Tue. Jun 18th, 2024

Trump increasingly relies on allies to deliver the attack lines the gag order bars him from uttering

By 37ci3 May21,2024

Donald Trump has called the politicians who have made the pilgrimage to stand behind him at his trial in New York City his “surrogates” — launching a series of personal attacks barred by traffic jams. order.

The coordination and organization between Trump and these supporters has raised questions about whether the Republicans’ statements were a violation of Trump’s gag order. But legal experts say it’s hard for prosecutors to argue that a violation occurred when Trump isn’t talking, and even if they succeed, it could lead to the outcome they’re trying to avoid: sending Trump to prison. .

The gag order, which found Trump in criminal contempt for 10 felonies, prohibits him from assaulting witnesses, prosecutors, jurors or court staff, as well as their families and the judge presiding over the case. State Judge Juan Merchan cited Trump for the violations, warning that further missteps could result in him being sent to prison, despite prosecutors insisting they don’t want him jailed.

Unable to fix his favorite lines of attack, Trump attacked the gag order itself and Merchan, as well as Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, both of whom remain fair game for their anger under the order.

Allies such as businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, who made an unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination last year, took aim at star prosecution witness Michael Cohen on the stand last week, accusing him of “systematically” lying. “Merchan, who has family members who have made millions of dollars as a Democratic operative, including through fundraising based on this trial,” a reference to Merchan’s daughter, which was not originally covered by the gag order but was later added.

Ken White, a federal criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, said Trump’s allies aren’t bound by the order — just him.

“For it to be a violation, he has to direct them to do those things,” White said. “It’s not enough to say, ‘I’m doing it because he can’t.'”

Trump’s campaign insists the effort was not coordinated. “All guests come to court voluntarily to support their friend President Trump and are not invited by the campaign,” the spokesperson said.

However, while the voices of Trump’s surrogates echoed many of his previous criticisms, prosecutors largely held their own. Legal experts warn that prosecutors risk unexpectedly facing the very situation they want to avoid — seeing Trump in jail. On the other hand, there is a risk of falling flat.

White said that even if prosecutors could show that Trump was responsible, for example by proving that he somehow edited his surrogates’ comments before delivering them, As one reporter claimed At MSNBC, the result can be self-defeating.

“The doctor and the judge want to get it over with,” White said. “They don’t want a sideshow; they don’t want it to come up again or even the extreme disruption of the former president being jailed.

“It would be a huge derailment,” he said.

Robert Hirschhorn, a lawyer and litigation consultant, said of the presentation: “Even though the Trump team told them, ‘These are the points we want you to make,’ Trump was smart enough not to tell them, so they isolated him.” I think they would have lost if the state had moved for a traffic violation.

“Really, the only option left to the judge is to give Trump some kind of prison sentence, even if it’s just an hour or two. And I just don’t think a judge is going to do that,” Hirschhorn said.

Sen. JD Vance, R-Ohio, House Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La. and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum joined Ramaswamy in bashing Mercha’s daughter. When asked, supporters told Trump they joined the lawsuit of their own accord, not at his direction. But they don’t show up on their own, stand in line and enter through a public entrance — several have seen or acknowledged walking into the courthouse with Trump and the rest of the Secret Service security “bubble” around him.

Another group of allies joined Trump in court on Monday. Among them was Alan Dershowitz, a law professor who spoke passionately during a break in the courtroom with Norm Eisen, a CNN contributor and legal analyst and Obama’s White House ethics adviser. the first impeachment. Developer and longtime Trump friend Steve Witkoff, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard Kerik and Trump administration official Kash Patel also sat behind Trump in court on Monday.

Those traveling with him or sitting in the seats also coordinated media appearances outside the courthouse – where they often said words that Trump himself was forbidden to say.

The duty of substitutes in the courtroom drew attention.

In a meeting between Merchan and attorneys, known as a sidebar that was not heard by the jury but was recorded for the record, the prosecution asked that Trump’s surrogates and their security details not be allowed in or out of the courtroom during questioning. Trump’s defense attorney, Todd Blanche, said he had no control over them.

“Your honor, I have less than zero control over what happens to anything behind me or to anyone when I step in front of the witness,” Blanche said. “I have no control — I mean, they’re members of the public.”

“Are you expecting someone else today?” Merchan asked.

“I have no idea, gentlemen,” replied Blanche. “I am not waiting for anyone. But I can be wrong.”

‘They come from everywhere’

The parade of surrogates took the shine off the campaign in other ways. New online video advertising Ramaswamy, who called for campaign donations, appears at the courthouse with Florida Reps. Byron Donalds and Cory Mills and members of Trump’s family, including son Eric and daughter-in-law Lara Trump, co-chair of the Republican National Committee. Trump can be heard speaking to media cameras in the background.

“We’re here in court with President Trump, but we need you to be with him,” Donalds says.

While some of Trump’s allies accompanied his motorcade, others walked in with the public and appeared in the overflow room, such as former Justice Department official Jeffery Clarke, who has been indicted alongside Trump in a separate criminal trial in Georgia. They are accused of crimes related to the attempt to cancel the 2020 elections. Trey Gowdy, a former federal prosecutor and House member from South Carolina, entered the courtroom Monday with reporters and members of the public.

Outside the courtroom, Trump has bolstered his allies’ defense, showered them with praise and even cited the efforts of others in Washington.

“I have a lot of surrogates and they speak very well,” Trump said, “and they come from all over the place.”

“And they think it’s the biggest scam they’ve ever seen,” he said. “They’re all in guns.”

White said Trump is an unusual litigator because he’s focused almost entirely on what’s happening outside the courtroom. In the courtroom, he was seen reading and commenting on articles and surveys.

“His strategies are not about what will serve him best in the courtroom and traditional legal strategy, but about public narrative and politics and fundraising and his base,” he said.

A day after House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, requested records for the lead attorney on the case he accused of spending years He focused on judging TrumpTrump raised the allegations himself.

Speaking in the hallway outside Mercha’s courtroom, Trump said: “All this is coming out of the White House and the Department of Justice. These are all. In fact, the lead person from the DOJ is running the court.

Hirschhorn said Trump is daring the defendants to go after him, but to go beyond the gag order, using a “workaround” to get his message out while sticking to the rules.

“It’s clear what he’s doing. He’s trying to turn this into a political trial,” Hirschhorn said of Trump, who may have been poking around for a sympathetic ear inside the room.

“Maybe there’s at least one person on that jury who identifies as a Republican, and if so, it’s that jury’s game,” he said.

White said, “You have to be crazy to antagonize a judge in a criminal case. Most people wouldn’t. But he has always focused on his public image, his ego and his political narrative to the detriment of his strategy in the courtroom.”

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By 37ci3

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