THURSDAY, MARCH 16, 2023
They hope Bragg finds the crime: Charles Blow wants Donald Trump prosecuted. The headline on his new column says so:
Donald Trump Must Be Prosecuted
Donald Trump must be prosecuted! But prosecuted for what?
On that secondary point, Blow is quite unclear. As his column starts, he's talking about the current "hush money" case:
BLOW (3/16/23): Donald Trump may finally be indicted. Finally!
The Manhattan district attorney’s office has signaled that charges, related to Trump’s reported hush-money payments to the porn star Stormy Daniels, are likely.
But there’s also hand-wringing: about whether this is the best case to be the first among those in which Trump is likely to be criminally charged, the strength of this case compared to others and the historic implications of indicting a former president for anything.
Does it matter that Daniels is a "porn star?" We ask that because, especially on Deadline: White House, the cable stars seem to focus on that fact more and more, suggesting it would be OK if the money in question had gone to an accountant.
Meanwhile, Blow starts by deriding the "hand-wringing" about this case—more specifically, the hand-wringing "about whether this is the best case to be the first among those in which Trump is charged."
Blow never seems to worry about whether Trump should be charged in this particular case at all. He wants to see him criminally charged, and it almost seems as if one charge is as good as another.
Full disclosure! In the course of the past week, we constantly think that we're hearing cable stars advocate a political prosecution.
To our ear, Nicolle Wallace's frustration has taken her well past the point where she even prepared to pretend. Yesterday, though, it seemed that her entire panel was overtly discussing political prosecution—the kind of case where a prosecutor selects the person he wants to jail, then goes off in search of a charge.
That's even what we started to hear from former FBI honcho Frank Figliuzzi, one of the most capable commentators of the Trump prosecution era.
We've long admired Figliuzzi for the wealth of information he provides without ever going into the tank as an overt and scripted Trump-hater.
Yesterday, that admirable detachment almost seemed to be reaching an end. Here's part of what he said:
WALLACE (3/15/23): Prosecutors, as human beings, have looked at Trump's crimes and criminality—and they are not a flat line, they're on a scale of escalating brazenness—and have decided, over and over and over and over again, to do nothing.
I wonder what you think the rule of law stands to lose or gain this week if Alvin Bragg decides to charge Trump.
FIGLIUZZI: Yeah, we are at the precipice of a remarkable moment in our presidential history, in our nation's history. And I have to tell you, I want to preface this by saying, I do have concerns about this case.
I know we've kind of beat this around now, that, you know, "Well, it's a kind of clear case," that the hush money payment was made.
It's not entirely clear.
And as Harry has said now, at least two or three times, we still need—Alvin Bragg needs another crime. To get that to the felony level, he needs another crime.
I think it's going to be, aaah, a campaign, New York State campaign violation, but I don't know. But he needs it. And why is it important?
Figliuzzi went on at some length from there. That said:
"Alvin Bragg needs another crime!" However that statement was intended, that's language which comes straight out of the world of political prosecution.
It comes from the world in which a prosecutor knows who he wants to prosecute, then searches about for the crime which will let him proceed. The world in which a prosecutor finds his criminal, then looks for his criminal's crime.
We feel sure that Figliuzzi is better than that. On the other hand, we'll guess that Wallace pretty much isn't, along with at least a few of her "favorite reporters and friends."
As of yesterday, it seemed to us that everyone on this particular panel was voicing the language of political prosecution as they discussed what Bragg may do.
"I do have concerns about this case," Figliuzzi told his host. The strength of the case "is not entirely clear," he somewhat unclearly said.
After years of watching him, we'd trust Figliuzzi all the way to the ground. But Wallace's entire panel seemed to be speaking the language of political prosecution, and they no longer seemed to care enough to try to couch their statements.
As he continued, Figliuzzi eventually identified why this matters. This is what he said:
"There could be a collective shrug. Or worse, Nicolle, everybody saying, 'See? They're after him. They're just after him for this.' "
People could be saying that?
Watching Deadline: White House each day, we'd say it's obvious that "they're after him for this"—that this is a bunch of motivated people hoping for a political prosecution, hoping Bragg will find a way to reach the felony level.
"Bragg needs another crime," the former FBI honcho said. To our ear, other players on this panel sounded a great deal worse.
To watch this full discussion: To watch this full discussion, click here, then search on "collective shrug."
(Stating the obvious, MSNBC stopped posting transcripts to make this sort of thing hard.)