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founding

"Bragg did nothing illegal, as far as I can tell, but his actions were cheap and unjust. I say that as someone who believes Donald Trump did everything he was accused of in the indictment."

I didn't follow this case closely enough but doing dirtbag stuff isn't a crime unless you break the law. If paying off Stormy to influence the election was against the law, who was convicted for funding and releasing the Steele Dossier? I'm sure I represent a lot of people who are completely confused by this conviction. Unless of course you hate Trump. I am one who can't stand the guy, but I feel a great injustice has been served by political motivation, not justice.

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author

>> I didn't follow this case closely enough but doing dirtbag stuff isn't a crime unless you break the law.

Agreed, and those 34 counts detailed in the indictment were indeed illegal, albeit originally categorized as misdemeanors (that the previous D.A. chose not to prosecute).

>>If paying off Stormy to influence the election was against the law

That type of thing is indeed illegal (ask John Edwards), but earlier prosecutors likewise took a pass on it. Yet, Bragg's creative legal approach didn't require Trump to have been convicted of or even charged with the election crime -- just that his 34 legal infractions were in furtherance of committing it.

>>who was convicted for funding and releasing the Steele Dossier

The Steele Dossier was an opposition research report that wasn't publicly released until AFTER the election (and without permission). The classified investigative work it spawned prior to the election remained internal.

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founding

I believe the difference between the Edwards and Trump case was that Edwards was accused of recruiting donors to make payments to the campaign fund for the purpose of paying off this woman. Of which he was never convicted.

Former FEC chair Bradley Smith told Political he sees evidence from Daniels that places this outside the realm of the campaign.

"Daniels herself has said that years before Trump declared for president, she was threatened about not disclosing any affair, suggesting, if she's telling the truth, that her silence was desired long before Trump became a candidate," Smith said.

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I think you are misleading your readers. Jonathan Turley and Andrew McCarthy have both said that paying Stormy for any reason was legal as long as it was not paid with campaign funds. What is your basis for saying that it is legal?

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author

It was considered an illegal campaign contribution (a campaign-finance violation). See Michael Cohen's case, in which he ended up serving jail time, in part, for that same payment.

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Cohen was not convicted - he agreed to plead guilty as part of the overall plea deal he signed - his guilty plea has no bearing on anyone else

as I said, you are misleading your readers

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author

I didn't say he was convicted (talk about misleading). I said he served time. I know he plead guilty.... to the crime I just described (along with other crimes), directly related to the payment. Surely you're not suggesting that Cohen served time for non-crimes, right?

I don't know you, Bill, but it seems to me, just based on our few exchanges, that your definition of "misleading" amounts to "thoughts that conflict, or potentially conflict, with mine." I hope I'm wrong.

Regardless, if you can't stomach my commentary, you can selectively unsubscribe from it here: https://www.bernardgoldberg.com/account?utm_source=user-menu

I assure you it won't hurt my feelings.

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Cohen was convicted by the judge before whom he pleaded guilty. You can't be sentenced unless you're convicted. The judge entered a conviction at his plea hearing.

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I

FYI I am an independent (probably 67% Republican 33% Democrat - I dislike a lot of what Trump says - this is not about you or your commentary - it’s about our country - I think you are are a good example of what happened with the jurors - their logic was the same as yours that Cohen would never plead guilty to a non-crime - so if Cohen was guilty, Trump must be guilty too - but the fact is Cohen would plead guilty to anything in order to get a better deal on the other crimes he was clearly guilty of - that is why this judge should never have allowed this information to reach the jurors - You can think what you want about my criticism - I thought your commentary was biased - the best example I can give you is this - you quoted Elie Honig in your piece but you left out many other things he said such as everything below in quotes

“Both of these things can be true at once: The jury did its job, and this case was an ill-conceived, unjustified mess. Sure, victory is the great deodorant, but a guilty verdict doesn’t make it all pure and right. Plenty of prosecutors have won plenty of convictions in cases that shouldn’t have been brought in the first place. “But they won” is no defense to a strained, convoluted reach unless the goal is to “win,” now, by any means necessary and worry about the credibility of the case and the fallout later.

The following are all undeniable facts.

The judge donated money — a tiny amount, $35, but in plain violation of a rule prohibiting New York judges from making political donations of any kind — to a pro-Biden, anti-Trump political operation, including funds that the judge earmarked for “resisting the Republican Party and Donald Trump’s radical right-wing legacy.” Would folks have been just fine with the judge staying on the case if he had donated a couple bucks to “Re-elect Donald Trump, MAGA forever!”? Absolutely not.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg ran for office in an overwhelmingly Democratic county by touting his Trump-hunting prowess. He bizarrely (and falsely) boasted on the campaign trail, “It is a fact that I have sued Trump over 100 times.” (Disclosure: Both Bragg and Trump’s lead counsel, Todd Blanche, are friends and former colleagues of mine at the Southern District of New York.)

Most importantly, the DA’s charges against Trump push the outer boundaries of the law and due process. That’s not on the jury. That’s on the prosecutors who chose to bring the case and the judge who let it play out as it did.

The district attorney’s press office and its flaks often proclaim that falsification of business records charges are “commonplace” and, indeed, the office’s “bread and butter.” That’s true only if you draw definitional lines so broad as to render them meaningless. Of course the DA charges falsification quite frequently; virtually any fraud case involves some sort of fake documentation.

But when you impose meaningful search parameters, the truth emerges: The charges against Trump are obscure, and nearly entirely unprecedented. In fact, no state prosecutor — in New York, or Wyoming, or anywhere — has ever charged federal election laws as a direct or predicate state crime, against anyone, for anything. None. Ever. Even putting aside the specifics of election law, the Manhattan DA itself almost never brings any case in which falsification of business records is the only charge.

Standing alone, falsification charges would have been mere misdemeanors under New York law, which posed two problems for the DA. First, nobody cares about a misdemeanor, and it would be laughable to bring the first-ever charge against a former president for a trifling offense that falls within the same technical criminal classification as shoplifting a Snapple and a bag of Cheetos from a bodega. Second, the statute of limitations on a misdemeanor — two years — likely has long expired on Trump’s conduct, which dates to 2016 and 2017.

So, to inflate the charges up to the lowest-level felony (Class E, on a scale of Class A through E) — and to electroshock them back to life within the longer felony statute of limitations — the DA alleged that the falsification of business records was committed “with intent to commit another crime.” Here, according to prosecutors, the “another crime” is a New York State election-law violation, which in turn incorporates three separate “unlawful means”: federal campaign crimes, tax crimes, and falsification of still more documents. Inexcusably, the DA refused to specify what those unlawful means actually were — and the judge declined to force them to pony up — until right before closing arguments.”

I thought this was very unfair and misleading but realize that this is just my opinion. The main reason the column bothered me had nothing to do with Trump. I just think the Trump conviction will prove very bad for our country and your column seemed to validate it. Time will tell. Just for the record, with her knowledge, the Clinton campaign did exactly this the same thing as Trump but was only fined. So you think Hillary should have been charged too?

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author

>>FYI I am an independent (probably 67% Republican 33% Democrat -

Cool. I'm a conservative independent, who's never voted for a Democrat in a general election, but votes for Republican candidates if they're fit for office.

>>I dislike a lot of what Trump says

Me too. I also dislike a lot of what he does.

>> this is not about you or your commentary

It sure feels like it's about my commentary, since you keep insisting I'm misleading my readers.

>> I thought your commentary was biased - the best example I can give you is this - you quoted Elie Honig in your piece but you left out many other things he said such as everything below in quotes

So, let me get this straight... By only quoting this fellow's thoughts about the jurors in his piece (a piece I linked to in my column), and not quoting specific points he made about the prosecution that I very broadly made myself in the first two paragraphs of my column, my piece was biased. Got it.

>>The main reason the column bothered me had nothing to do with Trump. I just think the Trump conviction will prove very bad for our country and your column seemed to validate it. Time will tell.

Okay.

>> Just for the record, with her knowledge, the Clinton campaign did exactly this the same thing as Trump but was only fined. So you think Hillary should have been charged too?

Are we still talking about the Trump hush-money case? If so, as I've said repeatedly now, I don't even think Trump should have been charged. So what's this "too" business?

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I think any fair-minded person would agree that while you thought Bragg should not have charged Trump, you nevertheless believe that Trump was guilty. So, you legitimized the verdict. That is where you and I differ. I do not believe this was a legitimate verdict and don’t blame the jurors. I think we are going to find that because the jury knew Cohen plead guilty on a campaign violation, it concluded Trump committed the same violation. They are not supposed to do that. ( judge’s fault, not jurors) Also, to have a trial where a defendant does not know the felony crime he’s accused of until AFTER his attorneys give closing arguments is both a sham and a violation of due process and will be ultimately reversed on appeal. A defendant must have an opportunity to defend himself. This exchange has given me a better sense of where you’re coming from - reasonable minds can differ - look forward to reading more of your commentaries

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author

>>I think any fair-minded person would agree that while you thought Bragg should not have charged Trump, you nevertheless believe that Trump was guilty.

Oh, I absolutely believe that Trump falsified business records to conceal his hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels.

>>So, you legitimized the verdict.

Legitimized? I would have accepted and respected the verdict regardless of what the jury decided. And if it's overturned on appeal, I'll accept and respect that as well. If that amounts to me "legitimizing" those outcomes, that's fine with me.

What I don't respect is Bragg's contortion of the law and violation of norms.

>>Also, to have a trial where a defendant does not know the felony crime he’s accused of until AFTER his attorneys give closing arguments is both a sham and a violation of due process and will be ultimately reversed on appeal.

Trump answered "yes," in court, as to whether or not he understood the charges against him. And his defense team understood well in advance the nature of the "underlying crimes" they would be contending with. https://x.com/gabrielmalor/status/1644047580211343370

>>A defendant must have an opportunity to defend himself.

He did. But by just about every account, his defense team was not well prepared, and did little to poke holes in the prosecution's framework.

>>This exchange has given me a better sense of where you’re coming from - reasonable minds can differ - look forward to reading more of your commentaries

Thanks.

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Jun 3·edited Jun 3

So, Donald Trump’s tirades on being found guilty in a court of law confirm what we all know... He's unfit to be President. Trump has said he's OK with doing jail time or home detention as punishment.

It shouldn't come as a disappointment to anyone if that ends up being the case.

Will Judge Marchan take this into consideration when reviewing the sentencing guidelines?

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I recently subscribed to this newsletter looking for reasonably objective commentary. I am having buyer’s remorse and sorely disappointed. Bernie focused on the wrong thing. The jurors were not at fault but the judge certainly was. Bernie quoted Elie Honig but somehow excluded his other very critical comments regarding this case. Below are questions I have about this case. This is not about Trump, it’s about our country. Bernie does not think Biden was involved. Does he really not see anything suspicious about the #3 guy at DOJ leaving such an important position to take a job under a city DA and become lead prosecutor in this case?

Why did the DOJ investigate Trump but not charge him?

Why did the FEC investigate Trump but not charge him?

Why did the Bragg’s predecessor investigate Trump but not charge him?

Why did Bragg initially investigate Trump but not charge him?

Why did Bragg wait until the presidential election year to charge Trump?

Why was the judge SELECTED for this trial instead of the normal random selection?

To eliminate any doubt about fairness, why didn’t the judge recuse himself?

To ensure fairness, why wasn’t the request for a change in venue approved?

Why did the judge allow sleazy testimony from Stormy that was irrelevant to the indictment?

Why did the judge allow Cohen to tell the jury about his campaign crime?

Why did the judge allow the prosecution to tell the jury that Trump directed Cohen to break campaign law?

Why did the judge allow Pecker to tell the jury about his non-prosecution agreement?

Why did the judge refuse to allow an election expert to testify about this case?

Why did the judge refuse to allow Costello, a key witness for Trump, to explain his answers?

Why did the judge allow the case to proceed to closing arguments without a statement of the other crime?

How can Trump defend himself if he doesn’t know the felony crime he’s accused of?

Why was Trump criminally convicted for the same thing that Hillary was only fined?

How can an accounting entry made in 2017 affect an election that occurred in 2016?

Why did the judge not require jurors to agree on what other crime Trump committed?

Why did most legal scholars think the jury instructions were unfair to Trump?

Bernie should go back an read his book “Bias”

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Jun 2·edited Jun 2Author

Bernie didn't write this column. I did.

His piece on the case/verdict is here: https://www.bernardgoldberg.com/p/will-the-trump-verdict-hurt-or-help?r=1k62c&utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web

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Thx very much John for clearing that up - I did not realize other people wrote commentary

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author

You're welcome. It's just Bernie and I. I'm a contributor, and I do with video episodes with him.

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OK John - thx for clarifying

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founding

An Attorney friend provided me a comment on one of your questions. Had the fed's charged him there is a greater chance a conviction could end up with SCOTUS. With state charges, it is less likely SCOTUS would take it on.

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don’t think SCOTUS can consider until all appeals at state level have been exhausted - at that time, think there is reasonable chance SCOTUS will consider because of due process issues - however, this may not occur until after the election - in light of the importance of this case, I still have hope that the courts are going to accelerate appeal process

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I don't have buyers remorse but I don't always agree with Bernie or John. But this is why I like this blog. Sometimes I can actually learn something like from your comments.

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author

We have no expectation that our readers are always (or even usually) going to agree with us. But we always write from a position of honesty, and while we have our political leanings, I believe we're also fair.

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Ha. The venue was bag of shit. No, the jury did not get to hear all things, as prevented by the judge, an expert opinion on election law, Bradley Smith, former FEC Commissioner.

One needs to ask, how does one log a personal legal expense for the administration of whoring? I’ll need to see if Quickbooks has a pull down menu option just in case..

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author

>>The venue was bag of shit. No, the jury did not get to hear all things, as prevented by the judge

So, like most trials.

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Jun 1·edited Jun 4

Excellent summary, I agree. Trump should be sentenced to a non-parole period of 6 months in a minimum security State penitentiary. Not only because he deserves it, but to set a precedent to those who might want to commit the same crimes in the future.

Trump gave himself a material advantage in the 2016 election by committing these crimes in violating State election law, and to let him off with anything else other than a custodial sentence would be a miscarriage of justice.

A fine isn't going to cut it for someone who claims to have a lot of money, because you shouldn't be able to buy your way out of punishment..

It would be a bad look, and I hope Judge Juan Merchan thinks the same way when sentencing happens in July.

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I think for me what stinks is two tiered system. Wouldn't it be great when a politician did a wrong that not only his opponents go after but their own side as well. Do I think there was some shenanigans with keeping that laptop out of public view, yes. They're both stinkers and that's the point.

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