Not guilty

The New York case against Trump was one of those all too frequent examples of prosecutorial overreach. It was a bullshit charge based on a highly creative definition of election law. If I had been a juror, Trump would have gotten off due to a hung jury.

Having said that, Trump is a criminal many times over, and deserves long prison sentences for what he did in Georgia and elsewhere. So I won’t shed any tears. But this particular case was ridiculous. One more example of a legal system that is out of control.

I expect the Supreme Court to protect him from the more serious charges, until he’s safely in office. His campaign is nothing more than an attempt to avoid prison. If he loses, he goes to jail.



46 Responses to “Not guilty”

  1. Gravatar of Robert D. Robert D.
    30. May 2024 at 14:19

    Scott, I wish you were wrong, but I think you’re right.

  2. Gravatar of Eharding Eharding
    30. May 2024 at 14:20

    I will not second-guess the verdict, but do expect to vote for Trump in November. IMO what he did in Georgia was improper, but not illegal.

  3. Gravatar of Solon of the East Solon of the East
    30. May 2024 at 15:41

    Agreed. In truth, I think Trump had been blackmailed by Stormy Daniels and her dubious lawyer.

    I wish both major parties would come up with better candidates.

  4. Gravatar of Jake Jake
    30. May 2024 at 18:21

    Seems like it should be something that one should be punished for. Although Trump won’t go to jail. Trump is right on one account-that it hasn’t been a fair trial-he’s gotten away with far more than the average defendant could ever dream of.

    NYC DA office is no joke. Getting 12 jurors to agree to all the charges should indicate that you might be a little off on this one.

    The real joke is Merrick Garland. Bragg had the guts and the skill to get Trump convicted of a felony. Garland has neither of those qualities.

  5. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    30. May 2024 at 18:38

    Sorry, but this opinion is vast overreach. You may not have been chosen for the jury if you were in the pool, given your apparent desire to nullify, and even if you had been, you would hvae a somewhat different perspective on the case than you can have as an outside observer. The evidence you would have been exposed to would have been different, you’d be subject to instructions from the judge, etc. Nullification isn’t as easy as you seem to think. There are some safeguards in place.

    You can disagree with New York’s anti-fraud laws all you want, but the question is how much you even understand them, since you’re a layperson who I’m guessing hasn’t taken a great deal of time to study the issue, and lack the expertise to properly do so anyway? I think it’s very bad form to have such a strong opinion about this as a layperson.

    While the US has some of the toughest anti-fraud laws in the world, and New York’s are tougher than most, let’s look at what is actually going on here. It is illegal for private companies to cook the books in New York. Is that an unreasonable law? After all, the state has taxes and other business regulations that depend, in part, on a company’s financial statements for enforcement.

    How about bank fraud? Should that be legal?

    And then there’re the felony charges, due to context. Trump was judged to have committed fraud, in part, as an attempt to cover up a felony campaign law violation. Is that so unreasonable? Obstruction of justice is typically a crime. Fraud is typically a crime. How is this different?

    Of course, I’m also a layperson, but I’m deeply disturbed by the eroding respect for the rule of law that I’m seeing in this post, by people who perhaps don’t resepct the limits of their own knowledge, or perspetives otherwise. Economists are often particularly awful about judging laws that they don’t understand from a legal perspective.

    I’ve seen many legal experts say they think this was overreach, but there are also very many who think the laws and charges brought were fully-justified. Even if you disagree with the laws that were enforced here, whether they should be enforced in this case is a separate matter. If the laws aren’t enforced here, when should they be? I’d like to see some specific criteria for when these laws should be enforced, versus this case.

  6. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    30. May 2024 at 19:12

    Everyone, No doubt there were some minor technical violations, but the election fraud charges were just silly.

    The Georgia case is the one where he most richly deserves prison. This is actually the least serious case, but due to pro-Trump judges he’ll dodge all of the more serious charges. Then it will be time to hang the flag upside down.

  7. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    30. May 2024 at 20:01


    So, what are your criteria for enforcing campaign finance disclosure laws? Do you think these laws are unimportant or even counter-productive?

    Also, this amay be somewhat in contradiction to your opinion about the celebrities and others who were prosecuted for committing fraud to help get their children into exclusive colleges, years ago.

  8. Gravatar of Sara Sara
    30. May 2024 at 20:24

    Since you now claim to be a ‘legal expert” why don’t you tell us why Alan Dershowitz’s conclusion on Georgia is wrong, and why you, an economist from Bentley, wherever that is, knows more about criminal law than a licensed attorney who taught the subject of criminal law at Harvard for 50 years.

    Tell us all the facts of the case, and why you think Trump is “guilty’ of the charges in Georgia, and precisely, tell us why you think Alan Dershowitz is wrong.

    Guilty of what?

    And it’s not the “Supreme Court” that will “protect” Trump. It’s the appeals court that will overall, because there was no actual offense and because the judge’s instructions to the jury were unconstitional.

    The Supreme court, btw, isn’t interested in “protecting,” a particular person; it’s only interested in upholding the constitution.

    Despite what you and the radicals may believe, the kangaroo courts are not going to help you win the election; All of your attempts to remove him by force, instead of winning at the ballot box, just reveals your true intention. You’re a gangster, hell-bent on a one-party-state.

    His popularity will only increase, and purple-pink haired, thug-tattoo, nose ring, snake tongue radicals will cry.

    And no, body art doesn’t make you “original” or increase your “individuality”. It only shows that you’re a conformist willing to go along with any generational fad.

  9. Gravatar of Ricardo Ricardo
    30. May 2024 at 23:17

    Friggen Marxists.

    This country is so fucked.

    Time to find another passport.

    I hope you understand that christians will attempt to stop you. We won’t go quietly into the night. You’ll have to defeat us in a civil war. And even if we lose, we won’t capitulate to your demands.

    We will simply die or emigrate. Capitalism will defeat you EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Goodness and truth always wins.

    You don’t own my labor. You don’t own me.

    Marxist Scum.

  10. Gravatar of Lizard Man Lizard Man
    31. May 2024 at 03:24

    While we are at it, let’s just abolish the SEC too and go back to the days when major corporations financial statements weren’t audited, and lying about them wasn’t fraud. It’s just a minor technicality.

  11. Gravatar of Kenneth Duda Kenneth Duda
    31. May 2024 at 04:25

    This post surprises me. I tend to presume jury competence. Are you saying all 12 jury members were unable to properly understand the evidence and the instructions? Or are you saying that all 12 jurors failed to fulfill a duty to nullify some subset of criminal law because the law is overreaching?

  12. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    31. May 2024 at 05:29

    I don’t see how the interpretation of election law here was “highly creative”. Federal candidates are disallowed to receive campaign contributions that they don’t report. Cohen’s hush money payment was cash that benefitted the campaign, while also being well-over the legal limit for such a donation, and was not reported. Trump was proven beyond a reasonable doubt to have known about and approved this action.

    This is a very uncharacteristic hot take on this blog.

  13. Gravatar of Student Student
    31. May 2024 at 05:32

    1.) I agree Georgia stuff seems more serious.

    2.) I am not a lawyer and I haven’t studied the evidence like a juror would have, but the jury took less than two days to unanimously convict him on 34 out of 34 charges. That’s pretty damning.

    3.) It’s crazy the guy has been involved in so much shady that 34 felony charges and we are like, this isn’t even the serious stuff lol.

    4.) You know, if trump were trying to obtain a security clearance for a low level fed job, the Stormy Daniels stuff would likely have caused them to deny it. Notice what that kind of stuff leads to. The guy is willing to commit felonies to cover it up. That’s why we don’t give clearances to people with skeletons in the closet, it provides leverage to convince people to do bad stuff.

    5.) He is not going to jail over this. Average Joe’s go to jail for felonies… rich powerful people don’t.

    6.) Biden is such a terrible candidate that a guy convicted of 34 felonies during the campaign is going to win.

  14. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    31. May 2024 at 05:58

    Michael, Campaign finance laws are dumb, but I don’t even regard this as a campaign finance issue, it was a bride that may have tangentially helped his campaign. Everything a candidate does has a tangential impact on their campaign.

    “This is a very uncharacteristic hot take on this blog.”

    Funny how so many brilliant legal experts who have looked at this issue closely and who hate Trump like me are also engaging in similar “hot takes”. BTW, I’ve always had this view of prosecutorial overreach.

    And why does this matter so much? We both agree that Trump committed many crimes and deserves to be put in prison for a long time, we just disagree as to which crimes are the most important.

    Ricardo, Take a chill pill.

    Ken, A mixture of the two. In these highly complex cases the juries have trouble understanding the nature of the law, and tend to defer to the experts (the government.) It reminds me of the insider trading case against Michael Milken. There was no way a jury was going to acquit Milken, even though it’s not clear what he was guilty of.

    Sorry, but I don’t view paying a $200,000 bribe to a mistress as a crime, even if the paperwork tries to hide the transaction. Calling it a campaign contribution seems silly. The police need to focus on fraudsters and insurrectionists and rapists and people who try to steal Georgia elections. Oh wait, that’s Trump too. 🙂

    Student, That’s pretty much how I see things, except it’s the Georgia case for which he should go to jail. (And lots of other cases as well.)

  15. Gravatar of acebojangles acebojangles
    31. May 2024 at 06:54

    I half agree. Engaging in a conspiracy with your friend who publishes a newspaper to bury bad stories about you to help your campaign and falsifying business records in furtherance of that conspiracy probably should be illegal, but I don’t know if the law is all that clear on whether it is legal. Trump certainly knew it was wrong and tried to hide it until the election was over.

    I certainly agree that our legal system is awful. On my list of personal research projects is figuring out how other countries administer their legal systems.

    It’s a sign of our political dysfunction that people hear about the president negotiating fraudulent hush money payments from the oval office and prepare to vote that president back into office.

  16. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    31. May 2024 at 07:07

    Although I think the jury system is about as good a system as you can have, I would worry about having to rely on one if I were ever brought up on false charges. My one time on a jury, I hung it, while my 11 peers spent the whole time trying to prove who could ignore the most evidence to reach the verdict the earnest looking prosecutor told them they should reach.

  17. Gravatar of Randomize Randomize
    31. May 2024 at 07:26

    I’ll push back just a little, Dr. Sumner, and say that his actions deserve to be criminal but will freely admit that this case is another great example of the over-felonization of the criminal code. Misdemeanors can carry a term of up to a year which feels like the absolute top end punishment for these particular crimes even for a repeat offender.

    At any rate, he’s (technically) a first-time offender and he’ll likely get probation, a deferred sentence, or a brief house arrest. Those all feel like appropriate sentences. 30 days feels like the top-end.

  18. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    31. May 2024 at 07:46


    About half of the experts I’ve heard discuss this think that the charges should not have been brought. However, in some cases, that’s because they had doubt as to whether the felony charges would hold up. They have. What goes over the edge, in my view, is leaping to favoring jury nullificaiton. I’ve heard no legal experts say that favor that, possibly because those who are practicing attorneys cannot openly promote such a thing. It just seems way over the top to me.

    There’s nothing wrong with New York taking its laws and the enforcemetn of them seriously. I honor them for their willingness to do so, when there are people like Judge Cannon and some members of the Supreme Court seemingly trying to protect Trump.

  19. Gravatar of Matthias Matthias
    31. May 2024 at 08:04

    Ricardo, your comment seems a bit odd topic.

    In any case, have you ever read a Bible or listened to the Pope? Christianity isn’t exactly fond of capitalism.

    (But I’m not even sure who you are addressing here.)

  20. Gravatar of Tom M Tom M
    31. May 2024 at 09:34

    The three scariest words in the English language: “Trial by jury.” Juries are made up of 12 people who are so dumb they couldn’t even think up an excuse to get out of jury duty.

    This case was never about the legal issues. When evidence was presented by a porn star, a convicted perjurer (key witness), when the bank that was “defrauded” acted as a key witness for the defense… was it ever about evidence? The trial was about getting Donald Trump, and the backlash to this is going to be a win for Trump in November. Anyone who argues that point, immediately loses any credibility for objectivity. The DA even CAMPAIGNED on the plan to get Donald Trump on “anything” they could.

    Part of me likes the fact that this happened, because it exposes how flawed the system and flawed the bias’ have become, but another part of me is sad that so many people are perfectly fine with the historic norms of our political system being torn down so long as they can get the bad orange man. This issue has pushed more independent voters into the Trump camp, so hey, mission accomplished Democrats!

    Scott is right – THIS is the perfect example of how we have slipped into Banana Republic status:

    This is a thwarting of basic standards of democracy; To take a political opponent on trumped-up charges, find him guilty, and then throw him in jail for purposes of the election, is insanity. It is third-world crap. It is insanity. Democrats just set the country on fire.

    If you think he was claiming rigging back in 2020, wait until you hear about 2024 when the Democrats charged him with a bunch of garbage and then got 12 like-minded jurors to throw him in jail under the auspices of a glory-seeking judge, and took him completely off the campaign trail and smeared him as a felon in advance of the election.

  21. Gravatar of Carl Carl
    31. May 2024 at 09:58

    Tom M.
    So, you live in a country where some of the most important decisions about people’s lives are decided by trial by jury and you think only dumb people think it’s important to serve on juries. Hmmm…

  22. Gravatar of TMC TMC
    31. May 2024 at 12:41

    The democrats have spent close to $100 million investigating Trump and still haven’t found anything he’s done that’s illegal. It’s only taxpayer money, so expect $100M more.

  23. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    31. May 2024 at 13:51

    Here’s a podcast with Ben Wittes of the Lawfare blog explaining why he thinks many of the television legal analysts were wrong about this case, in terms of both the claimed prosecutorial overreach and the prospects of conviction. In short, not many of them understand New York law, for one thing.

    Television pundits are often wrong, as they aren’t necessarily required to have specific enough expertise, nor to study issues closely enough to render useful opinions.

  24. Gravatar of Kenneth Duda Kenneth Duda
    31. May 2024 at 14:04

    Scott, thanks for the response.

    I would agree with you that this is not the most concerning of Trump’s crimes. However, I think you go too far in characterizing this as a non-criminal payment to a mistress.
    Causing a business to make illegitimate payments (these were never legitimate business expenses), along with false records of them, in service of your campaign for office, which has nothing to do with your business — it sure seems criminal to me.

    I think it’s important to not ignore minor crimes because they’re minor. We should prosecute minor crimes because they’re crimes. That goes for everyone, including me, and including Trump.

    So I find myself in the very rare position of disagreeing with you about something!


  25. Gravatar of Edward Edward
    31. May 2024 at 17:43

    Whatever happened to commonsense? Why do people swallow this propaganda so easily?

    I could ask my sister, an agent with the IRS, to investigate Sumner for the past 50 years. I’m sure if she looked hard enough, we could find mistakes and omissions. We could file 30 criminal charges, and call them fraud (mostly petty offenses). We could claim he had the intent to deceive the IRS. We could then say that his wife was a fixer and accomplice. We’ll ask CNN, MSNBC to claim he’s a criminal, and make the claim 24/7, to influence public opinion.

    We will hold the trial in the most partisan state, where he’s hated and villified by the people who consume the partisan propaganda. We will refuse to allow him to change venue; we will yell and scream at his witnesses. We will not allow key witnesses to testify on his behalf. We will not allow the news organizations to show the trial live on t.v. Then, we will instruct the jury to convict him on all accounts.

    Then, we will use donor money to pay protesters to stand with signs outside the courtroom and outside his residence.

    It’s all a stage, folks. Trump and RFK jr. were able to organize an amicable debate on X. Trump is leading in the polls. RFK Jr. is around 3%. These are just two fearless leaders, who want to get their message out there and are willing to debate anyone, any time, and let the chips fall where they may.

    Biden, however, refused to join the debate. He will only debate on CNN, or MSNBC according to his handlers. And he will only debate Trump. He refuses to debate RFK Jr. And on both accounts, I think we all know why.

    He wants the questions in advance, and he wants moderators that he can collude with. In short, he needs a theatrical production. He needs the show to continue. These people are tyrants.

  26. Gravatar of Bob Bob
    31. May 2024 at 19:06

    I just paid attention to actual lawyers who, looking at the original indictment, thought it was all weaksauce, but when following the actual evidence and the trial, saw that the case was so clear, the prosecutor would have to completely ignore the law not to try to convict, because it was the equivalent of someone going to a bank with bags that have dollar symbols on them, wearing a face mask, and asking for all the money. As they watched the entire trial, they were not surprised of the outcome.

    And yes, there are better cases, Aileen “Loose” Cannon made sure that there was going to be no documents case for political reasons. The supreme court, which very quickly managed to get Trump reinstated into the Colorado ballot, decides that no, every possible delay for the Jan 6 case is warranted. All basically showing us that yes, there are two judicial systems in the US, depending on how many judges you appointed.

    So what we saw in NY is a normal judicial process, with a real jury, which got to trial. That’s what justice is about, even if the jury gets it wrong: A fair, speedy process where a jury might not rule how we like, but at least there was an established way forward that should apply to everyone. I care little about where each individual trial ends up, as long as it’s all actually done, as that’s actual justice. Not unlike how we don’t argue with what the market decides the fair TIPS rate actually is.

  27. Gravatar of Scott Sumner Scott Sumner
    31. May 2024 at 21:49

    Tom, He certainly should be in jail, but not for this crime. He did far worse things.

    Everyone, This is a good analysis of the case:,%202024&mpid=287666

  28. Gravatar of Student Student
    1. June 2024 at 06:45


    Penitent disciples understand that for Christians the means matter as much as the ends.

    Recall the Word of the Logos from the Sermon on the Mount:

    “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.

    By their fruits you will know them.

    Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Just so, every good tree bears good fruit, and a rotten tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

    So by their fruits you will know them.”

    There are many Christians that see Trump for what he is…

  29. Gravatar of Student Student
    1. June 2024 at 08:12


    The article did raise some good points. However:

    1.) Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 to remain silent about a past sexual encounter with Trump. The Trump Organization then paid Cohen back in increments from February through December 2017, with Cohen submitting invoices fraudulently labeled as charges for legal services under a retainer. The “business records” at issue in the indictment comprise Cohen’s invoices, the checks cut to repay him, and the internal records kept by the Trump Organization of these transactions—all of which were mislabeled.

    These were clearly misdemeanors. The business record say the payments were for legal services but they were not.

    2.) Cohen plead guilty to FECA charges because (among other actions besides Stormy) he contributed $130,000 to Trumps campaign because this payment was made to help the trump campaign by silencing someone that could hurt the campaign. If trump would have made the payment himself, this wouldn’t be an issue. But he didn’t, because it would hurt his campaign. So he solicited someone else to made the payment.

    3.) trumps defense of 2 would be to argue he didn’t know soliciting Cohen to make these payments was a crime. There are other issues, but these seem the simplest for a non lawyer like me.

    So ok, trump committed 34 misdemeanors to hide payments to a porn star he was smashing behind his wife’s back. Further, because the guy running for President is to careless or stupid to understand campaign finance law, he didn’t know he was committing crimes.

    So it wasn’t 34 felonies because of trumps ignorance, it was 34 misdemeanors. But that’s up to the jury. The jury thought trump did know asking Cohen to make these payments were FECA violations. The appeal will be about that fact. He very likely could win because it’s hard to 100% prove whether someone knew something or not. So his ignorance of the law might save him. Either way though, a guy running for President was guilty of 34 misdemeanors while running for office. That’s still hilarious, felonies or not.

    There is a way to avoid these “witch hunts”… in the voice of Jim Carey from Liar Liar, “Stop breaking the law asshole!”

  30. Gravatar of Tacticus Tacticus
    1. June 2024 at 10:11

    I honestly didn’t follow the case enough to know whether it was ridiculous or not. I suppose that, since the jury voted to convict, I likely would have too.

    I don’t think anyone really cares that much, however. Who is still on the fence about Trump where this will change their opinion of whether to vote for him or a different candidate?

    Student, there’s no point in trying to actually quote the Bible to Ricardo. He’s just a troll. Theology is not his forte.

  31. Gravatar of LC LC
    1. June 2024 at 11:23

    I agree with Ken. Bloomberg also reported the jury had 2 lawyers and 1 MBA graduate, along with a juror who followed Truth Social for all his news. The fact that the verdict came so quickly surprised me.

  32. Gravatar of Aaron Franklin Esq Aaron Franklin Esq
    1. June 2024 at 19:58

    Long-time reader.

    You have been a sharp critic of the Tman, with mostly wise forestalling; so for you to admit that there’s been a miscarriage of Justice (Capital J) in this case, is something we should note for posterity.

    Arguendo he is whatever you say he is; a human still deserves due process; a Jury of his peers i.e. representative of the Greater U.S., and it wasn’t. Additionally, you ought not to prosecute on a law that has never been prosecuted, for anyone else.

    Note: Interesting RE Scotus prediction; I agree Federal elections supersedes all State law (criminal and civil); Plus the Constitutions’ Necessary and Proper Provision. Can’t say the DP has made too many friend on the Bench.]

    ‘May you live in interesting times.’

  33. Gravatar of steve steve
    2. June 2024 at 08:41

    “Additionally, you ought not to prosecute on a law that has never been prosecuted, for anyone else.”

    Proscutions for falsifying business records is not uncommon in NY. Doing it to cover up an affair and conflict with campaign laws is unique. Hasn’t happened before.


  34. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    3. June 2024 at 16:02


    Completely off topic but not sure when you will bring this up again if at all. The NYT just did a detailed opinion piece that claims the evidence is mounting that Covid was a lab leak. I know you don’t rule that out but think it’s very unlikely. Just seeing if this will change your priors:

  35. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    3. June 2024 at 16:16

    Everyone, Let’s keep our eye on the ball. Trump deserves to spend the rest of his life in prison, but not for this. It’s his many other crimes.

    msgkings, Terrible article–pathetic. So easy to refute. If that’s all they got then I’m even more convinced it was the animal market. Maybe I’ll do a post.

  36. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    3. June 2024 at 20:29


    Yes, we more than 99% agree on Trump. The fact that the question about whether to bring charges in this case has been polarizing among attorneys suggests that reasonable people can disagree. It might even be fair to say that in close call situations, it is wise not to prosecute. On the other hand, one could argue we should hold office holders to higher standards than non-office holders.

    That said, I find the Reason article you offer a trip into bizarro world, and I don’t think the author has most of his lay interpretation correct. The fact that he cites Turley as the only legal expert to support his argument does not help him. There are much betrer respected legal minds on both sides.

    I see this take from you the way I do your take on tobacco taxes. I see it as a quirk. I don’t think it’s very material beyond this specific issue. We all have quirks.

  37. Gravatar of Tom M Tom M
    4. June 2024 at 05:12

    I enjoyed the NYT article. Not sure I would call it “terrible article-pathetic”. Seems like your projecting a bit.

    Either way – lab/animal market – the entire outbreak just shows the utter incompetence of the Chinese Government as well as the scientific community. They clearly have a long way to go, the whole incident is just so embarrassing regardless of how it started. Maybe the lab leak/animal market debate is being pushed by the Chinese Gov & scientific community to cover for their own incompetence…

    It’s embarrassing for a country trying to be a major player on the world stage.

  38. Gravatar of Tacticus Tacticus
    4. June 2024 at 06:14

    ‘Aaron Franklin Esq’, where exactly does the law state that one is entitled to a jury of one’s peers? What does that even mean here? A jury composed of real estate developers? Reality TV show stars? Former presidents?

    And why on earth would it be necessary to have a jury representative of the entire US?

    You might want to return to law school, ‘esquire.’

  39. Gravatar of sd0000 sd0000
    4. June 2024 at 08:41

    @ Michael – the fact that there’s even disagreement in the legal profession shows that it is a sham. The legal profession – especially elite lawyers – are very skewed politically. You have an implicit belief that people can throw away their own political beliefs when analyzing these things which is obviously ridiculous.

    “Lawyers and staff at major law firms donated nearly six times more to Democrat Joe Biden than to incumbent Republican president Donald Trump”

    And that’s corporate law! Academic law would be even more skewed!

    My personal belief is that all laws should be followed to the letter. So in that sense I like this result. Democrats of course only agree with laws being followed for their out-group. They tend to look the other way when their in-group (urban ethnic minorities) commit crimes they think don’t matter (graffiti, littering, shoplifting, transit crime, etc.)

    But while I like this result, this was *clearly* political targeting and you have to be insane to think otherwise. If Trump’s politics were in line with Elizabeth Warren’s, there is zero chance that he would have been charged. Anyone that doesn’t admit this loses all respect from me.

  40. Gravatar of Michael Sandifer Michael Sandifer
    4. June 2024 at 10:43

    Here’s my very lay perspective, in a bit more detail:

    1. Evidence seems quite overwhelming that Trump is guilty of dozens of counts of misdemeanor accounting fraud. I don’t think these New York state laws are trivial. It’s typically the case that incorporation within a state requires honest bookkeeping, with specified accounting documents that must be ready for inspection at all times. I hope the reasons for this are obvious, even in states without corporate income taxes.

    2. Trump was running a federal campaign that was collecting hundreds of millions of dollars in donations, for a major established political party, and had or should have had an organization with a flow of information that represented best practices for compliance with campaign finance laws. He should have known that there were both contribution limits and disclosure requirements. Any actions involving money that could have any relationship to the compaign should have undergone compliance review. This is very basic and is how most campaigns avoid felony violations.

    Trump, however, never cares about following laws. as he’s made clear on countless occassions. Trump is no victim here. He has no respect for the law at all.

    3. While true that Trump was not prosecuted for his violations of federal campaign finance laws, John Edwards was charged for similar violations during the 2008 Presidential election.

    If anything, the federal government hasn’t been aggressive enough in purusing charges against Trump, which is part of the reason he may get away with the most egregious crimes ever committed by a US officeholder.

    4. However novel the application of New York law with regard to felony charges for committing accounting fraud to cover up felonies for which Trump wasn’t charged, there is a good argument for holding officeholders to higher standards, particularly when they so flagrantly violate so many laws. I don’t think this law is particuarly odd, given that it represents a form of obstruction of justice, in my view. As the old cliche goes, “The cover-up is worse than the crime.”

    Again, I think reasonable people can disagree about whether the felony charges should have been brought, but I hope there’s no objections to charging Trump with accounting fraud. I also don’t think it’s remotely reasonable to suggest that any perceived problems with this case would warrant anything like jury nullification. Jury nullification should be reserved for cases such as those brought against civil rights leaders for civil disobedience, rather than trying to protect a incorrigible criminal, who commits felonies as naturally as he breathes.

    Trump was prosecuted because he violated laws, period. It would have been easy to avoid these charges, had he cared to do so. He’s now learning that laws apply to him.

    On a side point, how stupid does someone have to be to think a mere $140k would be enough to silence a woman with the kind of information Daniels had? Her book advance was probably at least 10 times as high.

  41. Gravatar of Student Student
    4. June 2024 at 11:44


    Nice quick post on the lab leak at econlog. I knew you couldn’t resist. The NYT articles seems like it was written in 2021 and they forgot to run it until now. There is nothing new in it and everything in it has already been addressed. When I read it I had serious deja vu.

    One comment, you should have included MERS on the list. It’s a single strand RNA virus belonging to the beta coronavirus genus (distinct from SARS) that also very likely emerged from bats and spread to humans through an intermediary (camels).

    Novel Coronaviruses have made the jump from bats to humans 2 times through animal intermediaries two times in the last 20 years prior to covid. SARS-COV2 is not the first or second… but the third time this has happened since the year 2000. Occam’s razor people… come on.

  42. Gravatar of Student Student
    4. June 2024 at 11:50

    Since 2000, novel coronaviruses have been emerging about every 8 years. It’s quite possible it will happen again prior to 2030. And when it does there will still be people pushing the lab leak theory in the face of the 4th time it happened. 🤪

  43. Gravatar of steve steve
    4. June 2024 at 12:59

    For those interested, the Legal Eagle team goes over in detail the facts and law of the case using trial transcripts and showing the actual laws in writing. We are mostly hearing opinions absent any references to what actually happened in the courtroom.


  44. Gravatar of ssumner ssumner
    4. June 2024 at 14:39

    Everyone, I have a post on the NYT article over at Econlog.

    On the Trump case, I try to separate my views on the person from my views on the merit of a case. Unfortunately, there’s a strong correlation between what people think of Trump in general and how people view his guilt or innocence in this case. That suggests that most people are biased thinkers.

  45. Gravatar of msgkings msgkings
    5. June 2024 at 07:34


    Thanks, I’d like to see that

  46. Gravatar of Tacticus Tacticus
    5. June 2024 at 10:54

    I think it’s fair to say that everyone is biased one way or another. The question is the degree to which one is biased.

    Originally, no one pretended juries were impartial! Perhaps a more realistic view of the world, before we pretended objectivity was possible.

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