The Mahablog

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The Mahablog

Trump’s Entitlement Defense; Ginni Thomas Cashes In

Yesterday the Irish and British press were reporting that Trump is cutting his golf trip to Ireland short in order to go to New York to “confront” his accuser in the E. Jean Carroll case. And although both sides’ lawyers have rested their cases, the judge is giving Trump until Monday to choose to testify. Which I kind of hope he does, just for the entertainment value of the thing. If Trump doesn’t testify, the lawyers will give their closing arguments Monday morning.

Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina has said all along that Trump will not testify. He also didn’t attempt to present a defense. Yesterday the jury saw Trump’s taped deposition, which may have clinched the verdict in E. Jean Carroll’s favor.

According to reports from inside the courtroom, the deposition features an agitated Donald Trump growing snarky and exasperated as Roberta Kaplan questioned him seven months ago. Trump has chosen not to attend the civil trial, but the jury saw the footage Thursday. Carroll is suing Trump for battery and defamation, alleging he raped her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in the 1990s.

Trump has denied the accusations since Carroll first came forward and his main defense has been claiming that Carroll is not his “type.” But during the deposition, Trump poked holes in his own defense. When Kaplan showed Trump a picture of himself talking to Carroll at a party in the past, Trump confused Carroll with Maples.

“It’s Marla,” he said, according to reports. “That’s Marla, yeah. That’s my wife.”

Later, Kaplan reportedly asked Trump questions about other women who have accused him of sexual assault. That’s when the former president grew heated, telling Kaplan “you wouldn’t be a choice of mine, either, to be honest.”

“I wouldn’t in any circumstances have any interest in you,” he said, bringing in the rejected dude at a bar defense.

It’s kind of awesome in its cluelessness. If I were a screenwriter I couldn’t have come up with dialogue that deluded. See also Bess Levin at Vanity Fair:

Yes, in an astonishing deposition—even for Trump—Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan asked the former president about the infamous Access Hollywood tape in which he told Billy Bush in 2005: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” adding, “Grab ’em by the pussy. You can do anything.” After watching the clip, Trump told Kaplan, “Well, historically, that’s true with stars.” When pressed on whether he stood by those statements—which he chalked up to “locker-room banter” in 2016, later suggesting the tape wasn’t real—Trump responded: “Well, I guess if you look over the last million years, that’s been largely true—not always true, but largely true, unfortunately or fortunately.” That’s right: When asked about his claim that it was okay to grab someone’s genitals without their permission, Trump said—while in the midst of a deposition about allegedly raping someone—that it was almost 100% true. “Unfortunately or fortunately”!

Also: See also Does Jack Smith have an insider source at Mar-a-Lago?

In other news: Best quote from social media today: “We’re about two days away from learning that Clarence Thomas is on Harlan Crow’s cell phone plan.” This is from someone called “JoJoFromJerz.”

The revelation from last night is, um, this (no paywall):

Conservative judicial activist Leonard Leo arranged for the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas to be paid tens of thousands of dollars for consulting work just over a decade ago, specifying that her name be left off billing paperwork, according to documents reviewed by The Washington Post.

In January 2012, Leo instructed the GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway to bill a nonprofit group he advises and use that money to pay Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the documents show. The same year, the nonprofit, the Judicial Education Project, filed a brief to the Supreme Court in a landmark voting rights case.

Leo, a key figure in a network of nonprofits that has worked to support the nominations of conservative judges, told Conwaythat he wanted her to “give” Ginni Thomas “another $25K,” the documents show. He emphasized that the paperwork should have “No mention of Ginni, of course.”

Then some more stuff about money funneled to Ginni Thomas, and then this:

In December 2012, the Judicial Education Project submitted an amicus brief in Shelby County v. Holder, a case challenging a landmark civil rights law aimed at protecting minority voters. The court struck down a formula in the Voting Rights Act that determined which states had to obtain federal clearance before changing their voting rules and procedures. Clarence Thomas was part of the 5-to-4 majority.

Thomas issued a concurring opinion in the case, arguing that the preclearance requirement itself is unconstitutional. Thomas’s opinionwhich was consistent with a previous opinion he wrote, favored the outcome the Judicial Education Project and several other conservative organizations had advocated in their amicus briefs. He did not cite the Judicial Education Project brief.

Remarkably, it says later in the article that “Legal ethics experts disagreed about whether the arrangement outlined by Leo and the payments from Conway should have led Thomas to recuse himself from the Shelby case.” I’m just done with this. They might as well stop pretending to be judges. Let the big money folks just pay them as their own agents. It would be more honest.