“First, this was a civil trial, meaning the verdict was supposed to be based on a preponderance of the evidence, as opposed to the much more demanding standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which is required for a criminal conviction. The question for the jurors was whether it was more likely than not that Trump had sexually assaulted Carroll.”
“Second, two of Carroll’s friends, journalist Lisa Birnbach and former TV anchor Carol Martin, testified that she had told them about the incident shortly after it happened. In the spring of 1996, Birnbach said, she received a distraught phone call from Carroll, who described a rape that was consistent with the account that she gave in 2019 and during the trial. Martin described a contemporaneous in-person conversation during which Carroll said “Trump attacked me” but did not use the word rape.
Third, two women, both of whom had previously told their stories publicly, testified that Trump had assaulted them, which Carroll’s lawyers argued was part of a pattern. In the late 1970s, former stockbroker Jessica Leeds said, she was sitting next to Trump on a flight to New York when he “decided to kiss me and grope me,” putting his hand up her skirt. In late 2005, former People magazine reporter Natasha Stoynoff said, she visited Mar-a-Lago while working on a story about Trump’s first year of marriage to his current wife, Melania. Stoynoff testified that Trump suddenly pushed her up against a wall and began kissing her, leaving her “flustered and sort of shocked.”
Fourth, Carroll’s lawyers cited the notorious 2005 tape in which Trump bragged about grabbing women’s genitals. “You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful [women],” he told Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush during that conversation, which came to light the month before the 2016 presidential election. “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.” You can “grab ’em by the pussy,” he added. “You can do anything.”
Fifth, Trump did himself no favors during a deposition in which Carroll’s lead lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, asked him about those remarks. “Well, historically that’s true with stars,” he said. “It’s true with stars that they can grab women by the pussy?” Kaplan asked. “If you look over the last million years,” Trump replied, “I guess that’s been largely true, not always, but largely true—unfortunately or fortunately.” When Kaplan asked if Trump considered himself “a star,” he said, “I think you can say that, yeah.”
Sixth, Trump insisted that he did not know Carroll, despite photographic evidence that they had met, and his denial of her charges hinged largely on his claim that “she’s not my type”—as if he could imagine behaving as Carroll claimed he had with a woman he found more attractive. Kaplan noted that when she showed Trump a picture of Carroll greeting him at a social event in the 1980s, he mistook her for Marla Maples, his second wife. “The truth is that E. Jean Carroll, a former cheerleader and Miss Indiana, was exactly Donald Trump’s type,” Kaplan told the jury.
Seventh, Tacopina argued that Carroll’s accusation, which she first publicly lodged in a 2019 memoir that was excerpted in New York magazine, was financially and politically motivated. But the idea that she had suddenly invented the story to boost sales of her memoir was contradicted by Birnbach and Martin’s testimony. And if Carroll’s aim was to hurt Trump’s prospects as a presidential candidate, you might think she would have made the accusation in 2016. Carroll said she did not initially report the assault because she worried about the consequences of accusing a wealthy and prominent man, which was consistent with the advice that Martin said she regretted giving her at the time. Carroll said she was emboldened to come forward by the #MeToo movement, which is consistent with the timing of her public account.
Eighth, although Trump complains that he was not allowed to present his side of the story, he chose not to take the stand or even attend the trial. Michael Ferrara, one of Carroll’s lawyers, emphasized that point toward the end of the trial. “He just decided not to be here,” Ferrara told the jury. “He never looked you in the eye and denied raping Ms. Carroll.”
The jurors notably did not accept Carroll’s characterization of her encounter with Trump as rape, which under New York law requires “sexual intercourse,” meaning penile penetration. But they did conclude it was more likely than not that Trump had “sexually abused” Carroll, which involves nonconsensual sexual contact, and “forcibly touched” her, which involves touching “the sexual or other intimate parts of another person for the purpose of degrading or abusing such person, or for the purpose of gratifying the actor’s sexual desire.””
“in principle, a Trump interview was a good idea because it’s never a mistake for the press to confront newsmakers, even if the newsmaker lies about the integrity of the 2020 election, which Trump did. Even if he mocks the justice system because it has held against him, which Trump did. Even if he uses the rhetorical devises of ad hominem, ad populum, ad baculum to savage his foes, as Trump did. Even if he insults the interviewer, which Trump did (“You’re a nasty person,” he said to Collins). Even if he refuses to answer simple questions about his stand on abortion, which Trump repeatedly did. And even if he offers his self-serving hallucinations about the events of January 6 as the truth, which Trump did.”
“Trump, after all, leads the Republican presidential polls by a wide margin. A genuine news outlet can’t avert its eyes during a campaign just because a candidate is malevolent, duplicitous, cruel and deceitful.”
“This is a president who pardoned convicted war criminals, assassinated Iran’s top general, and deployed troops to seize Syria’s oil deposits — openly admitting he wanted to hand them over to ExxonMobil. A second term promises more of the same: He has already asked advisers for “battle plans” to invade Mexico in an effort to combat drug cartels.”
“The strongest argument for Trump’s dovish credentials, in all of these accounts, is that Trump did not start any new wars. While Bush invaded Iraq and Afghanistan, and Obama toppled Muammar Qaddafi in Libya, Trump kept the peace.”
“It’s certainly true that nothing Trump did compares in scope to the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. But few presidents in history ordered anything of that magnitude; the brief 2011 US intervention in Libya doesn’t come close. And when you compare Trump’s record to those of other post-Cold War US presidents, the evidence is clear: Trump is no less willing to use military force, and arguably more so.”
“Trump did a lot more than order “few missile and drone strikes”: In Iraq and Syria alone, drone strikes launched against ISIS and other terrorist groups killed an estimated 13,400 civilians, per data from Airwars, a nonprofit watchdog affiliated with the University of London. That’s roughly three times as many as were killed by American bombs in the 1991 Gulf War, the 1998-1999 Kosovo intervention, and the Libya war combined.
It’s relatively easy to show Trump’s culpability here: His administration relaxed Obama-era rules of engagement designed to protect civilians. And once swampy Joe Biden became president, drone strikes in Syria and Iraq virtually ended.”
“In 2017, Trump became the first US president to order an attack on the Syrian government, bombing an airfield in retaliation for chemical weapons strikes, something Obama famously refused to do. In 2018, he pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal and bombed Syrian government positions again. In 2019, Trump approved airstrikes on Iranian soil, only to call the planes back literally while they were in the air. And in 2020, he had General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds force, assassinated while the Iranian leader was near the Baghdad airport.
Similarly, Trump dramatically increased US airstrikes on Islamist groups in Somalia over Obama levels, and approved the sale of unguided “dumb” bombs to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen (something the Obama administration blocked). Though Trump frequently stated his opposition to the war in Afghanistan, and eventually did negotiate a withdrawal agreement, he began his presidency by escalating it — sending 3,000 new troops to fight the Taliban, a more than 25 percent increase from the pre-Trump presence. He also openly bragged about relaxing rules of engagement for bombings in Afghanistan, a policy that nearly doubled civilian casualties per year over the Bush- and Obama-era average.”
“In 2018, Trump threatened to invade Venezuela to topple leftist dictator Nicolás Maduro. In 2019, he launched a broad-based sanction policy explicitly designed to collapse the Maduro government — an open regime change operation.
During that same time, Trump significantly escalated tensions with China over Taiwan — taking provocative actions deliberately designed to send a message of US commitment to the island’s defense. “In the past nine months, U.S. ships have sailed through the Taiwan Strait six times. During the Obama administration, passages were far less frequent, at just one to three times per year,” the Council on Foreign Relations’ Lindsay Maizland wrote in April 2019.”
“In 2017, Trump sent a full armored brigade to NATO allies on Russia’s border. In 2018, he provided Ukraine with lethal military assistance in its conflict with Russia in Eastern Ukraine (something Obama refused to do, and that Trump would later try to use to extort Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy).
In 2019, he withdrew from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) agreement designed to tamp down on nuclear tensions. In 2020, he backed out of the Open Skies Treaty, which created rules for reconnaissance overflights designed to tamp down on military tensions.”
“the question here is not whether Trump’s foreign policy was good, but rather whether it can be accurately characterized as “dovish” or “anti-imperialist.” A full review shows that it cannot: that Trump was more than willing to use deadly force and impose America’s will on foreign countries.”
“This is a president who proposed the largest inflation-adjusted defense budget since World War II and declared “we have to have, by far, the strongest military in the world.””
“Trump’s version of hawkishness is far less moralized, but no less aggressive. He sees himself not as protecting the global order but as putting “America First” — defending the country’s honor and pecuniary interests. This makes him less inclined to launch wars to protect foreign civilians, but more inclined to kill foreign civilians while attempting to target terrorists. Instead of fighting to promote democracy, he is willing to send US troops to take the oil in Syria.”
“Esformes was not convicted of the most serious charges leveled against him. The government failed to convince a jury, for example, that he committed conspiracy to commit health care fraud and wire fraud. So his 20-year sentence—handed down by U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola of the Southern District of Florida—may appear grossly disproportionate to his convictions.
Until you realize the judge explicitly punished Esformes for charges on which the jury hung.
That is not an error. “When somebody gets sentenced [at the federal level]…they get sentenced on all charges, even the ones they’re acquitted on, [as long as] they get convicted on one count,” says Brett Tolman, the former U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah who is now the executive director of Right on Crime. It is a little-known, jaw-dropping part of the legal system: Federal judges are, in effect, not obligated to abide by a jury’s verdict at sentencing. They can, and do, sentence defendants for conduct on which they were not convicted. In this case, Esformes was already sentenced—and had that sentence commuted—for the crimes that the DOJ now wants to retry.
“This defendant, as much as you might not like him…do you think he should be punished two or three times for the same conduct?” asks Tolman. “I don’t find anybody who thinks that’s fair.””
“the core violation here is, basically, that the Trump Organization logged hush money repayments improperly. The more small-scale charges like this after a long investigation seem, the more they suggest prosecutors landed on them because they tried to make a bigger case that didn’t pan out.
Does it resemble previous prosecutions? In some ways yes, in some ways no. Business records charges are common in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. The New York Times called this charge “the bread and butter” of the office’s white-collar practice, pointing out that during Bragg’s tenure of a little over a year, 29 individuals and companies were charged with such offenses before Trump. “The charge of creating false financial records is constantly brought,” Agnifilo and Eisen write.
Still, there is some dispute about how the charge is being applied in this case. Fordham law professor Jed Shugerman points out that these false records were just internal company documents, and that Bragg has not yet specifically alleged they were used to deceive anyone. Shugerman asked whether there’s ever been a conviction in such a case. Various former prosecutors in the Manhattan DA’s office have argued that they can and did file such charges based on internal documents, but it’s unclear whether the legality of that theory has been directly tested in court.”
“if you don’t want Trump to win, DeSantis is clearly your best choice. It’s still early, of course, and things could change, but early polls are decently predictive of how candidates perform in primaries, and DeSantis today is polling in the mid-to-high 20s in multi-candidate surveys. That puts him in a clear second position at this point.
And the good news for DeSantis is that most Republican voters probably want a Trumpy party, even if they choose someone else to lead it. Take Morning Consult’s primary poll tracker: Trump (54 percent) and DeSantis (26 percent) combine for 80 percent of the primary vote. And based on second-choice preferences, voters don’t view them as intractably opposed choices, but rather as two sides of the same coin. The leading second-choice candidate for Trump voters is DeSantis with 46 percent (Pence gets 17 percent), and the leading second choice for DeSantis voters is …Trump with 43 percent (Pence is at 16 percent).
So do you want a certain approach to politics or do you want to stop Trump? The latter seems more likely to bring about Trump’s defeat than the former, in part because GOP primary voters prefer a Trumpian approach.”
“it’s too early to dismiss the possible alternatives to both DeSantis and Trump! Yes, DeSantis is doing well in the polls right now, but he’s been slipping as of late. And there’s evidence that people don’t really know who he is — or are still making up their minds about him.”
“Donald Trump’s outraged response to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s indictment of him contained the usual mix of bombast and self-pity, with a predictable dollop of conspiracy-mongering. One line of attack stood out in particular: He accused Bragg of being “hand-picked and funded by George Soros.”
Trump wasn’t alone. The alleged Bragg-Soros connection has been everywhere in the Republican response to the indictment, including in comments from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, and a host of other prominent Republicans and Fox News coverage. It often gets shorthanded into a two-word phrase: “Soros-backed.”
Soros, a nonagenarian Holocaust survivor and billionaire financier, is a longstanding hate figure among conservatives. Over the past two decades, elements of the right in both the United States and his native Hungary have engaged in a concerted campaign to turn Soros into a boogeyman — the shadowy power behind transatlantic liberalism.
Though Bragg has never been directly funded by Soros, the accusation of a link isn’t entirely out of whole cloth — Bragg’s 2021 campaign for district attorney does seem to have indirectly received some of his financial support. But the intensity of the accusation certainly doesn’t seem proportionate to the tenuousness of the connection.
To liberals, the Soros accusation smacks of nothing less than antisemitism. “Just replace ‘Soros-backed’ with ‘Jewy Jew Jewish Jewy Jew,’” the popular comedian John Fugelsang tweeted in response to DeSantis’s attack on Bragg. Naturally, conservatives have denied the charge and argued that liberals are just trying to suppress reasonable criticism of a prominent Democratic donor.
There is, of course, nothing wrong with criticizing Soros’s philanthropic work, especially his partisan donations to the Democratic Party. But it’s difficult to separate the criticisms from the context — and the last two decades of attacks on Soros have turned him into a stand-in for a certain kind of Jewish “rootless cosmopolitan” that allows politicians to appeal to antisemitism without having to do so explicitly.
In the Trump populist era, attacks on so-called “globalists” — a term long used on the extreme right as a euphemism for “Jews” — have become increasingly common on the mainstream right. The increasing mainstream flirtation with antisemitic stereotypes and rhetoric has made the subtext of the attacks on Soros harder and harder to deny.”
“It’s true that Soros supported pro-democracy activists and civil society groups in former communist states — but that doesn’t make him the “puppet master” secretly getting people out into the streets to demonstrate against dictators. The idea that a Jewish financier is secretly masterminding global events against the interests of rooted local conservatives — it doesn’t take a scholar of antisemitism to see what Beck was drawing on here.”
“When Trump and his allies tried to position the so-called “migrant caravan” as a major threat to America before the 2018 midterms, the president told reporters that “a lot of people say” Soros was behind it. You heard similar rhetoric from Donald Trump Jr. and Republicans in Congress.
This was a baseless lie, and an antisemitic one to boot. The idea that Jewish money is bringing in nonwhite immigrants to menace the United States is a staple of far-right rhetoric — one that had been voiced by a shooter who killed 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018.”
“Many more thoughtful conservatives have argued that Soros is a principal funder of the “progressive prosecutor” movement, a nationwide campaign to elect district attorneys who aim to try and tackle problems like mass incarceration by (for example) refusing to prosecute certain low-level crimes. Bragg is one such progressive prosecutor, and seems to be the beneficiary of Soros’s funding: Shortly after the group Color of Change pledged roughly $1 million to support Bragg, they received roughly $1 million in funding from Soros.”
“Conservative criticisms of Soros’s support of “progressive prosecutors” are not necessarily antisemitic. If what they were saying was “progressive prosecutors raise crime rates and it’s bad that Soros is supporting them,” that would be one thing.
But what they’re actually doing is claiming that Trump’s prosecution is illegitimate and politically motivated — and that support from Soros is proof of said illegitimacy. The same “puppet-master” implication is invoked (remember Trump’s words: “hand-picked”). And it beggars belief that these conservatives don’t know that the Trumpist faithful won’t fill in those conspiratorial (and yes, antisemitic) blanks.
So it’s certainly possible to criticize George Soros without being antisemitic in the abstract. But at this point, we know what a dog whistle from Donald Trump and his ilk sounds like, and it’s hard to ignore that the chorus of attacks on the Soros-Bragg connection hit those same notes.”
““We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights. I truly can’t wait.”
“I hate him passionately.”
“We’re all pretending we’ve got a lot to show for it, because admitting what a disaster it’s been is too tough to digest. But come on. There isn’t really an upside to Trump.”
Tucker Carlson sent all those texts — newly revealed as exhibits in the lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems against Fox — on January 4, 2021. (Through the discovery process, many Fox internal emails and documents were provided to Dominion, and the company’s attorneys have made them public by citing them in legal filings.)
Yet Carlson devoted his shows this week to a revisionist history of the attacks on the Capitol two days afterward, omitting Trump’s then-ongoing attempt to steal the election, portraying concerns about a stolen election as reasonable and even vindicated, and minimizing the violence that took place.
But to understand what’s going on here, it’s worth taking a closer look at the bigger narrative Carlson was trying to push this week.
The story of January 6, in Carlson’s extremely selective and misleading telling to his viewers, isn’t about how a mob whipped up by the president of the United States tried to prevent the transfer of power, or how that president tried to steal the election. It’s about how Democrats and the media were mean to Trump supporters.
The story is also about how he, Tucker Carlson, would never do something like that. He loves you, Trump supporters. He respects you. Pay no attention to those texts behind the curtain about how he disdains and disbelieves Donald Trump. He is your loyal champion against your enemies. So please — don’t change the channel.”