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Trump Legal News: Walking on Thin Ice

There are many people who will be very unhappy with another Donald Trump presidency, but it's likely to be a godsend to the nation's legal professionals (well, assuming the courts aren't outlawed). At the moment, the former president must be directly or indirectly responsible for the paychecks of more people in that line of work than any other American. And there was a lot of news on that front yesterday, most (but not all) of it bad for Trump.

We begin in New York, because that's where things are hottest and heaviest right now. Donald Trump Jr. finished his testimony, at least for now, and then his brother Eric took the stand (and got testy). The plaintiff (i.e., the State of New York) is making the case that the brothers Trump both signed off on documents that contained financial falsehoods. The brothers are both arguing that they didn't really pay any attention to the documents they were signing, and that responsibility for any misrepresentations lies with the accountants. The problem here is that the statements, which are called "management representation letters," are instructions from the management to the accountants as to the company's financial position. In other words, the Trumps are either lying or they were careless at a level roughly equivalent to signing blank checks and then handing them out to passersby on the sidewalk.

Following the not-so-believable testimony from Beavis and... er, from Donald Jr. and Eric, Trump family attorneys Chris Kise and Alina Habba decided that their best course of action was to... piss off the judge. Are they just not able to control themselves after a bad day in court? Are they trying to curry favor with the boss? Are they trying to create a basis for an appeal? Who knows, but in true Trump style, they decided to heap some abuse on Arthur Engoron's (female) court clerk. Only Engoron heard exactly what was said; whatever it was, he grew very angry, slammed his hand down on the desk, and accused the counselors of misogyny. Kise responded to that by saying: "I'm not a misogynist. I'm very happily married, and I have a 17-year-old daughter." Actually, Chris, that just means you're not an incel. There are plenty of married men with daughters who are misogynists; certain defendants in certain ongoing trials in New York leap to mind. In any event, Engoron was so aggravated that he ended the day early.

And speaking of daughters, Ivanka Trump is theoretically up next. In a desperation move, she filed a motion that she should not be compelled to testify during the school week, since she has school-age kids. Since courts aren't generally open on the weekends, that would have bought her quite a bit of time (presumably until winter break, or maybe next summer). However, Engoron rejected that argument and yesterday, Ivanka's appeal of Engoron's decision was rejected. She desperately does not want to be put on the stand; either she really does not want to perjure herself or she really does not want to betray Dad. For what it's worth, Mary Trump predicts that the former president's favorite child is going to throw her father "under the bus."

Moving west to Minnesota, the state Supreme Court there has inadvertently entered into something of a race with Colorado to see which will be first to decide Trump's eligibility to be on the ballot. The matter is soon to be heard by the Colorado supremes, but yesterday, the Minnesota supremes actually heard a case. The justices were persuaded that Trump's activities were at least in the ballpark of violating the Fourteenth Amendment, but were so uncertain as to whether or not they should even be hearing the case that literally any outcome is possible; they could dismiss, they could disqualify or they could say he's in the clear. In the end, Chief Justice Natalie Hudson almost certainly predicted where this is eventually headed: "[This is] why we have a U.S. Supreme Court, which is where this probably should be decided."

And finally, the good news for Trump, at least for now. Down in Florida, Judge Aileen Cannon has done much to drag things out while trying to make it look like she's not trying to drag things out. And earlier this week, she announced that she's just not sure it will be possible to squeeze in a trial next May, and that she may have to postpone until after the election.

Judges have enormous latitude over their calendars, such that it would be pretty tough for Special Counsel Jack Smith to push back against Cannon's decision. However, Trump was not willing to leave well enough alone, and managed to throw a potential wrench into the works. The defense argument in Florida is that Trump will be too busy with his D.C. trial to prepare for the Florida trial. However, shortly after making that argument, Trump's lawyers filed a motion asking that the D.C. trial be postponed indefinitely. It's pretty obvious that his "not enough time" complaints are not in good faith, and it will be hard for Cannon to pretend otherwise. And in case she missed the news from D.C., Smith has already filed a notice bringing Trump's duplicity to her attention.

Incidentally, there is a "truth" floating around that purports to be from Trump, and that says that Cannon is doing such a good job, he will put her on the Supreme Court if he gets a chance. It's a fake; of course, that kind of quid pro quo would instantly force Cannon off the case and would also add another charge or two to Trump's list (bringing us closer and closer to 100). But even he isn't that stupid. We think. However, it is instructive that of all the judges handling his cases right now, Cannon is the only one he doesn't criticize. That surely tells us which judge he thinks is in the bag for him. (Z)

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