September 5, 2023


Trump's co-defendants are already starting to turn against him (JOSH GERSTEIN and KYLE CHENEY, 09/05/2023, Politico)

In late August, an information technology aide at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort dramatically changed his story about alleged efforts to erase surveillance video and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Jack Smith, who has charged Trump with hoarding classified documents. The aide, Yuscil Taveras, was not charged in the case, but his flip may help him dodge a possible perjury charge prosecutors were floating -- and it is likely to bolster Smith's obstruction-of-justice case against Trump and two other aides.

Then, three GOP activists who were indicted alongside Trump in Georgia for trying to interfere with the certification of President Joe Biden's win in the state asserted that their actions were all taken at Trump's behest.

And last week, Trump's former White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows -- also charged in the Georgia case -- signaled that his defense is likely to include blaming the former president as the primary driver of the effort.

It's not uncommon for co-defendants facing serious prison time to point fingers at each other to make themselves look less culpable to an eventual jury. But rarely has it played out in such an extraordinary fashion, where the alleged ringleader is a former president.

During a hearing in Atlanta, a defense attorney for Meadows called attention to Trump's prominent role in what is certain to be a crucial element of prosecutors' case there: the infamous Jan. 2, 2021, phone call in which Trump demanded that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, "find" enough votes to declare Trump the winner.

Meadows arranged that pivotal call. But after prosecutors played audio of the call in the courtroom, an attorney for Meadows emphasized that his client's part in the actual discussion was both more minor and less provocative than Trump's.

"There's a lot of statements by Mr. Trump. Mr. Meadows' speaking roles were quite limited," Meadows' lawyer, Michael Francisco, observed as he cross-examined Raffensperger, who was called to testify by prosecutors.

"He didn't make a request that you change the vote totals -- Mr. Meadows, himself?" Francisco continued.

"Correct," Raffensperger replied.

Although Francisco made the point delicately, one could almost hear the screech of the bus tires. 

Posted by at September 5, 2023 12:00 AM