Thursday, April 18, 2024

Mary Trump sees similarities in the way her uncle, Donald, and Russia's Vladimir Putin view events that they see as not worthy of their time or attention

Mary Trump (right) draws a record-setting audience on The Rachel Maddow Show

Mary L. Trump -- psychologist, author, and outspoken critic of her uncle Donald's efforts to reclaim the presidency --  draws parallels between Donald Trump's view of his hush-money  trial in New York  and Vladimir Putin's similar approach to events he sees as not worthy of his interest. She also explains the importance of the hush-money matter, examines the volatile relationship developing between Donald and Judge Juan Mercan, takes an amusing  look at media coverage of the trial, and provides background on the jurors, mostly regular folks, who will help decide the fate of a former president in a historic proceeding.

For good measure, Mary Trump has become a hit on network television, with a record-breaking appearance on MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show in July 2020. 

At her widely read Substack page ("The Good in us"), Mary Trump writes under the headline "The Judge Blasts Donald: Five surprises and insights from Day Two":

Donald’s courtroom drama continues. Unprecedented jury selection, and a judge’s stern warning! Dive into the details about seven jurors who hold Donald’s fate and the judge’s unyielding stance against disruptions. Read On! 👇

Become a Supporting Subscriber Now

In yesterday’s piece, I covered what is going through Donald’s mind. Today, I’d like to discuss an important point about how the trial is being covered:

Amid the media frenzy and Donald’s theatrics both inside and outside of the courtroom, I worry that we’re losing sight of the gravity of the crimes for which he’s being charged. It doesn’t help, of course, that the case is being billed as a “hush money” case when there are more important things at stake. It’s crucial to make every effort not to let the spectacle overshadow the seriousness of the proceedings.

At the same time, we all deserve to revel in a little schadenfreude.

Growing up in the Trump family, I had a front-row seat to Donald’s actions and their consequences to other people. Yet it’s only now, in a drab New York City courtroom, that it feels like he’s the one facing the consequences.

The prospect of Donald being forced to sit in a courtroom for eight weeks brings me a sense of relief. It’s good to know, in this one instance anyway, that he’s being treated like any other criminal defendant. This moment has been a long time coming. Here’s hoping there will be much more like this.

(1) Unraveling the threads: the New York case in focus
Courtroom theatrics and the media frenzy aside (there are literally alerts every morning letting us know when the motorcade leaves for and arrives at the courthouse), we should not lose sight of the gravity of the allegations against Donald.

Ron Filipowski, an American criminal-defense attorney, former federal prosecutor, and noted legal analyst on multiple social-media sites, offers a compelling perspective:

“If Stormy Daniels had come out and told what happened two weeks before the election, on the heels of the Access Hollywood tape instead of getting paid off by Trump, the 2016 outcome might have been different. That’s why this is an election-interference trial.”

The alleged payoff to Stormy Daniels was not just a personal matter (paying Stormy Daniels to keep their tryst secret from Melania would not have been illegal). Instead, the transaction was a way to conceal information from Americans and potentially influence the outcome of the 2016 election.

This case is not about Donald’s personal conduct; it’s about his attempt to undermine the democratic process.

(2) The judge blasts Donald and warns him not to intimidate jurors

On Tuesday, after defense counsel Todd Blanche questioned a potential juror about her social-media posts, Donald gestured and said something in her direction. Judge Juan Merchan issued a stern warning to Donald for his audible remarks.

After the woman left the room, Merchan addressed Donald’s lawyer: “While the juror was at a distance of 12 feet from your client, your client was audibly muttering something … I won’t tolerate that.”

It is good to know that, from the outset, the judge has been quick to stomp out Donald’s disruptions.

Also keep in mind that being in this situation, even after only two days, it is nearly intolerable for Donald to sit there quietly. As he continues to hear disparaging comments, as he continues to submit to somebody else’s authority, the pressure will build. In some ways, I think this experience might be worse for him than jail.

Here’s to eight more weeks … at least.

(3) Here is what we know about the the first group of jurors selected:

Juror 1 is a “man who lives in West Harlem and works in sales. He is married, likes to do ‘anything outdoorsy,’ and gets news from The New York Times, Fox News, and MSNBC.”

Juror 2 is “a woman who lives on the Upper East Side and works as an oncology nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering. She is engaged and likes to spend time with family and friends and take her dog to the park. She gets news from CNN, The New York Times, Google, and Facebook.”

Juror 3 is “a young man who has lived in Chelsea for five years, works as an attorney in corporate law, and likes to hike and run. He gets news from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Google.”

Juror 4 is a “middle-aged man who lives on the Lower East Side and works in IT training and consulting. He is married with one child and two grandchildren. He said he has ‘no spare time.’ He gets news from the New York Daily News, The New York Times, Google, and X.

Juror 5 is a “young woman who is a Harlem resident and works as a teacher. She lives with her boyfriend, loves writing, theater, and traveling. She gets news from Google and TikTok and listens to podcasts on relationships and pop culture.”

Juror 6 is “a young woman who lives in Chelsea and works as a software engineer. She gets news from The New York Times, Google, Facebook and TikTok.”

Juror 7 is another white-shoe lawyer. He lives on the Upper East Side and according to court transcripts, “enjoys spending time outdoors and with his children." He gets his news from The New York Times, New York Post, Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post.

While he has “supported some of Trump's policies as president” he’s disagreed with some. "I don't know the man and I don't have opinions about him personally," he said.

(4) Rachel Maddow humiliates Donald for falling asleep at his trial

During her coverage, Monday night, Rachel Maddow said, “The wheels of justice grind slowly. I did not think they would grind so slowly that they would rock the defendant apparently to sleep.” Maddow reminds us that even in the midst of serious events, there’s room for a little levity.

“I know it’s not the most important legal thing, but we are in the middle of a campaign and the age issue is the main thing the Trump campaign wants to use against his opponent — the whole “Sleepy Joe” thing,” she added. 

“This is the most historic thing that Donald Trump has ever done. No [one has left the Oval office and become] a criminal defendant, and on day one, the headlines coming out of it are that he appeared to doze off. I mean it’s insane … it’s also a reminder that however scary and somber and important this is, we are dealing with someone who is fundamentally buffoonish,” Maddow concluded.

Honorable mention to Chris Hayes who told his colleague, "If you call your opponent ‘Sleepy Joe,’ you have one job.” You know, to not fall asleep in public.

(5) The diplomacy of drowsiness

I was recently reminded of a headline from the 2022 Beijing Olympics and thought it might provide some context for Donald’s apparent fatigue. During the grand opening ceremony, a moment that was meant to be a celebration of global unity, Vladimir Putin seemed to doze off.

This happened just as athletes from Ukraine were marching into the stadium, and the camera panned to Putin who was slumped over in his chair. 

The moment was laden with irony, given the tense relations between Ukraine and Russia. Putin had already built a significant military presence at their shared border, and the threat of invasion was looming. 

Putin’s poorly-timed nap could be interpreted in several ways, but the most obvious interpretation is that Ukraine and its athletes are so beneath his notice that Putin doesn’t feel the need to be conscious in their presence. I see a parallel to Donald’s current situation that could land him in trouble with the judge and the jury once the trial gets under way.

Donald may be tired, he may be medicated, but regardless, what message does it send everybody else in the courtroom that he can’t be bothered to keep his eyes open? How will the engaged and attentive jury feel as they are forced to sit there entirely because of him while he dozes off?

He is absolutely aware of the seriousness of these proceedings, so one can only infer that he has such contempt for them, and the rest of the participants, that he'd rather sleep through it all.

The jury will only see how tired, pitiful, and arrogant he really is — and none of that is going to help him.

Conclusion: How we all wake up from the nightmare of “Sleepy Donald”

Even while trapped in a courtroom, Donald and his presidential campaign are dangerous for America. I refuse to be a silent or passive observer while Donald continues to undermine our democracy.

This is where the power of this newsletter comes into play. I’m committed to shining a light on important stories the corporate media overlooks or downplays , while bringing critical information to swing voters. 

The importance of covering these stories cannot be overstated, especially when the media seems incapable or too inept to do so.

Defending democracy is my full-time job, a mission I can more effectively accomplish with YOUR support. 

Will you join me?

Currently, I have 207,260 free subscribers. If just 5 percent choose to be supporting subscribers for the price of a small coffee, I can extend my reach to even more voters. 

Together, we can help save democracy. 👇

❤️ Become a Supporting Subscriber Now ❤️

Thank you to everybody who becomes a supporting subscriber. I can only do this because of YOUR help. – Mary

If you have any upgrade or tech issues, please see my support page. If you’re already a paid supporter, THANK YOU.

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Juan Merchan fails to jail Trump after warning him once about the fallout of disruptive behavior, likely telling Trump that he is dealing with a weak judge

Judge Juan Merchan

The judge in  Donald Trump's hush-money trial issued a "stern warning" to the former president yesterday -- on Day 2 of the proceedings -- for, in the judge's mind, attempting to intimidate a prospective juror. The incident raises a number of disturbing questions about the judge's actions, and the most important one is this: Why did the judge issue a "stern warning," given that he already had warned Trump on Day 1 about possible arrest for disruptive behavior.

If Judge Juan Merchan takes these matters seriously, why didn't he throw Trump's fat, doughy, disruptive ass in jail for violating the first warning? Is Trump going to be given, say, 37 chances to disrupt the court  before actually facing the punishment Merchan warned him about. Oh, let me guess, Merchan is going to fine Trump. That is sure to have the self-described billionaire cowering in a corner, especially since fines have proven to have zero deterrence on his behavior. 

Better yet, Merchnn might put Trump on '"Double Secret Probation." That surely will have the kind of effect on Trump that it had on members of the Delta fraternity in Animal House.

With just a handful of words, Merchan personified two unsettling traits of the U.S. "justice system::

(1) We have a two-tiered system of justice in America. A White, wealthy, famous defendant, such as Trump, will receive way more deference than a defendant who has brown skin and only a few dollar bills in his pocket.

(2) Too many judges, both state and federal, are wusses or crooked or both. In the 17 years I've been writing Legal Schnauzer -- and by the way, we have been ranked among the top 50 independent law blogs in North America so our journalism on legal matters has received international recognition --  Mrs. Schnauzer (my wife, Carol) and I have seen dozens of examples of this. Too many judges treat the rule of law like a plaything, and they have zero respect for central provisions of the Bill of Rights -- with a special enmity, it seems, reserved for the Civil War Amendments -- Nos. 13, 14, and 15 -- which guarantee fairly important rights, such as the right to vote, the right to an objective judge, the right to equal protection under the law. and the right not to be enslaved. You might think judges would take such matters seriously, but we know from up-close experience that often does not happen. In a series of upcoming posts, we will expose, with specifics, corrupt and cowardly judges we have encountered from front-row seats. We will show you, in detail, how judges make a mockery of our constitutional and statutory rights.

So what is up with Merchan? Why doesn't he enforce his own warnings? My guess is that he is scared, both of Trump and his MAGA cultists. Given that some MAGAs could actually prove to be dangerous, I would say any concerns Merchan might have are valid. His main concern perhaps is that unhinged MAGAs might roll the trees in his front yard with toilet paper. But I have little doubt some MAGAs could pose a real threat and cause serious harm. In that case, I'd say it's time for Merchan to buckle up and grow a pair. In fact, he might want to contact Dr. Perry Cox, from the TV classic Scrubs, and have him write a prescription for two testicles. They might come in handy during the hush-money trial.

That brings me to another trait I've seen in multiple judges. Many of them seem to enjoy the pomp and perks that come with their positions. But when real courage is called for, they are likely to be found hiding under their desks.  

What happened between Mercan and Trump in a Manhattan courtroom yesterday? The Guardian provides an excellent overview under the headline "Trump rebuked as hush-money trial judge warns against juror intimidation; Juan Merchan admonishes ex-president for ‘gesturing and speaking in the direction of the juror’ as jury selection continues" writes:

Donald Trump met a stern rebuke on Tuesday from the jurist presiding over his criminal hush-money trial, with the judge warning: “I won’t have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom.”

Trump’s apparent misbehavior did not derail the trial’s progress; seven jurors were picked by day’s end.

Judge Juan Merchan’s comment came shortly after jury selection resumed following lunch. Trump’s team had found video on one possible juror’s social media that appeared to show a street celebration over Trump's loss in the 2020 election.

The prospective juror was called in to answer questions about it, and when she left, Merchan directly addressed Trump’s lawyers. “Your client was audible,” Merchan said, noting that the woman was just 12 ft from Trump.

“It was audible. He was gesturing and he was speaking in the direction of the juror,” Merchan said, insisting he would not accept such behavior.

“I will not have any jurors intimidated in this courtroom,” Merchan admonished. “Take a minute to speak to your client.”

Merchan's line that "he would not accept such behavior" is laughable. Heck, he already has accepted it. by failing to jail Trump for violating his first warning. Yes, Donald Trump should be behind bars right now, and, in my view, he should spend at least a week or more in the clink. My theory is that the longer he spends behind bars the more likely he will be chastened into following the judge's orders. Merchan might not realize it, but Trump is an overgrown toddler, and he never will fall in line if he perceives the judge is limp-wristed about doling out punishment. Here is more from The Guardian.

Merchan’s warning to Trump marked a sharp diversion from what was otherwise a relatively routine jury-selection process.

Trump had arrived at the Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday morning for the second day of jury selection in his historical criminal trial involving hush-money payments to a porn star.

When Trump walked into court around 9.30 a.m, the ex-president winked at a court security officer and took his seat at the defense table, his longtime aide Jason Miller seated at the back of the courtroom, according to a pool report.

On Monday afternoon, of the 96 potential jurors who were asked if they would have trouble being impartial, 50 raised their hands and were excused – further evidence of the challenge facing the judge of finding 12 jurors and six alternates who do not have strong biases either for or against Trump.

The Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg, brought the case against the former president over payments purportedly aimed at keeping secret his alleged affairs with the adult film star Stormy Daniels and the Playboy model Karen McDougall. Prosecutors said Trump schemed to keep these alleged liaisons hidden from American voters so he would not suffer in the 2016 presidential election.

I don't know where Juan Merchan keeps his testicles, but he needs to find them and put them to good use before someone really does get hurt as fallout from this trial. Keeping Donald Trump in line might be an unpleasant task, but it's part of Merchan's job, and so far, he is failing.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Trump nods off in court on Day One of criminal trial, prompting critics to blast him as "old and weak"; one wondered if this could happen in the Situation Room

Donald Trump nods off at Day One of hush-money trial (UK Express)

Perhaps the hottest topic on the first day of Donald Trump's hush-money trial was the former president's disheveled appearance. He even was reported to have fallen asleep several times during the proceedings. That gave critics a chance to mock "Sleepy Don" as "old and weak." It also allowed meme artists to have a field day. (See image at the end of this post.)

Perhaps Trump was drowsy because he apparently was awake much of the previous night railing about his legal travails on Truth Social. Whatever the cause, courtroom observers said it presented a bad look. Critics said Trump came away from Day One looking "old and weak." Raw Story expounds on the issue under the headline "'Old and weak': Observers roast Trump for taking 'nap time' at hush-money trial." Brad Reed writes:

Former President Donald Trump reportedly nodded off during the first day of his hush-money trial in New York on Monday, and it didn't take long for his internet critics to pounce.

According to New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman, Trump's head on Monday kept "dropping down" while in court, with his mouth going "slack."

Given all of the jokes Trump has made about his political opponents' stamina over the years, including his decision to label President Joe Biden as "Sleepy Joe" in 2020, many users on Twitter mocked him for not even being able to stay awake at his own criminal trial for a day.

"If Trump is too old and weak to stay awake at his own criminal trial, what do you think will happen in the Situation Room?" asked Pod Save America host Dan Pfeiffer.

"Sleepy Don ... doesn’t have the stamina, the strength, the manhood to endure even a few hours in court," cracked anti-Trump strategist Rick Wilson. "Sad! Weak! Low-T!"

The anti-Trump Lincoln Project, of which Wilson is a cofounder, sarcastically asked, "Where's Mike Lindell when you need him," a reference to the Trump-loving pillow monger who became infamous for spouting false claims about voting machines stealing the 2020 election from Trump.

"Poor baby," joked Twitter user Alison Berkowitz. "Nap time!"

The Twitter account for Republican Voters Against Trump noted the irony of Trump dozing off, given his nickname for Biden. "'Sleepy Joe' is projection, like everything else," they wrote.

David DeWitt, a former court reporter and current editor-in-chief at the Ohio Capital Journal, noted that he "never saw a felony defendant sleep during his criminal trial like Trump apparently is doing."

Twitter user Francis Maxwell, meanwhile, pondered just how the president's staunchest supporters would spin him falling asleep."How long before the MAGA cultists claim Trump was actually deep in prayer as opposed to taking a catnap during his own criminal trial?" he wondered.



Monday, April 15, 2024

Compared to the other three criminal cases facing Donald Trump, the Stormy Daniels hush-money case, which begins today in NY, could be more substantive than the American public has been led to believe

Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels (Getty)

Based on media coverage, Donald Trump's hush-money case in New York -- the one involving former porn actress Stormy Daniels -- has been a virtual afterthought compared to attention heaped on the other three pending criminal cases against the former president and presumptive Republican nominee in the 2024 race against Democratic incumbent Joe Biden.

But Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin says the public should not be lulled into a sense of complacency about the hush-money matter, which is scheduled to begin this morning in New York City. And the case's importance goes beyond the historic aspect of Trump being the first former president to stand trial on criminal charges. The case itself, Rubin writes, carries more weight and substance than many Americans have been led to believe. 

Rubin explains in an op-ed piece under the headline "Don’t overlook these five aspects of Trump’s N.Y. trial." She writes:

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg filed the first criminal case ever against a former president. Despite criticism that the case was small potatoes, the case is more substantial and more likely to lead to conviction and jail time than coverage has suggested. The 34-count business falsification case may be the only case against former president Donald Trump to reach a verdict before the November election. As a result, it may well shake up the presidential race. Here are five things to keep in mind as the trial begins today.

(1) The same key facts were considered in Trump’s first impeachment.

Trump’s first impeachment seems like ancient history. But House impeachment investigators interviewed Hope Hicks and Michael Cohen, and delved into the facts concerning payment to women to silence them before the 2016 election. The hush money scheme was grist for impeachment because procuring office by corrupt means can be a sufficient basis for impeachment.

While impeachment ultimately focused solely on the Ukraine “perfect call,” obtaining office by corrupt means is central to Bragg’s case. When Trump allegedly falsified documents to disguise the hush money, he violated New York law, Bragg will argue. (“The core is not money for sex,” he told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer. “We would say it’s about conspiring to corrupt a presidential election and then lying in New York business records to cover it up.”)

A conviction would impose accountability for the scheme that helped put Trump in the White House. That would be a key affirmation of the rule of law.

(2) Yes, if convicted his punishment might include jail time.

Norman Eisen, former counsel to House impeachment managers (who investigated the hush money scheme as described above), in an analysis and compendium of trial materials, “Trying Trump: A Guide to His First Election Interference Criminal Trial, employs a unique argument to conclude that “Trump’s case presents legally cognizable aggravating factors that make a sentence of incarceration not only possible but likely, and there are many examples of first-time offenders charged with this offense getting jail time.” Eisen explains how he reached that conclusion:

New York State aggregate case data suggest that approximately one in ten cases in which the most serious charge at arraignment is falsifying business records in the first degree (and in which the court ultimately imposes a sentence) results in a sentence of imprisonment. Our analysis of the raw data available from New York State shows that between November 2020 and March 20, 2024, there were 457 cases with a final disposition in which the most serious charge at arraignment was falsifying business records in the first degree. Fifty-five of these cases — or approximately 12 percent of the total — resulted in a prison sentence.

Comparing cases in which first-time offenders were sentenced to incarceration for falsifying business records in commission of campaign finance violations, he concludes incarceration would not be unusual punishment in this case. Since the judge in determining punishment would consider the number of other pending criminal cases against Trump and Trump’s behavior (e.g., threatening court personnel, flouting gag orders), he could well sentence Trump to some time behind bars.

(3) Tump’s counsel blew it on a possible immunity defense.

No matter the result, the Supreme Court’s decision on immunity in the Jan. 6 case cannot help Trump in New York for two reasons. First, the hush money scheme was set up before the election, although payments continued into his presidency. And second, Trump’s attorney dropped his appeal from a ruling from U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Hellerstein that the case could not be removed and was not preempted by federal law because “evidence overwhelmingly suggests that the matter was a purely a personal item of the President — a coverup of an embarrassing event.” Trump’s counsel let stand Hellerstein’s ruling that “money paid to an adult-film star is not related to a President’s official acts."

Having failed to keep the issue alive, even a very favorable ruling from the Supreme Court would not allow Trump to re-raise the argument. That’s precisely what New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan held last week in rejecting Trump’s last-minute gambit to delay the trial.

(4) Trump’s behavior could risk a contempt of court ruling — or worse.

Many Americans express frustration that Trump’s attacks on the courts’ legitimacy and on judicial personnel and their families have not been adequately punished. That may change.

Merchan issued an order on March 26 prohibiting Trump from making public statements about witnesses, counsel other than Bragg or their families, court staff, and jurors. Within days, Trump attacked Merchan’s daughter, leading the judge to expand the order.

However, out-of-court statements may not constitute the highest risk of Trump landing in contempt. He must sit in court day after day as former associates (such as Cohen) testify against him and prosecutors accuse him of mounting a coverup to win election. Few Trump-watchers think he has the self-control to remain quiet. What then?

The judge could set a series of escalating fines. (Judge Arthur Engoron in the New York civil case twice fined Trump for violating a gag order barring certain public statements; Trump soon stopped.) Theoretically, Merchan could also detain him, even briefly, in the holding cell behind the courtroom used for defendants not out on bail.

Trump’s true comeuppance: His behavior could adversely affect the judge’s sentencing decision and the jury’s decision on guilt. After all, they will have to decide if Trump is the sort of person to flout the law.

(5) Trump won’t have the ‘deep state’ to blame. And voters may cheer a conviction.

Trump continually plays the victim of persecution and election interference by an alleged “deep state.” (If anything, he is using trials and screeds about them to help win election.) But he’s wrong — and not only because he gets treated no worse, and perhaps better, than any criminal defendant.

Ordinary New York grand jurors indicted him, and run-of-the-mill trial jurors will determine guilt. As Karen Friedman Agnifilo, a veteran of the Manhattan DA’s office, reminds us, “This jury isn’t going to be forced down his throat. He will have chosen the people in this jury.” With 10 peremptory challenges (to eliminate a juror for virtually any reason) Trump will face his jury’s verdict.

Trump shouldn’t count on engendering sympathy for a conviction. Polling from Research Collaborative on the four Trump trials found, “Three-quarters of voters believe that if found guilty, Trump should serve time in prison, including 97% of Democrats, 80% of independents, and 49% of Republicans.” Another poll from Politico showed, “By a more than 2-1 margin, respondents said that a conviction would make them less likely to support Trump (32 percent) as opposed to more likely (13 percent).” In other words, voters may view a conviction and even incarceration as Trump getting his just deserts. No wonder Trump seems increasingly desperate to avoid trial.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Donald Watkins, of Alabama, was a friend of Johnnie Cochran; a talk over dinner with Cochran convinced Watkins that O.J. Simpson, who died last week, had killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman


Johnnie Cochran hugs O.J. Simpson (Associated Press)

Donald Watkins, of Alabama (now based in Sacramento, CA), and the late Johnnie Cochran, of Los Angeles, were nationally recognized experts in criminal-defense and civil-rights law and friends for many years. The two men met for dinner one night in New Orleans and wound up discussing a variety of legal subjects. When the meal was over, Watkins came away convinced that Cochran's client, former football great, actor and ad pitchman O.J. Simpson, had killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman in what became probably the most closely watched murder case in American history.

Why did Watkins conclude that O.J. Simpson was the killer? He examines that question and much more in a post over the weekend at his website. Under the headline "Did O.J. Simpson Kill Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman?" Watkins reveals hat his answer to that question is "yes." His insights are particularly timely coming on the heels of Simpson's death from prostate cancer last week, on April 10, at age 76. Watkins writes:

On April 10, 2024, O.J. Simpson died without making a deathbed confession to murdering his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman.

The question of the ages is this: Did O.J. murder these two homicide victims on the night of June 12, 1994?

O.J. was formally charged with the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman and tried on these charges. 

On October 3, 1995, a jury found O.J. “not guilty” of the two murders.

Blacks in America thought justice had been served in O.J.’s criminal case, while Whites around the country were enraged by O.J.’s acquittal.

Watkins then dives into his relationship with Johnnie Cochran. Watkins, now retired, and Cochran, who became one of the most famous lawyers in America, both clearly knew how to work a criminal case. From the Watkins post:

Friends, Peers, and Allies

Johnnie Cochran was a member of O.J.’s criminal-defense team.  Johnnie was also a friend of mine, a peer in the national community of criminal-defense lawyers who had won high-profile criminal cases, and an ally in the legal profession. 

Before O.J.’s case, Johnnie had won the freedom of Geronimo Pratt, a decorated military veteran and a high-ranking member of the Black Panther Party in the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s.  

In the early 1970s, the FBI targeted Pratt in a COINTELPRO operation that was intended to "neutralize Pratt as an effective BPP functionary." Pratt was tried and convicted in 1972 for the 1968 murder of Caroline Olsen.  He served 27 years in prison, eight of which were in solitary confinement. 

Pratt was freed in 1997 after his conviction was vacated because the prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence that tended to prove his innocence.  

Johnnie considered Pratt's release from prison "the happiest day" of his legal career.

In 1976, I won a full and unconditional pardon from the state of Alabama for Clarence Norris, the last surviving “Scottsboro Boy.”  Norris was one of nine teenage "Scottsboro Boys" who were falsely accused in 1931 of raping two White girls on a train running through Paint Rock, Alabama.  All of the "Boys"were arrested, tried, and convicted of rape. Eight of them were sentenced to death on multiple occasions. 

The U.S. Supreme Court saved the Scottsboro Boys on three occasions within hours of their scheduled execution.

The Clarence Norris pardon was based upon a finding of “innocence” of the criminal charge of rape, as proclaimed by the Alabama Pardons and Parole Board. This was the first pardon ever granted by the state to a person who was originally sentenced to death and who was later declared innocent of the charges for which he was convicted.

The Clarence Norris pardon, which was awarded to him in person, was the greatest and most satisfying accomplishment in my 43-year legal career.

Watkins' nationwide fame would come later, from his successful and historic defense of former HealthSouth (now Encompass Health) CEO Richard Scrushy. Along the way, Watkins prevented a federal prosecution of former Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington. Watkins writes:

In 1992, I successfully prevented a criminal prosecution of Birmingham, Alabama Mayor Richard Arrington, Jr, on federal public-corruption charges.  Arrington was a victim of the unofficial and unlawful COINTELPRO program. He was a designated "target" in a racially-motivated, Birmingham-based, criminal investigation for four years (1988-1992).

My criminal defense team ultimately persuaded the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington to decline the approval of an indictment in Arrington's case. I was also able to get the Department to issue its first-ever formal public apology to the “target” of a public-corruption investigation.

By 1995, Johnnie Cochran and I had earned national reputations for our work in high-profile criminal cases. 

That leads us to the dinner conversation in New Orleans. This is how Watkins remembers it:

The New Orleans Conversation

After O.J.’s acquittal, I saw Johnnie in New Orleans, Louisiana. We discussed Johnnie's work in O.J.’s case at length, including Johnnie's strained relationship with co-counsel Robert Shapiro and Shapiro’s post-trial criticism that Johnnie had played the race card “from the bottom of the deck” to win O.J.’s case.

Of course, I asked Johnnie whether O.J. had killed Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman, as charged in the criminal indictment. Based upon this private conversation between two friends, peers, and allies, I knew going forward that the answer to my question was a definite, “Yes.”


Johnnie Cochran died on March 29, 2005, while I was in the middle of a six-month criminal trial in the case of U.S. v. Richard Scrushy.  Scrushy, the founder and former CEO of HealthSouth Corp., was charged with leading a multiyear, $2.7-billion corporate fraud scheme.

My criminal defense team defeated federal prosecutors on all 85 felony charges in Scrushy's original indictment.

Unlike O.J. Simpson, Richard Scrushy was truly innocent of all 85 criminal charges against him. Under pressure from our defense team, federal prosecutors voluntarily dismissed 27 of the 85 felony charges against Scrushy in a superseding indictment.

I retired from practicing law in 2019.

Friday, April 12, 2024

Will the stock market's Truth Social tailspin cause die-hard MAGAs to get a clue, dump Trump, and finally start taking the 2024 presidential election seriously?


Donald Trump's Truth Social stock is crashing to earth, raising this question: Just how bad can it get for the severely wounded stock and the investors who unwisely put money into it? The Above the Law (ATL) legal website examines the wreckage and provides its take on the matter -- and does it with a touch of its trademark snarkiness under the headline "Truth Social Stock Price Tanks, We All Wonder, “How Low Can It Go?Jonathan Wolf, at ATL's Finance Docket newsletter, writes:

We can all agree that if this were a Limbo contest rather than a theoretically money-making endeavor, the Truth Social stock price would be absolutely crushing it. As it stands, however, all that this corporate fiasco is crushing is its small-dollar investors.

Shares of Trump Media & Technology Group, which owns Truth Social, continue to slide. When the markets closed on April 9, a single share was valued at less than half of the security's all-time high price of $79.

The Truth Social tailspin already has had unpleasant repercussions for its owner. We can only imagine how much fun it has been for retail investors, like MAGA supporters. Wolf writes:

The market bloodbath has been so severe that Donald Trump (the company's largest shareholder) was dropped from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a ranking of the 500 richest people on earth. Sad!

Of course, none of this is a surprise to most of us, given that Trump Media has almost no revenue and is rapidly bleeding capital. We'll see how close the stock can get to zero before the restrictions on Trump's personal shares expire.

What impact will this have on MAGA investors? That's hard to say. The rational ones -- assuming there are any -- might notice the blood dripping off their wallets and recognize this truth: If Trump can't run a relatively small company, maybe (just maybe) he's not the guy to be running the U.S. economy. But if the MAGAs' brains have shut down -- or never were turned on in the first place -- their support for Trump will remain firm, likely leading them, and our country, to a place where severe headaches (think recession, staggering inflation, trade wars, and other unpleasantness) are a part of daily life -- with a hapless malignant narcissist at the controls. What fun!

If the MAGAs examine the Truth Social tailspin and realize it's time to abandon Trump and take the 2024 election seriously, they could save themselves -- and the rest of us -- a whole lot of trouble. Hey, I'm a hopeful guy, so I actually believe that could still happen. But we are dealing with a glorified cult here, so I'm not counting on it.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

As Truth Social deteriorates into a smelly mess, legal experts see signs that Donald Trump has committed another crime -- and this time, it's securities fraud

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump

Evidence suggests Donald Trump has committed another crime -- this time it's securities fraud connected to Truth Social -- according to legal experts quoted in a new Substack post from Mary L. Trump -- psychologist, author, Donald's niece, and one of the most vocal critics of her uncle's efforts to return to the White House. At her Substack page, "The Good in Us,"Mary Trump writes:

NEW: Potential SEC violation committed by Donald, Jared Kushner’s murky foreign business transactions… Let’s dive in. Read on 👇

I’m going to let you in on something that often troubles me. 

There are days I find myself frustrated by the seeming invincibility of Donald and my extended family. On days like those, every scandal they’re involved in seems to slide right by, leaving them unscathed. It sickens me. It infuriates me.

But in my better moments, I understand this view is not accurate. 

The truth is, Donald is facing very real consequences for his behavior. This is especially true in New York, largely because of the diligent work of people like Letitia James and the relentless outcry of citizens from his own state demanding accountability. 

This has been a source of solace for me.

Because the corporate media often downplay, ignore, or spin any news that is detrimental to Donald or his children (think, for example, about how Hunter Biden has been covered, as opposed to Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner), l use my platform to ensure that such information receives the attention it deserves. 

Now is one of those moments.

Call to Prosecutors and the Media to Look Into Alleged Crimes of “Truth Social“

Members of the press, especially of the right-wing variety, have treated Truth Social, Donald Trump's publicly traded social-media platform, as a business success. But as Mary Trump shows, it has been far from a success:

First, a grim truth for Truth Social

Truth Social’s parent company, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), has been in a free fall since it went public. It’s so bad that yesterday’s continued slide of the shares’ value erased all gains since the DJT stock began trading.

It’s at less than half of the $79 opening price on its March 26 debut, plummeting his net worth. The drop has led investors to short-sell the stock… the ultimate insult.

There isn’t much Donald can do at the moment, because he’s barred from selling or borrowing against his stock for six months.

There’s some justice for you.

But, incredibly, he may have even more to worry about than losing billions:

 How Donald May have Broken the Law

Taking TMTG public might have led Trump to, once again, cross the boundary into criminal conduct -- possibly adding to his already overflowing courtroom docket. Writes Mary Trump: 

Aside from gag orders and bank and IRS documents, there are relatively few laws that prevent Donald from lying through his teeth at every opportunity… except, however, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s very clear rules. To wit:

“SEC laws prohibit the use of ‘manipulative and deceptive devices’ to pump up stocks.”

As the Trump Media stocks tanked, Donald took to Truth Social to brag about the financial stability of his sub-par Twitter knock-off. He wrote that the company held more than “$200 million in cash and zero debt” and that the platform’s follower count is “growing fast,” indicating that the “company's user base could be growing despite its issues raised by financial disclosures.”

The lawyer I spoke with, Joe Gallina, said Donald may have committed a crime. 

Further, per Newsweek, Stanford Law School Professor Michael Klausner said, “a false statement of ‘material’ information is securities fraud.”

He explained that Donald’s statements could be a case of “pumping.” That would trigger the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, which “governs the statements made by company owners that could affect investor decisions.”

Do you think it’s a leap to assume Donald used those words on purpose to drive interest in the stock?

The next key step, Mary says, is to investigate the inner workings of Truth Social

We can’t let up on this until the SEC agrees to look into Truth Social’s inner workings and verify whether or not Donald’s statements are fact-based. 

As he becomes more desperate, the rest of us need to become more vigilant, because…

Truth Social is Already on Prosecutors’ Radar for Inside Trading

As we reported recently here at Legal Schnauzer, Trump Media was struggling in 2022, and a Russian-American businessman named Anton Postolnikov-- with ties to Vladimir Putin -- arranged for loans from a bank (known mostly for financing the international pornography industry) in the island nation of Dominica to save Trump's fledgling firm. That led to the involvement of a Canadian businessman named Michael Shvartsman, who is a target of a sprawling money-laundering investigation. Shvartsman is a close associate of Poostolikov, who has been a target in an FBI and Department of Homeland Security (DHS)  criminal probe of the Trump Media merger with a shadowy blank-check company called Digital World Acquisition Corporation, which took the parent company of Truth Social public. Mary Trump provides more background:

Two individuals, Michael and Gerald Shvartsman, recently admitted to insider trading related to Truth Social. The Shvartsman brothers, who were early investors in Digital World Acquisition Corp (the company that merged with Trump Media & Technology Group), made more than $22 million in illegal profits by selling on inside knowledge, which they admitted in court.

Another individual, Bruce Garelick, who was also privy to the non-public information, has pleaded not guilty to similar charges. He is set to stand trial later this month.

Speaking of shady investments, and illicitly leveraging insider connections, let’s look at another Trump family member, whose actions are screaming for greater scrutiny: Donald’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

Jared Kushner’s Investment Firm’s Foreign Funders Stun Experts

Kushner, of course, is a familiar name in the Trump orbit, and his international financial entanglements are raising eyebrows with insiders who know about his peculiar machinations. Mary Trump writes:

Yesterday, a revelatory analysis found that 99% of Kushner’s investment capital has been traced back to foreign sources. This is not a common occurrence, and has raised questions about the propriety of such a financial setup.

This financial influx originates primarily from authoritarian governments, a fact that has led to concerns about potential conflicts of interest. His financial dealings have been described as “unprecedented” and “unusual” by economic analyst Steve Rattner.

 The Infamous $2 Billion The Media Refuses to Investigate

Swinging deals that involve $2 billion is one way to draw attention to yourself, and Kushner, intentionally or unintentionally, has managed to do that. Mary Trump writes:

This financial influx originates primarily from authoritarian governments, a fact that has led to concerns about potential conflicts of interest. His financial dealings have been described as “unprecedented” and “unusual” by economic analyst Steve Rattner.

In 2022, a mere six months after Kushner left the White House and four years after the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, at the direction of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, invested $2 billion in Kushner’s newly established private-equity firm. 

What does $2 billion buy? Here are a few leads the media should investigate:

In October 2018, only two weeks after Khashoggi was killed, Kushner urged Donald “to stand by the prince,” arguing that MBS could “survive the outrage.” This year, Kushner called bin Salman a “visionary leader” who has made the world better.

Of course, the Saudi investment was authorized despite reservations about Kushner’s lack of relevant experience.

Kushner’s firm has also received investments from state-managed funds in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. He’s used some of those foreign funds to invest in a $500-million real-estate project in Serbia. 

Why We Must Scrutinize Kushner’s Shady Dealings

In the past year alone, the rights and liberties of Serbia’s citizens have deteriorated significantly, representing the most drastic reduction across Europe and the country is listed as being only “partly free.”

But it has even bigger implications for the US.

Kushner has not ruled out a return to the White House under a future Trump administration. Here’s why his dealings with authoritarian governments matter:

  • Conflict of Interest

  • National Security

  • Ethics and Transparency

It’s critical we shine a light on this. Here’s how:

The Path to Holding Jared Accountable

Relaunch of the $2-Billion Investigation

The House Oversight Committee launched an initial investigation into the $2- billion investment in 2022, but the Republican majority put it on ice.

If you want another reason to help Democrats flip the House this coming election, this is a great one.

And while they’re at it:

Khashoggi’s death

As far as Jamal Khashoggi’s murder is concerned, there is still much we don’t know. Just months after Khashoggi was killed, a blockbuster report by the Intercept alleged that “Crown Prince Mohammed told confidants that Kushner had discussed the names of Saudis disloyal to the crown prince, according to three sources who have been in contact with members of the Saudi and Emirati royal families.” 

The article also alleged “MBS bragged to the Emirati crown prince and others that Kushner was ‘in his pocket.’”

These claims are largely based on circumstantial evidence, and there is no definitive proof linking Kushner to any shady Saudi activity. Given the seriousness of the matter, however, the fact that this hasn’t led to a major investigation is ludicrous. The House can investigate this too, and finally get justice for Khashoggi.

How do we get there?

I’m diving deeper into Donald and my extended family’s potential wrongdoings, while continuing to insist that investigations into their financial arrangements begin. 

And I’m doing everything in my power to flip the House, so all this can become a legal reality. We are SO close.

To continue this important work, I need YOUR help. 

By upgrading your subscription, you’re directly supporting the research, investigation, and dissemination of these crucial stories to the public, including helping provide subscriptions to those who can’t afford it.  

Will you join me?

I currently have 204,258 free subscribers. If just 5% chipped in for a membership at the price of a small coffee, I could reach even more voters with the stories that might otherwise slip through the cracks. Together we can fight to save democracy.👇

Become a Supporting Member Now

Thank you for those who upgrade, it means the world to me. 🙏
– Mary

If you have any upgrade or tech issues, please see my support page. If you’re already a paid supporter this button is not for you. THANK YOU!