As heard on yesterday's Deadline: White House!


Suppressing the doorman's (false) tale: Once again, it's time for us to fess up. We'll start by quoting the first paragraph of the guest essay we discussed in this morning's report. 

The essay appeared in the New York Times. Headline included, it starts exactly like this:

I Was an Attorney at the D.A.’s Office. This Is What the Trump Case Is Really About.

Now that the lawyers are laying out their respective theories of the case in the criminal prosecution of Donald Trump in New York, it would be understandable if people’s heads are spinning. The defense lawyers claimed this is a case about hush money as a legitimate tool in democratic elections, while the prosecutors insisted it is about “a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election.”

That's how the essay starts. Its author correctly quotes the prosecutors in the "hush money / porn star" case. 

The prosecutors allege that the defendant, Donald J. Trump, engaged in “a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election.” For all we know, that may turn out to be a provable legal case. 

That may turn out to be a winnable legal case. But as we noted last week, we aren't especially interested in the legalities of this utterly silly affair.

We're interested in what we regard as a type of cultural absurdity. We refer to the claim, widely made by Blue America's leadership cadres, that we voters needed to hear Stormy Daniels "tell her story" before we could decide how to vote in 2016.

That notion strikes us as embarrassing, silly—absurd. Let's recall what Daniels' story is:

Daniels claims that on one occasion, in 2006, she engaged in (fully consensual) sexual relations with Donald J. Trump. 

Donald Trump says it didn't happen. At any rate, that's the story Daniels claims she wanted to tell.

Ten years after the alleged sexual congress, did we the people need to hear that allegation before we could know how to vote? The notion strikes us as a form of madness. It strikes us as crazy, absurd.

A few weeks ago, we spent a week working from the basic concept of "madness." The notion that we the voters needed to hear Daniels tell her (unconfirmable) story strikes us as a prime example of that familiar but unfortunate state of affairs.

Had Trump engaged in consensual sex, on one occasion, ten years before the election in question? We're now told that he "corrupted the 2016 election" by keeping us from hearing that claim.

For what it's worth, we don't doubt that the allegation is true, though we also don't know how to prove it. We're saying something different:

We're saying it's crazy to think that voters should be encouraged to base the way they vote on factors of that type. Eventually, we'll walk you through the long and winding slippery slope which follows that kind of thinking.

Sad! Once you buy a concept like that, there's little turning back. Consider something Andrew Weissmann said on yesterday's Deadline: White House.

The statement was made early in the four o'clock hour. Susanne Craig asked Weissmann a question:

Did he think that Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal would be called to the witness stand during the "porn star" trial? Would that be necessary? she also asked.

Due to a glitch at the Internet Archive, we can't like you to videotape of the exchange. But this is what Weissmann said:

WEISSMANN (4/29/24): It's not necessary to know whether, in fact, it was true or not true. Because if you just look at what the opening was with respect to the three pieces—the doorman, Karen McDougal, Stormy Daniels—those are the three pieces. 

And everyone agrees, including the D.A., that the doorman's story was false. But that doesn't mean that you don't have a motive to suppress it, because you don't want the risk of how it's going to play out.

Now the one reason it might be useful to put it on is you might have a stronger motive to squash it if you know that it's true. So I think that they might [testify], but—

At that point, Weissmann was interrupted. That wasn't the clearest possible statement, but we were struck by this:

Within Weissmann's formulation, Donald Trump and David Pecker had caused the doorman's story to be "suppressed." 

Because the doorman's sleazy story was false, we're wondering why they shouldn't receive the Medal of Honor for arranging to do just that?

As Weissmann notes, everyone agrees that the doorman's salacious story was false. Why shouldn't we the people be glad that our 2016 election wasn't affected by the promulgation of a bogus story like that?


Did Donald Trump really "corrupt the 2016 presidential election" by arranging for an NDA with a woman who wasn't his wife? 

Should we really regard her silence as a corruption of our democracy? Or did her attempt to "tell her story" possibly constitute the real attempt to corrupt an election?

Also this:

Did Trump and Pecker "corrupt the 2016 presidential election" when Pecker purchased the doorman's (false) tale? 

Weissmann didn't use that language, but when he says the story was "suppressed" and "squashed," it seems to us that his language is taking us in that peculiar direction.

In our view, it's an embarrassment to see Blue America's thought leaders repeatedly saying it—repeatedly saying that we needed to hear Daniels "tell her story" before we could decide how to vote. 

Have we reached the point where we think that's the way our most important political judgments should work? Because a wide array of presidential candidates, including some of those we love the most, have kept their infidelities to themselves as they've sought the White House.

Did they "corrupt" the elections they won by suppressing news of their sexual histories?  Should candidates be filing their tax returns and their list of sexual partners?

At one point, we all agreed that it made better sense to avoid such subject matter in running our White House elections. Today, we Blues are so desperate to find a way to beat Donald J. Trump that we're walking away from a long list of things we once said. 

It's reached the point where it can almost sound like Trump "corrupted the 2016 election" when he kept us from hearing a story which he presumably knew to be false! Trust us:

A slippery slope leads downhill from there if we run our elections like that. We'll be inviting waves of sexy stories—some of them true, some false. 

David Pecker "suppressed" a false story! By normal standards, that almost sounds like an action which might seem morally good!

For ourselves, we're not interested in the legalities of this unusual legal case. For ourselves, we're thunderstruck by the poor judgment, and the political desperation, found within the culture!


  1. I was going to vote for Trump, but when I found out about Stormy, I decided to vote for Biden.

    1. Where does one even begin with Somerby's post today? No, it wasn't praiseworthy for Trump and his enablers to suppress a bogus story. They weren't doing it for noble reasons, knucklehead. They were doing it for completely self-serving reasons. Also, if the story was provably false, voters didn't need to be "protected" from hearing about it. And why did they feel the need to suppress it if it was provably false? Also, the other two stories everyone presumes to be true. And suppressing true stories has a much better claim on corrupting an election than suppressing false ones.

      Just because a presidential candidate's cheating on their spouse doesn't matter to Bob, doesn't mean it doesn't matter to anyone else. It doesn't matter to me, but I'm sure it matters to a small percentage of evangelical Trump voters, which in a close election could change the outcome. How about letting each voter decide for themselves whether it matters. Trump thought it mattered so much he went to great lengths to hide it from the public. And the lawsuit isn't about the fucking, anyway. It's about this whole elaborate fraudulent scheme they concocted to hide the fucking. Does Bob think that if Trump broke the law, it's wrong to hold him accountable? Btw, imagine if Biden did what Trump did -- cheated on his wife with two different women, and then undertook this elaborate and illegal scheme to hide it from the public to improve his election prospects. Nigga pleez. We'd get a lecture from Bob like we did about how Biden should have reined Hunter in.

      Bob talks about a dangerous precedent being set. If we make a big deal about Trump's trysts, then our candidates' trysts will become political fodder as well. Is he serious?? Every little indiscretion that our candidates engage in, or their family members, or their dogs, or their cousins' neighbors' plumber -- the Republicans turn it all into political fodder.

      "Why shouldn't we the people be glad that our 2016 election wasn't affected by the promulgation of a bogus story like that?" No. If a bogus story would have saved the country from Trump's disastrous presidency (and what appears to be a likely second and even more disastrous second term), then I for one would be all for it.

      And Bob keeps referring to our side's desperation. Is he serious? Is he fucking serious?? You're goddamn right were desperate. You read the news, right? Aren't you the one sounding like a broken record about Trump being a dangerous mental case? You aren't desperate to avoid the approaching national nightmare? If not, why not?

    2. Mike, one need not feel desperate to be genuinely concerned about potential consequences. Many, aside from yourself, argue that effective decision-making, especially in politics, should be steered by reasoned analysis rather than desperation. But please list the specific actions you propose as responses to your desperation and we can analyze their viability.

      I assume this might include the belief that endorsing falsehoods is justifiable if they serve a perceived greater good—essentially, that the ends justify the means. Putting aside the danger of unintended consequences, a strategy of advocating unethical behavior out of desperation, as a general principle, is fraught with challenges and generally considered a bad idea.

    3. What needs to be done: the best informed, most articulate people on our side need to do something that probably very few have any appetite for: they need to engage with the other side, and patiently and persistently explain to the them what is really going on. We need to invade their information bubbles (or "silos" in Bob's language) to break the spell. Not in a trolling or competitive way (not to "own" them), but clearly, persistently, patiently explain how their belief system is simply not true. They have been lied to. The election wasn't stolen, just to take one example. There are people who can do this -- Bernie Sanders was pretty good at it during the 2016 campaign -- went on Fox News and got some positive audience reactions. Jessica Tarlov does a decent job. But we need many, many more people who will not just write or speak in friendly environments to friendly audiences, but will go into "enemy territory" and break through the propaganda. Biden and Harris should go on Fox News -- promote the visit weeks in advance. Insist on a live, uncut interview. Draw in as many viewers as possible. Have their team prep them for it by watching Fox News 24/7 leading up to the visit and come up with substantive, fact-based rebuttals to Fox narratives. It would shatter the cartoonish caricature that Fox has created in their audience's minds. Remember when Bob got the impression that Biden was an absolute wreck and could barely speak or function because Bob had absorbed so much Fox nonsense. And then he watched the State of the Union and was amazed at how well Biden did? That's the sort of epiphany we need to try to create.


  2. Good post, Bob, but:

    "For ourselves, we're thunderstruck by the poor judgment..."

    How is it "poor judgment", Bob? Shape-shifting alien reptiloids that control your silo want power. They do all they can to keep hold of it. That's a perfectly good judgment, on their part. Is it not?

  3. Trump's affair, and more importantly, his attempts to suppress it, speaks to his character. That is absolutely an important consideration in choosing who to vote for as president. Trump's denials that he had an affair with Stormy or McDougal (whose affair lasted 10 months) are lies that also speak to his lack of character. These two affairs lend support to both what Trump said in the Access Hollywood tape, and also the many accusations of sexual abuse lodged against Trump by a variety of women who came forward when that info became public. ALL of this makes it very clear that Trump is (and was in 2016) unfit to be president.

    Somerby may have different criteria for deciding who to vote for, but we each, as individual voters, have the right to decide on our own what is important to know. When Trump suppressed this info, he manipulated the election in his favor, just as he did when he hid his ties with various Russian Oligarchs, lied about his wealth, and told verifiable lies about other matters (before, during and after the election, while president and now while a candidate). The details of this case prove show that Trump is a business fraud and a liar, a con artist, thief and imposter. And ALL of this is very relevant to voters and should not have been concealed by illegal means, as occurred.

    1. No one wanted Hillary in 2016 because she never had one meaningful political accomplishment and she was only running in the first place because she married into it. Nepotism. Then she ran an idiotic campaign. This left an opening for Trump. But Comey did play a part like you said.

    2. Hillary is not running for anything but she would have beaten Trump (based on the effect of Comey on her polling) in the electoral college as well as the popular vote.

      Trump had never held any public office before running for president. He was the worst president in history (according to a consensus of historians). Complaining that Hillary did nothing is ridiculous beside Trump's massive lack of qualifications and incompetence.

    3. I'm saying she never had a meaningful political accomplishment before she even ran. And the only reason she was even there was because she was married to Bill Clinton.

      But you're right about Trump in many respects.

    4. You keep repeating that claim. Awhile back I listed her accomplishments. You can look them up yourself.

    5. Oh right - body armor for that junior college's security department. Forgot about that.

    6. She never had a meaningful political accomplishments.

    7. No point in making a list if you won’t read it. She isn’t running now. Why don’t you lay off? You are sounding obsessed.

    8. You forgot she personally blew up the Embassy in Benghazi. Secretary of State, NY State Senator, and you are silly.

    9. Quaker in a BasementApril 30, 2024 at 7:17 PM

      "No one wanted Hillary in 2016..."

      Absurd. Nearly 66 million voters chose Clinton--nearly 4 million more than chose the eventual winner.

    10. By 'no one' I mean she was a cringy, unpopular turd of a candidate. Like Biden is now. Sorry but that's the truth. The situations are similar. We are running an enormous turd against Trump. Biden won before but now it's different. People have had four years experience with him. The results are in and there is no question how they feel about him. But we forge ahead deterministically running a totally unlikeable, insider turd. It's our fault if we lose.

    11. Others don’t agree with you.

    12. "It's our fault if we lose."
      Relax. No one here isn't going to blame you for Trump.

  4. The love-child story was supposedly proven to be untrue, but it was done so at the word of the woman involved, who told AP that the story was not true. The problem for Trump is that if he has paid off various people to suppress stories, how is it impossible that this woman was not also paid off to say that the love-child story was untrue? The doorman got $30,000. How much did the woman in question get to say the story was untrue? We don't know, and that is why the story is only "unproven" and not disproven.

  5. Well, Bob doesn’t think it’s important for
    voters to know that Trump, while fighting
    as dirty as possible against the Clintons,
    ficked a porn star weeks after his wife had
    a son. This goes to what Republicans used
    to call “the character issue.”
    Bob is consistent. He doesn’t care that
    a candidate behaves that way, and when
    that person leads a riot on the Capitol to
    overthrow the executive branch so he
    can stay in power, Bob doesn’t care about
    that either. In terms of the health of the
    institutions nessessary to maintain the
    United States, it’s hard to imagine what
    Bob DOES care about, but whatever….
    Bob seems to insist the legal system
    of the U.S. is a matter of what he thinks
    and what he can (pretend?) to understand.
    Thankfully that doesn’t matter, and the most
    brazen scofflaw and demagogue in
    the Nations history may just go down.
    And there may be little Bob’s drunken
    ass can do about it.

  6. Quaker in a BasementApril 30, 2024 at 5:43 PM

    David Pecker, on behalf of the media company he led, made a substantial contribution to the Trump campaign. He did so, allegedly with direction and cooperation from the candidate himself.

    How did the media company contribute to the campaign? Be agreeing to scheme to "catch-and-kill" negative stories about the candidate. Evidence of three such instances were described by Pecker in his testimony before the court: the stories brought by the doorman, McDougal, and Daiels.

    In this scheme, Pecker, along with his chief editor, agreed to act on behalf of Trump to alert Cohen and the Trump campaign of any negative stories he learned about. That's how the doorman came to be paid off for his story, even though it was *later* learned to be false. At the time Pecker paid the man, it wasn't known whether the story was accurate or not.

    The payment of money to individuals on behalf of the Trump campaign represents a campaign contribution. Suppressing negative stories about the candidate may also repesent a contribution, albeit one that is harder to value in dollars and cents.

    Trump, according to Pecker, had agreed to reimburse his company for these expenses, although later, he pressed the candidate to make good on that promise when Trump failed to pay up.

    And that's not all! Pecker also agreed to help Trump by publishing phony stories about other candidates, including Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.

    The prosecution asserts that these are campaign finance violations. Michael Cohen was convicted in federal court on two counts related to this scheme. Pecker was excused from prosecution based on his willingness to cooperate.

    Trump is not being charged with crimes in regard to Pecker's "catch-and-kill" and phony stories activities, even though Cohen was convicted for them and Pecker had to negotiatie a deal to avoid prosecution.

    Clearly,, there was a crime. The crime (or crimes) does not involve sex. No one has been charged because of the sexual activity of candidate Trump, Daniels, McDougal or anyone else. The crime is a campaign finance violation.

    But remember! Trump has not been and is not being charged for campaign finance violations. He faces charges for 34 instances of faking his own company's business records--in an attempt to hide his campaign's unlawful agreement with Pecker.

    When Our Host poses this question, I fear he's missing the point:

    "Did Donald Trump really "corrupt the 2016 presidential election" by arranging for an NDA with a woman who wasn't his wife?

    "Should we really regard her silence as a corruption of our democracy? Or did her attempt to "tell her story" possibly constitute the real attempt to corrupt an election?"

    The prosecution's case rests on its ability to show that Trump, Cohen, and Pecker put their heads together and agreed that Pecker would spend money to benefit the Trump campaign. In addition, he would publish stories that hurt other candidates. In return, Trump promised to repay Pecker's expenses. Ultimately, Cohen made just such a payment to Daniels. Trump paid him back--twice over! Why twice? Because it was agreed with Cohen that he would report those payments--not as a reimbursement, but as ordinary income. That would increase his income tax liability, so Trump paid that amount too.

    So forget about the salacious sex stories if you like. They aren't really relevant to the charges against Trump. The charges are that he cooked his company's books to hide his arrangement with Pecker to violate campaign finance laws.

    1. The best explanation of the legal theories I've seen is at Teni Kanefield's blog.

    2. This isn't quite right:
      "Cohen made just such a payment to Daniels."

      Pecker paid Daniels. Cohen reimbursed Pecker.

  7. "For ourselves, we're not interested in the legalities of this unusual legal case. For ourselves, we're thunderstruck by the poor judgment, and the political desperation, found within the culture!"

    It is obvious that Somerby has no interest in the legalities. He has made no effort to understand or follow those legalities, other than asking a series of bone-headed questions meant to confuse his readers, sugesting there are no legalities involved.

    He uses the term "political desperation" to echo the suggestion on the right that this is a political prosecution, but he would really need to follow those legalities in order to make that determination. If there is any desperation here, it is on Trump's part -- he is frantic with worry that he will be found guilty, and at every turn he has behaved like a guilty man. Somerby blames "the culture" which is a word with no definition that could refer to anyone. It is our legal system that is prosecuting Trump, following an investigation, a grand jury that recommended trial, an indictment for 34 specific charges under NY state law, and now a trial that will determine his guilt and impose a sentence if he is convicted. None of this is due to some nebulous culture but due to Trump's actions and NY law.

    The word judgment applies to Somerby too. It iis so obvious that Trump tried to bend the election his way in various ways, that this one is a slam dunk for anyone paying attention. Voters have the right to know what he did. If Somerby doesn't want to pay attention, that is his right, but the rest of the electorate also has the right to apply their own judgment based on all of the facts and to vote accordingly. That didn't happen in 2016 -- there are many facts only now emerging that condemn Trump.

    If Somerby thinks this stuff should have been suppressed because it involves sex, he is wrong. This trial is not about sex. It is about manipulation of the election results by giving hush money to those with harmful info that might have hurt his chances of becoming president. It is too late to go back and re-run that election, but it is not too late to hold Trump accountable for his illegal acts. And yes, the things Trump did were illegal, and no, we aren't talking about the sex, but the pay offs and coverup and subsequent business and tax fraud.

    In other trials, Trump has already been convicted of sexual abuse (which the judge referred to as rape) and massive business fraud. He is guilty of those charges. What kind of judgment would suggest he is more likely to be innocent than guilty of the current charges?

    In the 2024 election, the voters have the right to know whether Trump is a felon, in addition to being a liar and philanderer. Somerby seems to be suggesting we should be suppressing that info in the current election. That would be a repeat of what happened in 2016. Even Trump's Republican supporters have the right to know how much of a crook their guy has been.

    1. I'm more interested in how we can deal with the Biden problem (age, senility, etc.) We have to get that wooden statue out of there!! If we run Biden and lose to Trump, we deserve to lose. No shit Sherlock Trump is bad. It's all you morons talk about. Great. Thanks. Now let's get someone with a pulse that can beat him.

    2. Biden is the candidate. Biden proved in 2020 that he could beat Trump. Vote for him or not but no one else is running as a Dem.

    3. Then, if we lose, we will have deserved it.

    4. Depends on who you voted for.

    5. If the Democrats run Biden and he loses to Trump, it will be all their own fault because everyone completely expects Republican voters to get out to vote for Trump because he really has them jacked-up with his bigotry.

    6. 6:07,
      Write in AOC.
      Sleep tight.

  8. I think the suppression of health info by a presidential candidate should be a crime. If one of Trump's past doctors were to threaten to release a statement about his heart problems, and were then paid off to keep quiet, would that be a crime? Do we know they haven't received such payments already? Well, we have laws protecting patient privacy, but if we had a health disclosure law applying to candidates for public office, they wouldn't be protected. Does anyone not believe that Trump is hiding things in his health record? Biden released his detailed records, as he has done each year. My judgment tells me that I am better off voting for someone who is forthcoming and has only minor ailments, than someone slightly younger who has lied about his health and never released any details. And that has nothing to do with sex but everything to do with not lying, having character, and telling voters the truth.

  9. Stormy Daniels would be a good president.

    1. Duh. Everyone would make a good president when you compare them to Ronald Reagan. Even Trump.

  10. If the payments to Pecker were only to plant negative stories about Cruz or Rubio and they were handled by Cohen & Trump as in this case, there would be the same charges. As a voter I would want to know about what they did because it is unethical and shabby.

    1. The charges as they stand are easier to quantify. Pecker paid specific amounts of money to but the rights to stories. You can tally up those amounts and get a reliable answer.

      But the payments weren't to David Pecker. He was being reimbursed for payments made to others.

      If Pecker had only published fake stories about other candidates (without accepting payment for the same) it would be much harder to fix a dollar figure to his acts.

  11. She would be better than the two boobs we have.