavior that got him a lecture on Tuesday objectively hampered his defense by Thursday.

Former federal prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, appearing on MSNBC, said the episode shows the court doesn’t trust Trump but also doesn’t trust his lawyers either. “When you have everyone operating in good faith and people comply with the rules, it is standard procedure” for prosecutors to share the next day’s witness list, he said.

“Obviously the judge has lost confidence in Todd Blanche,” Weissmann said. Normally, the judge would say, “I will give it to you, but you have to promise me,” he noted, “and that usually would work.”

Criminal defense attorney Ken White said that is an extremely bad development for Trump’s legal team. “It would be very difficult to exaggerate how bad it is not to know what witnesses are coming next,” White wrote on Bluesky. “The more witnesses and the more complicated the case, the worse it is,” he said, noting that the sharing of witness lists is “[n]ot required by law, but custom.

If one violates the norms, in other words, one shouldn’t act surprised when the norms are gone. For the former and aspiring president, however, it’s an unusual feeling, not being the one in the room who calls the shots and always gets their way.

“It feels like Trump is trying to show the judge who’s boss and, at the end, it’s the judge, the person in the black robe in front of the courtroom,” former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance told MSNBC. “It’s a novel and unique position for the former president to be in.”

The court will not be in session today and the trial will resume tomorrow.


  1. Silentbob says

    Honestly it’s like we’re trapped in some satirical movie about the US government.

    Could we all wake up tomorrow and the reality TV “you’re fired” guy being president was just a bad dream? No?

  2. birgerjohansson says

    Silentbob @ 1
    The fucking fucker has haunted newspapers every day -even here in Sweden- since 2015. I know what I want to say about him but I don’t want to get on a no-fly list.

  3. Tethys says

    He had an even worse day in the Pennsylvania primaries, where Nikki Haley garnered a very healthy 18% despite dropping out.

    Biden and the Dems on the other hand, crushed it in this very important swing state. From WaPo.

    Pennsylvania will allocate 159 Democratic delegates and 16 Republican delegates based on presidential primary results.

    Congratulations Pennsylvania!!

  4. says

    Congratulations Pennsylvania!!

    Out here in rural Pa, there are still Trump signs and stickers, but they’re years old, faded and weathered. I don’t see new stuff going up. For one thing, Trump’s campaign is nonexistent -- there are no roadside stands giving out paraphrenalia. Biden’s campaign is also nonexistent out here, though the cities are getting astroturfed.

  5. jenorafeuer says

    In the contempt hearing for violating his gag order, the judge explicitly told Blanche “You are losing all credibility with the court.” (I think this was after the lawyer tried to argue that Trump had to speak out because he was being directly attacked online, but then failed to show even a single example of such an attack. And this after having had multiple days to prepare for the contempt hearing.) That falls pretty deep into the territory of ‘things a lawyer never wants to hear a judge say to him’.

    It would be easier to feel sorry for the lawyers if their current trapped status weren’t mostly of their own making, though.

    The fact that one of the jurors already quit because her identity was mostly already tracked down by one of the Fox ‘News’ hosts really just hammers home that Trump and his team engage in mob boss intimidation tactics, and definitely justifies giving them no more information than legally required.

  6. StonedRanger says

    Although I would love to see it, I dont believe I will live to see the day he goes to jail with the exception of a day trip for contempt. There is too much money and too much power at stake, and he will play his playbook til the end. Appeal, appeal, appeal. He will probably drop dead first.

  7. Tethys says

    I think this trial is the beginning of the end for tfg. The sheer tawdriness of the slimeball on full display is going to be as well received by deep pocketed donors as when that twit Cawthorn starting talking about his fellow Republicans coke fueled sex orgies.

    As to jail time, I wouldn’t bet against NY. They did eventually manage to convict another ‘Teflon Don’ to life in prison, and their recent record is NY 3, Trump 0.

    Marcus @4

    Out here in rural Pa, there are still Trump signs and stickers, but they’re years old, faded and weathered. I don’t see new stuff going up.

    The economic distress in rural America is a real problem which needs addressing, so I can understand the lack of enthusiasm for politics and do nothing government in most rural areas.

    I’m hopeful that progressive candidates will continue to gain traction. I’m most impressed with this campaign Ad from an agricultural engineer running for Senator in North Dakota. She doesn’t mention party affiliation once, but she is quite outspoken about the decades of corporate greed that has decimated rural economies.

    I hope your Governor is taking action to use the resources Biden made available to build infrastructure and green manufacturing facilities in the former coal mining districts as well as the urban areas.

  8. Silentbob says

    @ 8 Tethys

    I would love, love, love to believe you. But I witnessed this guy boasting about about grabbing women “by the pussy”, and going on to be elected president. :-/

    That tape of Trump boasting about sexual assault didn’t come out later. It was before he was elected.

  9. sonofrojblake says

    “I think this trial is the beginning of the end for tfg”

    For sure… the beginning. It wasn’t the beginning when he ridiculed that disabled guy. It wasn’t the beginning when the access Hollywood tape came out. It wasn’t the beginning when he said covid would just disappear like a miracle. It wasn’t the beginning when he talked about using bleach to cure it. It wasn’t the beginning when he lost to Biden. It wasn’t the beginning when he was taped asking that guy to “find” 11,000 votes. It wasn’t the beginning when he ACTIVELY INCITED VIOLENT INSURRECTION.

    This is the beginning. Sure.

  10. Tethys says

    I suspect that the people of Oz and GB do not understand many things about America.

    Firstly, you simply don’t comprehend the sheer size of America. Every foreign exchange student I have hosted has boggled at the fact that it’s just so BIG and diverse. There are nearly as many people in Florida as there are in Australia. Both Texas and California have even larger populations.

    Secondly, you do not understand our electoral system of electing a POTUS. In 2018, a bunch of American voters also needed a refresher course on how that outdated system works. Their complacency in NOT VOTING is the major reason tfg barely won.

    80,000 votes in three states was his ‘winning’ margin.
    In PA just this week, about 150,000 registered Republican voters took the time to deliberately cast their primary vote for Nikki Haley, despite the fact that she dropped out seven weeks ago.

    PA is widely held to be a ‘battleground’ state again this year, and those numbers are a death knell for maga.
    The GOP really fucked themselves with attacking women’s reproductive rights.

  11. sonofrojblake says

    “Their complacency in NOT VOTING is the major reason tfg barely won.”

    (tap tap) is this thing on?

  12. KG says

    His lawyers would be utter fools if they let him testify -- the combination of malignant narcissism and dementia will make him extraordinarily vulnerable to an error that gets him convicted. If he insists, they should tell him they can no longer represent him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *