Former President Trump was convicted on all 34 counts by the Manhattan jury. Actually, these are just the same alleged offence charged 34 times. The jury took its time but ultimately there was no brave juror who stood up against this travesty of a politicised case. Why politicised? The District Attorney Alvin Bragg got elected on an explicit charge to get Trump. Political donations in the US are public information and we know the judge in the case is a Biden donor. His daughter is a big-time fundraiser for Mr Biden. (I do not think that anywhere else in the anglosphere a judge in this position would refuse to recuse himself. The appearance of bias is patent.)

What else? The charges were brought in Manhattan where the jury pool was at least 85 per cent Democrat voters. The charges themselves were garbage. I say that. Jonathan Turley (a Democrat lawyer/commentator/law professor) says that. Alan Dershowitz says they are a disgrace. Bill Barr, no friend of Trump, says the charges are wholly politicised. So does Andy McCarthy. The list of non-Trump liking lawyers who say this is extensive. The ‘hush money’ payments weren’t illegal and indeed myriad American men have paid them, including Bill Clinton. Plus Trump paid this money himself whereas Hillary Clinton’s whole attempt to get Trump with the fake Trump dossier about Russian collusion was paid to her lawyers by her campaign – making hers a campaign finance violation not Trump’s. Yet Hillary was merely fined by the US’s Federal Election Commission a few tens of thousands of dollars. The FEC opted not to charge Trump at all. In fact, why was a state prosecutor able to charge federal offences? That’s not at all clear because the underlying offence supposedly making this a felony is not at all clear.

What else? This judge who oozed the appearance of bias put a gag order on Trump – the leading Opposition candidate for President could not comment on big aspects of the case, including about the judge’s daughter’s fundraising activities for Biden. The judge let into evidence all sorts of Stormy Daniels evidence that did not bear on the charges but which were highly prejudicial. (Again, this would not happen in any other anglosphere courtroom, even in Victoria of the ACT.) Then there is the fact the statute of limitations had expired on the book-keeping offence – because remember Trump was charged with that as the triggering offence. But that’s a misdemeanour. To make it a felony this payment had to be made in the course of committing some other offence. We still have not been told what that other offence is or was. Indeed, in summing up to the jury the judge’s instructions were incredible in various ways. It’s been a long time since I studied criminal law but I’m pretty sure you need both an act (actus reus) and an intent (mens rea) to make a criminal offence in the common law world. Both. But the judge summed up and basically said that if the jurors did not all find both for any of the charges that was okay. As long as they found an intent for any of the charges and, separately, an act on any of them. ‘It could be 4 for this, 4 for that, and 4 for that other one.’ That is not a unanimous verdict. I cannot see how it can possibly be a correct charge to the jury. Or so says Dershowitz, Andy McCarthy (of National Review but no Trump fan), Turley, Barr, the list goes on and on.

Then there is the fact that the number three official in Biden’s Department of Justice back in December 2022, Matthew Colangelo, opted to second himself to New York to help with this prosecution and was the senior counsel in the case. Till he arrived no one had think up how Trump’s conduct could possible amount to a criminal offence. The Biden big gun came up with the theory that prevailed.

What else? Well, this judge has now set the sentencing date for July 11th. Hmm… That is four days before the Republican Convention. Trump will have to attend the trial. The judge is aiming for maximum anti-Trump publicity.

So Hillary’s conduct was much, much easier to turn into an offence but she got a wrist-slap and a small fine. The judge reeked of the appearance of bias. The charges were risible. The venue was the second most left-leaning they could find in the country, nothing being worse than Washington DC for a Republican. The judge ran the case by basically accepting every prosecution objection, though few of the defence’s while allowing highly prejudicial sexual testimony in. His charge to the jury set out a theory of criminal culpability I’ve never heard of.

So brace yourselves. If you thought US politics were partisan before you ain’t seen nothing yet. Within an hour of the verdict Trump’s fundraising website crashed because so many Americans were donating to him. We will have to see if the judge sentences Trump to jail (because nothing would surprise me). If so I am still pretty sure that Trump will get that put in abeyance while he appeals. But this judge could well order Trump to stay in New York pending the appeal – making campaigning brutally tough for the Don. Now I would say an appeal is a near certainty to win. Eventually. But if you are in the game of weaponising the justice system that doesn’t matter because any appeal will happen after the election.

So a few comments to finish. First off, with this sort of behaviour the Republicans have to stop playing by Marquess of Queensberry rules while the Democrats play like Al Capone. There are all sorts of Republican counties, say in backwater Texas, where a Republican Attorney General could bring charges against a Democrat. Or Biden’s son. The list is not short. And I wouldn’t like any Democrat’s chances there. Once you start down this road any game theory person will tell you that the only approach that brings back civility is tit-for-tat reciprocity. Do unto others what they did unto you, only harder and stronger. Otherwise, why would the other side stop? I mean that question seriously not rhetorically.

Also, this case and this conviction changes the dynamic of the election. Firstly, I think it makes it more likely that Biden and Harris stay as the Democrat nominees. I’ve been thinking of late that surely the Democrats will ditch Biden. The guy is patently not all there. But this makes the old switcheroo ploy less likely. It also gives Biden an excuse not to debate Trump, debates that those with seeming senility would find very challenging.

You read it here first – wait for the ‘we don’t debate convicted felons’ line.

It also affects Trump’s choice for Vice President. He needs now to pick an accomplished campaigner because he may well be unable to move around to campaign rallies the way he otherwise would. J.D. Vance’s stock has gone up as the pick. Or maybe Trump goes to DeSantis now. I don’t think DeSantis was really in the running before this verdict but now it’s a pretty good idea.

Trump’s post-verdict comment was spot on:

‘The real verdict is going to be November 5th by the people’.

The polls in the aftermath of this verdict are going to be very interesting. They will tell us, for one, if the legacy press with its overt hatred of Trump still has much sway with voters. They will also tell us if anything at all can now change the locked-in views of voters. Because this was the Democrats’ Hail Mary play. If it fails there is going to be four years to respond. Brace yourselves for a rocky but fascinating five months.

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