Ka-ching: $18.3 M + $65 M = $83.3 million verdict against Trump (LUCIAN K. TRUSCOTT IV, JAN 26, 2024, Lucian Truscott Newsletter)

The New York Times reported that journalists in a nearby press room gasped when the full amount of the jury award was read out loud.

During summations today by Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s lawyer, and Alina Habba, Trump’s attorney, Trump’s Truth Social account made 16 posts in 15 minutes, all of them attacking either the judge in the case, Lewis Kaplan, or the plaintiff, E. Jean Carroll. After the trial, Trump put up a post calling the verdict “Absolutely ridiculous!” He charged, “They have taken away all First Amendment Rights” and said he would appeal. He also claimed, in all caps, “THIS IS NOT AMERICA!”

Trump is awaiting another verdict in a state courtroom in a lawsuit filed against him and his company for lying on applications for bank loans and insurance policies over a ten year period. The judge in that case, Arthur Engoron, has said he hopes to issue a verdict by the end of this month. New York Attorney General Leticia James has asked for a penalty of $370 million to be levied against Trump and his company, and for both Trump and the Trump Organization to be banned from doing business in the state of New York.

…and it’s headed out the door. Let a million suits bloom.


Trump’s Bad Day in Court: The first of many to come (JOYCE VANCE, JAN 10, 2024, Civil Discourse)

The most telling points in the oral argument centered on hypotheticals offered by Judge Pan. Judges frequently use hypotheticals to help them understand what a ruling would mean both for the case at hand and in future cases. Judge Pan posed three to Sauer, asking whether, under his view of immunity, a president could:

order Seal Team 6 to execute a political rival, and get away with it

accept a payment for issuing a pardon, and get away with it

sell nuclear secrets to a foreign power, and get away with it

Sauer argued that presidents can only be prosecuted if they are first impeached and convicted by the Senate. He, of course, has to argue this because otherwise, his client Donald Trump is in trouble.

It’s an unappetizing position. Sauer ran into still more trouble as the hypothetical was played out with both lawyers in turn, exploring the ways a president could avoid being impeached and convicted. They ranged from a president who resigns to avoid conviction, succeeds in concealing criminal conduct until he leaves office so he is never impeached, or even one who orders the deaths of his opponents in the Senate to prevent conviction. Under Trump’s theory of immunity, no prosecution would be available in these cases.

You don’t have to be a high-end appellate lawyer to understand that this argument is a stone-cold loser. At least in a democracy.

Judge Pan pointed out that Trump had taken a contradictory position in two earlier cases. During Trump’s 2021 impeachment and in Trump v. Vance where then-President Trump tried to prevent Manhattan DA Cy Vance from obtaining his tax returns, Trump’s lawyers argued he could be criminally prosecuted once he left office. Sauer was ultimately forced to concede they had taken that position then, but it’s not, he said “res judicata” here—not binding on Trump now. That one is a tough sell too, especially since Trump avoided conviction in the Senate by arguing he could be prosecuted in precisely this case after he left office. If the court accepts this view it would make a mockery of justice. This panel of Judges didn’t seem inclined that direction.

Trump is not the only former president who seems to have understood he could be prosecuted after leaving office. Judge Childs pointed out later in the argument that President Nixon was apparently so convinced he could be prosecuted that he sought a pardon.


Ray Epps, face of Jan. 6 conspiracies, to be sentenced (Ashley Oliver, January 06, 2024, Washington Examiner)

Ray Epps, who has been widely accused by former President Donald Trump’s supporters of secretly working on behalf of the federal government during the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, is set to be sentenced next week for his actions that day.

Epps, 62, was charged last fall with a misdemeanor for disorderly conduct in a restricted area and pleaded guilty.


Fanone says GOP lawmakers attempt to ‘whitewash’ Jan. 6 due to ‘politically inconvenient’ reality (NICK ROBERTSON, 01/06/24, The Hill)

Former D.C. police officer Michael Fanone lashed out against GOP lawmakers on Friday, blasting attempts to “whitewash” the Jan. 6 Capitol riots as something less than what they were as we reach the three-year anniversary of the violence.

“It pisses me off to see Republican lawmakers continue to spread the lies and conspiracy theories regarding January 6, in an attempt to whitewash that day, because it’s politically inconvenient for them to acknowledge the reality of what happened,” Fanone said during an MSNBC interview Friday.


Trump lawyers’ doozy of a filing on voter fraud (Aaron Blake, January 3, 2024, Washington Post)

The report, to put it lightly, is a mess. And that Trump’s legal team would see fit to include it in a filing would not seem to augur well for his defense.

The report begins with a series of astonishing and false claims. “In actuality, there is no evidence Joe Biden won,” its first paragraph concludes. It then recounts how Trump led in key battleground states on election night and maintains that, as of that point, before millions of votes were counted, “the election was over.” But even Trump allies had acknowledged before the election that the expected late arrival of ballots from populous and heavily Democratic areas, as well as mail-in ballots, would create an illusion of an early Trump lead — a “red mirage.” There is nothing suspicious about how those states flipped as time went on.

The introductory paragraph also includes a footnote that says Arizona “was fraudulently called for Joe Biden by Fox News” on election night. A network’s calls on any given race do not determine the election, and Biden won Arizona.

The mental gymnastics required to be MAGA may as well be an Olympic event.


We need to talk about Trump’s antisemitism (Noah Berlatsky, 18 December 2023, Independent)

Trump is most directly attacking immigrants and non-white people. He extrapolates freely from worries about South Americans crossing the Southern border to attacks on Asian people and African people, all of whom are tarred as a threat to pure (white) America.

The echoes of Nazi rhetoric here, though, also inevitably implicate Jewish people, white and otherwise. For Hitler, Jewish people were always immigrant outsiders corrupting Aryan society. The vicious Nazi propaganda film The Eternal Jew juxtaposed discussions of Jews with images of rats onboard ships, bringing contagion from port to port.

The invidious conflation of Jewish people and immigrants isn’t just in the past, either. The Great Replacement Theory is a conspiracy theory which argues that support for immigration is designed to undermine white power and white culture. Many versions of this argument are explicitly antisemitic, blaming Jewish “elites” for pushing for policies that increase immigration.

In 2018, Trump winked at an antisemitic version of this theory, saying he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Holocaust survivor and billionaire Democratic donor George Soros was responsible for funding immigrant caravans to the US.

The accusations against Soros were baseless but popular; he’s a favourite target of the far right here and abroad, who use him as a (barely concealed) antisemitic dog-whistle. And that dog-whistle can have horrific effects. That shooter who killed eleven people at Tree of Life synagogue was directly inspired by antisemitic Great Replacement conspiracy theories. He targeted the Pittsburgh synagogue because it partnered with HIAS, a Jewish nonprofit that helped resettle immigrants. “HIAS likes to bring invaders that kill our people,” the shooter wrote on the far right social media site Gab. “I can’t sit by and watch my people get slaughtered.” He then went off and committed mass murder.


What Civil War History Says About Attempts to Use the Insurrection Clause to Keep Trump From Office (ELIZABETH R. VARON, NOVEMBER 15, 2023, TIME)

We can gain valuable insights into Congress’s intentions by looking at the case of Confederate General James Longstreet, whose fate hung in the balance in the spring of 1868, as lawmakers staged one of their earliest debates on the application of Section Three. The discussion hinged on whether Longstreet and other Confederates were sufficiently repentant to warrant restoring their right to hold office. Repentance was the prerequisite for removing the barrier to holding office. That thinking indicates that the men who crafted and best understood the purpose of the 14th Amendment intended to bar someone like Trump —a recalcitrant, unrepentant insurrectionist —from holding office.

Anticipating the 14th Amendment’s imminent ratification that summer, Congress considered a bill, proposed by Illinois Republican Representative John Franklin Farnsworth, to preemptively remove the Section Three disability from a long list of Southerners who sought amnesty; they were largely former officeholders, who, having broken their oaths of loyalty to the U.S. Constitution and sided with the Confederacy, sought to renew their allegiance and regain their rights.

One theme, more than any other, dominated the congressional debates: repentance.

Farnsworth and the supporters of his bill insisted that they would only restore the right to hold office to those who had shown “proper repentance since the war.” Ex-Confederates needed to offer evidence of their contrition by renouncing rebelism, promoting peace, obeying the law, upholding the Constitution, and encouraging a spirit of national loyalty in others. Relief from Section Three disabilities was intended, as Farnsworth put it, for one “who now puts his shoulder to the wheel to support the Government.” […]

In the end, despite the uneasiness of doubters who felt that the long list of Section Three petitioners had not been deeply enough vetted, Congress passed Farnsworth’s bill (H.R. 1059) in June 1868, and Longstreet, along with hundreds of others (the list of pardon seekers grew as the congressional debate played out), was cleared for future officeholding.


Jan. 6 rioters the far right claimed were antifa keep getting unmasked as Trump supporters (Ryan J. Reilly, 12/22/23, NBC News)

In nearly three years since a mob of Donald Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election, far-right figures have made a claim that flies in the face of reality: That the Jan. 6 attack was actually driven by far-left antifa activists dressed up like Trump supporters, or by federal agents dressed up like Trump supporters, or by some combination thereof.

The only trouble with the conspiracy? The feds keep arresting these supposedly far-left agitators, and the rioters’ own social media posts and FBI affidavits show they’re just Trump supporters.


The Colorado court got this issue right. The case is now likely headed to the US Supreme Court. (ILYA SOMIN | 12.19.2023, Volokh Conspiracy)

The per curiam majority opinion does an excellent job of handling all the major issues at stake: whether the January 6 attack was an insurrection, whether Trump’s role in it was extensive enough to qualify as engagement, whether the president is an “officer of the United States,” and whether Section 3 is “self-executing” (that is, whether state governments and courts can enforce it in the absence of specialized congressional legislation). In the process, the justices partly affirmed and partly overruled the trial court decision, which held that Trump did indeed engage in insurrection, but let him off the hook on the badly flawed ground that Section 3 doesn’t apply to the president.

The case is now likely headed to the US Supreme Court. The justices may well hear it on an accelerated schedule, so as to resolve the case before we go too far into the GOP primary process. The Colorado Court has stayed its decision until at least January 4, to allow time for appeals to the US Supreme Court.

The 4-3 vote is not as close as it looks. Two of the three dissenting justices did so on the ground that Colorado state election law doesn’t give the state courts the authority to decide Section 3 issues. They did not endorse any of the federal constitutional arguments on Trump’s side. And these state statutory issues probably cannot be reviewed by the US Supreme Court, because state supreme courts are the final arbiters of the meaning of state law (with a few exceptions that do not apply here).

I think it’s fairly obvious that the January 6 attack on the Capitol amounts to an insurrection, and the Colorado justices also concluded this is not a close issue…


New York AG Ridicules Trump’s Failed Courtroom Hail Marys (Jose Pagliery, Dec. 18, 2023, Daily Beast)

“Unlike a fine Bordeaux, defendants’ case for a directed verdict does not improve with age,” AG special counsel Andrew Amer wrote in a court filing on Monday. […]

“The motion, as with many of the defendants’ courtroom antics and maneuvers during the course of this trial, is nothing more than a political stunt designed to provide Mr. Trump, his co-defendants, and their counsel with sound bites for press conferences, Truth Social posts, and cable news appearances,” Amer wrote.

But he also noted that those requests only got more ridiculous as time went on, because the evidence presented at trial only made it more clear—not less—that Trump routinely lied on personal financial statements to score bank loans and insurance policies. Justice Arthur F. Engoron shot down every attempt by the Trumps with increasingly exasperated shrugs ranging from “denied” to “absolutely denied.” And he’s expected to toss this one out too—perhaps for the last time.

In Monday’s cheeky, three-page filing, Amer noted that “additional evidence cannot possibly lead to a better outcome” for them.