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Manafort Guilty on 8 of 18 Counts

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Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, has been convicted by a jury on 8 of the 18 felony counts against him, after four days of deliberations. The judge has declared a mistrial on the remaining 10 counts. Earlier Tuesday jurors signaled they were deadlocked on one of the charges, but that appears to have increased.

Manafort, charged with 18 counts of tax evasion, bank fraud, and bank fraud conspiracy, was facing up to 305 years in jail. Experts believed if he were convicted on all counts he could face 7 to 12 years.

The charges are the result of the Robert Mueller investigation into Russia’s attack on the U.S. 2016 election. The trial, which began late last month, is the first judicial test of the special counsel’s work.

On Friday, as jurors went home for the weekend, some reporters asked why they were not sequestered, as Trump had been tweeting in an attempt to influence them.

“The jury not only wasn’t sequestered—jurors mingled freely in the courthouse elevators, cafeteria and hallways with reporters and spectators. I’ve never seen anything like it,” NBC’s Ken Dilanian noted.

Next month Manafort will again be on trial, this time for lying to the FBI, money laundering, and foreign lobbying.

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‘Incompetently Bad’: Judge Cannon’s Latest Move ‘Approaching This Level of Stupid’

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U.S. District Judge Aileen Cannon’s latest move in Special Counsel Jack Smith’s Espionage Act prosecution of Donald Trump appears to have at least one legal expert throwing up his hands in disbelief.

Back in February, Trump’s legal team claimed Special Counsel Jack Smith’s appointment was unlawful, as is the method of funding his office and his investigations.

“Neither the Constitution nor Congress have created the office of the ‘Special Counsel,'” Trump’s attorneys wrote, CBS News had reported, “arguing the attorney general did not have the proper authority to name Smith to the job.”

“The authority he attempts to employ as Special Counsel far exceeds the power exercisable by a non-superior officer, the authority that Congress has not cloaked him with,” they claimed. There are decades of precedence of Attorneys General appointing special counsels, special prosecutors, or independent counsels – possibly the most well-known being Ken Starr who investigated then-President Bill Clinton.

READ MORE: Alito’s Opinion in a 2022 Christian Flag Case Flies in the Face of His Recusal Refusal

CBS News also noted that “Garland cited numerous laws and regulations that he and other attorneys general have said confer necessary authority onto the selected prosecutors.”

Issuing her latest edict, Judge Cannon, who likely has already delayed the trial until after the 2024 election, responded to the Trump legal team’s challenge of Smith’s appointment on Thursday.

“Judge Cannon is giving Trump’s legal team and the government 12 days to tell her how the SCOTUS decision upholding the CFPB’s funding/appointment impacts Trump’s claim that Jack Smith was unlawfully appointed and funded…,” reports Reuters’ Sarah N. Lynch, who covers the Justice Dept.

The CFPB is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Earlier this month the Supreme Court ruled the methods by which it is funded are constitutional, overturning a lower court’s ruling.

READ MORE: ‘Doesn’t Know Most Basic Rule’: Conway Blasts Cannon Over ‘Perplexed’ Reaction

Constitutional law professor Anthony Michael Kreis, mocking Judge Cannon’s order, wrote:

“Jack Smith,

You have 12 days to tell me how what Martha-Ann Alito ate for lunch on May 30, 2024 affects your appointment as special counsel.

Xoxo,

Judge Cannon”

He added, “We’re approaching this level of stupid,” and concluded, “Judge Cannon is incompetently bad.”

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‘Giddily Bouncing Off the Walls’: Legal Experts Predict Trump Conviction

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With the jury dismissed for the day after more than four hours of deliberations and a series of notes to Judge Juan Merchan, legal experts are predicting Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will win his case against Donald Trump, and see jurors convict the ex-president on 34 criminal counts. The ex-president is on trial for allegedly falsifying  business records as a means to cover-up a conspiracy scheme to promote his election to the Presidency by “unlawful means.”

“If I were in the DA’s office I’d be giddily bouncing off the walls right now,” attorney George Conway wrote on social media late Wednesday afternoon.

Minutes later attorney Tristan Snell, who helped secure the New York Attorney General’s $25 million settlement in the Trump University civil case, also predicted a likely Trump conviction:

“BREAKING: Trump jury asks for testimony transcripts, including 3 sections from David Pecker and 1 section from Michael Cohen. VERY bad sign for Trump that David Pecker’s testimony landed with the jury and is something they want to focus on. Jury is likely leaning toward GUILTY.”

READ MORE: ‘No Moral Compass’: Legal Experts Call for Intervention After Alito Refuses to Recuse

National security attorney Brad Moss, appearing on CNN Wednesday afternoon said, “I don’t expect a hung jury but if we get into Friday, or even next week Monday, it certainly would appear that would be more likely what’s going on. But if we have a decision tomorrow, my expectation is it will be a guilty verdict.”

Yale Law School professor of law and professor of philosophy Scott Shapiro offered this short statement:

If Donald Trump is convicted he may be the least surprised, as he appeared to predict a conviction Wednesday morning: “Mother Theresa could not beat these charges,” he told reporters.

The jury returns Thursday at 9:30 AM.

See the videos above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest Felony in American History’: Prosecutor’s Closing Argument Against Trump Praised

Image via Shutterstock

 

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‘No Moral Compass’: Legal Experts Call for Intervention After Alito Refuses to Recuse

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U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito has formally refused to recuse from any and all cases involving indicted ex-president Donald Trump or the January 6, 2021 attack on the seat of the American government and American democracy itself. Legal experts and elected Democrats, including the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight responsibility of the nation’s highest court, have demanded the George W. Bush-appointed jurist’s recusal. Now, some legal experts say either the Chief Justice or the Senate Judiciary Committee must intervene.

Justice Alito is standing by his now thoroughly debunked story about why a flag associated with the insurrection and the “Stop the Steal” conspiracy was flying at his home just three days before Joe Biden was inaugurated president, and a different, Christian nationalist flag also associated with those efforts to overthrow the government and disenfranchise 81 million Americans was flying at another of his homes.

Responding to a letter sent to Chief Justice John Roberts, Justice Alito in his own letter wrote he was “required” to reject Democrats’ request and not recuse himself, despite numerous legal experts citing both law and precedent, declaring he at least should, or must, recuse himself.

Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern, who writes about the courts and the law, pushed back on Justice Alito’s claim.

READ MORE: ‘Biggest Felony in American History’: Prosecutor’s Closing Argument Against Trump Praised

“Alito reads the Supreme Court’s totally voluntary, non-binding ethics guidelines to impose a seemingly mandatory ‘obligation’ that he sit on any case he’s not recused from.”

Professor of law Steve Vladeck, a CNN contributor, appeared to take that one strep further: “Justice Alito’s insistence in his letters to Congress that he has an ‘obligation to sit’ in the January 6 cases *because* the Code of Conduct says so is an interesting data point for those who have insisted that the Code doesn’t impose *any* requirements on the justices.”

Journalist, author, and foreign policy, national security and political affairs analyst and commentator David Rothkopf observed, “Alito, by saying he should not recuse, demonstrates clearly why he should not be on the court in the first place.”

The New York Times’ Michael Barbaro notes, “As with his statement to the NYT, Alito in his response to Congress never disavows the meaning of the upside down flag that flew over his house for days or its link to the Jan 6th riot/Stop The Steal movement that was at its height during this period. Notably, Alito does deny that link with the Appeal To Heaven flag, but not the upside down flag.”

Saying Alito is “really is a piece of work,” attorney and former FBI special agent Asha Rangappa suggested the justice is flipping the script: “Alito does a Reverse Uno, suggesting that people calling for his recusal are trying to influence the outcome of cases before the Court.”

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a government watchdog, noted: “That Justice Alito responded *at all* to the demand that he recuse from these cases shows the gravity of his misconduct. But this response changes nothing about the ethical issue here. Since he will not recuse on his own, Chief Justice Roberts should intervene.”

READ MORE: Supreme Court ‘Puppetmaster’ Slammed Over Report He’s Flying Alito’s ‘Theocratic’ Flag Again

Constitutional law scholar and professor of law Eric Segall served up a scathing assessment: “To be clear, if we found a love letter written to Donald Trump from Sam Alito saying, ‘Can’t wait till you’re back in office,’ Alito still would not recuse. He has no moral compass at all.”

The Atlantic’s Ronald Brownstein suggests Democrats will need to take further action: “Alito’s dismissive response, which [Chief Justice John] Roberts is unlikely to challenge in any way, has placed the ball squarely in the court of @SenatorDurbin, @SenSchumer and Senate Democrats.”

CNN’s Edward-Isaac Dovere, posting a screenshot of Donald Trump’s response to the justice’s decision to not recuse, writes: “Trump thanks Alito for not recusing himself from cases pending about Trump after Alito’s being criticized for a flag flying at his house that has been interpreted as a sign of support for Trump.”

See the social media post above or at this link.

READ MORE: ‘Wildly Lawless’: Judge Cannon’s Removal Predicted by Top Legal Scholar

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