The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

How Incompetent is Trump’s Legal Team?

Today’s pun: Alvin Bragg is about to arraign on Trump’s parade.

Let’s talk about Trump’s bargain basement lawyers. Bess Levin writes at Vanity Fair,

One of the funniest subplots in the Donald Trump Indictment Show—which centers on the hush money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016—involves the multiple reports that, after predicting to his followers that he would be arrested on March 21, the ex-president and his allies came to believe he was in the clear.

Trump, The Washington Post reported late Thursday, “had grown cautiously optimistic” in recent days, after “advisers had counseled him that a possible indictment by a Manhattan grand jury…would not come for some time—if at all.” The former president, the outlet noted, was apparently so unconcerned about the prospect of being charged that he’d “even begun joking about ‘golden handcuffs,’” which is probably not something one does if one thinks there’s a legitimate possibility they might be indicted, convicted, and sentenced to time in prison. “It was a surprise to everybody,” David Urban, a longtime Trump adviser, told the Post, which noted that “some of his lawyers had been preparing to take a few days off.” Following the indictment, The New York Times similarly reported that “Trump and his aides were caught off guard by the timing, believing that any action by the grand jury was still weeks away and might not occur at all.” The paper of record noted that Trump had recently been “telling nearly anyone that he was in a good mood and that he believed the case against him by Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, had fallen apart.”

These people should be watching MSNBC instead of Fox News. The crew at MSNBC, people like Joyce Vance, Barbara McQuade, Charles F. Coleman, Andrew Weissmann, etc., were all stressing that we can’t know what’s going to happen or when it might happen. An indictment could happen any day. An indictment could happen in a couple of months. Maybe there won’t be an indictment. Nothing is certain. Listen to the smart people, guys, not the nutjob on Fox News who thinks Nancy Pelosi secretly organized the January 6 mob for her daughter’s documentary.

But, really, one would think that any lawyer with any experience with grand juries ought to have known not to be complacent. Maybe the only lawyers willing to work for Trump any more are the ones who really need the work.

The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman was asked about how Team Trump took the news.

They’re still trying to assess what is happening on a few fronts. One is the political front, which I’d say they were most prepared on.

Another is the legal front, which is messy because his team has had a lot of infighting, and there’s finger pointing about why they were so caught off guard. The lawyers also don’t yet know the charges because it’s a sealed indictment.

Finally, there is the emotional front. While Trump is not said to be throwing things, he is extremely angry and his family is, not surprisingly, rattled.

Back to Bess Levin,

Of course, the biggest indication that Trump indeed believed he’d outrun Bragg? His taking to Truth Social on Wednesday to write: “I HAVE GAINED SUCH RESPECT FOR THIS GRAND JURY, & PERHAPS EVEN THE GRAND JURY SYSTEM AS A WHOLE…. THE GRAND JURY IS SAYING, HOLD ON, WE ARE NOT A RUBBER STAMP, WHICH MOST GRAND JURIES ARE BRANDED AS BEING, WE ARE NOT GOING TO VOTE AGAINST A PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE OR AGAINST LARGE NUMBERS OF LEGAL SCHOLARS ALL SAYING THERE IS NO CASE HERE.” Sure, that could have been an unabashed attempt to sway the jurors through flattery—but, in retrospect, those very much sound like the words of a man who was extremely confident he was not going to be indicted. “Such respect”! “The grand jury system as a whole”! “The grand jury is saying, hold on”! Do you think he still stands by these statements? If there were ever a time for the internet-ism “ROTFLMAO,” it would be now.

See also Donald Trump is melting down on Truth Social over his indictment.

In another entry for the How Stupid Are These People? file, Byron York is whining about the indictment “secrecy.” It’s a grand jury, dude. That’s how the system works. We’ll see the charges at the arraignment.

In other news: The Washington Post reports that the DoJ is said to have more evidence of possible Trump obstruction at Mar-a-Lago. Here’s the gist of it:

In the classified documents case, federal investigators have gathered new and significant evidence that after the subpoena was delivered, Trump looked through the contents of some of the boxes of documents in his home, apparently out of a desire to keep certain things in his possession, the people familiar with the investigation said.

Investigators now suspect, based on witness statements, security camera footage, and other documentary evidence, that boxes including classified material were moved from a Mar-a-Lago storage area after the subpoena was served, and that Trump personally examined at least some of those boxes, these people said. While Trump’s team returned some documents with classified markings in response to the subpoena, a later FBI search found more than 100 additional classified items that had not been turned over.

Other stuff to read: Why Is Lauren Boebert Trolling Her Own Bill? at Mother Jones. In brief, she’s a moron.