193 Comments
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What a piece today. Thank you Joyce.

Let's hope Cohen is believed by the jury and that a guilty verdict is forthcoming.

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The mistake Trump made but often those who for whatever reasons don’t make, was to not have a stash of cash on hand in a vault for special occasions. Even I understand the need for cash even though we have largely gone to a cashless society. The gangster and strangler Whitey Bulger from Boston, had huge amounts of money in cash and when he got word probably from his political brother, and an FBI informant, that authorities were moving in on him, grabbed the loot changed ID (already had complete ID) and with girlfriend split the scene. Years later he was only caught when a European woman reading about the alleged girlfriend, saw her living in the building she was living in, and called it in for a reward. Whitey spent the last years of his life in federal prison and was eventually killed by a fellow prisoner on account of being a snitch. Trump fails in this regard as a would-be gangster.

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And btw, seriously, if he is convicted, prison is likely not in the cards but would be a relief to see just punishment for a lifetime of illegal sleeze. One thing about Michael Cohen, he’s not a very nice person. I met him once. He is arrogant and unrepentful.

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founding

Of those who have leading roles, Stormy is the only one I’d care to have lunch with.

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Wonder what the Vegas odds are that a Trumph lackey found its way on to the.jury? 70/30. You betcha!

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Much, much less. Possible, but unlikely. And remember that the jurors are in the courtroom with Trump day aftet day, watching him stretch and scratch and maybe sleep. He will be diminished in their eyes, down to human size.

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I wish people would stop focusing on whether or not Trump farts. That rumor has the same " ring of truth" as the repeated rumor that Biden staggers around drooling.. It may be fun to repeat when you're in 4th grade but come on already. This is serious. Focus on his real disqualifications for office.

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Frankly, to see his gaggle of lawyers marinating in a skatole-scented miasma is poetic justice.

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Yes. And I'd note that this is "Civil Discourse."

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It apparently is worse than farts........reports from the set of the apprentice, he would fill a depends diaper..........they could hear, smell and be totally grossed out.

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I really think if this were true it would not simply be a circulating rumor for years. I've heard it hundreds of times. NEVER from a reliable source. Not once.

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Not going to put names up here........one of the reguar guests on the Stephanie Miller show, worked on the apprentice for many years.

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But really, what has that nonsense to do with anything except to reveal people who have nothing relevant or even intelligent to say?

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Recall once when the PM of Japan was visiting the White House and at a press conference, he made an unmistakable facial expression that spoke of one darling gigantic fart emanating from the Orange Turd. This is legit discussion.

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And audibly fart. His attorney’s facial expressions to the foul excrescence would influence the jury.

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Is he still sleeping? I thought his lawyers or doctors had figured out something to keep him awake if the Adderall dosage he was taking was not lasting through the day.

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How I HOPE you are right!!!

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One thing puzzles me, well lots of things! But, Trump signed checks while in the White House.

Wasn’t he supposedly not active in his business while in office?

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"Supposedly" is the operative word. In fact, he and his crime family simply viewed the White House as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Trump Organization.

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Yes, he and his businesses profited from the office of his presidency. All of those hotels of his around the world were used by diplomats and other representatives as lodging for government business affairs and other situations. Same with his golf courses. He violated the Constitution's Emoluments clause by receiving"gifts"ie profits. I suspect we will never fully know how much $$ he fleeced the American taxpayers for but I'm sure the figure is mind-blowing.

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And the charges for the Secret Service! Cant for get that!

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As Nicole Wallace said: "We relied on norms, and that's on us." 😫😞🙄

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founding

Washington Field Office...

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May 14·edited May 14

More than likely, the WFO would have gotten some "news" about that over the years.

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Yeah I can’t help but remember how much grief they gave President Obama because he owned a few hundred shares of US Steel. This turd never even showed his tax returns. Let alone divested himself of his holdings. Republicans seem to have difficulty even with being consistent.

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Yes, I agree and he will do it again if re-elected. Ugh

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founding

Oh no, If he's elected he'll do much worse things to our country.

Read Project 2025.

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I have read it as everyone should and it is indeed terrifying.He will end our democracy as we know it.Full stop.

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The right wing "think tanks" are ready to go on day one. They have been planning for decades......it really should not be terrifying. Writers like Jane Meyer have been monitoriing all this for years. The terrifying thing is that progressives have been asleep at the wheel.

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founding

I use the word terrifying as well, but I'm not really terrified.

If I must choose one word to describe it, treasonous comes to mind.

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At the risk of sounding too naive, where can you find this?

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Google it.Project 2025

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I wouldn't put anything past Trump.

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founding

I've wondered that myself.

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Excellent question, Karin!

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Oh No ! That was just a myth that Nancy and Chuck S and behind the scenes

A G Garland allowed to.roll along !

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Didn’t these checks come from his personal account?

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The checks were from his personal accounts and the payee was the shell company.

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I'm puzzled as well, what happen's if Trump is convicted, will he be kicked off the ballot for president, or (and I'm sure he will appeal) will he still run until this case goes through all appeals.

If he is elected president (sorry if I ruined your morning coffee with that thought) while the case is on appeal, can he then pardon himself?

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Don't think he can pardon anybody for a state crime.

And a felon can certainly run for office, be elected and "serve."

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wow

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Cohen torched his own life, nuked his family’s peace, shredded his law license, and got tossed in the slammer, all while Trump threw him out like last week's garbage. The man bent over backwards, forwards, and sideways, doing every dirty deed that scoundrel Trump demanded—and then some. In the end, he was just another disposable pawn in Trump's twisted game. It’s a saga so vile, so dripping with betrayal, you’d swear it was fiction. But no, this nightmare is as real as it gets.

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Ironically, you're the poet. Aristotle would say the sixth act of tragedy would be comedy and vice versa.

But Trump, not Cohen, is the protagonist. Hopefully the jury will concentrate on Trump's reaction to the allegations. If I were the playwright the stench of guilt (literally) would waft to the jury, thus implicating him.

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And intestinal gas

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He did. But he wasn't forced. He did all that for his own reasons. Probably daddy/hero issues. He owns that. I feel sorry for him for selling his soul to Trump, but he's not really a victim

Like any member of the mob, he knew the rules, the rewards and the punishments. I hope his life is better now, he's certainly paid the price for what he chose to do.

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Gloria, I sense a new series of books, “The Cohen Chronicles; NonFiction Underworld Revealed”

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“Donald’s Vanity Tantrums” I beg your pardon.

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I was thinking that Cohen would write his experience in first person in a Sam Spade manner with Trump as Lex Luther

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Michael Cohen did great today. All the prior witnesses and paper evidence matched his testimony.

Trump wants loyalty from the people around him. On the other hand, the only truth he knows is “his version of truth”. His is conniving and uses alternative facts that help his situation at hand.

Cohen was don’s “fixer”, but today he testified that don knew about what was going on. They entered the recorded audio conversation.

Cohen has to have a coat of armor when the defense attorneys question him, and try to poke holes in his testimony. He will also probably need a strong dose of humility. The most important part is to keep telling the truth.

Joyce, I loved when you said the doubt has to be “reasonable” doubt and not a whim!

It was so great when Justice Merchan said good morning to the jurors, prosecutors and defendants and then looked at don and said, Good morning, Mr. Trump.

Onward - I like how this went today and hope it can continue.

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I also appreciated Joyce's clarification of "reasonable" doubt. Let's hope the jury knows that, too.

The discussion about "the cash" left no doubt in anyone's mind that Cohen was truthful.

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The standard jury instructions will include a discussion of what "reasonable doubt" means, similar to what Joyce described but perhaps a bit longer.

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That's true.

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I hope Cohen’s testimony prompts Trump to testify.

That makes me wonder: Has any poll asked Trump supporters why think Trump should (or should not) testify at his trial?

#. Do they think “Never surrender” compels Trump to testify. — or is it just a slogan that no one really believes?

# Do they think Trump is not fast enough on his feet to stand up to the prosecutors — even though he says he stood up to world leaders again and again?

# Do they understand that the gag order does not apply inside the courtroom? He can answer these charges and talk to the jury.

Why in the world do they think Trump should be silent in the face of these horrible allegations? They don’t think these charges are true, do they?

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Why should they believe the charges to be true when they don't want to? In any event, for the true believer, it doesn't matter. Trump is their guy, and if he had to cheat, good for him. Too bad he got caught. I am afraid that for the deep MAGAites, there are no circumstances that undermine their loyalty.

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founding

Agreed

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And I bet Trump's lawyers are praying for the exact opposite: that Trump *isn't* prompted to testify, and that they can restrain him if he is. (They've probably been working on it since the beginning.)

As Mitchell Zimmerman notes, "for the true believer, it doesn't matter." This holds whether the subject is Trump or chemtrails or fundamentalist religion. And when doubt sneaks in -- as doubt, being sneaky, may well do -- it's very, very hard to acknowledge that maybe you've been wrong all along, that maybe you were even conned. So many people double down, especially if they're surrounded by other true believers who would never, ever acknowledge their doubts in public either.

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Trump will not testify. He will appeal if he loses....Orange is banking on the election for the win. I feel there will be violence either way. Progressives, sadly, for their own protection may want to start preparing contigency plans.

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founding

I'm curious about those numbers myself. Unfortunately, polling methodology makes asking specific questions such as yours difficult to measure.

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Here’s The NY Times account of today’s testimony.

https://www.nytimes.com/2024/05/13/nyregion/cohen-trump-hush-money-trial-testimony.html?unlocked_article_code=1.r00.LV-P.VbxR5F6zD2m-&smid=nytcore-ios-share&referringSource=articleShare&sgrp=c-cb

Let’s hope Michael Cohen shows his authentic side tomorrow, speaking truth to power.

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Trump for 20-24. Years.

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A word in praise of NY's idiosyncratic jurisprudence. Largely because of it, we may very possibly see Donald Trump Sharpie his name yet again in the record book of infamy as the first president to be criminally convicted. By idiosyncratic I mean laws that over the years have been interpreted broadly perhaps in many cases, more broadly than similar statutes in other jurisdictions. And others that tend to reflect how important transparency and honesty are (whether these attributes are always actually present) in financial and business dealings in the nation's --- and what is still a major international --- financial center. The primary statute under which Trump is now facing a nearly half billion dollar civil fraud judgment which doesn't require either a victim or intent, is one example. The statute being used by the Manhattan DA to charge him with 34 counts of falsification of business records in the first degree or --- falsifying business records in the second degree, but with that intent to defraud including an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission of it (making it a felony), is yet another.. And just when the defense might think it has more ammunition in confusing the jury with the interpretation of the applicable laws --- say the "intent to defraud" as mentioned here ---it turns out, in that case, NY, in its idiosyncratic wisdom, has decided over the years that the definition of "fraud" should not be limited to the common notion of deprivation of money or property, or other pecuniary loss. It can also be established when a defendant acts “for the purpose of frustrating the State’s power” to “faithfully carry out its own law.” Finally, just as your eyes are beginning to glaze over, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the Adult Survivors Act, a limited New York law of recent vintage that allowed sexual-assault victims to file civil suits beyond expired statutes of limitations and under which E. Jean Carroll finally got her legal comeuppance. So, my advice to anyone concerned about getting a fair trial in NY, with its shall we say distinctive and often arcane, system of justice --- avoid committing fraud, sexual assault, defamation and the falsification of business records there.

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Brilliant.

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HOW TO TELL IF A WITNESS IS LYING. I was a lawyer for 41 years before I retired, and I learned something about credibility. Deciding whether a witness is telling the truth is not, in the end, a matter of whether they sound nervous or don't look you in the eye or exhibit similar imaginary "tells." You usually decide by some combination of common sense and corroboration. That is: Which side's version seems most consistent with the way people usually act, and with the way someone is likely to act in this situation? And what surrounding sets of documented facts lend support to whose version?

Of course, common sense can fail in situations where ta defendant's life experiences are so extreme and so alien to most people that a juror has trouble grasping what was going on in someone's head. This can arise in death penalty cases, when a jury is asked to assess the level of culpability of someone who did commit an awful murder, but whose horrendous childhood and life experiences had deranged them. My thriller novel "Mississippi Reckoning" is, among other things, an effort to illustrate this.

When more ordinary crimes based in the end on greed are involved, the truth usually emerges with considerable clarity as we look at the big picture. Hopefully it will for all the jurors in this case.

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May 14·edited May 14

And if Trump testifies (one can dream), all he has to do is to tell a story and begin it with “and he told me, ‘Sir, …….’” and the jury will recognize the “tell” and know that Trump is a big fat liar. Can’t wait to read your book.

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Almost everyone has a "tell" and I'm sure the Trump defense team has several experts on "sit and squirm" in the courtroom sizing up Cohen.

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Agreed.

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I'm going to read your book!

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May 14·edited May 14

Joyce,

Thanks again for the hard work, patience and thought that you put into each of these Civil Discourse substacks (is that the right word?). I've been saving all of them to go back and re-read.

Compared to most of the others, I've not been a subscriber for very long, but looking back, especially recently, it's like a time machine/soap opera, except this is NOT made up, and Proctor & Gamble won't be sponsoring this like they did for "Guiding Light" back in the day.

I'm glad that Stormy was on the stand last week, to be followed today by Cohen. So far, so good. As Bob Lewis (below) mentioned, we really need to hope that the jury believes him. I was able to watch part of "Dateline: White House" this afternoon. One of the guests was pleased that Cohen kept a level head during questioning, which is a good thing. But then someone else mentioned that the real test will be what happens once Trump's people start to pounce (my word) on him. I know they will, and let's hope he can ignore that nastiness and stay cool as a cucumber, in spite of Trump.

The progression of tweets blew me away! They started off okay, then got nicer (sweet tweets?) with each time. On the 22nd, all heck broke loose! Wow, what a difference a day makes! Just reading that made my skin crawl. As much as Cohen respected Trump, as much as he went out of his way to get the HELOC approved, as much as he went to JAIL, and showed his loyalty for that creep.

Trump did NOT return any of the favors.

Trump needs some very serious anger management therapy. ASAP would be good!

But I digress.

There may be many like myself who are saying special prayers tonight to keep Michael safe. I don't trust Trump or any of his MAGA thugs to behave themselves. His cult members would do ANYTHING he asks, which is what scares me.

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I read Cohen's book, and I've listened to him on MSNBC. I believe he's authentic. Anyone can have a change of heart, and anyone with a brain or an ounce of common sense can change their mind. I think he sounds true, and I hope the jury can hear that and accept his testimony.

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Professor, I was expecting a "Narrator" to be one of the last 2 witnesses but, I do not think the Prosecution needs anyone after Cohen's tour the of criminal scheme corroborated fully before he took the Stand.

Cohen provided all the details about Exhibit Thirty-Five (35) with the testimony on direct that the Defendant, Alan Weisselberg & Cohen were all present & together to document the Campaign

scheme for the Prosecution for the Jury & U.S. history.

I think Exhibit 35 even tops the Photo Exhibit of the Classified stolen documents neatly stored & accessible on a stage at Crimes-a-Lago.

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May 14·edited May 14

He was paid 2 million by Trump, and the thought is he will not be truthful under oath as he has already proven and why he is in Riker’s for another stint at this moment. Why put someone on the stand that you know will not be truthful?

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Speaking of Weisselberg, I'm confused. What's the story about Weisselberg not testifying?

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If I may take a stab. First of all, it could wind up being just a brief respite from stir for him. Don't forget he is heavily implicated in the scheme, so self-incrimination would be a major issue, meaning unless he gets immunity or some other favorable deal it would be Allen and his Fifth on the stand. No value in that for the government. His subpoena and being compelled to testify would have primacy over his Trump Org. agreement, but would not negate his procedural right against self-incrimination so again, unless he's willing to provide substantive testimony it's unlikely the prosecution would want him on the stand. As a convicted perjurer, he wouldn't be a first choice for the defense either. Finally, not sure being compelled to testify would somehow get around any prohibitions in his agreement against saying bad things about his former employer, so the remaining payments might be stopped. Hardly something to contemplate in exchange for his willingness to spend two terms at Rikers

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Thanks, Dale, for explaining it. It definitely IS a bit complicated. But then, when it comes to All Things Trump, nothing's normal. Anything goes, and he thrives on that "power."

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Unless they grant him immunity. In that case he can't plead the fifth.

I think Bragg made a big mistake not including him on the witness list. I would have also listed Ooay and Cusay, who were supposed to head Trump Inc after the election and during the time that the checks to Cohen were signed.

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Not clear. Over the Weekend, I looked for a transcript of the Sidebar after the Jury was excused last Friday as I thought the Judge may have ordered a Trial Deposition of Alan W rather than bring him to Court from Rikers Island. Allegedly there is one (1) more witness. Let's see how the the Cross of Cohen goes & re-direct.

WILL UPDATE LATER: Found an Associated Press (AP) end of Court day at 5:49 PM after last Friday's Sidebar with Judge.

ASSOCIATED PRESS' (AP) EXPLANATION OF 5/11/24 SIDEBAR:

"Prosecutors are NOT planning to call ALAN WEISSELBERG" but, are planning to explain his absence given the facs that he was "orchestrating reimbursement".

Judge Merchan told the attorney's that plan did not make much sense.. [Note, WEISSELBERG's Plea Deal ( 5 months) does NOT require cooperation.]

Trump Defense Counsel, Emily Bove advised everyone in the Sidebar that "the issue is very complicated & may require a [special] Jury Instruction.

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I would have to guess any remaining government witnesses would have to be experts on the actual statutes allegedly violated --- especially the necessary predicate or predicates, since the prosecution has been pretty cagey (though not required) about specifying them beyond a semi-vague reference to a state election conspiracy law. They will, of course, have to eventually do so for the jury's sake, because I would assume the defense, with little in its favor so far, will attempt to confuse issues when it comes to the actual laws underlying the government's case.

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Trump's pure despicableness is bottomless.

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founding

He has no shame.

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Coackroach + Rat= Trump

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All due respect, WJB, I doubt the animal/insect kingdom has a Trump equivalent.

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There, sadly are mutants....therefore no equivalents.There was only one Frankenstein created.....hopefully only one Trumpenstein............

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Hah! I stand corrected!

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founding

Trump would be assigned to the animal kingdom. Only humans, @ the pinnacle of evolution can achieve such evil and filth.

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It will be interesting, to say the least, to see what the jury decides. I have faith that they can reach an well thought out one. Remember, in the EJean Carroll trial there was a DJT supporters, who was able to vote to convict.

Time will tell!

I honestly don't know how you do all you do! Thank you!

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I agree. I doubt I'd be able to do 5% of what Joyce can do. And she ALWAYS has such a kind and positive attitude. She's our hero, isn't she?

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founding

Indeed.

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In a normal world, I'd say there's not a chance that he'll be a holdout juror. But we're not living in a normal world anymore. I am not holding my breath, although I'm cautiously optimistic. Thanks for this cogent explanation of what went on today.

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founding

I'm cautiously optimistic as well, although I doubt Trump will spend time in prison as I believe he should.

But I've been wrong before, and I'll be wrong again, so I'd say the odds he does time are 6 to 5 and pick 'em. A tossup in other words.

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Michael Cohen had his lawyer work with him on staying calm. There’s certain triggers he used to do it cause he said so on MSNBC earlier. (Can’t remember which show). He was almost too calm but everything was neatly concise and to the point. Haven’t read any of his books but I’ve seen some of his interviews with Meidas Touch Network and I believe him. No I didn’t go out cause it was raining off and on and my back was screaming at 8am. I’ll try again Tuesday.

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