If there’s anyone who embraces the strategy “The best defense is a good offense” more fiercely and more relentlessly than former President Donald Trump, it would be surprising.
After news broke of his extortionate telephone call to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy conditioning American release of congressionally mandated military assistance to our embattled ally on a phony announcement of a phony investigation into Joe Biden, Trump boasted that his was “a perfect call.”
When it was revealed that after losing Georgia in the 2020 presidential election Trump telephoned Georgia’s Secretary of State and exhorted him to commit election fraud on his behalf, Trump insisted that this, too, was “a perfect call.”
So, after Trump is arraigned on Tuesday on approximately 30 criminal charges arising from his attempts to launder $130,000 in hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, expect him to tell the media throng outside the New York Supreme Court that he is being unfairly persecuted for making the perfect porn star hush money payment. Also, that the grand jury indictment is yet another “witch hunt” in a long series of them, past and future.
The former president finds himself in a whole lot of legal trouble, and nobody’s cousin Vinny is going to rescue him from it very readily. The New York indictment is very likely only the first of several that will drop on him over the weeks and months to come. Next up, in all probability, is an indictment by a Georgia grand jury for election fraud, and perhaps racketeering. Trump is being pursued as well by a formidable special counsel, Jack Smith, who has won court orders compelling former Vice President Mike Pence, former Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows and other top aides, and Trump lawyer Evan Corcoran to testify about what The Donald said to them.
Trump will be lucky to escape indictment for obstructing justice in connection with his willful and seemingly felonious retention of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. And Smith appears to be steaming toward the conclusion of his investigation into whether Trump conspired to obstruct the counting of electoral votes on Jan. 6, 2021. If all of this comes to pass, Trump is going to reminisce nostalgically about the days when all he was grappling with was a mere indictment by a Manhattan grand jury about hush money to a porn star.
Indeed, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is going to have his hands full convicting Trump on the most serious charges approved by the grand jury, even in New York, where those who have known Trump the longest loathe him the most. It’s far from clear that the courts will permit a felony prosecution where the falsification of business records (a violation of state law) is said to have been for the purpose of violating the federal campaign finance laws. And if they do, Trump’s lawyers only need to persuade one juror out of 12 that there is “reasonable doubt” about Trump’s motivation for concealing his payments to a woman who claimed to have had an affair with him. They’ll argue, moreover, that the prosecution’s case is dependent upon the credibility of convicted felon and longtime liar Michael Cohen, as inviting a punching bag for a cross-examiner as has ever taken the witness stand.
Prosecutors will correct this, pointing out over and over (and over) that their case doesn’t depend on Cohen’s credibility at all, since they have documents, audiotapes and corroboration from other witnesses showing that in this particular case Cohen is telling the truth. But all it will take is just one juror out of 12 to believe that this case against Trump really does depend on Cohen (“If you don’t trust Michael Cohen a whit, you must acquit”) and Trump wins, at least on the felony charges against him.
Still, Bragg’s office has doubtless taken all this into consideration. As for Trump, whose lifetime of evading the law is colliding with a future full of criminal indictments, the party appears to be over.