Thu. May 23rd, 2024

The central question hanging over Trump’s legal cases: From the Politics Desk

By 37ci3 Apr28,2024



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 Counsel Laura Jarrett examines the key question remaining in Donald Trump’s trial this week. Plus, with the Ukraine aid package already passed, “Meet the Press” moderator Kristen Welker looks ahead to the next big fight with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.

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The key question about Trump’s court cases

By Laura Jarrett

In the middle of a high value argument At the Supreme Court this week, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson asked former President Donald Trump’s lawyer a piercing question: “If there is no threat of criminal prosecution, what is stopping the president from doing what he wants?”

It’s not just about Trump’s criminal case in Washington — in which a grand jury indicted him for trying to overturn the 2020 election — but in New Yorkwhere prosecutors are asking a judge to hold him in criminal contempt because they say he assaulted potential court witnesses.

Trump is under a court-imposed gag order barring him from commenting on anyone who might testify in court, but he continues to post online about witnesses and stand in courthouse hallways against a former fixer-turned state’s witness.


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So what’s a judge to do when faced with a defendant who is the presumptive GOP presidential nominee? If the judge imposes a fine, as prosecutors have requested, will the defendant stand? If not, then what? In court this week, the prosecution argued that Trump appeared to be “reading” for jail time — presumably to gain martyrdom status with his political base.

None of this is normal. And the judges hearing Trump’s cases seem to be feeling the weight of his unusual circumstances.

Judge Juan Merchan in New York and Judge Tanya Chutkan in Washington have said at different points that for the purposes of their cases, Trump should be treated like any other defendant. But he is not another defendant. If he wins the immunity argument at the Supreme Court, protecting him from prosecution, he has rare status indeed.

Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch said Thursday at oral argument in the election meddling case that everyone agreed that “no man is above the law.” But the country’s legal system is now being tested in an unprecedented way, and we will see if it is right.


Trump trial, Day 8: Longtime Trump aide and bank chief each take the stand

Adam Reiss, Gary Grumbach, Jillian Frankel, and Dareh Gregorian

The prosecution examined the second witness The lawsuit against Trump There have also been attempts by defense attorneys to discredit what former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker said about a collusive scheme to benefit Trump’s 2016 campaign after he finished testifying.

Packer’s dramatic testimony was echoed by two other witnesses, including longtime Trump aide and concierge Rhona Graff, who testified under subpoena.

Graff said he worked for the Trump Organization for 34 years and was responsible for maintaining Trump’s contact list and calendar. The contact list, which prosecutors had a copy of, included former Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film star Stormi Daniels, Graff admitted. Both women alleged that they had sex with Trump in 2006 and that they were paid to remain silent about the allegations during his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump denied their claims.

For McDougal, the list contained many phone numbers and addresses. Contact information for Daniels simply said “Stormy” and included a cell phone number, Graff confirmed after listings were shown in court.

When asked by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger if he saw Daniels in the reception area at Trump Tower, Graff said he had a “vague recollection.” When asked if she knew Daniels was an adult movie actress, Graff said, “Yes, I did.”

The final witness on Friday was Gary Farro, the bank executive who helped build the shell company that former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen used to pay Daniels. Prosecutors are using his testimony to verify the authenticity of documents related to the operation. His testimony will continue when the trial resumes Tuesday morning.

Read the full recap of Day 8 of the Trump trial here →


Mitch McConnell’s next big fight

By Kristen Welker

Mitch McConnell During his decades as a senator, he has fought numerous political battles over campaign finance, against Barack Obama’s judicial picks and, most recently, over supporting aid to Ukraine in his war against Russia.

But the Kentucky Republican, who is stepping down as Senate GOP leader at the end of the year, finds himself facing a bigger fight: the fight against isolationism within his own party.

He teased her while discussing this exchange with me for an interview that will air on Meet the Press this Sunday. President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky After the Congress approved more help.

McConnell: He was grateful because he knew that the big problem was in my party. I think it was nice of him to point out that we got more votes than we did a few months ago. I think there’s a growing sense in the Senate Republican conference that isolation is not a good idea.

McConnell elaborated further in the interview later, telling me he plans to spend his time fighting isolationism within the GOP after he steps down.

Trouble for McConnell: The Republican presidential nominee has championed an “America First” foreign policy that many GOP lawmakers have embraced.

Case in point: More House Republicans voted against additional aid to Ukraine. And these are relatively new members of Congress — more than 70 of the 112 House Republicans who voted against Ukraine aid were elected after 2016. In the Senate, 10 of the 15 Republicans who opposed the aid package were elected after 2016.

McConnell could face an uphill battle with Republicans who criticize funding for Ukraine, such as Sen. JD Vance of Ohio. suggest This is the last aid package to pass Congress.

I asked McConnell about that and more in an interview on “Meet the Press” on Sunday.



🗞️ The best stories of the day

  • 🙂 You feel good: President Joe Biden has expressed his confidence that he will win the November election in the last few weeks, expressing frustration with the status of his campaign, which he gave to his aides just a few months ago. More →
  • 🗣️ This is controversial: During an interview with radio host Howard Stern on Friday, Biden said he was “happy to have a discussion” with Trump. “ANYWHERE, ANYTIME, ANYWHERE,” Trump responded on Truth Social. More →
  • 🚬 Delay, delay, delay: The Biden administration has delayed plans to ban menthol cigarettes that the FDA announced years ago. More →
  • 🧳 Heavy luggage: New data from the latest national NBC News poll finds Biden’s age and Trump’s legal troubles as the most persuasive arguments against their candidacy. More →
  • 👀 Perry’s Problem: The New York Times, Rep. Scott Perry, R-Pa., examines the challenges he faces as the only Freedom Caucus member running for re-election in a competitive district. More →
  • ☑️ Voice of protest: In Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary, there were more protest votes against Trump than against Biden, a warning sign for the former president’s prospects in the swing state. More →
  • 🤓 Nerd Prom Time: It’s the White House Correspondents’ Weekend Dinner in Washington, D.C., and NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell talked to Deadline about what to expect, why she chose Colin Jost as this year’s entertainer, and expanding her press coverage as president of the White House. Union of Correspondents. More →

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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