Trump Isn’t the Only One Silenced at His Trial

News & Politics

The man who might be the most important witness to Donald Trump’s defense in Manhattan has been effectively silenced, much like the defendant himself. Now why would that be? 

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Prosecutors in the “Get Trump” case in Manhattan allege that Trump’s nondisclosure agreement payments to two women shaking him down for money were actually federal campaign expenditures. The bookkeeping error they claim Trump made — misdemeanors if they’re charged at all — are now, they argue, felonies because Trump did it in furtherance of stealing the 2016 election. Hillary said so. 

So if you’re Trump’s attorneys, you might say “Hey, let’s get that attorney guy, the former Federal Elections Commission Chairman, who wrote that op-ed back in 2018 about how these payments aren’t federal elections violations.” 

“Great idea,” they agreed. But then at pretrial motion in limine, which is Latin for Orange Man Bad, the judge said, well, he can testify, kinda sorta. 

The People’s motion is granted to the extent that Smith may not testify as a lay (fact) witness; offer opinion testimony regarding the interpretation and application of federal campaign finance laws and how they relate to the facts in the instant matter, nor may Smith testify or offer an opinion as to whether the alleged conduct in this case does or does not constitute a violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act.” (He can testify generally about what the law does.)

It was a big win for the prosecution.

Related: We’re Now in Full Goat Rodeo Mode in the NYC Trump Trial

For those of you old enough to remember the movie “The Jerk,” this is the equivalent of carnival barker Navin Johnson (Steve Martin) showing what prizes in his showcase people can take home if they play his game and win. The area keeps getting teensier and teensier in real time.

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Anything… in this general area, right in here. Anything, below the stereo, and on this side of the Bicentennial glasses. Anything between the ashtray, and the thimbles. Anything in this three inches. Right in here, this area, that includes the Chiclets, but not the erasers.

This was the ruling before the trial.

He can come and say what the law is but may not offer his expert opinion on whether he thinks Trump broke it. Well, whoop dee doo. On second thought, he might be the only one in the trial who will tell the jury what the law is, because goodness knows the “Get Trump” prosecutors won’t.

In another story about Trump’s gag order, I found this excerpt of a discussion between civil rights attorney Harmeet Dhillon and Megyn Kelly highly interesting. So did many PJ Media readers. I told them I’d look into it. The result is this piece.

Dhillon told Kelly that the judge had “prevented President Trump from bringing in campaign finance experts who would have advised the court that there’s no campaign finance violation here.” She haltingly said, “This is the most biased … I could go on with the number of reversible errors this judge has committed. That is but one of many.” 

Dhillon told Kelly that the judge, for example, has already ruled out Trump’s legal team’s ability to present certain expert testimony on campaign finance law, which isn’t charged, but which is a key point in the prosecution’s theory of the case.

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She’s not the only one, of course, who believes the fix is in. 

Related: Trump Just Made Huge Point About ‘Unconstitutional’ Gag Order in His NYC Case

Former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy writes that a guilty verdict is virtually baked in the cake of the judge’s pretrial decisions.

Merchan has already made key rulings patently designed to convince the jury that Trump’s complicity in a conspiracy to violate FECA has already been established.

So we guess he doesn’t need that expert since the judge is all-in on the “Get Trump” prosecution’s theories.

Here are some key takeaways from former FEC Chairman Bradley Smith’s op-ed in 2018 about the setup for this case.

The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York has extracted a guilty plea from [Michael] Cohen for “knowingly and willfully” violating campaign finance laws by arranging for payments to two women accusing Trump of extramarital affairs. …Cohen was facing multiple tax and fraud charges that could have landed him in jail for the rest of his life…  By pleading guilty, he limits his jail time to just a few years.

However, regardless of what Cohen agreed to in a plea bargain, hush-money payments to mistresses are not really campaign expenditures. …[A]lmost anything a candidate does can be interpreted as intended to “influence an election,” from buying a good watch to make sure he gets to places on time, to getting a massage so that he feels fit for the campaign trail, to buying a new suit so that he looks good on a debate stage…

…Suppose Trump had used campaign funds to pay off these women. Does anyone much doubt that many of the same people now after Trump for using corporate funds, and not reporting them as campaign expenditures, would then be claiming that Trump had illegally diverted campaign funds to “personal use”?

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Exactly right. 

And Trump doesn’t have to break the law to create these magical felonies; prosecutors have to show that Trump somehow demonstrated an intent to break it in an uncharged conspiracy.

Related: Well, Well, Well, Guess Whose Name Just Came Up in the Trump NYC Trial

One of the members of the secret cabal to coach talking heads and reporters on what to say on the air about the Trump case, Jennifer Rubin, gleefully reported it was the worst possible outcome for Trump.

Even worse for Trump, the judge granted the prosecutor’s key motions to exclude evidence and arguments that Trump hoped would sway the jury in his favor. Merchan knocked out most of Trump expert Bradley Smith’s potential testimony.

In addition, Trump will not get to introduce evidence that the Southern District of New York prosecutors and the Federal Election Commission declined to bring charges against him. Nor will he get to air his complaint about “selective prosecution” (a favorite excuse from Trump, who whines he is singled out by left-wing prosecutors).

And of course, Trump is singled out by left-wing prosecutors. How the leftist lawfare has been deployed against Trump at all levels of government — county, state, federal — has been institution-shattering. No one would have brought this case against a Democrat. No one. 

Now, Jack Smith, the improperly-appointed special counsel who oversees the Mar-a-Lago documents and January 6 cases has been responsible for imploding another regular order belief, that presidents have immunity from prosecution for things done during their time in office. Readers of PJ Media know the drill. 

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That means Barack Obama could be indicted for killing American citizens without due process in drone strikes, for illegally and unconstitutionally siccing his spy agencies on Donald Trump for what he knew to be a bogus case. Joe Biden was in on that one as well. Maybe, as Rich Lowry suggests, we could go all the back to Bill Clinton and bring him up on charges for quelling his “bimbo eruptions” and in so doing stealing the 1992 election.

After all, by “Drag[ging a] $100 bill through a trailer camp, there’s no telling what [we might] find.”

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