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What’s in a name? Trump’s legal team faces an unusual balancing act: From the Politics Desk

By 37ci3 Apr25,2024



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 national political correspondent Jonathan Allen explains why the various name-calling at Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial mattered. Plus, senior political analyst Chuck Todd examines the impact of an apathetic electorate on the 2024 race.

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What’s in a name? Trump’s legal team faces an unusual balancing act

By Jonathan Allen

Many names have been thrown around in the first six days of Donald Trump’s silent money trial in New York.

“We will refer to him as ‘President Trump,’ out of respect for the position he held from 2017 to 2021,” Trump’s attorney Todd Blanch told the jury Monday. “As everyone knows, this is the office he is currently running for. He is the Republican candidate.”


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David Pecker, a longtime tabloid publisher who testified that he conspired with Trump in 2015 and 2016 to “catch and kill” stories that could hurt Trump’s election efforts, said in court that “I would call him Donald.”

Judge Juan Mercan greeted the former president on Tuesday with a standard address for the defendant: “Good morning, Mr. Trump.” It was also a uniform favored by prosecutors.

The what-is-his-name question is just one of the unusual aspects of the former US president’s first criminal trial, but it points to tension points for Trump and his defense team.

There’s a tough balancing act between Blanche’s one audience at the defense table and the audience of 12 in the jury box, and Trump, once the most powerful man in America and now a common defendant.

Trump requires his staff to call him “the president,” which is not unusual for former presidents.

But there are other reasons why Trump’s lawyers call him that. First, his broader legal and public relations strategy for the more consequential federal charges he faces is based on the argument that he is immune from prosecution for his actions as president.

While the New York defense team no doubt wanted jurors to conclude that Trump was too powerful to bother with the details of how an aide was paid to silence a porn star, Blanche suggested the jury was aware of the potential risk. if the defendant considers himself superior to his peers appointed to stand trial, he is alienated.

After explaining why she would call Trump “the president,” Blanche immediately tried to paint her client as a normal guy.

“But – and this is important – he is not only our former president. He is not just the Donald Trump you see on TV, read about and see his photos,” said Blanche. “He is also a man. He is a husband. He is the father. He is a person like you and me.”

Trump may be the most recognizable person in the world. Still, the jury must decide whether this Trump is guilty by any other name.

Read more here →


Will voters wake up by election day?

By Chuck Todd

The latest NBC News survey contains disturbing results. We asked the question we ask every election year — on a scale of 1-10, how interested are you in the upcoming election? And according to the results, we have recorded the lowest level of interest in the election in this decade. Fewer people chose “10” in this poll than in any presidential election year we’ve tested since 2004.

As I have recently documented, it is not surprising that so many voters are not interested in this election. Voters are desperate to change leaders, and yet both political parties have offered the same thing, so it makes sense that voters are less interested in this election than they were in the first Joe Biden-Donald Trump matchup in 2020 or Trump’s race. Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Finally, barring some event that changes voter mindsets in the fall, it looks like we’re headed for lower voter turnout. That has ramifications up and down the ballot, making third-party candidates — and the various idiosyncrasies of each battleground — even more important than usual. As diversity increases, so do the potential consequences of the Electoral College.

Ultimately, this poll only reinforces the trends I’ve been writing about for the past few weeks. This will be a late deciding electorate, thanks to voters who decided to settle for elections they believed they already understood without needing any new information. I truly believe that most polls between now and October will tell us very little. We know what 90% of the electorate will do – that is, the last 10% of swing voters who either swing between the two parties or do not vote – will decide this election.

The unattractiveness of the top of the ticket, combined with a sense among a number of voters that neither party has the answer on the economy or foreign policy, means Robert F. Kennedy Jr. can become a very strong ‘none of the above’ factor in deciding who exhausted the path to victory.

Read more from Chuck →



🗞️ The best stories of the day

  • 🌵 Abortion in Arizona: The Arizona State House has passed a bill that almost completely repeals the state’s abortion ban, with three Republicans joining all Democrats in the chamber to pass the measure, which now heads the state Senate. More →
  • ⚖️ Abortion at SCOTUS: The Supreme Court appeared to be divided as it grappled with whether the provisions of Idaho’s almost complete abortion ban unlawfully conflicted with a federal law aimed at providing certain standards for emergency medical care to patients, including pregnant women. More →
  • 🤔 Indecision 2024: An NBC News poll shows that 26% of registered voters are still open to changing their minds about the presidential candidate they currently plan to support. More →
  • 🖊️ Signed, sealed, delivered: Biden signed the long-awaited $95 billion aid package to Ukraine and Israel. The measure also included a provision that could have led to a nationwide ban on TikTok, although that would not have happened. Before the 2024 elections . Meanwhile, the Biden campaign plans to continue Using TikTok. More →
  • 🤫 Secret Meeting: Between days in court last week, Trump found time to call a secret donor meeting at the Mar-a-Lago club hosted by the Rockbridge Network, an under-the-radar group that sees itself as a front-runner for change. Republican Party. More →
  • ⚔️ Defeated hosts: Democratic Rep. Summer Lee and GOP Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick defeated primary challenges Tuesday in Pennsylvania, where voters chose candidates for key Senate and House races in the fall. More →
  • R.I.P.: Rep. Donald Payne Jr., DN.J., died Wednesday at age 65 after suffering a heart attack this month. Read the New Jersey Globe’s obituary here →

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

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