Mon. May 20th, 2024

The legal downside to Trump’s very political trial strategy: From the Politics Desk

By 37ci3 Apr20,2024


Welcome to the online version of From the policy deskevening bulletin that brings you the latest reporting and analysis from the campaign trail, the White House and Capitol Hill from the NBC News Politics team.

In today’s edition, Senior Legal Correspondent Laura Jarrett explains how she brought her own legal team to Donald Trump’s criminal trial within a week. Plus, Meet the Press moderator Kristen Welker explains how foreign policy will define Joe Biden’s presidency.

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How Trump scrubbed his legal team before the first witness is even being called in his historic trial

By Laura Jarrett

For the better part of the past year, former President Donald Trump has tried to turn what would normally be a significant legal challenge into a political asset.

Four indictments and one mugshot later, he has successfully avoided any loss among his supporters. Even as he stepped into a no-frills Manhattan courtroom this week for the start of his first criminal trial, the legal downside of his political strategy became starkly apparent.


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The rules of criminal procedure do not change, regardless of the defendant, even for a former president. The courtesies and customs known among experienced prosecutors and defense attorneys are beginning to break down, if not completely break down.

At one point near the end of a long day in court Thursday, Trump’s lead attorney, Todd Blanche, asked if he could get the names of the first three witnesses the prosecution intended to call. This is a common and reasonable request. But prosecutor Joshua Steinglass overruled him.

Why? Because “Mr. Trump tweets about witnesses,” Steinglass said. “We don’t tell them who the witnesses are. Sorry.”

“I can’t blame the people for that,” said Judge Juan Mercan, who was attacked by the presumptive Republican presidential candidate.

The matter came up again on Friday afternoon and the prosecution agreed to hand over the name of the first witness to the defense on Sunday. But the bottom line remains: Trump’s legal team faces a distinct strategic disadvantage of having less time to plan cross-examinations of the state’s witnesses. In other words, instead of focusing all weekend on prioritizing the pending testimony of just a few witnesses, they’re all up for grabs.

All because Trump has been cracking down on multiple witnesses online and has only intensified his vitriol in recent days, despite a court order ordering him not to.

This is the year Trump’s legal and political lives are on a collision course. The only difference is that now it’s his own team that’s feeling the burn.


Trump’s latest trial: Jury selection wrapped up in a tense day inside and outside the courtroom

By Adam Reiss, Lisa Rubin, and Dareh Gregorian

Opening statements will begin next week Trump’s criminal case After the last members of the jury were seated on Friday, after a dramatic day in which two potential jurors broke down in tears, an appeals court judge denied the former president’s request to remain in the country, leaving a man he burned himself Before the New York City Court.

“We will have opening statements on Monday morning. This trial begins,” Merchan said toward the end of the day, after successfully seating the five remaining alternate jurors needed.

The case, the former president’s first criminal case, will be heard by a panel of 12 jurors and a total of six alternates. It is expected to last about six weeks.

The five alternatives chosen on Friday included an unemployed married woman who works in the arts and describes herself as apolitical, an audio professional, a contract specialist, an executive at a clothing company and a project manager for a construction company. Jury selection took four days to find 18 jurors.

Around noon, the judge set himself on fire in front of the courthouse, saying “we have a full team” in the courtroom. An NYPD spokesman said the man was in critical condition. Police said he had fliers describing a cryptocurrency conspiracy that he threw away before setting himself on fire.

Read more about the fourth day of Trump’s trial here →


Volodymyr Zelensky and Joe Biden.
Volodymyr Zelensky and Joe Biden in Washington in 2023Drew Angerer/Getty Images file

Important moment for Biden, Ukraine and Congress

By Kristen Welker

For President Joe Biden, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson, the decisive moment has arrived.

Can the GOP-led House pass the aid Ukraine needs in its two-year war against Russia?

If so, is it too late to help?

How much more aid does Ukraine need?

Given Trump’s past opposition to this aid, how much can be relied on in the 2024 election?

These are among the questions I plan to ask Zelensky when I interview him on Meet the Press on Sunday.

Congress’s struggle for aid to Ukraine also underscored an important point about Biden’s presidency: It has been largely defined, not resolved, by events abroad.

It started with Botched and deadly The US will withdraw from Afghanistan in August 2021.

Then on February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine.

And then came the Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, 2023, sparking a six-month war.

Last week we saw Iran start And Israel is firing rockets and drones at Israel he answered Thursday night, carrying out what appeared to be a limited response inside Iran.

“We don’t want to see it escalate. … We are not looking for a wider war with Iran. … I think, you know, the coming hours and days will tell us a lot,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby he told me last sunday.

Foreign policy Biden’s presidency has been fraught with ongoing congressional drama over Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and whether the United States will continue to provide much-needed funding to Ukraine.

All this creates a backdrop for the 2024 race to be hot.



🗞️ The best stories of the day

  • 🌴 Trouble in Paradise: A third House Republican — Rep. Paul Gosar of Arizona — has signed on to impeach Speaker Mike Johnson as a bipartisan group of lawmakers. moved to gather votes About four separate bills containing aid to Ukraine and Israel. More →
  • ⚖️ Portrait of Trump on trial: In the first week of his impeachment, Trump has been raising money and posting furiously on social media as he tries to control the story. More →
  • 🧑‍🌾 Origin story revisited: The New York Times investigates Pennsylvania Republican Senate candidate David McCormick’s claims about his humble farm upbringing. More →
  • ☀️ Sunshine Mood: Biden plans to deliver a speech in Florida next week denouncing the state’s six-week abortion ban as he continues to press Trump on the issue. More →
  • 🔴 Army watching the vote: Trump’s campaign and the Republican National Committee are promising to deploy 100,000 volunteers and advocates to monitor voting in battleground states this fall. More →

For now, that’s it from The Politics Desk. If you have feedback – like it or not – email us politicsnewsletter@nbcuni.com

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