PA Update: New Explanation for Trump's Obstruction Trial; Biden Makes PA Pitch; Lee and Patel Face Off on Israel

PA Update: New Explanation for Trump's Obstruction Trial

Trump (R) (Merchan/Bragg) "Trump criminal trial wraps for the day after opening statements and first witness" (live blog) [CNN]. Recall that Trump's alleged records violations are all misdemeanors unless they were part of an "other crime," in which case they become felonies. However, neither Bragg's Indictment nor his Statement of Facts identified that "other crime" (as I showed here). In Bragg's opening statement, he did that. His theory of the case: "Trump, along with his attorney Michael Cohen and David Pecker, the former chairman of the National Enquirer's parent company AMI, 'formed a conspiracy ... to influence the presidential election.... It was election fraud, pure and simple," [prosecutor Matthew] Colangelo told the jury. The scheme was three-pronged, Colangelo said: the trio sought to help Trump kill negative stories about Trump -- a process known as "catch-and-kill" -- publish favorable stories about Trump and publish negative stories about Trump's political opponents. He laid out three different instances where the trio allegedly conspired to prevent harmful information about Trump from becoming public prior to the 2016 election.

Legal observers (and pols) are saying that this is either lying or stunning ignorance (or possibly groupthink). As I show here, Bragg does no such thing. Only today does Bragg show his hand on the "other crime" Trump commited (and if I read CNN's live blog correctly, only at the state level).

Trump (R) Merchan: "How large parts of Trump's trial are playing out in the shadows" [Politico]. "Behind the scenes, a maze of arcane rules and archaic systems has made it virtually impossible for the media -- and the public -- to access key motions and pretrial rulings in real time. New York's docketing practices have not been updated for the digital age. The judge, Justice Juan Merchan, has imposed policies that force days or even weeks of delays before crucial documents become public. When they do, they have been subject to a heavy, court-imposed redaction process. And Merchan frequently uses email to communicate with Trump's defense lawyers and the prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office. That's led to a ballooning set of off-the-book messages that are shielded from the public. The result is that one of the most consequential chapters of American history is being drafted with missing pages and invisible ink. "Especially in a case like this, where 48 hours can turn news into history, that's not acceptable," said Stephen Gillers, a professor at New York University law school who specializes in legal ethics. He described the redaction requirement in particular as an impediment to public access. "The judge, with a responsibility to make the public informed, should have made it easier," Gillers said, "and so should Bragg."

Trump (R) (Engoron/James): "New York judge sets new conditions on Trump's civil fraud bond" [Axios]. "New York Judge Arthur Engoron on Monday accepted the $175 million bond former President Trump posted to appeal his civil fraud case, but the judge imposed several new conditions to ensure sufficient cash funds remain

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