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Trump's Bond in Georgia Has Been Set at $200,000

Yesterday, Donald Trump reached an agreement with Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis about the terms of his release pending his trial. He will have to post a $200,000 bond and agree to certain restrictions. Trump can either pay the $200,000 himself (which will be returned if he abides by all the terms) or find a bail bondsman who trusts him and pay only $20,000, but that won't be returned, even if he shows up when ordered to.

The restrictions are as follows: First, Trump is not allowed to communicate with witnesses or co-defendants except through his lawyers. Second, he is forbidden from threatening anyone related to the case and that specifically includes posts or reposts on social media. Third, he may not violate any state or federal law. And, of course, he has to show up when the judge orders him to do so. The order is signed by Willis and Trump's attorneys, Drew Findling, Marissa Goldberg, and Jennifer Little (see below). The agreement is only about his bail. He still has to appear for his arraignment before Friday. Then the judge will ask him if he is innocent or guilty. The smart money is betting on him saying he is innocent.

It is well known that Trump's strategy for dealing with everyone is to try to dominate them. How that will work with a judge in a criminal case is uncharted territory. Suppose he posts something to his boutique social media site that threatens a witness or co-defendant? Then what will the judge do? He could revoke bail and put Trump in jail, but would he? If Georgia law allows it, he could possibly fine Trump for violating the conditions. We may find out before long what happens when Trump tries to show the young judge who's the boss. (V)

Biden Campaign Predicts a MAGAfest at the Debate

The first Republican primary debate is tomorrow and Joe Biden's campaign is making a prediction about it. The prediction, in the form of a memo from communications director Michael Taylor, says that almost all the candidates will vie for the title of MAGA-iest of them all. They will all be conspiracy theorists and election deniers, defend the people who tried to destroy our democracy, support tax cuts for the rich, ban all abortions, support the NRA, and be 100% behind the rest of Donald Trump's agenda. The memo specifically calls out Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) and Nikki Haley for campaigning for election deniers in the past.

One thing Taylor missed, but it likely to come up multiple times, is immigration and Donald Trump's failed plan to build a wall on the Mexican border. That was always a key reason so many people supported him. It is hard to imagine any of candidates failing to take a very hard-line position on immigration. All of them will surely agree stopping all undocumented immigration is a priority. The only disagreement might be about whether legal immigration should be sharply curtailed as well. The problem here is that while the base is against all immigration, big business likes the idea of importing workers in agriculture, tech, and other fields to help keep wages down, since immigrants are frequently prepared to work for much less than Americans will accept. Of course, one way out is to use vague generalities that don't say anything.

Other Democrats are hoping for a MAGAfest. They want the Republicans to say on national television what they have been saying out on the stump. Biden has said he won't watch the debate, but many other Democrats will. Here are some of the things they will be looking for:

  • Will all the candidates support a national abortion ban?
  • How much will they cozy up to Trump?
  • How much attention will the Trump indictments get?
  • What about Hunter Biden?
  • Will any candidate break out of the crowd?

Anything can happen. Or nothing. (V)

Republicans Trust Trump More Than They Trust Their Friends and Family

A new CBS News/YouGov poll of likely Republican primary voters nationally has some interesting results. The top-line question, of course, is "Who will you vote for?" The answer is Donald Trump, who has 30% more support than all the other candidates combined! He is at 62%, followed by Ron DeSantis (16%), Vivek Ramaswamy (7%), Mike Pence (5%), and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) (3%). The poll was taken after Trump's fourth indictment, so that event clearly did not derail him at all. So much for the idea that after being charged with another very serious crime, Trump would start to lose support. It is not happening, at least not so far.

The poll also has some other interesting findings. The one that stands out the most for us is shown by this bar chart:

Who tells you the truth?

We are astounded that Republican voters as a whole—not just Trump supporters—trust Trump more than they trust their friends, family or religious leaders. And this is despite the fact that he told well over 30,000 documented lies as president.

Other interesting findings are:

  • 99% think things were better under Trump
  • 86% want to hear about how the Republicans will lower inflation (crime and immigration are next)
  • 77% think the latest indictment is politically motivated
  • 61% think Trump can beat Joe Biden (vs. 35% who think Ron DeSantis can)
  • 48% of non-MAGA Republicans think Mike Pence did the right thing counting the electoral votes
  • 21% of MAGA Republicans think Mike Pence did the right thing counting the electoral votes

It is a like a poll asking people about the founder of their religion, rather than of a lying politician who only joined his current party less than 10 years ago. But this is where American politics is right now. (V)

More Women Than Men Have College Degrees Now

Let us continue with statistics for a bit. The demographics of college are changing rapidly and that has major political implications. In 1970, only 11% of the Americans over 25 had at least a 4-year college degree. Now that is 38%. Back then, how the 11% voted wasn't very important at all. Now, how the 38% vote is very important. To the extent that college-educated voters vote the same way, it is a bloc much too large to ignore.

Probably even more important, however, is the breakdown between men and women. Until 2021, more men had college degrees than women. That is not true anymore. In a 2021 survey, among Americans over 25, 39% of the women were college graduates vs. only 36% of the men. But maybe that survey is a fluke and will soon reverse? Uh uh. In 2021, the last year data are available, 56% of students enrolled in college (including graduate school) were women and 44% were men. Thus, the near future of the country will have more college-educated women than college-educated men. There is no sign at all of that reversing.

What are the political implications of this? Here are two graphics from the study.

Women and college-educated people voted for Biden by large margins

Here you can see that both women and college graduates are strongly Democratic, whereas men and non-college voters are strongly Republican. In other words, we are moving toward a situation in which the Democratic Party will be dominated by college-educated women and the Republican Party will be dominated by non-college men. Put another way, two trends are coalescing. Women are more Democratic than men and college-educated voters are more Democratic than non-college voters, and now these trends are reinforcing one another. We see this now on some issues, like abortion, guns, and climate change, but going forward the differences between the parties is only going to get stronger. The blue team will be led by college-educated women and the red team will be led by non-college men. The polarization will only get stronger as demographic trends like these don't turn on a dime. (V)

All the President's Lawyers

OK, he's not president now, but former senators and governors are often addressed by their previous title, and the headline has a nice ring to it. Donald Trump has been indicted on multiple criminal charges in four jurisdictions and E. Jean Carroll and New York Attorney General Letitia James have filed civil cases against him as well. Consequently, Donald Trump needs lawyers, and a lot of them. Given his habit of stiffing his lawyers (see: Giuliani, Rudolph), finding top-rated lawyers willing to take him on as a client is proving difficult. Nevertheless, he has put together a collection of not-so-top lawyers (with one or two exceptions) to handle his many cases. In some cases, he had to pay large retainers in advance to get them to agree to sign up. Who are all these folks? The New York Times has an article discussing some of Trump's key lawyers, their backgrounds, and their fees, which are not unsubstantial. That last bit is not surprising since it is hard to imagine any lawyer, even someone who voted for Trump, willing to put up with him unless they are very well compensated. Here are Trump's lawyers, by case.

  • Joe Tacopina (57): Any lawyer who is as aggressive about defending his clients to the media as in the courtroom is obviously going to be one of Trump's favorites. However, courtroom performance is also important. Tacopina defended Trump in the E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit—and lost. But he was very aggressive in questioning Carroll, which may have made up for the loss in Trump's mind. His firm was paid $1.7 million for the first half of 2023.

  • Susan Necheles (64): She was counsel to the late Genovese crime family underboss known as "Benny Eggs" (Venero Mangano). She also represented one of then-Mayor Bill de Blasio's fundraisers in a bribery case. She has been involved in defending Trump since 2021. He paid her firm $465,000 for the first half of 2023.

  • Stephen Weiss (35): He was an associate at the firm of Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft for 6 years before joining the firm of Todd Blanche in June of this year. He represented Trump at the pretrial hearing last month.

  • Lindsey Halligan (34): Another young lawyer here. Maybe Trump thinks Judge Aileen Cannon is in the bag for him, so he doesn't need high-powered senior lawyers. Or maybe he can't find any. Halligan was part of the team that argued before Cannon to have a special master appointed to go through the documents Trump stole. Trump's PAC paid $212,000 here from June 2022 to June 2023.

  • John Lauro (65): He joined Trump's legal team in early August, although he advised Trump on legal matters in 2022. He was with Trump during his arraignment earlier this month. He was once a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn. Considering that he is up against the best of the best here, namely Special Counsel Jack Smith, unless this team is bolstered, Lauro is going to have to work his tail off. He was paid $288,000 for legal advice in 2022 and the first half of 2023.

  • Drew Findling (63): He is well known in Atlanta as the #BillionDollarLawyer for representing numerous rap stars, including Cardi B, Gucci Mane, and Migos. He has decades of trial experience and is well regarded for his defense work, especially in murder cases and political corruption cases. Trump's PAC paid him $816,000 from July 2022 to May 2023. Findling is one of the few really good lawyers Trump has.

  • Marissa Goldberg (40): She is a partner at Findling's law firm. So far her effort has been asking the judge to disqualify Fani Willis and to throw out the whole case.

  • Jennifer Little (44): She is a local lawyer who began her career in nearby DeKalb County before joining Frieder Bonder White. Later, she started her own law firm. She was compelled to testify in the Mar-a-Lago documents case. She was paid $100,000 by Trump's PAC in April 2022. Findling, Goldberg, and Little were all present at the bond deal yesterday.


Now we come to the interesting lawyers. They are working on multiple cases and are close to Trump. The others are just hired hands doing a job for the money.

  • Todd Blanche (49): He is a former federal prosecutor and has a reputation as an aggressive lawyer. He represented Paul Manafort, Trump's 2016 campaign manager (for a while), in a case involving mortgage fraud and other felonies. He also represented Igor Fruman, an associate of Rudy Giuliani, who pleaded guilty to soliciting foreign campaign contributions, which are not permitted. Trump hired him in April and he has worked on the New York, Florida, and D.C. cases. His firm was paid $353,000 so far.

  • Boris Epshteyn (41): He is more of an adviser to Trump than a lawyer, even though he does hold a law degree (from Georgetown). He worked as a corporate lawyer for less than 2 years, and that is about it. Other lawyers have refused to work under him, but Trump seems to like him. He was the one who suggested hiring Todd Blanche. Trump's PAC paid him $195,000 in 2022 and at least $30,000 for his work on the 2024 campaign.

  • Christopher Kise (59): Finally we have a real heavyweight. He is a former Florida solicitor general who has won four cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump had to pay him $3 million upfront to get him to sign on. He also paid Kise's firm another $2.8 million. In addition, Trump paid $2.9 million to Continental, a law firm at which Kise is of counsel. That means he is an adviser to the firm but not a partner or associate. As a Florida lawyer, he will probably be largely involved in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, although he is also involved in the civil lawsuit brought by NY AG Letitia James.

It is kind of a mixed bag. Kise is clearly a quality lawyer and Findling has had success in Atlanta cases. Most of the others are not top drawer, but you go to court with the lawyers you have, not the lawyers you would like to have. Each of the cases is very different from all the others and all but the New York one are quite complicated, so the lawyers are going to have to earn their keep. For their sake, let us hope they were all paid in advance. (V)

Turley Rebuts Baude and Paulsen

Two highly respected conservative legal experts, William Baude and Michael Paulsen, wrote a long (126-page) article for the University of Pennsylvania Law Review explaining in minute detail why Sec. 3 of the Fourteenth Amendment disqualifies Donald Trump from holding any federal or state office (Executive summary: He participated in an insurrection). The article has 454 footnotes citing its sources. Despite it being published in a university law school journal, it is quite readable, even for people without a law degree. Here is a link to the full paper.

Having such well-respected conservative lawyers present such a detailed case rattled some cages. It has been downloaded over 70,000 times already, giving it widespread distribution. It might give some secretaries of state ideas (like refusing to put Trump on the ballot). Their article could serve as an amicus brief if a case comes up and makes it to the Supreme Court.

Jonathan Turley, a law professor at George Washington University and an all-purpose Trump shill, decided the article needed to be rebutted. So instead of writing a 100-page article rebutting Baude and Paulsen point by point and submitting it for peer review to some other law school journal, he wrote an 1,100-word op-ed for The Hill, which is definitely not peer-reviewed. Nevertheless, it is of some interest, even though Turley starts out by saying people looking for ways to disqualify Trump are like people looking for Sasquatch. If a case about the Fourteenth Amendment were to end up in the Supreme Court, Turley would make a good lawyer for Trump.

Turley quickly gets to the heart of the matter: Was what happened on Jan. 6 an insurrection? If it was and Trump engaged in it, then he is disqualified. Baude and Paulsen say it was and Turley says it was not. His view is that it was a protest that became a riot. Participating in an insurrection is a disqualification. Participating in a riot is not. To support his view, he cites a CBS poll that says 76% of the respondents called it a protest gone too far. Traditionally, constitutional cases are not resolved by taking a public poll.

Turley admits that Trump sulked in his office for hours while the insurrection/coup attempt/riot was going on, but sulking is also not a disqualification. He also says that Jack Smith did not charge the former president with leading or participating in an insurrection. Of course, Smith most likely decided to pick charges that would be the easiest to prove in court.

Turley also argues that it couldn't have been an insurrection because Trump didn't have well-formulated plans for what to do after the insurrection succeeded. Actually, he did. He would just take the oath of office again on Jan. 20 and keep on going. If this is all a senior law professor and Trump supporter can come up with to refute a detailed 126-page argument, Trump had better hope this doesn't go to the Supreme Court. (V)

Idaho Will Probably Be a Battleground in 2024

Huh? Did we have one beer too many before writing this item? Don't worry. The Republican nominee for president will carry the Gem State in 2024. No question about it. No, the battle is likely to be about something else: voting itself.

It is a bit complicated, so first a bit of backstory. Idaho, like Montana, didn't used to be a red state. Democrat Frank Church represented Idaho in the Senate from 1956 to 1981. Cecil Andrus (D) was governor from 1987 to 1995. Starting in the 1990s, people who worked in extractive industries began rejecting the Democrats because they believed (correctly) that environmentalists threatened their jobs. But the Republicans they elected tended to be populists, not hardliners.

That changed in 2007 when right-wing zealots captured the Idaho Republican Party. Since then, there have essentially been two Republican parties in Idaho, an extremely far-right one and a more moderate one. The far-right one often ekes out narrow wins in primaries for statewide office, but often loses downballot. The two groups hate one another more than they hate the Democrats.

A group called Reclaim Idaho stated earlier this year their goal to get rid of closed partisan primaries and replace the voting system with a clone of the one recently adopted in Alaska. It has an open primary, with the top four candidates advancing to a ranked-choice election in November. Reclaim Idaho is trying to get a constitutional amendment implementing the Alaska system on the ballot in 2024.

The far-right Republicans who control the state party are wildly opposed to it because they see the handwriting on the wall. If it is implemented, the top four will usually be one of their far-right candidates, a moderate Republican, a Democrat, and someone else in fourth place. After the fourth-place finisher is eliminated in the ranked-choice voting, it will be a far-right Republican, a moderate Republican, and a Democrat. In the next round, the Democrat will be eliminated, but the Democrats' second choice votes will determine which Republican wins. This will always be the moderate Republican. The consequence of this system will be that the far-right Republicans won't be able to win statewide offices anymore. They don't like this, so they will try to make sure the initiative does not make the ballot, and if it does anyway, to defeat it in 2024. That won't be so easy because the Democrats, independents, and moderate Republicans will support it.

Also, it seems to have worked in Alaska, although Sarah Palin complained bitterly that she should have been elected to the House because the two Republicans together got more first-place votes than the one Democrat and she got more first-place votes than the other Republican, Nick Begich. However, as the process played out, she ended up losing because when third-place-finisher Begich was eliminated, enough of his supporters' votes went to now-Rep. Mary Peltola (D) to get her over 50%.

In any event, if Reclaim Idaho can get 63,000 valid signatures by May 2024, the amendment will be on the Nov. 2024 ballot. If it passes, Idaho could get more senators in the future like Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) than like Sens. Jim Risch (R-ID) and Mike Crapo (R-ID). (V)

Cornel West Owes $49,500 in Child Support and $466,000 in Back Taxes

The Green Party, despite being quite small, has swung two elections in the past quarter century. Its candidate in 2000, Ralph Nader, got 92,000 votes in Florida, which allowed George Bush to beat Al Gore by 537 votes. If Nader had not been on the ballot it is virtually certain that at least 1% of the Nader voters would have grudgingly voted for Gore and he would have won the Florida election and the presidency.

In 2016, it wasn't quite as clear cut, but if all the people who voted for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania had voted for Hillary Clinton, she would have won those states and been elected president. These have been traumatic experiences for Democrats. We could have a repeat performance in 2024, resulting in another Donald Trump presidency.

The leading candidate for the Green Party presidential nomination appears to be Cornel West, a former Harvard professor who is now on the faculty of the Union Theological Seminary in New York.

West is ideologically a good match for the Green Party, but he has some baggage that Democrats could exploit to reduce his appeal if he becomes the GP nominee. For one, he has been accused of being antisemitic, which may have played a role in his not getting tenure at Harvard. For another, he seems to have some sort of issue with women, having been divorced twice as many times as Donald Trump (four divorces in all). Even Rudy Giuliani hasn't been divorced twice as many times as Trump.

And now a couple of other items have surfaced that could be used against West. He has a judgment of $49,500 for child support that he has not paid. For some women, even very liberal ones, four divorces and unpaid child support may take some luster off his candidacy.

In addition, West owes the IRS $466,000 in unpaid taxes from 2013 to 2017. If the Democrats can create an image of him as a tax cheat and deadbeat dad, that could well cost him some votes, you never know. Of course, actively running ads against him, even paid for by some new group called, say, "Moms against Deadbeat Dads," would give him free publicity that might help him rather than hurt him. But if one or more of his exes hate him and would be willing to try to stop him, that has potential. Also, Democrats don't like to run smear campaigns, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Consequently, a campaign to shine a light on some of his personal issues would have to be done with care and in such a way that it couldn't be traced to the Democrats. That means finding a friendly politically savvy millionaire who can pick up the ball and run with it. So if West is the GP nominee, these issues might surface again next year. (V)

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---The Votemaster and Zenger
Aug21 Trump Won't Debate
Aug21 DeSantis Is Taking Wednesday's Debate Very Seriously
Aug21 When Is a Basket of Deplorables Like a Barrel of Listless Vessels?
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Aug21 Will Trump Go on Trial Before the Election?
Aug21 Prosecutors Are Asking for 33-Year Sentences for Proud Boys Leaders
Aug21 Biden Is Trying to Actually Contain China
Aug21 Hutch Made It
Aug20 Sunday Mailbag
Aug19 Saturday Q&A
Aug18 Trump Legal News: In the Year 2525
Aug18 DeSantis Debate Disaster: Everybody's Talkin'
Aug18 Can You Identify the Woke Movie?, Part V: Suspicious Minds
Aug18 This Week in Schadenfreude: Games People Play
Aug18 This Week in Freudenfreude: Hot Fun in the Summertime
Aug17 Trump Legal News: Nobody's Fault but Mine
Aug17 The Trump Indictment in Memes
Aug17 Trump Is Toxic... Except Where He's Not?
Aug17 Who Is the Current GOP Runner-Up?
Aug17 Ohio Republicans May Be About to Learn a Painful Lesson
Aug17 Fifth Circuit Guarantees Abortion Issue Isn't Going Anywhere
Aug17 Can You Identify the Woke Movie?, Part IV: The Middle Five
Aug16 Takeaways from Georgia
Aug16 Georgia Case Is Probably Going to Be Handled by Judge Scott McAfee
Aug16 The Co-conspirators Are Starting to Turn
Aug16 Could Trump Serve as President If He Is a Convicted Felon?
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Aug16 People Who Knew DeSantis Expected Him to Fail
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Aug16 Even Turtles Get Old
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Aug16 David McCormick Is Planning to Run for the Senate in Pennsylvania--Again
Aug15 Trump Legal News, Part I: Peach Pickin' Time in Georgia
Aug15 Trump Legal News, Part II: Dare to Be Stupid
Aug15 I, The Jury, Part X: Does the System Work? (Part I)
Aug15 Republicans' Nightmare Could Be Playing Out in PA-01
Aug15 CNN Resets Its Lineup
Aug15 Can You Identify the Woke Movie?, Part III: The First Five
Aug14 It's Pork-Chop-on-a-Stick Time
Aug14 Republican Presidential Candidates Now Admit It: Trump Lost
Aug14 Why DeSantis Failed to Launch
Aug14 Willis Will Present Her Case to the Grand Jury Early This Week
Aug14 Mike Pence's Memory Is Failing
Aug14 There Will Be a Showdown about Alabama's House Map Today
Aug14 Ronald Reagan Is Really Dead
Aug14 Trial of Fake Electors in Wisconsin Will Take Place Sept. 3, 2024
Aug13 Sunday Mailbag
Aug12 Trump Legal News: I Am The Law
Aug12 (Hunter) Biden Legal News: Strange Days