Turley: Will The Trump Jury Realize They Are Being Played By The Prosecution

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Friday, May 17, 2024 - 01:25 PM

Authored by Jonathan Turley,

Below is my column in on the approaching end of the Trump trial in Manhattan. With the dramatic implosion of Michael Cohen on the stand on Thursday with the exposure of another alleged lie told under oath, even hosts and commentators on CNN are now criticizing the prosecution and doubting the basis for any conviction. CNN anchor Anderson Cooper admitted that he would “absolutely” have doubts after Cohen’s testimony.

CNN’s legal analyst Elie Honig declared “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a star cooperating witness get his knees chopped out quite as clearly and dramatically.”

He previously stated that this case would never have been brought outside of a deep blue, anti-Trump district. Other legal experts, including on CNN and MSNBC, admitted that they did not get the legal theory of the prosecution or understand the still mysterious crime that was being concealed by the alleged book-keeping errors.  The question is whether the jury itself is realizing that they are being played by the prosecution.

Here is the column:

In the movie “Quiz Show,” about the rigging of a 1950s television game show, the character Mark Van Doren warns his corrupted son that “if you look around the table and you can’t tell who the sucker is, it’s you.”

As the trial of former President Donald Trump careens toward its conclusion, one has to wonder if the jurors are wondering the same question.

For any discerning juror, the trial has been conspicuously lacking any clear statement from the prosecutors of what crime Trump was attempting to commit by allegedly mischaracterizing payments as “legal expenses.” Even liberal legal experts have continued to express doubt over what crime is being alleged as the government rests its case.

There is also the failure of the prosecutors to establish that Trump even knew of how payments were denoted or that these denotations were actually fraudulent in denoting payments to a lawyer as legal expenses.

The judge has allowed this dangerously undefined case to proceed without demanding greater clarity from the prosecution.

Jurors may also suspect that there is more to meet the eye about the players themselves. While the jurors are likely unaware of these facts, everyone “around the table” has controversial connections. Indeed, for many, the judge, prosecutors, and witnesses seem as random or coincidental as the cast from “Ocean’s Eleven.” Let’s look at three key things.

1. The Prosecutors

First, there are the prosecutors. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg originally (as did his predecessor) rejected this ridiculous legal theory and further stated that he could not imagine ever bringing a case where he would call former Trump personal attorney Michael Cohen, let alone make him the entirety of a prosecution.

Bragg’s suspension of the case led prosecutor Mark F. Pomerantz to resign. Pomerantz then wrote a book on the prosecution despite his colleagues objecting that he was undermining their work. Many of us viewed the book as unethical and unprofessional, but it worked. The pressure campaign forced Bragg to green-light the prosecution.

Pomerantz also met with Cohen in pushing the case.

Bragg then selected Matthew Colangelo to lead the case. Colangelo was third in command of the Justice Department and gave up that plum position to lead the case against Trump. Colangelo was also paid by the Democratic National Committee for “political consulting.” So a former high-ranking official in the Biden Justice Department and a past consultant to the DNC is leading the prosecution.

2. The Judge

Judge Juan Merchan has been criticized not only because he is a political donor to President Biden but his daughter is a high-ranking Democratic political operative who has raised millions in campaigns against Trump and the GOP.

Merchan, however, was not randomly selected. He was specifically selected for the case due to his handling of an earlier Trump-related case.

3. The Star Witness

Michael Cohen’s checkered history as a convicted, disbarred serial perjurer is well known. Now, Rep. Dan Goldman, D-N.Y., is under fire after disclosing that “I have met with [Cohen] a number of times to prepare him.”

Goldman in turn paid Merchan’s daughter, Loren Merchan, more than $157,000 dollars for political consulting.

Outside the courtroom, there is little effort to avoid or hide such conflicts. While Democrats would be outraged if the situation were flipped in a prosecution of Biden, the cross-pollination between the DOJ, DNC, and Democratic operatives is dismissed as irrelevant by many in the media.

Moreover, there is little outrage in New York that, in a presidential campaign where the weaponization of the legal system is a major issue, Trump is not allowed to discuss Cohen, Colangelo, or these conflicts. A New York Supreme Court judge is literally controlling what Trump can say in a presidential campaign about the alleged lawfare being waged against him.

The most striking aspect of these controversial associations is how little was done to avoid even the appearance of conflicts of interests. There were many judges available who were not donors or have children with such prominent political interests in the case. Bragg could have selected someone who was not imported by the Biden administration or someone who had not been paid by the DNC.

There was no concern over the obvious appearance of a politically motivated and stacked criminal case. Whether or not these figures are conflicted or compromised, no effort was taken to assure citizens that any such controversies are avoided in the selection of the key players in this case.

What will be interesting is how the jury will react when, after casting its verdict, the members learn of these undisclosed associations. This entire production was constructed for their benefit to get them to convict Trump despite the absence of a clear crime or direct evidence.

They were the marks and, like any good grift, the prosecutors were counting that their desire for a Trump conviction would blind them to the con.

Bragg, Colangelo and others may be wrong. Putting aside the chance that Judge Merchan could summon up the courage to end this case before it goes to the jury, the grift may have been a bit too obvious.

New Yorkers are a curious breed. Yes, they overwhelmingly hate Trump, but they also universally hate being treated like chumps. When they get this case, they just might look around the courtroom and decide that they are the suckers in a crooked game.