Let’s do a deep dive into the Trump trial verdict

May 31 – The jury in the hush money trial against former president Donald Trump came down with a verdict yesterday of guilty on all 34 counts. 

As soon as it happened, reactions came out from all over the world. 

Attorney Clint Barkdoll said, “When I heard the verdict came in yesterday, I immediately said he’s going to be found guilty because the old rule of thumb is when a jury comes back that quickly it’s almost always an ominous signal for the defense because they deliberated for less than two days. They deliberated for half a day on Wednesday, and then all day yesterday. I don’t know that much comes out of this, as odd as that sounds and not to minimize any of this.”

Sentencing is scheduled for July 11. 

Barkdoll said, “No doubt he’s going to appeal it. As I’ve said throughout the trial, I think he has a legitimate basis on any number of grounds for the appeal, one of which being that extensive testimony the judge allowed from Stormy Daniels, she got into all sorts of areas that seemingly had nothing to do with these charges. That’s going to be grounds for an appeal. This crime or the charge itself is going to be a basis for appeal. This was such a novel theory that the state used to prosecute him. Throughout the case a lot of experts have said they’re not even sure that this is legal.

In fact, the Wall Street Journal characterized these charges as a turducken. 

Barkdoll explained, “Meaning that he’s charged with a misdemeanor crime. But then if the jury thinks that the misdemeanor crime of falsifying business records was in furtherance of another crime, which never has to be defined, these charges then convert to a felony which is what the jury found. That whole series there is going to be problematic I think and we’re in appeal may get some traction. He will be out on bond pending appeal, meaning that there’s really nothing that’s going to happen to him. The appeal will take a long time to be resolved, well after the November election. Again, I’ll reiterate what I’ve been saying for weeks politically, this trial has helped him. He’s going to report a record haul overnight I predict in fundraising.”

Trump’s website crashed because so many people were trying to donate money. 

Barkdoll continued, “We know his poll numbers have spiked significantly during this trial. He’s been raising money like crazy. Again, in a weird way, I think this verdict plays right into his hands politically. We will see the next two to three days what the polls show, does this move the needle for him or against him? The rest of this story still needs to be told and it’s going to be many, many months until we know what that is.”

Michele Jansen of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “This is all unprecedented. This is all novel legal theory. This is all out of the ordinary and there never seems to be and I’m going to keep harping on this, the abuse of the process and there never seems to be consequences for those who abuse this process. The only thing you hear from anyone is you’ve got to vote them out of office then. Well, if you have a DA that’s rogue in New York City, he’s not going to get voted out of office. That’s ridiculous. I don’t know that there won’t be consequences. It seems just so unthinkable they would put this man in jail or what about confinement or wearing an ankle bracelet or some kind of ridiculous fine, it just feels like we don’t know what they’re going to do next. As much as it feels like you should be able to say that, I think it might depend on what’s going on with polls when the sentencing comes around as to what this judge might do. And why are there no consequences? If this gets appealed and this judge should have thrown this out, why is there no legal consequence to the people who abuse the system so badly?”

“These are excellent points,” Barkdoll confirmed. “The sentencing on July 11, I noticed at Alvin Bragg’s press conference yesterday he would not say what the prosecution is going to recommend. It is highly unlikely any period of incarceration will occur here, but it’s not impossible, either. But Trump does not have a prior record. He’s almost 80. There was no victim here. So it’s not like someone’s going to come in and say that they were harmed by this. Those are factors that would all weigh against any kind of confinement, but they certainly could do a fine. They could do some type of probation, an ankle monitor, I suppose that would be a possibility. Some or all of those would be suspended pending his appeal. There are some practical consequences here though.”

Then there are the practical consequences.  

Barkdoll noted, “On the surface a convicted felon is prohibited from voting in Florida. However, some reporters are now pointing out that Florida lifts that restriction if you have served your sentence, so if he’s ordered to pay a fine, or if all the other terms and conditions are no longer in place come November, he still could vote in November, but there’s some other things he’s not allowed to carry a gun in Florida as a convicted felon. There’s also this issue you’re seeing emerge overnight if he’s elected to the presidency, again, felons are not eligible to get security clearance and there’s this debate now I guess, within the intelligence community, could they still give him daily briefings? There’s clearly going to be workarounds for that. But there’s all these sorts of collateral things as well.”

What comes from the sentencing is another looming issue. 

Barkdoll said, “If Alvin Bragg comes in there on July 11, and asks for jail time, there should be outrage from everyone in New York City because we know the trend in New York City is not incarceration. This has been a big criticism about Bragg. They don’t want to send anybody to jail for anything. They’re looking for ways to keep people out of jail. So that’s going to be interesting to see what he does with that. Also in the next few days, do we see any jurors do an interview? As of this morning, none of them have come out. They are now allowed to do media interviews. That’s going to be very interesting, if any of them start talking to lend some insights on what was going on in these deliberations.”

Pat Ryan of NewsTalk 103.7FM pointed out, “We’ve got the sentencing on July 11. That’s days before the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee. Do they move that thing up? Why don’t you move that thing up a little bit or is it just too impossible logistically here? Or do you play it as, hey, this is great. We’ll get even more traction out of it because of the sentencing.”

Barkdoll suggested, “I think it’s probably the latter. The sentencing is almost always four to six weeks after the conviction. So that July 11 date falls squarely within that time range. The state may have accommodated Trump by not scheduling it during the convention. But again, I think this plays right into Trump’s hands. It gives him another piece of momentum, or to get people motivated to vote the week before the convention. I was struck yesterday to your point, you saw a number of Republican officials come out and say, don’t get mad about this, you need to get even by getting out to vote and I think Trump’s campaign team sees an opportunity here. Some of these people that may have sat on the sidelines, been not motivated to vote, might this be the kind of event yesterday and on July 11 that is going to motivate them to come out and vote for Trump?”

Ryan said, “He’s playing that absolutely correctly. If it’s him, then you’re next when it comes to this stuff in New York. You’ve got to be worried about the businesses and people in New York as they look at this decision here. Oddly enough, Mumbles (Biden) didn’t say much of anything yesterday. We respect the rule of law and have no additional comments. But you know full well, that machine is ratcheting up fairly quickly here. What will he (Biden) say when he goes out on tour?”

Barkdoll said, “If I was advising him, I would tell him to say nothing. I think he smartly said nothing yesterday, but I’ll bet he starts making this an issue on the campaign trail. I think you just leave it alone, but you’re seeing how difficult or sensitive this is politically. Look what happened to Larry Hogan yesterday in Maryland. Hogan immediately came out and encouraged voters to just respect the verdict. He wasn’t saying it was right or wrong, but just respect the verdict. Trump’s campaign manager immediately came out and said Larry Hogan, you’re done. The campaign is over. So anyone that comes out, even a Republican that would say respect the verdict, or even makes no comment, Trump I think is setting a marker there. He’s going to go after them and like with Hogan yesterday, you’re seeing the precarious situation that’s going to put these candidates in.” 

Ryan said, “That was a stupid move on to Hogan camp. That’s for certain.”

Jansen added, “For any Republican to pretend that this was a kosher, legal, it’s fine to say respect the word and I’ll say in the sense of I don’t blame the jury because I think they were put into an impossible and very confusing position. Now I’m starting to suspect the two lawyers on the jury probably helped to get that verdict because they’re Manhattan lawyers and the other because it was so confusing because they were given this fluid description of how you could convict him on some but not other but then it would count as all nonsense and this idea of some kind of federal crime that they couldn’t even speak really clearly, although it was so pushed on them through that turducken method you talked about. I don’t think people should be angry at the jury. I think they were manipulated, quite frankly and for Larry Hogan not to recognize, like okay, respect the verdict, but acknowledge this was completely out of the norm for any kind of judicial system, what we should expect or maybe say nothing but due process was denied. I don’t know how anybody can say that that’s not true. I wouldn’t blame the jury. But here’s the other problem. I know he’s going to raise tons of money on it. I do love the idea of getting motivated. Don’t get angry, don’t get mad, get motivated. Don’t get mad, get motivated. That’s a really good message, but I just had a guest here today say Trump can’t run for president now, right? See, this is the problem. People just hear convicted felons, and they weren’t paying attention to any of these details that we’ve been diving into and will that work? We only have a handful of states that really count. The polls are close. You don’t need to change that many people’s minds and it worries me that still that method of we just want to call him a convicted felon no matter what. If he does lose, will people accept the validity of this election now? These are all ridiculous things, parts of this that I’m afraid we’re not clear on how that’s going to affect the country.”

Barkdoll said, “To the question about can he run and be elected? Yes. Interestingly, there is no prohibition in the US Constitution for running or serving as president if you’re convicted of a felony, so that doesn’t affect that at all. I did see some polling on Fox last night that 2 to 3% of the Republican electorate said that they would be less inclined to vote for Trump if he was convicted of a felony. That may not sound like much, but you’ve got six states that are going to control this election. They’re all about 50/50. A 2 or 3% swing very well could make the difference in an election this close.”

Ryan said, “Frankly, if they’re that squishy of a Republican to not see exactly what’s in front of you or this activist judge, this activist situation here, I don’t know if Trump necessarily had them in the first place.” 

Barkdoll agreed, “Right and does he more than offset it for these under motivated voters that are suddenly more engaged now saying I’m going to register, I’m going to make sure I go out and vote and there’s where he may be able to leverage that into bigger turnout to wash out those ones that may now go away from it.”

Jansen noted, “People have to remember this is about re-litigating the Hillary Clinton loss. That’s truly what they’re doing. They’re saying he somehow committed such egregious fraud, that it was criminal and interfered with the 2016 election. It’s just unreal that we keep hearing about how horrible it was to deny the 2020 election when that’s what this really is about is a lot of denial of the 2016 election results.”

Could this end up at the US Supreme Court? 

Barkdoll said, “No doubt it’s going to be appealed. Trump’s own attorney last night did interviews on Fox and CNN and he said they’re going to appeal it as quickly as possible. It’ll first go through appeals through the New York State system. Remember, this is a state case, not federal. If they exhaust all of those federal appeals, there are scenarios they could try to get it to the US Supreme Court. There’s even a scenario they could try to immediately take it to the Supreme Court on the basis of an emergency or a public interest argument. Very, very unlikely and rare, though, that the US Supreme Court would wade into a state case like this.”

Jansen said, “They’re already putting pressure on the Justices that you’ll look a certain way if you would dare take this, I’m afraid. They’ve gone after a couple of the Justices talking about whether they should be recused from anything involving this. It’s nonsense, the pressure and manipulation that’s starting to happen here.” 

Ryan added, “And then nobody gets held accountable. You’ve gone over your skis. Where’s the accountability? Go back to Biden and him just thumbing his nose at the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said no, you can’t just hand out other people’s money and cancel debt here. But he said screw it. I’m going to do it anyway. So there’s not going to be any accountability for that. Why should there be any accountability on Bragg or the judge or any of them?”

Barkdoll said, “The only accountability that Bragg would have, he is elected so he does have to face the voters again. Beyond that, it’s very unlikely he’s going to face any consequences for this. There is a civil tort known as malicious prosecution, where someone could fall against a prosecutor on the basis that charges were made up or brought under false pretenses, evidence was withheld and some people listening are probably saying, well, that’s what happened here. The problem is because the jury entered a guilty verdict, that’s going to give Bragg cover for any of those kinds of civil claims. So it’s really unlikely there’s going to be anything that happens to him.”

Jansen asked, “How can justices in the state courts, though, as this goes through the process, how can they allow this? How can they not turn this over? What I’m worried about is we’re getting state by state, the kind of courts that just go along with the political party. We also have this just general abandonment of reality. Trump being the anti OJ, meaning it’s not about Trump and his particulars. It’s about who and what he represents, and that needed to be slapped down just like who or what OJ represented and that needed to be abandoned for the facts, we need to let him go because of that. That’s the frightening thing that our justice system is turning into.”

Barkdoll pointed out, “There is an issue here with this judge. This was raised early in the case. He made some very small contributions, $34, I recall was the amount to Democratic causes over the last couple of years. Well, I actually think that’s an issue. I realized, some say, well, who cares? It’s $34. Judges should not be in the business of making campaign or political contributions. That is going to be another issue that’s on this appeal. This judge, of course, was not involved in the verdict, but he made all of the evidentiary rulings throughout the case. Could Stormy Daniels testify? Could these other witnesses say things or not say things? So he was making all of those rulings that certainly persuaded what the jury was going to do. I wouldn’t be surprised if you see an appellate court address some of those things in a way that’s going to be favorable for Trump.”