Trump’s Bond Success Overshadowed by Trial Sensationalism, Media Bias Revealed

by Jessica

Donald Trump won a huge legal victory with hours to spare – but you wouldn’t know it from much of the coverage. A striking number of anchors and pundits, especially on MSNBC, reported Trump’s appeals court victory when it broke on Monday, but soon were describing it as a bad ruling and lamented the fact that once again he seemed to be getting away with something.

They began the day in high spirits because the deadline had arrived for New York’s attorney general to be able to freeze his bank accounts, seize his properties and perhaps sell off some of his iconic buildings.

The reason, of course, was that Trump was unable to post a $464-million bond that would have allowed him to pursue his appeal without forfeiting some of his real estate holdings.

But when five appellate judges, seemingly out of the blue, slashed the bond requirement to $175 million – and gave him 10 days to come up with the money – the usual battalion of Trump-bashing former prosecutors, including Andrew Weissmann, who was lead prosecutor for Bob Mueller’s largely unsuccessful Trump investigation before becoming an MSNBC legal analyst. Weissmann pivoted to what he called an “ongoing schism” among Trump’s lawyers.

What most of those covering the story didn’t say was that the ruling was a stinging rebuke to the trial judge, Arthur Engoron, and AG Letitia James.

To demand that the former president come up with nearly half a billion dollars was punitive and wildly excessive, and the judge gave James almost everything she wanted. Although there’s no written opinion, it’s impossible to read the appellate decision any other way, given that the judges reduced the draconian penalty by well over half.

What was Trump going to do, flee the country? He’s running for president!

Now it’s true that this may only be a temporary reprieve. Trump was found liable for inflating the value of some of his buildings and golf courses, despite the fact that the banks that loaned him money did their own analysis and were fully repaid.

At first James, the Democrat who campaigned on a platform of going after Trump, sought damages of $250 million – then boosted it to $370 million. Engoron rolled over and gave her almost everything she wanted, as he has throughout the litigation.

So the Trump Organization could be badly wounded if he ultimately loses, and is barred from being an officer of any New York corporation for three years, as James demanded.

But while it’s hard to predict what courts may do, isn’t it possible that an appeal court that found the half-billion bond demand absurdly high could also reduce the $370-million penalty that Engoron granted as equally excessive?

The media coverage quickly gravitated to a second court ruling that went against Donald Trump. This one, however, was widely expected.

Judge Juan Merchan ruled that the hush money case will begin on April 15, less than three weeks away. Trump’s lawyers had tried a Hail Mary, asking that the case be further delayed or tossed out entirely.

Such motions rarely succeed, and the judge had already granted a delay from the planned mid-March start date.

This case, brought by Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg, is the least important and most openly partisan of the four indictments against Trump. And yet it is virtually certain that the Stormy Daniels trial will be the only criminal case that reaches a verdict before the election.

That verdict can be appealed, of course, but it’s hardly impossible that a Manhattan jury, in a borough largely opposed to Trump, could convict him. Then we would find out whether hypothetical polls about some independents and Republicans are less likely to vote for a convicted former president.

Trump will try to convince his supporters that this is another case of weaponizing law enforcement against him – especially since Bragg seemed to drop the probe for a time and charged what usually would have been a misdemeanor to a felony.

But the media were so thrilled to have an offsetting ruling that the Washington Post ran this headline: “Trump Reels from Competing Court Decisions as Trials Disrupt Campaign.” Reels? After a surprise victory on the bond question and a predictable setting of a New York trial date?

It goes without saying that any politician not named Trump would be finished within a day or two if charged with paying off a porn star. But the media were convinced that every previous indictment would damage him and everyone now agrees they boosted him in the polls.

At issue in the hearing was whether Bragg’s office gave Trump’s team enough time to review thousands of pages of documents obtained from federal prosecutors. But it turned out only 300 of those pages involved Michael Cohen, the former Trump fixer who served time and now will be the trial’s star witness.

In the fall of 2016, Trump’s campaign worried that Stormy Daniels would go public with her account of having a one-time sexual encounter with him, which he has always denied. Cohen arranged for her to be paid $130,000 to buy her silence. Trump is charged with approving the reimbursements, though Cohen’s credibility is obviously subject to challenge.

By yesterday, the media had moved on to the horrifying collapse of the Baltimore bridge hit by a massive cargo ship, the raids on three of Sean “Diddy” Combs’ homes, and, yes, Judge Merchan’s gag order against Trump in the hush money case. His split decision on Monday had quickly faded from the headlines.

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