HACKS LIKE US: CNN tries to present a discussion!


CNN tries and fails: In a thoroughly sensible column, the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus has given voice to some doubts. 

In no way is Marcus any kind of Trump supporter. But in this new column, she says she's getting a slightly bad feeling about certain events in New York:

MARCUS (3/21/23): It’s an axiom of criminal law that prosecutors should go after the crime, not the individual, and there is an unnerving air, in the New York district attorney’s pursuit of Trump, of a desire to find some crime, any crime, with which to charge him.

That might feel gratifying for those who have watched for years as Trump escaped legal consequences for his actions. The temptation, with Trump above all, is almost irresistible: Surely there must be some consequences, for some actions.

But this is not the way the criminal justice system is supposed to proceed—its aim is to treat like crimes alike. That means that no one, not even Trump, is above the law, yet also that no one, not even Trump, is treated worse because of who he is, what other things he has done and how much some of us loathe him.

Seemingly like everyone else in the world, Marcus is a graduate of Harvard Law School. She reports the occasional feeling that Alvin Bragg—he's a Harvard Law School graduate too—may be trying "to find some crime, any crime, with which to charge" Jean Valjean.

It isn't especially hard to see why Marcus has that occasional feeling. The unfortunate appearance she describes dates back years in the chase after Trump. This is especially true with respect to the ongoing desire to transform a mere misdemeanor offense into a felony charge.

At the highest levels of the mainstream press, journalists write about this desire to turn lead into gold as if it's the world's most normal pursuit. For example, on the front page of today's New York Times, a news report starts as shown:

PROTESS ET AL (3/22/23): It is the kind of case that emboldens prosecutors and mesmerizes juries: a celebrity defendant authorizing a secret payoff to cover up a tryst with a porn star.

As the Manhattan district attorney’s office appears poised to seek an indictment of Donald J. Trump in just such a case, the former president is facing a daunting set of facts. His onetime fixer, Michael D. Cohen, will testify that Mr. Trump directed him to pay off the porn star, Stormy Daniels, and that the former president reimbursed Mr. Cohen and helped cover the whole thing up.

But salacious details alone do not make a case. Prosecutors must also work within the law. And the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, may have to pull off a difficult maneuver, connecting the hush-money cover-up—a potential violation of state law—to a federal election.

The details of any indictment that may be handed up as soon as this week are not yet known, and Mr. Bragg could charge any number of crimes. But there is a possibility that the case will rely on a legal theory that has never been evaluated by a judge. 

So cool! The current case involves a tryst with a porn star! 

That is just  amazingly cool! But according to four high-end journalists, "salacious details" aren't enough to sustain a criminal charge! 

In this instance, the scribes report, the prosecutor may end up "rely[ing] on a legal theory that has never been evaluated by a judge." Out of all this thrashing there has emerged the occasional sense that a modern Javert has perhaps and possibly found his man and is hunting about for his charge. 

In fairness, no one knows what kind of charge Bragg might be able to conjure. It may turn out that he will present a reasonably straightforward criminal charge.

Luckily, a trio of blue tribe legal lights have come forward to set the minds of people like Marcus at ease. They have produced a laboriously detailed report at the Just Security site, a report which carries this title:

Survey of Past New York Felony Prosecutions for Falsifying Business Records

In their extremely detailed report, the legal lights are assuring the doubters that plenty of people have been prosecuted in cases like Donald J. Trump's. 

Weirdly, only one of the three went to Harvard Law School. In fairness, Siven Watt is a Brit—and Ryan Goodman went to law school at Yale.

It was Goodman who was paraded out by CNN last night. For reasons only the gods can explain, the channel had decided to try to conduct a discussion of the basis on which Donald J. Trump could possibly be charged in the salacious porn star case.

Presumably due to his relative lack of status, it was Goodman who was forced to go on the air to explain the detailed findings of the reassuring new site.  For unknown reasons, CNN had decided to try to stage the discussion on its 7 P.M. program, Erin Burnett Outfront. 

The chances of success were poor. At the start of the hour, Burnett previewed her opening segment:

BURNETT (3/21/23): And OUTFRONT, legal analyst Ryan Goodman, the former Defense Department special counsel, the editor of the legal blog Just Security, says that, if Bragg is following precedent, then he must indict. 

So, Goodman's going to explain all of this to you in just a moment.

If the facts are right, he must indict! Goodman would explain the whole thing! 

Such was CNN's promise.

After a background report, Burnett fell to the task. As if to guarantee that no clear discussion could ever possibly occur, CNN had decided to staff the discussion like this:

BURNETT: All right. Well, let's get straight now to Ryan Goodman. He's OUTFRONT, along with our senior legal analyst Laura Coates and Gordon Heddell, former assistant director of the Secret Service.

So thanks very much to all of you. Ryan, let me start with you. 

Question: What could the former assistant director of the Secret Service possibly add to this purported discussion? 

Soon enough, the answer was obvious—nothing at all! But so it may go when CNN's suits try to stage a discussion.

In fairness to Burnett, she sensibly started with Goodman. Referring to some of the tape she'd just played, she tasked the gent as shown:

BURNETT (continuing directly): You heard three top lawyers say what other lawyers have been saying, that they don't believe Trump should be indicted here.

But you have gone through history. You have gone through precedent. You have come to a different conclusion.

Three lawyers had said that Trump shouldn't be charged—but Goodman had "gone through history."

It fell to Goodman to show his work—to prove that those lawyers were wrong. He started off like this:

GOODMAN (continuing directly): That's right. I think it's actually an empirical question. 

So what we did is, we surveyed the last 15 years of all the district attorney offices across New York and saw how many times they brought this particular charge, "falsifying business records."

And the conclusion is, essentially, if the person's last name was not Trump, he would be charged.

Just to give you a few examples...

Finally! Finally, we were going to get example of instances where people were charged with "falsifying business records," presumably for conduct resembling Trump's! 

That said, here was the first example:

GOODMAN (continuing directly): Just to give you a few examples. These are different district attorneys' offices: 

In 2010, a woman goes into the Lord & Taylor store. She applies for a false store credit by returning merchandise that she did not purchase and then uses that store credit to walk out of the store with additional merchandise. She's convicted.

Already, the analysts were puzzled. In what way did that woman's (overtly larcenous) behavior seem to resemble Trump's?

Frankly, we were puzzled too. That said, Goodman had three more examples to offer. He continued as shown:

GOODMAN (continuing directly): 2015, another district attorney, just as examples:

A married couple has a fire, and they claimed that one of their sofas cost $5000, when actually they paid in cash under $2000. They're convicted of falsifying business records.

That too seemed something like a case of something like "theft by deception." Presumably, this couple had scammed their insurance company out of something like $3000. 

But in what way did their conduct resemble Trump's?

By now, some of the analysts were audibly sighing. Others had begun to exhibit a familiar "thousand-yard stare."

They'd been through this many times when CNN tried to create a discussion. As Goodman gave his last two examples, the keening and wailing began:

GOODMAN (continuing directly): Another example, 2022. An individual teacher is indicted because she sent a false COVID card that she made out to the Department of Education.

Another 2022 one is: A repair owner in the Bronx files false income tax and then claims $60,000. He should've paid $60,000 that he did not pay in taxes. He is indicted.

All four of Goodman's examples involved obvious misconduct. But in what way did those examples resemble the conduct ascribed to Trump? 

We didn't have the slightest idea. But Goodman, a high-end legal expert, closed with this:

GOODMAN (continuing directly): It just happens time and again. It's commonplace to charge this kind of a crime. If the evidence is there, it's very compelling. 

How does a prosecutor turn away from that? Treating everybody equally under the law would mean you bring an indictment if you have the evidence.

"It's commonplace to charge this kind of a crime," the legal scholar now said. But on our campus, confusion reigned. 

What "kind of a crime" was Goodman talking about? None of these cases seemed to resemble the salacious Trump incident in any obvious way at all!

There followed the standard confusion. Burnett instantly threw to Coates, who offered a rambling statement whose meaning we can't explain.

It had something to do with the way "the cops" decide who to pull over when a whole lot of people are speeding. Looking at the CNN transcript, you can decipher her remarks as you will.

At this point, Burnett threw to the former assistant director of the Secret Service. He offered a perfectly sensible point about a totally separate matter. 

Our question: Did Professor Goodman's presentation make any sense at all? 

We'd have to say the answer is no. Also, and needless to say, Burnett and Coates didn't quite seem to notice.

Who knows? It's possible that Goodman could have clarified his point had he been sensibly challenged. 

Eventually, he offered the following statement. Inevitably, this instant bit of script is now being widely recited all over our blue tribe's platforms:

GOODMAN: We do need to be concerned that the legal system is not used as a weapon. And if somebody is the former president, that raises the concern that we don't want to see prosecutors going after what might look like the leader of the political opposition.

So I do think that the prosecutors might have to satisfy themselves [that they] have overwhelming evidence. And all the cases that I gave as examples, this is more egregious than even the average case. 

And I do think that this is more egregious. We're not just talking about a few thousand dollars.

We're talking about hush money payments in an election, and that also leads to state tax crimes potentially with Michael Cohen. That's bigger than a lot of the other cases that have been prosecuted.

"That also leads to state tax crimes potentially with Michael Cohen?" Was Goodman suggesting the route by which a misdemeanor could be turned into a felony?

Needless to say, nobody noticed or asked. Goodman's predominant point was this:

"Everybody's supposed to be treated the same," Goodman had stirringly said. And the current case is more egregious because it involves much more money! 

The Trump case does involve a lot more money than Goodman's examples did. That married couple had only defrauded their insurance company to the tune of $3000. By way of contrast, Trump paid $130,000 to someone by whom he was being blackmailed. 

The current sum is much larger, but in what way are these cases alike? Indeed, in what way had Trump even done anything wrong?

As this "discussion" reached its merciful end, we had no earthly idea.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but our "cable news" TV stars are often extremely limited.

Their producers may be even worse! Through the endless silence of our blue tribe's lambs, this is the culture we've chosen.

Tomorrow: Was Stormy blackmailing Donald? What Mark Pomerantz said.

Discourse on methods: To its credit, CNN still produces transcripts of its programs. 

MSNBC no longer does. Presumably, it abandoned the practice to make it harder to conduct critiques of its own very strange TV stars. 


  1. Yawn. tl;dr.

    So, what are the charges, dear Bob? So much bullshit, and no one knows what the charges might be.

    ...not to mention that even the Mexican president calls it a banana-republic-style farce now... What a comedy...

    Here, dear Bob, the incomparable Howie Carr for you:


    ...excellent prose that we always read to the end...

    1. tl;dr -- if you don't read Somerby's work you have nothing to say here

    2. I didn't know Stormy Daniels owed Trump 300k.

    3. Daniels sued Trump for defamation after he denied approaching her and threatening her to get her to sign an NDA in exchange for $130K. The defamation case was dismissed after appeal on the grounds that:

      "The Court agrees with Mr. Trump's argument because the tweet in question constitutes 'rhetorical hyperbole' normally associated with politics and public discourse in the United States. The First Amendment protects this type of rhetorical statement," Otero wrote in 2018."

      That doesn't exactly mean that Daniels was wrong about what happened -- it means the court gave Trump leeway in his speech because he is a politician.

      Daniels was then ordered to pay Trump's court costs of $293K. Trump has never sued Daniels over any of her claims.

    4. Trump, like Somerby, is content to accuse Daniels of “extortion” (or, for the first time, “blackmail” as Somerby does here), rather than charge her. Indeed, Somerby simply states it today as if it were a settled fact that Stormy Daniels blackmailed Trump. Whatever happened to innocent until proven guilty?

      Trump was never interested in charging Stormy, because he would be afraid of the discovery phase.

    5. I haven't been following the minute details of this Alice in Wonderland type scenario, but to possibly explain this to TDH - if Trump claimed the payment to Ms. Daniels to be a business expense for legal services, and thus improperly claimed a tax deduction, that could constitute some type of tax fraud. We'll just have to wait and see if and when the lusted after indictment is issued.

    6. anon 12:18, I haven't read the court's decision in the Stormy Daniels suit, but before you claim that the case was dismissed on a technicality (if that's what you're implying) that the court not only dismissed her complaint but also ordered her to pay Trump's legal fees, in the amount of $293K, indicates that the Court found her complaint to be frivolous. Awarding attorney's fees like that usually only happens in egregious situations.

    7. @12:45 PM
      "...that could constitute some type of tax fraud"

      Should it then be state tax fraud, considering that this thing is being pursued by NY's AG?

      ...with no effect on federal tax, since the feds apparently have no problem with it?

    8. AC/MA -- I didn't say it was dismissed on a technicality. I said the court dismissed it because it accords first ammendment leeway to politicians. I quoted what the court said. The court did not call her suit frivolous -- you said that.

      Daniels obviously brought the suit to defend herself against Trump's defamatory tweet. That the court sided with Trump is beyond her control -- he does have supporters, including some on the bench. It seems wrong to me that the wealthy and powerful, including politicians, can use the weight of the court to defend themselves when they abuse private citizens by saying defamatory things, because that adds one more power to their existing privilege. I do not find it "egregious" when a woman wants to defend herself against Trump's mouth, as E. Jean Carroll is also doing, with more success.

    9. anon 1:18 - I see that you were not implying it was dismissed on a technicality. I would note that I don't think it is quite accurate to say that "politicians" have leeway under the first amendment that other people don't have. I assume that the court ordered her to pay trump's legal fees because under the American rule, successful parties are not entitled to recover their legal fees unless (a) the suit involved a contract by which the winning party was entitle to legal fees; (2) the suit was brought under a statute that enabled the winning party to recover legal fees; or (3) the suit was frivolous. since niether (1) nor (2) would apply to a defamation case, I assume that (3) was the basis for the award. I would also point out that the judge did not find that Trump, denying Daniels' allegations, defamed her. I tend to credit Daniels about what happened between her and Trump, largely because he is such an epic bullshitter, but I don't think that it is so clear that Trump's denial that he did it constitutes defamation. I'll try to find the decision to see for myself.

    10. Mao, I assume it would be state tax fraud, New York couldn't prosecute federal tax fraud.

    11. It is not frivolous to bring a suit to establish that you were telling the truth, after someone has called you a liar, regardless of the outcome of the suit (which may be more about what people can prove than about what actually happened). Calling her suit frivolous expresses an opinion about her suit. If you do not actually hold that opinion, why go out of your way to demean her?

    12. I read the 10/15/18 decision in Stephanie Clifford, a/k/a Stromy Daniels v Donald Trump by Judge James Otero of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. I must correct myself. Much of the decision dealt with a conflict of laws issue, fascinating stuff. The court determined that Texas law applied, because Stormy was a Texas resident which she stated in her complaint. Trump filed a special motion to dismiss the case under the Texas Citizens Protection Act, Texas' version of an anti-SLAPP statute. (If you want to know what that is., look it up in Wikipedia). The Court granted the motion, basically because Clifford's claim lacked merit. Under the Texas statute (like such anti-SLAPP statutes in other states, Trump, having prevailed on his motion, was entitled to recover his attorney's fees from Clifford, which ultimately came to about 293K.So I was incorrect about the judge determining her complaint was "frivolous" in awarding Trump legal fees. The award was based on the statute. Also, Clifford's complaint was based on her claim (I think she made it on 60 Minutes) that years earlier an unidentified man had threatened her to back off making claims against Trump. Trump charmingly responded in one of his tweets as follows: "A sketch years later about a nonexistent man. A total con job, playing the Fake News Media for Fools, (but they know it)." Clifford's defamation suit was based on that tweet. To read this decision, it looks like you need access to Pacer, but before someone concludes that it is a biased decision, one should read the decision, and the precedents and laws it cites, at the very least. Clifford appealed the decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Court, in an unpublished decision, affirmed the District Court. Though the decision is unpublished, it's available to anyone at the Google Scholar website (type in the name "Stephanie Clifford").

    13. Fake lawyer ac/ma’s copy/pasted legal analysis is unsurprisingly weak. Republican Judge Otero, appointed by W Bush, found that it was in the public’s interest to not have a chilling effect on a politician’s speech, in such cases attorney fees can be rewarded, although the judge did reject Trump’s initial request for fees by reducing it by 25%.

    14. 9th Circuit did not affirm, the decision on the appeal was based on a technicality, and was unpublished so as to be nonprecedential. “We lack jurisdiction” is what the 9th Circuit said.

      Go back to the law school you never attended, you moronic clown.

    15. anon 8:53 & 9:25, you are an idiot. The last word in the Court of Appeals decision is "Affirmed." The Court affirmed the decision. U.S. Court of Appeals decisions are frequently unpublished - but these decisions are sometimes cited by lawyers or in court decisions (using the WestLaw citation, though don't carry the weight of a published decision). Fees were awarded because under the Texas anti-SLAPP statute, a party that prevails on a special motion to dismiss is entitled to an award of attorney's fees. Contrary to what I said above, the District Court decision that was affirmed by the 9th Circuit is published at 339 F.Supp.3d 915 (2018). Anyone who wants to can read it at Google Scholar.

    16. So fees weren't awarded because the suit was frivolous but because of the statute.

    17. anon 9:13, yes, pursuant to the statute.

    18. Ac/ma fake lawyer copy/paste moron, the decision is only interesting to a layperson because it’s run of the mill stuff to a real lawyer.

      Right wing Judge Otero stated his decision was that the tweet in question was non actionable rhetorical hyperbole and that it was in the public interest to not have a chilling effect on what Trump as president could say in a public forum. Furthermore, he essentially said awarding attorney fees was mandatory by statute, and that he declined to impose significant sanction fees, which are meant as a deterrent against frivolous lawsuits. So yes he wanted to protect Trump’s unique way of communicating, yes there’s a statue, no it was not frivolous. You are only right in that you were so wrong.

      The 9th Circuit did not affirm the essential part of Otero’s decision, and said it was not publishing specifically to be nonprecedential. The 9th in the first paragraph says “We lack jurisdiction” over the main part of the decision, then in the first section they affirm only a technical aspect of the decision not requiring a separate document, which is why the last paragraph is “We affirm in part and dismiss in part”. So no the 9th did not affirm in the sense you meant.

      Ac/ma fake lawyer moron, your analysis is unsurprisingly weak, go back to the fake law school you never attended, you moron.

    19. anon 2:21, good luck in your future endeavors

    20. Oof. AC/MA got embarrassed, slinks away with tail between their legs.

  2. "It isn't especially hard to see why Marcus has that occasional feeling. The unfortunate appearance she describes dates back years in the chase after Trump. This is especially true with respect to the ongoing desire to transform a mere misdemeanor offense into a felony charge."

    A "feeling" isn't evidence. Bragg hasn't brought any charges against Trump yet. Accusations that he is manufacturing charges solely to get Trump are thus premature.

    What makes Somerby's suggestions today particularly bizarre is the fact that Trump has committed so many crimes that the idea of manufacturing crimes is ludicrous. The one that infuriates me is Trump's casual theft of gifts and property from the white house when Trump left office. It underlines the fact that Trump never considered himself the representative of the American people, but thinks those were gifts to himself personally.

    But there have been so many other crimes for which Trump has not been charged. The obstruction of justice, the FEC violations, moneylaundering connected with his real estate grifts, the patents coerced from China on behalf of Ivanka, his ripping up of documents he was supposed to maintain, his fraudulent use of inauguration donations, his failure to divest when he took office, his coercion of money from foreign visitors who stayed at his hotel in order to camouflage their bribes to him, the selling of pardons at the end of his term, his bilking of his own contributors via mandatory monthly contributions, his failure to do the job of president by refusing daily briefings, and his blackmail of Ukraine to get them to tarnish Biden, and who knows what he was up to that led to Kushner's billions from the Saudis. And none of that touches on the Mueller investigation findings, his theft of classified documents and his ongoing corruption in running his businesses, his assaults of women, stiffing contractors, and the fraud of Trump University.

    There are so many crimes. How can Somerby possibly, with a straight face, claim that Bragg or anyone else must go seeking made up crimes with which to charge Trump in the face of a lifetime of crime that is there in plain view for all to see?

    No sane person could put forth the argument Somerby does today, with or without a Ruth Marcus and her "feelings" about Bragg's eagerness to connect the dots. It is about time someone did -- we are not the kind of country where certain people like Trump, Epstein, Weinstein, the crew at Fox News, and others get away with breaking the law with impunity simply because they are powerful white men.

    And who does Somerby side with? The powerful white men, of course.

  3. "But this is not the way the criminal justice system is supposed to proceed—its aim is to treat like crimes alike."

    If Trump's crimes were treated like everyone else's crimes, he would have been in jail a long time ago. Just compare Trump with Michael Cohen to see that this is true.

    Bragg and others appear to be searching for crimes to charge Trump with mostly because they are searching for sufficient evidence to convict Trump despite all of the advantages he has that keep him out of jail, including the ability to use his position and power to evade prosecution.

    Today it was reported that Trump is outraged because a judge is ordering his trial on business wrongdoing to go forward despite Trump's requests for first a 6-month delay, then a several-weeks delay, followed by a phoned-in bomb threat that was supposed to delay the trial but only resulted in an hour's delay while they made sure it was fake. And then there is the deliberate scheduling of his court appearances to conflict with each other, so that Trump could again postpone proceedings. The judge finally called him on that deliberate misuse of procedure to work the system. Trump got away with such maneuvers during his entire past career -- it is only now that judges are holding him to account, but Somerby and Marcus suggest they are "out to get" Trump in some biased way now that Trump is coming to the end of his rope. It is about time Trump was treated like everyone else -- past time.

    It is right for Trump to finally experience the same kind of justice as everyone else. Bragg is hopefully only the first of a series of prosecutions of Trump -- because Trump has committed a long series of crimes and he is not above the law, even when so many people have been so reluctant to hold Trump to the same standards of behavior as everyone else must follow.

    “When you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression."

    Trump has been privileged in terms of evading consequences for his misbehavior. That is changing, but that doesn't make this an unsubstantiated vendetta against Trump (as Trump, Marcus and Somerby seem to claim), but rather a reckoning that is long overdue, that no one else would have been permitted to evade.

  4. It is Bragg's job to put together a strong case against a defendant. That is what his office does with everyone they charge. They find and bring the strongest charges they can support with evidence.

    Somerby makes it sound like Bragg is doing something wrong by seeking to make his best case, when that is what he is paid his salary to do.

    1. Bobby's playing the rubes (DinC, Cece, AC/ MA, etc) like he's Tucker Carlson.

    2. Profound analysis. Made even more so by the use of 'Bobby'.

    3. That's how they teach it in my pre-school CRT class.

  5. "Question: What could the former assistant director of the Secret Service possibly add to this purported discussion?"

    He could explain how one might go about arresting a former president who has secret service protection. He might explain the negotiations behind the scenes between law enforcement and Trump's protectors, to ensure his arrest should Trump be indicted. That seems pretty obvious.

  6. "What "kind of a crime" was Goodman talking about? None of these cases seemed to resemble the salacious Trump incident in any obvious way at all!"

    That's because it isn't a crime to sleep with a porn star. It isn't even a crime to commit adultery (Trump was married to Melania, who had just given birth to their son at the time of the affair).

    The details have to do with the payment of hush money via Cohen and the source of the funds, the business record-keeping used to hide the payments, and Trump's knowledge and participation in the payoff via a complicated laundering through Michael Cohen's personal funds involving fraud and abuse of campaign funds. That kind of thing may be salacious to accountants, but it is also criminal, shows intent to deceive and knowledge of wrongdoing, and Trump's complicity in the crimes that Michael Cohen went to jail for.

    Somerby has been calling Stormy Daniels a grifter and con artist for years now. He doesn't like her. But she was not the criminal in that situation. Trump was. This is finally becoming obvious and Somerby is resisting that conclusion with every ounce of ink he can put on a page. For Somerby, the crime is the salacious part -- women shouldn't be able to accuse men of sexy time stuff. Just men should do that to women, even ones they haven't actually slept with (as Trump has done, bragging about sex with women he never met). And women shouldn't get to talk about men's penis size and shape or their lack of finesse during sex -- only men should get to do that. So, for Somerby, this is not about the cover-up using campaign funds to avoid damage to Trump's election prospects. It is about Trump's right to keep Stormy quiet, because any woman who would take money to keep quiet (even under duress) must be a bad woman. And the rest of the cover up is unimportant to Somerby, as it was to Trump for whom that was just business as usual, like his cover ups of Russian cash for overvalued condos from his Oligarch pals, or the payoffs to mob bosses to build his developments.

    For Somerby, the salacious part is the whole point and he is outraged that Bragg didn't charge Stormy with crimes instead of innocent man-baby Trump and his goons.

  7. "By way of contrast, Trump paid $130,000 to someone by whom he was being blackmailed."

    Stormy Daniels did not approach Trump -- she was approached by Trump's employees. She did not demand money in exchange for silence. She brought a lawsuit to get out of her NDA (forced upon her via threats) so that she could tell her story to whoever she wanted, as is her right to do. Note that Trump forced similar NDAs on all of his campaign staff too, some of whom sued to have them released -- no sex involved.

    Calling Stormy Daniels a blackmailer doesn't fit that crime -- it is Somerby's way of tarnishing Daniels and excusing Trump (who initiated the sex himself). I find myself wondering how Somerby can call Daniels a blackmailer under his real name on this public blog without that being defamation. If she were involved in blackmail, wouldn't she have been investigated and charged, especially given that Trump became president? As litigious as Trump has been throughout his career, using lawsuits to intimidate any number of people, why did Trump not insist that Daniels be prosecuted for blackmail, if that is what she did? She isn't the wrongdoer in this situation -- Trump is, and that is why Bragg is focusing on him.

    1. Stormy approached the National Enquirer, seeking payment for her story, and she accepted payment for her silence. If that's not blackmail, it's blackmail-adjacent.

    2. That isn't Stormy, it is McDougal. You have two cases mixed up.

    3. According to CBS, both McDougal and Stormy approached the Enquirer.


    4. As would be their right to do. It isn't blackmail unless McDougal or Daniels approach Trump and told him they would reveal what happened unless he gave them money. Neither woman did that. That's why it isn't blackmail or extortion. Selling your experiences to the Enquirer is not any kind of crime.

    5. Stormy Daniels did not approach Donald Trump seeking payment for her silence. She was approached by Trump and offered payment for an NDA. McDougal sold her story to the Enquirer with the expectation that it would be published. They instead suppressed it at the request of Trump (in return for payment by Trump, I believe). None of that is blackmail or extortion.

      This only looks like extortion or blackmail to men who expect that anything they do will automatically be kept secret. That is an unreasonable expectation, especially when it is not mutually binding on both people involved. Trump is known to have frequently bragged about sex. Do you imagine he got the women's consent to do that?

    6. "Selling your experiences to the Enquirer is not any kind of crime."

      No, but what Trump and the Enquirer did with the story was.

      AMI told prosecutors it worked with Trump’s campaign to pay for and suppress story of a sexual affair to ‘prevent it from influencing’ US election.

      The publisher of National Enquirer has said it coordinated with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to pay a Playboy model $150,000 in hush money, placing the president and his inner circle in further legal peril.

      American Media Inc (AMI) told prosecutors it worked “in concert” with Trump’s campaign when it bought Karen McDougal’s story of a sexual affair with Trump, which it suppressed “to prevent it from influencing the election”.

      The publisher revealed details of the so-called “catch and kill” deal for McDougal’s story in an agreement with federal authorities that means the company will not face charges, prosecutors in Manhattan announced on Wednesday.

  8. "What "kind of a crime" was Goodman talking about? None of these cases seemed to resemble the salacious Trump incident in any obvious way at all!"

    Does Somerby really not understand what Trump did wrong?

    Setting aside the details of the affair and the parking lot confrontation in which Daniels was threatened and made to sign an NDA in exchange for $130,000, Trump had Cohen pay that money out of his own funds. He then paid Cohen back in installments (with checks bearing Trump's signature), falsifying campaign records to make it appear that Cohen was being paid for legal services that he never provided to the campaign. In that way, Trump did not pay personally for buying Daniels silence over their affair, but ran that expense through his campaign. Because Cohen's fronting for Trump kept the Daniels affair secret and benefitted the campaign and Trump's election, that may constitute an in-kind contribution to Trump's campaign by Cohen that was never reported as required by the FEC. This is especially true because Cohen did not provide any legal services that might have been legitimately billed to the campaign from which Cohen received installments totalling $130,000 (reimbursement for paying Daniels off).

    This obviously benefitted Trump and his campaign and it involved falsification of records, including those governed by federal campaign finance laws. Fraud was involved.

    As long as Somerby keeps insisting that the sex was the crime and that Daniels is the criminal, he isn't going to understand this. But that is willfull obstinacy on Somerby's part. It is his attempt to whitewash Trump's wrongdoing, Trump's breaking of the law for which an everyday person would have been prosecuted.

    1. Somerby has never said the sex was the crime.

    2. Yes, he did:

      "That is just amazingly cool! But according to four high-end journalists, "salacious details" aren't enough to sustain a criminal charge!

      In this instance, the scribes report, the prosecutor may end up "rely[ing] on a legal theory that has never been evaluated by a judge." Out of all this thrashing there has emerged the occasional sense that a modern Javert has perhaps and possibly found his man and is hunting about for his charge. "

      Then later he says:

      "What "kind of a crime" was Goodman talking about? None of these cases seemed to resemble the salacious Trump incident in any obvious way at all!"

      salacious definition: "having or conveying undue or inappropriate interest in sexual matters"

      The crime is actually Trump's fraud when he hid the payment made to Daniels via Cohen by falsifying campaign records showing an ongoing payment to Cohen for legal services which Cohen never provided. That is what they are investigating -- not whether Trump had sex with Daniels.

    3. Somerby highlights the incident's salaciousness as a way of taking a poke at the reporting.

      To characterize the incident as salacious is very different from saying that any criminal component of it must be salacious.

    4. Exactly. Don't fall for Somerby's tricks. He complains that the other crimes don't resemble having sex with a porn star (which isn't even a crime), ignoring the fraud involved in each. He does this to pretend that the press is doing something wrong, when it is not.


    5. It's odd. Back in the 90s we've learned that when it's about perjury related to sex, then it's about sex and nothing else.

    6. You're odd. It wasn't perjury. Paula Jones is the one who committed perjury.

  9. I don't know why everyone is ignoring the National Enquirer angle here, which looks even more illegal.

    National Enquirer owner admits to 'catch and kill' payment to ex-Playmate

    AMI told prosecutors it worked with Trump’s campaign to pay for and suppress story of a sexual affair to ‘prevent it from influencing’ US election.

    The publisher of National Enquirer has said it coordinated with Donald Trump’s presidential campaign to pay a Playboy model $150,000 in hush money, placing the president and his inner circle in further legal peril.

    American Media Inc (AMI) told prosecutors it worked “in concert” with Trump’s campaign when it bought Karen McDougal’s story of a sexual affair with Trump, which it suppressed “to prevent it from influencing the election”.

    The publisher revealed details of the so-called “catch and kill” deal for McDougal’s story in an agreement with federal authorities that means the company will not face charges, prosecutors in Manhattan announced on Wednesday.

    The agreement raises the possibility that Trump’s presidential campaign, which is currently making early preparations for his re-election bid, could be indicted for violating campaign finance laws through its involvement in the payout.

  10. Bob sure is good at finding arguments to
    champion in the evil Blue media he can’t stand.
    Oh well, at least of Trump’s lawyers,
    Bob KNOWS he won’t be paid

  11. Trump himself says:

    "Writing on his Truth Social platform, the former president posted yet another caps-heavy tirade against Bragg's investigation into his 2016 hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

    "The Rogue prosecutor, who is having a hard time with the Grand Jury, especially after the powerful testimony against him by Felon Cohen’s highly respected former lawyer, is attempting to build a case that has NEVER BEEN BROUGHT BEFORE AND ACTUALLY, CAN’T BE BROUGHT," Trump wrote."

    Yesterday, Trump also wrote about a drumbeat of Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine...

    And today, Somerby dutifully repeats Trumps' talking point about Bragg's investigation manufacturing charges that have never been brought before. And Somerby frequently repeats Trump's litany, calling it MSNBC's "Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump" drumbeat, echoing the right wing complaint that Trump himself uses.

    But Somerby pretends he is not a right-winger defending Trump and repeating conservative memes here. Somerby keeps referring to himself as liberal when that is obviously a lie. Tomorrow, Somerby will use Pomerantz's new book to prove that the left is out to get Trump, as if Trump's own criminal acts were not sufficient reason to charge him with his crimes.

    1. Does it really need to be 'proved' that the left is (rightly or wrongly) out to get Trump?

    2. Prosecutors are out to get criminals. It is what they do, the essence of their job.

      The left wants to see justice done, and the left believes that no one should be above the law, Trump included. If there is evidence that Trump committed chargable crimes, then prosecutors should pursue Trump because that is what they do. There is no reason why Trump should be exempt. Cohen reported Trump's crime when he cooperated with authorities over his own crimes as Trump's associate. They cannot ignore Trump's crimes simply because he is who he is, although they did deliberately ignore Trump's crimes while he was president because of the disruption to performing his elected duties. Trump is not president any more.

      The left also wants to elect left-wing candidates. It would be wrong to say that the left is "out to get" Trump simply because they want to see Biden elected instead of Trump.

    3. Does it need to be proved that the right is out to get Hunter Biden in order to embarrass the president?

    4. Joe Biden is obviously also very sleazy and corrupt.

    5. In your dreams…

  12. As teebee lawyer Perry Mason would intone, Blobby's whole line of BS is “incompetent, irrelevant and immaterial.”

    Which sums up every column he defecates..


  13. Here, dear Bob:
    "Two sources familiar told Fox News Digital on Wednesday that the grand jury was canceled amid "major dissension" within the district attorney's office. One source claimed the district attorney is having trouble convincing the grand jury on potential charges due to the "weakness" of the case."

  14. "Intelligence sources told CBS News that there’s been a “significant increase” in threats and violent rhetoric online from domestic violent extremists as Donald Trump claimed he will be indicted by a Manhattan grand jury.

    “Domestic violent extremists in online postings have warned that prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office would cross a red line if Trump is indicted and it would be met with more violence than the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, the sources said. There have also been postings calling for civil war.”


    As before, Trump has been inciting his followers to protest.

  15. Verse:

    To the critics in the media
    What it be to ya?
    But you can stick it where the sun don't shine
    Because I'm goin' for mine, I rock it all the time

  16. Remember Trey Gowdy?


    1. You lie! Oh wait, that was another South Carolina moron, I wonder what’s in their water?

  17. "CNN tries to present a discussion!"

    Somerby criticizes a discussion when the participants agree with each other.

    Somerby criticizes a discussion when the participants pretend to be friendly with each other.

    Somerby criticizes a discussion when it has too many of the wrong kind of people on it -- such as too many or too few lawyers who went to Harvard (WTF?).

    Somerby criticizes a discussion when participants don't bring out points that Somerby thinks are important, at least to him.

    Somerby criticizes a discussion when it goes on too long, such as for 24 minutes, or 35 minutes, at the beginning of a show.

    Somerby criticizes a discussion when one of the participants goes into a lot of detail and gets very specific in an explanation.

    None of this makes any sense to me. For one thing, two people who agree with each other can still bring out different insights and aspects of a situation, describe their own reactions and speak to their own experiences on a topic. Conflict is not the only way to explore an issue. Further, Somerby's disdain for people with actual qualifications makes no sense at all. People who know a lot are exactly the ones we should want to hear from.

    Like with the movie Tar, Somerby seems to become bored when people talk about details, yet on other occasions he blames people for being insufficiently specific. Those with curiosity tend to find detailed explanations fascinating. Not Somerby -- he pretends they are showing off and being pretentious, even on important topics where the explanation will help us all understand what is going on.

    And for some reason, Somerby hates civility. When hosts are polite and friendly to their guests, Somerby gets upset. Supposedly, he is calling the hosts insincere, phony, for being nice to others, but we aren't adolescents. Adults know that the social grease of niceness that makes it possible for those who disagree to still be friendly, applies even to TV panel participants. Even Bill Maher is nice to his conservative guests -- it comes across sometimes as fawning over them -- but who wants to visit a TV show where they will be abused or treated with disdain or hostility. It is part of the "pay" that guests receive for taking the time to enlighten the public. They get respect as part of their bargain, and that is as it should be, unless you are a juvenile and want to see Donald Trump keep it real by insulting celebrities just for attention.

    Fox lives on conflict, anger, outrage, hate. When Somerby watches them perform over there and then comes here and notices that no one is hating the other panelists, no one is stoking his adrenaline, except the people criticizing Trump, he thinks the problem is with the left, and not with the noisy hate machine on the right. That is Somerby's mistake. People are not wrong for being nice. They are perhaps not trying to propagandize or entertain with noisy argument that arises because right-wing viewers need the stimulation of disagreement more than they need information about their concerns.

    1. Think about it Somerby's from position.

  18. Apparently, Somerby is unable to abstract the elements of a crime of falsifying business records from a series of examples of such crimes. Somerby is an excessively literal person with perhaps a problem dealing with abstracts. It is one reason he comes across as being perhaps somewhere on the autism spectrum. Or perhaps he uses this retreat to excessive literalism whenever he wants to pretend not to understand something. Who knows?

    What did Trump falsify? He claimed that Cohen was performing legal services for his campaign in order to launder $130,000 that Cohen paid Daniels through Cohen's shell company set up for that purpose. That is as much fraud against his campaign as the activities of the person who claimed an inflated insurance loss, the one who falsely obtained a clothing credit at a store, and the one who claimed an imaginary tax loss. The element of fraud involved in falsifying business records is what unites the cases, including Trump's case. This isn't rocket science.

    1. That each case has an element of fraud is not to say that the cases cited are part of a 'precedent' justifying Trump's prosecution (which is what the reporter was arguing).

      Are all murder cases to be taken as precedent for all subsequent prosecutions for murder?

    2. This isn't about justifying legal precedents. It is about examining what has happened in cases where fraud as resulted in falsification of business records. That's all. Raising this to the level of judicial precedent is silly in the context of a discussion where a legal expert is merely explaining things to an untrained audience.

    3. I think Bob's point, which I agree with, is that the use of 'precedent' implies some kind of relevant analogy, legal or otherwise, between Trump's case and the cases cited. But there is none.

    4. The similarity is that there is fraud in each case.

    5. Hector, I think everyone’s point is that you are a Somerby fanboy to such a degree that it impedes your ability to make reasonable arguments.

      It is kind of sweet, though, the strange adoration you have for someone as mendaciously moronic as Somerby.

    6. 9:19 your comment is 100% pure ad hominem. Completely avoids the substance of the issue. That's a tell! ;)

    7. The issue is Hector and his Somerby fanboy cohort are unable to make coherent arguments, as pointed out by many commenters, so 9:19 addressed the issue directly.

  19. I hope Trump is prosecuted and convicted on this Mickey Mouse charge, that DeSantis gets the nomination, is elected, and then appoints a special prosecutor to investigate the Biden family and all the money various Biden relatives received from foreign sources. What goes around comes around.

    1. Like the money Kushner got fom the Saudis? Was that OK with you?

    2. Smupa began to smile in a most uncontrollable fashion, and then proceeded to break wind from her bottom.

      Smupa's gas pass served as the Eureka moment.

      Ever since that existential moment in time, our collective memory of the past has been permanently altered.

    3. David,
      Similarly, I hope the police always have qualified immunity, and it creates millions of Micah X. Johnsons.

    4. David, the President does not appoint special prosecutors. That goes totally opposite from the traditional purpose of a special prosecutor. Except when you have a criminal president such as Donald J Chickenshit. Then all bets are off.

    5. But don't worry DinC, there are a number of Mighty Mouse indictments coming. Are you getting your Nazi uniform ready?