For an alternative view, see Point: Trump Prosecutions Should Be a Wake-Up Call to Conservatives.


I have 40 years’ experience as an attorney, during which I represented criminal defendants in scores of successful trials, and I can say with absolute certainty, having closely followed Donald Trump’s hush money trial, that it was more than fair to the defendant. DA Bragg, contrary to Trump’s lie, did not campaign on prosecuting Trump. Bragg had already been the Assistant New York Attorney General in the case that had successfully dissolved the Trump Foundation for collecting donations for it eight charities, including Army Emergency Relief and The Holocaust Memorial Museum, and using them for Trump’s political campaign. All Bragg had promised was that he would follow the hush money investigation that his predecessor, Cy Vance, had already begun, and “take it where the facts led.” After all, the very same case had been brought by the U.S. Attorney against Cohen years earlier, citing Trump as an “un-named and unindicted co-conspirator,” because DOJ policy at the time forbid prosecuting a sitting president.

In spite of Trump’s consternations to the contrary, the hush money trial was properly held in Manhattan, just as every criminal trial is held in the county where the crime was committed. Trump got 15 percent of the vote there in 2020, so odds were that at least two jurors had voted for him, and all he needed was one to escape conviction. That was his strategy. Moreover, his lawyer had only challenged one juror “for cause” alleging potential bias, which indicated that the legal team was satisfied with at least 11 of them.

In my career, I represented scores of political activists for crimes of political civil disobedience, and even a couple elected officials, but never knew, nor considered relevant, one’s political affiliation, and I didn’t know any trial attorneys who thought it a critical factor in jury selection. Trump is simply projecting his own misconception about how the justice system works by arguing that he couldn’t get a fair trial in a largely Democratic-voting county. In fact, his team was upheld many times in its objections, and no less so than prosecutors. If the judge was unfair, it was unfair to the people, not Trump, by failing to jail him for any of his ten contempt findings. Any one of us would have gotten a swift trip to the pokey.

If the trial was truly rigged against Trump, then, it was Trump who rigged it. He foolishly directed the defense strategy, telling his counsel that he was so “very, very smart, he could practically litigate it himself” (according to defense counsel Todd Blanche in a CNN interview of May 30). Although a mere modicum of “reasonable doubt” sufficient for one juror would have resulted in a mistrial – a win in Trump’s book, Trump insisted, instead, on another course, challenging Stormy Daniels’ entire account of their encounter as “never having happened at all,” which opened the door for the prosecution to have her tell, in great detail, every scintilla of what transpired right down to what toiletries Trump kept in his bathroom. When she was done, it became impossible to disbelieve her on anything. That made Trump’s team, conversely, look like the real liars. However, all that had been necessary for the prosecution to prove, and the defense to discredit, was that Daniels wanted to sell her story to the Enquirer, true or not. The defense could have just let the intimate details of it go unrevealed, and they would have had support from the bench to keep most of it out allowing them to focus on the relevant evidence in the case, but Trump didn’t permit that strategy. It was rational.

The evidence that most needed intensive focus to discredit on cross was the testimony of David Pecker about the meeting he had attended with both Trump and Cohen at Trump Tower in order to set up the “catch and kill” scheme to buy exclusive rights to this and other stories damaging to the campaign. Pecker’s testimony placed Trump in the driver’s seat of this conspiracy, corroborating Cohen’s years’ prior statements in the associated federal case.

Bolstering that was Hope Hicks, who tearfully told the jury that the campaign was “in chaos” after the release of the Access Hollywood tape, catching Trump touting the genital-grabbing privileges that came with his celebrity status. Hicks testified that one more story smacking of sexual predation would sink him and that the RNC was already preparing to dump him from the ballot. However, “very, very smart” Trump didn’t want his friends impeached on cross examination, so counsel left them, and their testimony, unscathed.

After deconstructing Michael Cohen on cross, Trump’s legal team was intending to wrap it, but Trump insisted they call Attorney Robert Costello, who had been hired by Trump to advise Cohen when he was under federal investigation in 2018 for his part in this same hush money conspiracy. Costello, from the stand, actually revealed that Trump’s intent in retaining him was to bully Cohen into not turning state’s evidence against him, an effort that ultimately failed, as Cohen pled guilty, cooperated, and was sentenced to 3 years in jail. The jury at that point had no alternative but to find that Trump was indeed the chief conspirator in paying for Daniels’ silence, then covering it up in order to steal his first election. At Cohen’s federal sentencing in 2018 for his part in the crime, the court said, “Together, these crimes implicate core defining parts of our democracy: Government funded by the people, free and transparent elections. And in committing these crimes, Mr. Cohen has eroded faith in the electoral process and compromised the rule of law.” Consequently, if the system is truly fair and justice blind, Trump should be likewise sentenced this July 11th to 3 years in jail instead of being dealt the kid-glove treatment he has received in his criminal cases thus far.

Indeed this trial’s verdict was rigged, but as an inside job perfected by its malignant narcissist defendant, whose bonehead litigation choices set in motion an inescapably unanimous verdict – “Guilty on all 34 counts!” For his remaining cases, Trump needs counsel that will do the right thing – plead him “Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity,” the only strategy that will keep him out of jail on all of them. In fact, since he hates paying lawyers and loves to win, I am offering to come out of retirement to represent him free of charge, and I will guarantee a win in every case with that plea. Then he need only submit to a mental institution until cured. That shouldn’t take long, right?