158 Comments

That twist trying to bring in a witness who could promulgate his idea of how campaign finance should work is despicable. Wanna bet that would be another talking point for Trump to trot out, that he didn’t actually violate any campaign finance laws because they shouldn’t work like that anyway, according to his witness. Rather like he’ll never testify, because then he can’t keep saying the gag order kept him from speaking in his own defense. And one of his lickspittles on the House today proposed a bill called I think the “Let Trump Speak Act”, which would abolish gag orders in criminal trials.

Thanks Joyce as always for cutting through the brush for us.

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Why not! The Supreme Court justices do the same thing with the Constitution, That is one noticeable trait of the "new" Republican Party; starting in 1968 and with increasing disregard for the written word, they've managed to render the Constitution voiceless. Just look what they've done to the first two Amendments: They've twisted the words "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..." to mean We are Christian National nation set up by White Christian Men to set our interpretation of the bible as the rule of law.

They've thrown out the opening phrase of the Second Amendment "A well-regulated militia, being necessary to a free State," Thereby changing the original intent to give necessary security to Citizens living near the frontier to mean anyone can have any weapon open or concealed, anywhere, under any circumstance, UNREGULATED. I could go on, but this isn't my column.

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Fay, you are so right about our SC nearly shutting down whole parts of our Constitution. Your assessment of what they have done to 1 and 2 are right on but what they have done to amendments 15, 19, and 26 is beyond criminal, permitting states to deny citizens their right to vote with all kinds of excuses and qualifications when the only qualification should be citizen of the US 18 years of age and older. Then, there's the 14th amendment which our SC and state legislatures have decided only means rich, straight, pseudo-christian white men despite what the amendment says. And, those men can even incite insurrection while still running for office. Who knows what the SC cons will say about immunity for Donald Trump! How do we fix this SC conservative oath-breaking?

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How do we fix this? WE VOTE, every election, every office down the ballot in our precincts as well as general elections. WE are the people. WE have the power. WE must ALL use this power! Won't happen overnight, but over my lifetime, I have observed that pendulum that seems to swing back and forth. In 2024, let us swing that pendulum toward DEMOCRACY and never let it slip again!

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Deb, you are right about voting. On June 1st, 53 years ago I registered to vote, one of the first 18-year-olds who could register. I have missed only 2 elections in that time and both were due to moving around and not being able to get absentee ballots. My GenZ niece is now working the polls and votes every election. The voters at her polling station love seeing a young person working there. If we could get more people involved, to see how much fun it can be interacting with friends and neighbors, we might get more enthusiasm for voting. Then we can keep reminding them how important it is to vote every single time for every position because their future depends on it.

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Even better to have every state follow the lead of Oregon and have all elections by mail. You would not have missed those two opportunities to vote, polling stations would not have to scramble to find workers, and the numbers of eligible voters who actually vote would go up.

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Thank you, Ruth

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May 21·edited May 21

Trump and his supporters have also modified the First Amendment so that it includes the word "gaslighting".

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"Orange Cult" is now a new dictionary definition for "projection."

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Fay, you captured my thoughts and frustrations just perfectly!!

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Thanks, Christine

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A "Let Trump Speak Act" would lead to Making America Gag Again.

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Actually TFG went outside and said the judge was so mean to his witness and named him. Can you say gag order violation?

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Rusty, I am surprised Trump even knew who the witness was, sleeping most of the time, and all. Maybe his lawyer told him or maybe he saw the guy when everyone had to clear the courtroom and Trump woke up with the noise.

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Actually, it wasn’t. he’s allowed to criticize the judge, and frequently has.

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There are some legal eagles that said he was a witness so he couldn’t even bring his name up.

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"Thanks Joyce as always for cutting through the brush for us."

Joyce the Brushcutter ... has a nice ring to it!

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Thanks Joyce and your essays are like drinking clear fresh water after weeks in a desert. Although I am sure many of your readers including myself would never have known Judge Merchan my admiration (and I am sure many others) grows for him everyday. He is a great representation of what our justice system should be about.

When talking about the lies that Michael Cohen has made, this is exactly the expectation that Trump has for all who serve him, loyalty or everlasting damnation. Going back to the J6 committee and what the Trump provided legal assistance to people like Cassidy Hutchinson where she was counseled not open up about what she really knew to protect the “Boss”. What magnificent courage and loyalty to the constitution to separate from that coercion.

So it’s alright to lie to the American citizenry every time Trump speaks having lied and suffered prison time discredits Michael Cohen. I think you have compared this to a mafia trial where one of the “tribe” turns on the boss. We usually celebrate this in the course of Justice but half of the country is still trying to protect the “boss”.

My father who flew B17’s in WWll and died in 2020 at the age of 101 would be turning in his grave to see what Maga is trying to do to this country.

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May 21·edited May 21

My dad, also a veteran (as are my brother and me), died in January of 2017. He was a staunch Republican and was horrified by Trump. He voted for Clinton in 2016, the first time I ever knew him to vote for a Democrat. He too would be disgusted to see what the Republican Party has become. I am very worried for our country. It seems there will be unrest and possibly violence for some time no matter which party wins this election.

It has never been more important to vote and defeat TFG soundly.

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Thanks Cathy, could not agree more!

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My dad also flew B-17’s in WWII. I can hear him saying,”I got my butt shot off for this??” He warned me about the power of propaganda from within. Wise man.

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My 98 year old husband says the same thing. Bless our WWII vets!

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I think about this often. GOP is flushing everything they fought for. And then I remember the guys in the cemeteries in Noemandy Trump called losers and suckers.

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Love that commercial where the old pilots fly w/virtual reality....

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My Dad was a WWII pilot too and a life-long Republican -- what that used to be. He also would be turning in his grave. Or -- more accurately - his ashes would be whirling in a tornado!

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They would see a complete decadence in the GOP. God bless our Fathers!

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God bless our moms too! My dad was WWII Navy and mom was an officer in the Army Nurse Corps. I've been thinking, since about 2015, that it's good they didn't have to see trump, and Covid, and George Floyd, and climate change, and ... That said, we had a good day yesterday. Enjoy them when you can!

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Exactly Christopher!

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My Dad was also a WWII vet. He flew a B24 Liberator in the South Pacific. I thank God every day that he's not alive to see what's happened to this country that he fought so hard to save. He was a die-hard Democrat, but very center-oriented. We very nearly came to blows over Vietnam and when I got arrested, he was so pissed at me. Oy.

But we reconciled because love will out. I respected the hell out of him until his dying day and still do. But I'm thankful he's not here to see this mess.

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I love Jude Merchan. He seems unflappable. He said he would tell the jury what the law us, not lowercased don’s expert witness.

Of course don’s proposed expert believes in deregulation of campaign finances. It would giver the Super PACs and corporations an even bigger influence.

Joyce you explained so well that the Jury is “Judge of facts” and the Judge is “Judge of law”. And perhaps, importantly, the jury is obliged to follow the Judge’s instructions.

The Red Finch deal shows how don thinks he is above paying for services received. It wasn’t Red Finch’s fault that CNBC did not continue the poll. He is such a cheat.

I liked the way you spoke about the difference between don’s “ intention to commit or conceal one of the other crimes, campaign finance or tax violation NOT that he actually committed them”.

The finish line is coming soon. Thank you for skillfully guiding us through the trial.

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What a great summary of Joyce's important points. She takes focus away from the rabble of pundits who inflate courtroom drama, who propose that drame itself can tilt the legal process. But Joyce reminds us that legal proceedings are not screaming reality shows; that instead, they follow a design to elicit clarity. I feel like today's explanation lets me peer into the beautiful, purposeful construction of law; and I believe Judge Merchan will fully clarify to the jury its heavy responsibility.

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Joyce, you provide details here that the press doesn’t catch. I love especially the prosecution showing the photo of Trump and his body guard just a few minutes before the phone call where Cohen said he’d had the body guard hand the phone to Trump. What a great gotcha!

And of course there’s your explaining the upcoming jury instructions that the prosecution doesn’t have to prove that Trump broke the laws that escalate the charge to a felony.

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Robert Costello did nothing but royally piss off Judge Merchan, as well as doing bugger-all to aid the defense...and the prosecution managing to grab a still from a CSPAN video with time signature to buttress Cohen's "perfect" phone call to "the Boss" claim was a sweet rejoinder to what originally termed a "big" win for tRump.

He's going down.

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"He's going down."

He won't go to jail of course, but at least he'll have a felony conviction against his name. And thank goodness something has happened - Trump has successfully run down the clock on the other three trials. Thank you ("Two Years Late") Merrick Garland for the two biggies not happening in time.

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I am not sure where the AG Garland has become the big disappointment as if he personally could command the Article III Judicial branch to run differently with ALL of the high dollar ($$$$$$) machinations that DJT has been able to foist upon our legal system.

Reading every motion filed and delay promulgated by DJT lawyers and sycophants has shown how much the DJT high dollar lawyers and loyalists have done with so much, much more harm. I have never seen in my 60 years the contempt by not just the defense, but by his lawyers of the system they are oath bound to.

The best compliment about AG Garland is that as a former DC Circuit Judge - he knows to NOT prosecute this in the courts of public opinion and told us to read the court motions. He knows the motions to dismiss, etc. that can befall a prosecution if the defense can successfully deploy venue claims of a incapable of fair jury, find reasons to overturn on appeal due to unforced errors by the prosecution by all the confounding, inane motions set before the judicial system by the defense lawyers.

DJT has attacked every facet of the system, the people and the jurors wherever possible in perfect Roy Cohn fashion. He's left no slight unturned. I now know how he has evaded justice for his lifetime - run the clock and burn out the money of his opponents, use threats of all manner.

I often wonder what AG Garland knows and is capable of keeping mum as the cases work their way through the system.

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I wouldn't be so sure about "not going to jail". The Trump team and Trump have worked very hard to piss off the Judge. At some point the Judge has to go beyond the cold, hard facts and factor in the actions of the defense team and the defendant. The angry "Clear the Courtroom!!", "Clear the Courtroom!!" by the judge was shockingly beyond unusual. No atty or judge contacted so far has ever heard of that happening anywhere. Not one. Costello pushed Merchan too far and reaped the benefits. The judge is still a human being with feelings and his are being pushed.

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Ian, or anyone: I would like to better understand what might be behind Garland's timidity -- or whatever. I appreciate any comments1

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Lets just hope he's not going down to the capital to get sworn in as president......

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Well, he can get sworn in wearing a color-coôrdinated orange jumpsuit, as nothing in the Constitution says a convicted felon is barred from office.

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I really appreciate this column from Vance. I’m an ex-pat, living in Switzerland, and it’s a bit hard to follow the trial here due to limited coverage and Europeans’ less detailed understanding of American law and the players. I knew there was some brouhaha about a defense witness and a photo, and as always, I’m really grateful we’ve got Merchan on the bench here…he seems to be serving our country well. As is Joyce!

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Truly fascinating analysis...thank you once again for your ability to help us make sense of these complex legal maneuverings.

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Another own goal by the defense, after Blanche was told earlier he had lost credibility with the court, and also admonished for inserting himself personally into the proceedings. So a shady guy himself testified that not only was Cohen a convicted, lying felon he was a really, really convicted, lying felon. Let's not forget that Costello said pretty much the same thing to the grand jury, with little to no effect. But you can almost be sure his antics today in court with Merchan will have an effect on a usually protective jury. Okay, so Cohen was a liar. Now give the jury an alternative conclusion to the unavoidable inference the prosecution has pretty much left it with about the scheme, based on its layers of corroboration. "Because we say so" is not a winning defense and, the defense will apparently shadow box to the end.

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"Own Goal" Being an NWSL fan, that made me laugh out loud.

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Own goal!

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First rule is don’t taunt LEOs when you have an active indictment! Apparently Rudy’s head absorbed Just For Men so much that it damaged his pickled brain.

Second rule is don’t piss off the judge when you’re testifying for the defendant. This moron is or was a lawyer that has been around too many mobsters that he thinks he’s one. I wish the judge would have locked him up for contempt. But his actions will weigh on the jury who was probably awake and ready to head home and it made Cohen look like a choir boy. Lawrence O’Donnell was in the courtroom and his opening tonight was awesome!

Third was bring your felon friends to court day. Too bad they didn’t have active warrants but the whistle blowers outside ruined their time before the mikes.

You know these jurors have to see TFG either falling asleep or closing his eyes as if he thinks he’s above the law. I surely hope he’s found guilty and he goes straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect the PAC money.

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Re your #3 - I said to myself when I read the last name on the list of trump supporters posted on Twitter today by Lisa Rubin, "Self, it figures that trump included a 'former president of the NY chapter of the Hell's Angels.' "

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"I surely hope he’s found guilty and he goes straight to jail, do not pass go, do not collect the PAC money."

He won't do jail time if found guilty ... big fines (perhaps) and a suspended sentence (probably) I would think is the best you can expect.

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I respectfully agree to disagree. 34 felonies puts everyone in prison.

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I hope you are right!

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Very interesting day in court. Some of the people covering it were a bit over the top trying to report all the news as it came out of the courtroom. I certainly appreciate your measured assessment. When I saw the "men" who showed up to "defend" DT, it reminded me of a mob movie. Costello rounded up the look.

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The Red Finch affair turning out to be about manipulation of polls sure does make one wonder about why the polls have been so wrong so often the past few years...'catch and kill' bad poll numbers is probably going on right now.

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Excellent point!

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So grateful for your thoughtful and clearly competent evaluation of this case as it proceeds. Understanding the facts and some analysis of the strategies the two sides are using, greatly reduces my anxiety about this case. The way the Judge is conducting the case is going to be textbook material, isn’t it?

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Thank you Joyce 💕🌿

Judge Merchan has been so awesome. DJT must have been mad that his own expert couldn't have that much influence !!

Also Judge Merchan, it seems to me, has allowed all he could to make sure the defense had all the options possible, despite the arrogance and ill manners of the defendant, he was really totally impartial, but the dressing down of Mr. Costello was sublime, what a great judge.

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The National Guard should be surrounding his home...shoulder to shoulder to protect his

family from the lunitic, violent. brainwashed Maggots that slither out of the sewers,

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May 21·edited May 24

Joyce’s extraordinary Baedeker on the hush money trial reminds me of Mafioso trials some decades ago. On rare occasions a Mafioso hit man would turn state’s evidence and testify in a trial against a Mafioso boss.

Of course the Mafioso lawyers would seek to discredit the witness as a ‘liar and a murderer.’ The prosecutors would point out that the whistleblower was endangering his life (and that of his family) by breaking the Mafioso code of silence.

No saint would ever be chosen by Trump as his hit man (remember Roy Cohn?). Of course on the ‘sainthood scale,’ Michael Cohen scores considerably higher than Donald Trump, whose staccato lying, stiffing, and hush money lullabys propel him into the Mafia Hall of Shame.

Warm thanks, Joyce, for providing such a vivid scorecard of the Judicial Game of Shame.

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It seems that a lot of the faults of the client are rubbing off on Trump's lawyers. Granted, they are supposed to do what their client wants them to do, but I hope the priceless rejoinder they got from Judge Merchan for their motion to dismiss sets the tone for jury deliberations. If they lose (and they will, at least on some of the counts), their reputations will suffer but they'll blame that on their uncontrollable client.

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Joyce, Thank you once again for your summary of the day's Trump news. I deeply appreciate your taking time to write so clearly and thoughtfully.

Coffee bean recommendations: my 2 favorites are Columbia River Coffee Roaster in Astoria, OR; and Sleepy Monk Coffee, in Cannon Beach, OR.

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Stumptown!

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Stumptown Holler Mountain! When I read about Rudy's coffee, I thought, "Now we know what that brown stuff was rolling down his face." Ugh. I've just grossed myself out.

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I love Krispy Kreme original. Too bad I’d have to drive 60 miles for those fresh and hot glazed donuts. At least I can have the coffee at home.

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Wonder what gullianni's donuts would be made of....

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Now I wanna throw up on that one.

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founding

Cannon Beach! Cannon Beach! Great coffee too. Just a pleasant drive from Beaverton.

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I visited Astoria for the first time this past week! Climbed the Column and toured Flavel House. Was a fun day playing tourist,

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Griffin Creek Coffee from Ashland!

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