Sunday, April 21, 2024

Donald Trump and Jesse Watters, of Fox News, appear to be working in collboration to traffic in fake news that might amount to jury tampering in New York trial

Donald Trump and Mary Trump (People/Getty)

Donald Trump and Fox News have engaged in apparently collaborative conduct that could amount to jury tampering in Trump's New York hush-money trial, which heads into its second week tomorrow (4/22/24). That is from a  report at Substack by Mary L. Trump -- psychologist, author, Donald Trump's niece, and one of the most vocal critics of his efforts to regain the U.S. presidency in 2024. Under the headline "BUSTED: Witness Tampering by Donald and Fox;What you need to know," Mary Trump writes:

Donald and Fox News are caught in their efforts to intimidate the jury, as prosecutors ask Judge Juan Merchan to lay the smackdown on Donald for the 7 breaches of his gag order. There’s a lot to discuss in this update, so we invite you to read on! 👇

Normally, my issue with the corporate media is its failure to shine a light on stories that matter. But in this case, it seems some segments of the corporate media, primarily Fox News, is hell-bent on helping Donald interfere with his trial through jury intimidation. It’s a disturbing reality that we must confront.

Last night (Thurs., 4/18/24), Donald Trump posted the following on social media:

“They are catching undercover liberal activists lying to the judge,” Jesse Waters (Fox News host).

We have seen  no evidence that Trump's post was true, and Mary Trump cites multiple lawyers who say the court should treat it as a serious matter, designed to interfere with the court's ability to dispense justice in the highly publicized case. Mary Trump writes:

Lawyers and legal analysts, such as Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann, made it clear this was a serious breach, the most serious to date, of Judge Merchan’s gag order – one that should be dressed immediately. 

The fact that Donald was quoting somebody else is irrelevant. This seemed to be a blatant case of jury tampering, especially since, at the time this was posted, five jurors and all six alternates remained to be chosen.

I fully expected the next day's  proceedings to begin with the judge announcing that the so-called Sandoval hearing, which he originally scheduled, would be held before any other court business. This seemed to be a reasonable assumption, considering the purpose of that hearing was so the judge could rule on the prosecution’s contention that Donald should be held in contempt and sanctioned accordingly.

That is not what happened.

Juror Number 2 dismissed

It’s not uncommon for a juror to be chosen and subsequently let go during the selection process. That was the case with Juror Four after the prosecution discovered the man might have been untruthful in some of his answers during voir dire.

Juror Two’s circumstances were different. She was excused after telling the court that she had become concerned that her identity might be discovered after her family and friends questioned her about possible involvement in the trial following media coverage.

The fact that the judge felt the need to keep the identities of jurors anonymous is a damning indictment of the criminal defendant. And clearly the jurors understand the inherent danger of being seated on this jury. 

To put this in perspective, my friend and former U.S. Attorney, Joyce White Vance explained, “Typically, you would only see that happen in a case involving violent organized crime.”

Following the juror’s feedback, Judge Merchan reprimanded the press for reporting far too much information about the jurors. [Out of an abundance of caution, I deleted the section about the jurors from one of my earlier posts.]

He ordered a redaction of questions about potential jurors’ employers from the court record and told reporters not to reveal anything about the jurors’ physical appearance.

Unfortunately, Fox News and its “personalities,” such as Watters, under the guise of exercising their First Amendment rights, are engaged in an effort (whether coordinated or not; there’s no way to know just yet) to manipulate public perception and, potentially, the jurors.

Fox and the defense strategy 

In a disturbing display of media influence, Fox host Jesse Watters went through the list of jurors, with identifying characteristics -- such as employment, gender, place of residence -- and commented on each one.

Watters then singled out any jurors who didn’t align with his idea of what a juror should be (pro-Donald) and cast doubt on their ability to be fair and impartial. This is not just unethical, it’s dangerous. Fox, on Donald’s behalf, was actively helping Donald create an atmosphere of fear among the jurors.

In a just world, Watters would be fired for his irresponsible behavior, but Fox has no interest in justice.

Consider what Josh Kovensky of Talking Points Memo, pointed out:

“Instead of operating within the process of jury selection, which assumes that people are capable of setting aside whatever political beliefs or biases they may have in order to render a good faith judgment on the evidence, it casts the assumptions underlying that process as Trump’s enemy to be defeated, implying that the jurors themselves are incapable of both being impartial in their judgment of him and participating in a political system in which he is a main actor.”

Here is a take from entrepreneur, author, Twitter personality, and voice actor Brian Krassenstein:

MSNBC just massively called out Jesse Watters, Fox News, and Donald Trump for lying about the jury. I don’t understand how things like this cannot result in Donald Trump being thrown in jail. Fox News should also face repercussions. It’s one thing for the media to report on facts of the jury but another thing to make up blatant lies, which Jesse Watters has done in order to skew public opinion and intimidate jurors. There is a reason why a third of Americans have their heads in the clouds. That reason is Fox News.

Donald amplifies Fox, scares a juror, and breaks gag order

So far, here’s the pattern: A Fox personality attacks the judge or jury, and then Donald shares it on Truth Social as a way to give himself plausible deniability: He can distance himself from the quote by saying it doesn’t represent what he actually believes.

This is exactly what he did Thursday night when he quoted Jesse Watters.

Regardless of Donald’s attempts to pretend otherwise, this is a clear violation of his gag order and shows a blatant disregard for the legal process. He needs to be punished or this will spiral out of control quickly. We’re already seeing that his disrespectful behavior in the courtroom and flouting of norms — like refusing to stand when the prospective jurors enter the room or using his phone when nobody else is —has already gone too far.

The gag order was imposed to prevent Donald from publicly speaking about witnesses, jurors, court staff and their families outside of the courtroom. Donald has run out of chances, and his downfall will be of his own making.

Judge Merchan must lay the smackdown on Donald

Prosecutors have accused Donald of violating the court-imposed gag order SEVEN times since the commencement of the trial. And they will have a chance to make the case for Donald to be held accountable during a hearing this coming week.

They have pointed to public statements and social-media posts made by Donald over the past few days as evidence of these violations. They have described the situation as “ridiculous” and have called for it to stop, expressing frustration over Donald’s repeated breaches of the order.

Former federal prosecutor Shannon Wu has now called on Merchan to strengthen the gag order to any communication about the trial beyond Donald saying he’s innocent and plans to defend himself.

At the very least, Judge Merchan needs to be unequivocal in telling Donald and defense counsel that enough is enough. The repeated violations of the gag order and Donald’s attempts to interfere with the trial warrant serious repercussions. He cannot keep getting away with it.

Matters related to Donald Trump, Fox News, and the gag order  are expected to be among the first orders of business during a hearing when the trial resumes on Monday (4/22/24). Mary Trump writes:

Where do we go from here?

We have to fight back when the corporate media, such as Fox and its ilk, seem perfectly happy either staying on the sidelines or actively remain hell-bent on destroying democracy.

We also have to demand accountability whenever Donald breaks the rules. 

The good news is, our stories are getting picked up:

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