Guilty: All 3 Men Convicted of Murder in the Killing of Ahmaud Arbery
Jurors found Travis McMichael, his father Gregory McMichael and their co-defendant William “Roddie” Bryan Jr. all guilty of murder Wednesday for the fatal shooting of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was killed while jogging through a neighborhood in Glynn County, Georgia.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms said in a statement that she is “…grateful the jury has found the three men responsible for the senseless murder of Ahmaud Arbery guilty of their crimes. I am hopeful that this verdict gives Mr. Arbery’s family, and people across America, some level of comfort in knowing that these men are being held accountable for taking the life of an innocent young man.”
The federal trial will occur in February and additional sentencing is possible, including life in prison.
CNN legal analyst Laura Coates explained, “The absence of a viable claim of self-defense” bolstered the prosecution’s case against Gregory McMichael, Travis McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan Jr., who were found guilty of murder in the death of Ahmaud Arbery.
“Even when Travis McMichael took the stand and said, ‘No, he never threatened me. No, I don’t recall him trying to take the gun. No, he never shouted at me.’ How could you possibly make a case at that point for self-defense?” Coates said after the verdict was read.
Coates added, “Travis McMichael pulled the trigger. That is not in dispute.The other two men aided and abetted hunting this man down … These are three people who, for all intents and purposes, are laymen. The prosecution did a phenomenal job ensuring that the jurors saw that each of these men were culpable and that there was no self-defense claim.”
The trial jury consisted of 11 White jurors and one Black juror.
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‘Officially on Georgia-Watch’: Legal Expert Says Possible Trump Probe Indictments Could Come at Any Time
Professor of Law Joyce Vance says, “We’re officially on Georgia-watch,” now that a new grand jury has been constituted and could hand down indictments at any time in that state’s investigation into Donald Trump and his allies and their alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results.
Vance, the well-known MSNBC legal contributor, podcaster, and former U.S. Attorney says in her Substack newsletter, “it’s entirely possible that this could be the week to expect the world to turn upside down.”
“The first signal we’ll probably get—you’ll be in a crowded restaurant, or at work, or on a train, or in the gym, and suddenly everyone’s phone will start blowing up all at once,” Vance explains. “Reporters tend to stalk the clerk of court’s office in person and online when they know a big case is close. We’re in that sweet spot, although it’s important to keep in mind that we could remain there for awhile.”
Vance does warn that “it’s not certain that anyone, let alone Donald Trump, will be indicted. But Fani Willis, the Fulton County district attorney, certainly seems to be giving off all the signals that she means business here.”
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Assuming Trump does get indicted, what are the possible charges he might be facing?
“First up, election-related crimes: solicitation to commit election fraud, intentional interference with performance of election duties, interference with primaries and elections, and conspiracy to commit election fraud,” she explains. There could also be more “general crimes,” like “making false statements, improperly influencing witnesses, forgery, and general criminal solicitation.”
It might also get even more serious for Trump.
“Georgia’s state RICO statute could also be charged: RICO stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and originally referred to a federal law passed in 1970 to strengthen the tools and charges available to federal prosecutors for dealing with the unlawful activities of those engaged in organized crime—Mafia or other entities devoted to organized, ongoing, serious criminal conduct.”
As Vance points out, while it’s unknown if Fulton County D.A. Fani Willis will choose to indict Trump or anyone, the special grand jury foreperson who made headlines earlier this month made clear they had recommended multiple indictments.
Image: Official White House photo
‘Next Chapter?’ Manhattan DA Signals Trump Himself Might Finally Land Under Indictment
Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg may finally have changed his mind about indicting former president Donald Trump.
The recent conviction of the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg gave a glimpse of evidence that could tie the ex-president directly to the tax fraud scheme, such as a memo he signed approving chief operating officer Matthew Calamari’s illegal request to reduce his taxed salary to cover the cost of his untaxed corporate apartment, reported The Daily Beast.
“We now move on to the next chapter,” Bragg said last week after the company was ordered to pay $1.6 million in penalties for tax fraud.
Trump already asserted under oath in another case in 2021 that he personally oversaw Calimari’s compensation, and prosecutors have checks he signed to cover tuition at a private school for Weisselberg’s grandchildren, whose mother Jennifer Weisselberg has repeatedly told investigators she personally heard Trump discuss the scheme to artificially lower taxed salaries for his executives.
“This case has tentacles,” said Duncan Levin, a former prosecutor who now represents Jennifer Weisselberg and has been communicating with investigators.
The district attorney’s office declined to comment on what Bragg meant about another chapter, but former prosecutors from that office say their experience leads them to believe prosecutors will go after Trump.
“For people who want a certain outcome — to go after Trump — it gives hope,” said Catherine A. Christian, a former assistant district attorney who investigated financial fraud. “They’re going to be thorough. I’m doubtful he would have said ‘next chapter’ if they weren’t looking.”
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“It happens all the time with large, complex investigations,” she added.
Prosecutors had hoped to flip Weisselberg or company controller Jeffrey McConney, who was nearly labeled a hostile witness during the Trump Organization trial, but ultimately were unable to get their full cooperation.
“They didn’t flip, and they failed,” said former Manhattan prosecutor Jeff Chabrowe. “They tried to do everything they could, and in the end, they got a truncated thing here where they went after the organization and Weisselberg, and there’s this fine that’s pretty weak.”
‘Final Nail in His Coffin’: Trump’s Taxes Contain ‘Powerful Evidence of Criminal Tax Evasion’
In a column for the Daily Beast, longtime investigative journalist and Donald Trump biographer David Cay Johnston made the case that there is enough evidence of financial fraud in the former president’s tax returns from 2015 to 2020 to indict and prosecute him.
At issue, he noted, are deductions taken for Trump companies — some of which may never have existed.
According to Johnston, the author of “The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and His Family,” he found “powerful evidence of criminal tax evasion,” after reviewing the documents after they were released on Friday morning to the public after years of obstruction from Trump.
“Consider a rich business owner who fabricates deductions but who would still owe zero tax in the audited year even if those deductions were denied. That means an audit that will not generate any tax revenue. That’s also what Trump apparently did in 26 sole proprietor, or Schedule C, filings in the six years of released tax returns,” he wrote before adding, “Trump also turned a profit off a portion of the tax system, making $2.8 million profit off the Alternative Minimum Tax, or AMT.”
As for those 26 Trump businesses that may or may not exist, Johnston suggested that investigators dig deeper into how the former president used them to get out of paying taxes in the years involved.
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“Most glaring in the tax returns is that they include 26 Trump businesses—or imaginary businesses—with zero revenue and hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax deductions for expenses,” he pointed out while noting they should be of interest to New York State Attorney General Letitia James, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Attorney General Merrick Garland.
“Unless Trump can produce records showing the expenses are real and meet other standards to be deductible, that’s fraud. That Trump did it 26 times as a candidate and as president is powerful evidence that he qualifies for prosecution by the federal government and New York State for criminal tax fraud,” he wrote before adding the results could lead to a “slam dunk” prosecution.
You can read more here.
Image: Evan El Amin/Shutterstock
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