Tag: stormy daniels
Felon: Will Trump's Conviction Break The Authoritarian Spell?

Felon: Will Trump's Conviction Break The Authoritarian Spell?

It only took a jury a day and a half to decide that Donald Trump, former President of the United States, was guilty on all counts. He will wear the convicted felon label on his back forever, no matter what happens in November. A jury of seven men and five women voted guilty on all 34 counts against him. He will be sentenced July 11. The penalty includes prison time. He likely won’t go, and in the unlikely event that he does, Never Trump conservative lawyer George Conway told me the Constitution would likely be read to require that any state holding him open the cell door if he is elected in November.

But the verdict is another historic landmark in the long list of awful firsts that the MAGA cult leader has inflicted on our country since he rode down the golden elevator in the summer of 2015, enthralling first the media and then a swath of America.

The first of those horrors is the separation of millions of Americans from faith in the law and process of democracy. In the hour after the verdict, on Xitter, on Fox, on rightwing platforms and channels, MAGAs were blind with rage, spitting accusations. It’s a measure of the success of this one man’s assault on American institutions - “fake news"!” “Deep State!” “Rigged against me!” - that untold millions will refuse to accept the fairness of the trial. His people are so unplugged from our commonweal that they are willing to believe the Manhattan DA works for a Hungarian billionaire whose name the rabid right made synonymous with their own invisible donor-monster the Koch family. They are willing to believe that a sitting judge who spends his days in a cold, smelly courtroom at 100 Centre Street, and the men and women of the jury who did their civic duty in the same room and listened to all the evidence, were just pawns of Joe Biden and the Democrats.

Utter lunacy. Sadly, we’re used to it.

One of the rabble outside the courtroom was caught on camera threatening to go inside the courtroom and trash the place. AR 15 memes flooded the platforms. The sophisticates on social media flung profanity, the Overton window of civil political discourse long ago smashed by their Dear Leader.

“Bullshit!” Donny Jr. tweeted. “This Trump show trial is Bullsh!t,” wrote the soigné former Nixon aide, Monica Crowley.

Brother Eric, who squirmed in the courtroom through Stormy Daniels’ description of his father’s seduction technique, fumed at the outrage that a man could become a felon for just “a 130k NDA”!

Trained lawyer and TV personality Megyn Kelly, personally and obscenely trashed by Trump for asking him hard questions during a 2016 debate "(“she’s got blood coming out of her wherever!”) whined to her three million followers that “The country is disgraced” (yes, the rest of us noticed that, but back in November 2016).

Like so many Trumpers, Kelly also issued an implied warning, “They will rue the day they unleashed this lawfare to corrupt a presidential election.”

Rue the day. We’ll get you back. You’ll regret it. Threats, promises of violence, pictures of automatic weapons, bloodlust vengeance. All of it projected from their own Dear Leader and back out onto regular Americans just trying to make sense of it all.

Many MAGAs are now using the banana word. David Sacks, a grotesquely pro-Trump Silicon Valley billionaire, wrote, “There is now only one issue in this election: whether the American people will stand for the USA becoming a banana republic.”

The charitable view here is that Sacks is mainlining K with Elon and failed to notice that America went full banana republic on a summer night in 2016 when Gen. Michael Flynn led thousands of Republican delegates at the nominating convention in Cleveland in a chant of “Lock Her Up.” That Gen. Flynn ultimately got convicted himself (alas, not locked up) only proves the point, especially as he roams free today, another Trump pardonee like Steve Bannon, despoiling the political landscape and spewing conspiracy theories to low-information Q-Anon zombies.

Flynn’s rant and the crowd’s chant were unprecedented in American politics back then. It was shocking to witness the beginning of the idea of using the law for vengeance against one’s political opponents. In office, Trump tried to get his DOJ to manifest the authoritarian dream. But the “adults in the room” still clung to the mores of another era, and resisted, or quit.

The next administration will be vetted for people who won’t have those reservations. There may be none of them left.

Let’s be clear: the 91 criminal indictments against Trump are not “politically motivated.” Dozens of his minions in Arizona, Michigan and Georgia in the fake elector and January 6 conspiracy schemes have been turning like pancakes, or going bankrupt fighting a losing fight. He is recorded bragging about purloined classified national secrets.

Trump only still skates, he only still walks free right now because, contrary to the persecuted image he wants to project of “fighting The Man,” like the angry little guys who think he speaks for them, he is, in fact, The Man.

The New York judge and prosecutors bent over backwards allowing Defendant Trump to behave in ways that would have had any other accused individual locked up pre trial. Trump walks free with money in the bank even though he has already been convicted in a massive civil fraud trial, and of sexual abuse and forcible touching and then lying about it, in another civil case. Prosecutors have reams of evidence against him in the three criminal cases in two other states, cases that only thanks to the delay machinations of his lawyers and the horrifying ineptitude and bias of one of the judges, will not be decided before November 5.

Judging from the outpouring of anger at the conviction, his felonious status will not move his true fans. As historian Ruth Ben Ghiat wrote in her excellent book about modern dictators, from Putin to Xi, to Orban and Trump today and Mussolini and Hitler before them, the criminality of an authoritarian leader can be an essential element in his (always his, by the way, women need not apply) appeal.

“The strongman’s rogue nature also draws people to him. He proclaims law and order rule, yet enables lawlessness. This paradox becomes official policy, as government evolves into a criminal enterprise, Hitler’s Germany being one example and Putin’s Russia another. Millions around the world have found it intoxicating to be able to commit criminal acts with impunity… the thrill of transgression mixed with the comfort of submitting to his power turns the everyday into the exceptional, endowing life with energy, purpose, and drama.”

Trump was right about one thing in his surly first words to the public as a convicted felon, outside the courtroom, with his chagrined loser lawyer standing by (surely Todd Blanche was expecting to hear the L word from his belligerent client in the black SUV in short order).

The real verdict, the convicted defendant said, will be rendered on November 5. Right.

Will a majority of voters cling to the felonious leader’s fantasy that every institution and civil servant in America is utterly corrupted by “the left” and “Soros” and out to get him? Will they show up to vote having lost every iota of faith they ever had in the commonweal, in the possibility that their fellow Americans do the right thing in courtrooms and on juries and in the news media, believing that every non MAGA election worker, Capitol police officer, prosecutor, or New York state judge is engaged in a systematic conspiracy against Donald Trump?

The great question after today is whether the red F now stamped on Trump’s back, not unlike the Nixon tattoo on his fellow convicted felon Roger Stone’s back, will dampen the enthusiasm of any on-the-fence, decent, right-leaning voters still cued in to the possibility of the decency of our institutions after eight years of being persistently propagandized to abandon that faith.

Are there any left? Helloooo! Are you out there? Paying attention?

If so, you don’t have to vote for Biden. We will forgive you if you just stay home on Election Day and leave the man to his ignominious fate.

Reprinted with permission from American Political Freakshow

Nina Burleigh is a a journalist, author, and documentary producer. She is the author of seven books including most recently Virus: Vaccinations, the CDC, and the Hijacking of America's Response to the Pandemic and an adjunct professor at New York University's Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute.

Alvin Bragg

Why The Trump Guilty Verdict Changes Everything In 2024

This is the first day of the rest of the campaign for president. Donald Trump’s conviction on all 34 counts at his trial in Manhattan changes everything.

A PBS/Marist poll earlier this month found that 55 percent of Americans said they were paying “little to no attention” to the Trump trial. Those days are over. There will be no such thing as an uninformed voter from this day forward. Everyone, with the possible exception of a cave explorer spelunking a thousand feet down at the bottom of Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, will hear the news that a jury of 12 citizens of New York City found Trump guilty of falsifying business records in order to conceal a sexual liaison with Stormy Daniels.

But now that Trump has been found guilty, Americans appear prepared for this verdict. Even the New York Times/Sienna poll in April found that nationally, 46 percent of Americans said that Trump should be found guilty, with only 37 percent saying he should be found innocent. Today’s verdict gives new meaning to those numbers, confirming that a slice of the American public that included both Democrats and Republicans felt that what happened to Trump today should happen – not was likely to happen, but should happen. According to RealClearPolitics poll tracker numbers released this week, Trump leads Biden by only 1.1 points.

A Quinnipiac poll released a week ago found that 68 percent of Trump voters said that a conviction would not change the way they vote in November. A PBS News Hour/Marist poll conducted last week found that nationally 67 percent of registered voters said that a Trump conviction would not affect their vote.

That leaves 33 percent of all voters, including 32 percent of Republican voters, saying that a conviction could affect their votes. The poll found what they called “a narrow slice” of independent voters – 11 percent – saying they would be less likely to vote for Trump if he was convicted.

I think we know what effect Trump’s felony conviction will have on Democrats, but looking at the polls, the whole game changes from here on out.

In his summation of the case against Trump on Tuesday, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the jury that the scheme to buy Stormy Daniels’ silence “could very well be what got President Trump elected” in 2016.

Eight years later, the script is flipped: Trump’s conviction could very well be what gets Biden elected in 2024.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

Thank You, Stormy Daniels -- For Letting Us See Trump Being Trump

Thank You, Stormy Daniels -- For Letting Us See Trump Being Trump

It wasn’t a crime to meet a woman who acts in pornographic movies at a golf tournament. It wasn’t a crime to hit her up, so to speak, and invite her to have dinner later with you at your hotel. It wasn’t a crime to have failed to inform her that the dinner would be in your hotel room. It wasn’t a crime to greet her at the door in a pair of satin pajamas. It wasn’t a crime that you changed into regular clothes when she teased you about trying to imitate the lifestyle of Hugh Hefner

Chatting with the woman about her profession in the porn trade, it wasn’t even a crime to dangle the suggestion that she would make a good contestant on your hit television show, The Apprentice, as your quid for a yet unspoken quo. That’s the way a lot of business opportunities happen – you meet someone, you get to know them a little, and it occurs to you that they would be a good fit in your business endeavor.

The case could be made that it was all just banter between two adults getting to know one another. That is what Donald Trump’s lawyer, Susan Necheles, was attempting to do in cross-examining Stormy Daniels on Friday morning. She set the scene:

There was Stormy Daniels in Donald Trump’s hotel room, taking a moment to use the bathroom to freshen up. When Daniels comes out of the bathroom, the lawyer states, she was a woman who “acted and had sex in over 200 porn movies, right?”

“Right,” answered Stormy Daniels.

“And there are naked men and naked women having sex in those movies?”


“But according to you, seeing a man sitting on a bed in a T-shirt and boxers was so upsetting, you became light-headed and almost fainted?”

“Yes,” answered Daniels. “When you’re not expecting a man twice your age, yes.”

She didn’t have to spell it out for the lawyer, or the judge, or the press and public attending the trial. It was the moment she knew that all the banter about The Apprentice and whether there were unions in the pornographic film business, all of it had been leading up to the moment when she realized that Trump intended to have sex with her whether she wanted to or not.

Everyone could fill in the blanks. You don’t sit on a bed in your underwear waiting for a woman, any woman, to come out of the bathroom unless you assume that she is going to have sex with you. Not want to have sex with you. Not agree to have sex with you. Because you want to have sex with her.

Trump’s lawyer put it quite inartfully: because this was a woman who has acted in more than 200 pornographic movies with “naked men and naked women having sex,” the reasonable assumption by her client was that the woman would now have sex with him because he was Donald Trump.

See, there’s the gap in this whole thing – the yawning chasm that exists not just between Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels, but between Donald Trump and every woman in the world. Trump thought he could push E. Jean Carroll up against the wall in a dressing room and sexually assault her. He thought he could grope a woman who just happened to be sitting next to him on a flight across the country. He thought he could do the same thing to a woman sitting next to him in a restaurant. According to women who came forward to tell their stories in 2016, he sexually harassed and assaulted more than 25 women over the previous 30 years.

He's been doing it all his life, exploiting the gap between his privilege and everyone he comes in contact with, but especially women. What was it he said to interviewer Billy Bush on the famous Access Hollywood tapes? “So just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the pussy. You can do anything.”

Those are the unspoken words at the Trump trial on Friday -- unspoken by Trump’s attorney as she did her cross-examination. The words were not spoken when Stormy Daniels answered questions. And of course, those words were not spoken by Donald Trump as he sat at the defense table, and they will remain unspoken throughout the rest of the trial until the jury is dismissed to begin its deliberations. Trump knows what happened between himself and Stormy Daniels in a Lake Tahoe hotel room 18 years ago because he knows what has happened between himself and women for his entire life.

You can do anything.

He stripped down to his boxer shorts and t-shirt while she was in the bathroom because “you can do anything.” He had sex with her because “you can do anything.” He paid her off and bought her silence in the final days before the 2016 presidential election because “you can do anything.” He falsified his New York state financial reports to conceal that pay off because “you can do anything.”

So-called consensual sex between adults is not a crime, but every functioning brain cell in every human brain in that courtroom on Friday, including Trump’s female attorney, knew the truth. Donald Trump’s crime is his assumption that he can do anything and get away with it because he is Donald Trump.

Trump’s lawyer seemed to think that because Daniels was “acting” in pornographic films, that the sex wasn’t real. “So, you have a lot of experience in making phony stories about sex seem real,” the lawyer asked her, clearly not expecting the answer she got from Daniels: “The sex in the films, it’s very much real. Just like what happened to me in that room.”

In fact, in the motion picture business, everything that happens on screen is fake – the laughter, the tears, the blanks fired by guns, the car wrecks – everything, that is, except the sex in pornographic films, because the sex act in porn can’t be faked. The sex act is what porn is about. It’s what viewers pay for.

Donald Trump didn’t think about any of this because Donald Trump assumes that he can do anything he wants. Now in a Manhattan courtroom, he is being made to sit in a chair and listen to what he did. The crime he is charged with isn’t the sex, it’s the pay-off, in a kind of backhanded bookkeeping way. But quintessentially, Trump’s crime is his attitude. He is on trial for being Donald Trump and acting like Donald Trump has always acted, and it’s driving him crazy.

Thank you, Stormy Daniels. Thank you.

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.

Please consider subscribing to Lucian Truscott Newsletter, from which this is reprinted with permission.

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