Don Snoreleone’s Manhattan Trial

Trump has struggled to stay awake during his Manhattan trial. Is he as exhausted as the rest of us by all this self- pity and whining? At the start of his criminal trial in Manhattan, Donald Trump has been forced to sit still in a courtroom and listen for a change. This is not something he is good at and it tends to make him angry …or sleepy? There are no cameras in the courtroom but there are witnesses who report out what is happening. In the early days of this trial there were reports of Trump closing his eyes and dozing off.

Jesse Watters of Fox News describes Trump as a victim and compares him to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.

Watters: Trump needs exercise. He’s usually golfing and you’re going to put a man who’s almost 80 sitting in a room like this on his butt for all that time? It’s not healthy. He needs sunlight. He needs activity. It’s really cruel and unusual punishment.

What is Trump- a plant that needs sunlight?  A dog that needs to be taken for a walk?

Here is more of Jesse Watters whining on behalf of Trump.

They’re freezing him to death, they’re putting him in a meat locker. He said it’s, like, 45 degrees in there, and they’re putting his life in danger. 

Here’s a thought- bring a blanket or a coat or some mittens. Jeez, what a wimp!

Watters has also complained that Trump at the age of 77 is an old man who is being forced to stay awake at his trial all day long.

The trial day starts at around 10 and ends in the early afternoon. There is a break for lunch. Most people who go to work have 8 to 10 hour days or longer and eat at their desks. If Trump isn’t up to being at his own trial for 4 hours a day, why should anyone vote for him to be president when that job is much more time consuming, assuming it is done right.

By-the-way,  no one forced Trump to repeatedly break the law. That’s on him. And if he didn’t know that criminal defendants have to attend their trials in person, well….now he knows. Tough nuggies.


The lead witness who testified for the prosecution was Trump’s old buddy, David Pecker of AMI. This is a trial about covering up an illicit affair with a porn star and committing a felony by lying about it on financial records in order to get elected president of the United States. It is hard to imagine a more apt name for a star witness.

David Pecker set the stage for the rest of the witnesses to follow by explaining the overarching scheme that he entered into with Trump and Cohen in 2015. Pecker said he would be the “eyes and ears” of the campaign to help Trump bury stories that would expose him for the person he was instead of the image he wanted to portray to the public. That agreement helped to launch Trump’s victory by using the National Inquirer as a propaganda tool to protect Trump and influence voters as they went through the grocery store check out line or bought gum at the airport and saw the shocking headlines and images on the front page of the National Enquirer: Hillary was hiding an illness that would kill her in a few months, Ted Cruz’s father conspired to kill JFK, Marco Rubio had fathered a love child.

Pecker and Trump had been friends for many years. Trump had the benefit of having negative stories about him caught and killed by AMI before. But this time the goal was to help Trump win the election- not to protect Melania or his family from knowing about this affair. This point was something Trump’s lawyers tried to get Pecker to renege on but Pecker held firm- the goal was to get Trump elected. This goes to Trump’s intent which is usually the hardest element for the prosecution to prove.

In this 2015 meeting Pecker schemed to help his friend get elected by using his monumental ability to influence voters with the front pages of his tabloid in different and more nefarious and expensive ways than he had in the past. Pecker agreed to help Trump out in a number of ways he had never done for anyone else. He would feature only good stories about Trump, publish false bad stories about his competitors, and “catch and kill” stories that could hurt Trump’s image. What “catch and kill” here means is that a story that would be bad for Trump’s image would be bought by the National Enquirer before it hit the papers or got traction in social media. Instead, that bad story would be kept from exploding onto the world stage. It would be “killed” by burying it, paying the person to stay silent and threatening them with a huge sum of money they would have to pay if they violated the agreement.

The National Enquirer bought two big stories that were potentially ruinous for Trump’s presidential image as he tried to win the 2016 election. Normally when the National Enquirer bought stories they wanted to cover in their tabloids the most they paid was $10,000 per story which gave them the rights to publish the story. But in this scheme Pecker went above and beyond to bury the dirt on Trump.

First, the magazine endorsed Trump for president, which was something the magazine had never done before. Next, they engaged in catch and kill efforts to help Trump and made payoffs that were much larger amounts than the money spent to purchase a typical story they intended to print. They paid $150,000 to catch and kill Karen McDougal’s story about a year long affair with Trump when Melania was pregnant and $30,000.00 to buy off Dino the doorman who was going to squeal about a love child that he said Trump fathered with a maid in Trump Tower (Pecker says that allegation by Dino was a lie, by the way). But the doorman would have risked being sued for a million dollars if he said anything about that love child claim.

Trump might have gotten away with this scheme to appear to be a moral man when he wasn’t, but Trump is also a skinflint and he failed to repay AMI for those two expenses. Pecker got mad. He said he was “not a bank” and refused to shell out more money to catch and kill the looming Stormy Daniel’s story that Trump needed to bury after the Access Hollywood tape blew up across the media-verse. That’s how Michael Cohen got stuck coming up with the money to buy Daniels off. Since Cohen did not have that kind of money lying around he had to take out a second mortgage on his home and lie about the reason for the loan, calling it an LLC for some kind of real estate dealings. Cohen then needed to be repaid by Trump and that is how Trump got caught.  Trump paid Cohen back with a series of checks he signed (some even in the Oval Office after being elected) claiming he was paying Cohen for legal services.  It was that lie that got Trump in hot water: 34 counts of hot water.


It is a crime under New York law statute 17-152 to conspire to promote a candidate without identifying the expense as a campaign expenditure. In this case, AMI (David Pecker), Trump and Michael Cohen entered into a scheme to promote Trump as president by using the National Enquirer as an unofficial arm of the campaign, a propaganda vehicle to help Trump win the presidency. That is illegal. In our country campaign finance laws require transparency. This violation was a clear misdemeanor violation.

So, how does this crime rise to the level of a felony?

In New York if a misdemeanor is committed in furtherance of another crime even if that other crime is a misdemeanor, the misdemeanor can be bootstrapped to the additional crime boosting those counts to felonies. Here the felony is falsifying financial documents to conceal the commission of the crime, the crime of promoting a candidate without declaring the expense to be a campaign expense.

David Pecker has admitted he committed this crime, and he knew it was a crime in part because there was a similar issue with Arnold Schwarzenegger where he had a visit from FEC raising a red flag to warn him about this kind of activity being a violation of campaign finance laws. Pecker had agreed to testify in this case against Trump in exchange for avoiding prosecution. Michael Cohen has done time in prison for committing this crime and lying on financial documents. Donald Trump was named in Cohen’s original indictment as Individual 1- the person who directed this conspiracy and benefitted from it.


David Pecker came off as a straight shooter, a likeable guy that runs a business that isn’t so nice, but someone who likes and still cares about Donald Trump. He just told the truth because he had to or risk jail time himself. He also came off as someone who doesn’t have a motive to hurt Trump or to lie. He is just being forced to tell the truth to avoid the long arm of the law himself. All in all the prosecution’s first witness was convincing and effective.


Trump has called for his followers to show up at the courthouse and protest on his behalf. At the very start of the trial the number of supporters was maybe 70 or so? but it wasn’t much to speak of. Since then it’s been close to zero. There have been more anti-Trump protesters in front of the courthouse. This has led to speculation that Trump’s star may be falling as this trial exposes him at long last to be the person he was trying to pretend he was not in order to get to be president- a moral family man.

Even if Trump’s star is fading right now it does not mean Trump cannot get re-elected. In our divided country Republicans have come to accept many shady things about Trump in the past 9 years. Trump and his sycophants, the radical right and even the Supreme Court have done a lot to normalize Trump’s shady practices, corruption and violations of law. Trump has broken the law and norms in ways no prior president has. Nixon’s transgressions were child’s play by comparison.


This Manhattan trial might be the least strong but most consequential of the criminal trials coming for Trump because it will be the only case to be tried to completion before the 2024 election. In another shocking display of extremism, the Supreme Court, led by at least two right wing Christian Nationalists- Alito and Thomas- have decided to go all in to help Trump get re-elected. We heard this in action in the recent oral argument on the issue of presidential immunity.

The oral argument made it clear that four of the radical right wing justices (Alito, Thomas, Gorsuch and Kavanaugh) are ready to push the matter back down to the district court (remand it to Judge Chutkan’s courtroom) which means there would not be time for Jack Smith to have the jury trial Americans need to learn the truth about what Trump was trying to do when he got an armed mob to attack the Capitol on January 6th. These justices will be sending the matter back to the district court to putz around with the case some more with the goal of coming up with unnecessary rules about when a president is acting within the scope of his official duties or private duties or the outer perimeter of his duties or not.

In the history of our country we have never entertained the idea that a president could be sort of above the law in some circumstances that need to be spelled out. Suddenly we need this delineation? This is ridiculous given that the Court has a case in front of it where Trump’s actions were clearly outside the scope of his official duties as president because he was at the Ellipse and urging his mob so he could stay in power- which is the opposite of what a president is supposed to be doing in his official capacity- namely being a role model for following the law. A president who loses an election is required to gracefully concede and leave office under our Constitution. Trump is a sore loser and the rest of us have to pay for his inability to do what every other American president has done, namely, concede, shake hands and leave office because he lost the election.

Normally the Supreme  Court narrowly decides a case based on the facts before them. Not this time.  In oral argument these 4 right wing justices literally refused over and over again to talk about the facts in the case before them and instead tried to elevate the case to one in which they were going to be setting precedent for the ages on facts that they were speculating about.

This is a delay tactic to help Trump out, pure and simple.

What remains to be seen is whether Judge Chutkan might be able to use the remand to have witnesses introduce evidence under oath in her courtroom that they would have testified to at the time of trial that would reveal more than the January 6th House Investigation got from witnesses who stonewalled the Committee. She might be able to do that in service to the goal of trying to figure out whether Trump was acting outside the scope of his official duties or in the outer perimeter of them or some other poppycock. If that works, it will not be a full trial with a jury but it might help Americans have more of the truth about Trump before the presidential election.

If Judge Chutkan can accomplish that it might work as a limited end run around the Supreme Court’s attempt to bury Trump’s bad acts the way David Pecker tried to bury Trump’s bad acts to keep us from knowing how corrupt and lawless Trump really is.