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Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s grand jury did reconvene Monday afternoon. They heard from one witness and adjourned without issuing an indictment against President Trump. That doesn’t mean they won’t, but at least they’re not in an all-fired hurry to indict in such a pathetically weak case.
You know the story: that Bragg, usually quite lackadaisical about prosecuting crime in his city, has been trying for months to fulfill his campaign promise to “get Trump.” The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York had already passed on the case --- even as Trump-deranged as we assume that office to be --- and so had the Federal Election Commission and even special counsel Robert Mueller. Top legal experts have expounded on how far Bragg is trying to stretch the law and circumvent the statute of limitations to charge Trump with a felony, but that didn’t stop Bragg. Maybe he wanted “bragging rights” for being the first to charge the former President.
As law professor Jonathan Turley wrote in a new column, “If you surf cable shows, you will see pundits in virtual ecstasy as they prepare for the possibility of a Trump mug shot or perp walk. The level of excitement could prompt Pornhub to do its first courthouse feed.” He noted the fake AI-generated pictures of Trump being arrested. So Bragg is looking at this as a give-the-people-what-they-want sort of thing.
But it might be “more fetish than fact,” Turley said, noting that a new Harvard/Harris poll shows 59 percent of Americans think an indictment would be politically motivated and 67 percent think the Trump payment to Daniels was a personal expense. And that’s WITH the news media being, well, what it is.
“...If much of the public continues to view these legal cases as political prosecutions,” Turley said, “Democrats may be handing Trump a winning hand.” And this: “Trump won in 2016 in part because many of his voters wanted to stick it to the media and political elites. So, a charge or conviction before the election could well turn that anti-establishment wave into a tsunami.”
Attorney Michael Cohen testified that Trump had “directed” him to pay off porn actress Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual encounter in 2006 that Trump continues to deny. The $130,000 payment was made in the weeks before the 2016 election, so Bragg is calling this a campaign law violation and claiming that campaign funds were used. Trump’s attorney has maintained this was a “private transaction.”
But last Monday, Cohen’s legal adviser Bob Costello testified that Cohen was lying, that he’s a convicted liar, that he has lied “hundreds” of times, that he had said he was so terrified of going to prison that he’d say anything on the stand, that Trump had nothing to do with the payment, and that it was made out of Cohen’s own company account, not campaign funds. (Trump’s company later reimbursed him and called the expenditure “legal expenses,” which makes sense since Cohen was his attorney.)
You’d think that after that, there would be just one thing for the grand jury to say: “Case dismissed!” They didn’t say that, but they did skip their scheduled meetings on Wednesday and Thursday, cooling their heels till yesterday afternoon. Three House committees have called for Bragg to testify about his investigation of Trump, and Bragg has insisted they have no jurisdiction.
In fact, last Wednesday, after a House Judiciary Committee staffer tried to get someone in Bragg’s office to talk to him and was hung up on, he called again and was told to “stop calling us with this bull-(BLEEP).”
The source for the NEW YORK POST story told them, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen any government entity respond to Congress in that manner. It’s quite embarrassing, but I don’t think anyone is surprised based on how partisan that office has become.”
“We evaluate cases in our jurisdiction based on the facts, the law and the evidence,” Bragg said --- in a written statement, maybe because he didn’t want his words to be met with uncontrollable laughter. “It is not appropriate for Congress to interfere with pending local investigations.”
So far, Bragg’s office has managed to forestall getting a House subpoena, but after that kind of behavior from his staff, it’s easy to see Congress serving him one soon. Bragg’s staff did not respond to a request from the POST for comment, which might be for the best considering their inability to be professional.
As FOX NEWS reports, the one witness the grand jury heard from on Monday was David Pecker, who was there for an hour and a half and had previously testified before the grand jury in this case. He’d been granted immunity as far back as August 2018 in exchange for that testimony. (We’re wondering: immunity for what?) Pecker was CEO of National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc.
His history with Trump included buying the rights to certain stories that might have proved embarrassing for him and then not running them, a process called “catch and kill” that is common in the celebrity world. As FOX NEWS reported in 2018, “His company allegedly was involved in the hush-money deals...the agreement allows Pecker to speak on what involvement Cohen and Trump might have had in those payments.”
Here’s that original story, but it still doesn’t tell us...immunity for WHAT?? What charges would Pecker have faced? It’s not illegal to pay someone as part of a non-disclosure agreement. If it’s for making false statements, why is he still testifying?
RELATED NEWS: Recall that I said it was ill-advised for President Trump --- whom I endorsed for President over the weekend --- to post the picture of him holding a baseball bat behind DA Bragg’s head, and also to make remarks that can be taken as incendiary. Trump spoke about that in the context of all the legal challenges he faces during an exclusive interview with Sean Hannity Monday night.
“It’s a new way of cheating in elections,” Trump rightly said of all the lawfare. “It’s election interference.” He’s leading in all the polls, he said, and if they can’t beat him at the ballot box, they’re going to do this. He said they’re “thugs” who “hate our country.” But he noted that people who aren’t even his fans are telling them, “Don’t do it.”
When Hannity asked President Trump why he would open himself to criticism by posting the “baseball bat” graphic, he explained that “we put up a story” without seeing pictures. The picture of Trump with the bat had been taken at some “Buy America” event at the White House honoring an American company that made bats in the USA. Someone else juxtaposed the picture of Bragg. “I didn’t do it,” he said. “They did it --- I guess the people who do the paper, or, somebody put pictures together.”
“We posted the story [a ‘very positive article’], but they then put a picture up, or the picture was put up, that nobody noticed or saw, or that nobody thought was bad,” Trump said. “These were two separate pictures.” This probably was just the graphic from the article itself. When he or a staff member posted the article, the picture came up and they didn’t look closely to see what it was.
As for his use of the phrase “death and destruction,” Trump explained he wasn’t calling for that, but that he was afraid it would come as the result of a prosecution that people knew was fake. And that is just what he said. Trump should know: his words will be twisted, taken out of context and/or maliciously edited whenever it’s possible to do that. He has to take care in speaking (and posting) because, as the saying goes, when you’re explaining, you’re not winning.
Here’s that must-see segment of the interview with Trump.