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RetroGamer87
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09 May 2024, 11:07 pm

ToughDiamond wrote:
One chap distributed leaflets and then set fire to himself and was critically injured:

https://abcnews.go.com/US/man-apparentl ... =109433903

Sounds like he was a Trump supporter, but it remains to be seen.

If people were unsure as to which side he was on than his efforts to draw attention to his cause went very much to waste.


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ToughDiamond
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10 May 2024, 12:15 am

RetroGamer87 wrote:
ToughDiamond wrote:
One chap distributed leaflets and then set fire to himself and was critically injured:

https://abcnews.go.com/US/man-apparentl ... =109433903

Sounds like he was a Trump supporter, but it remains to be seen.

If people were unsure as to which side he was on than his efforts to draw attention to his cause went very much to waste.


There wasn't much talk at all about what his cause was AFAIK, but there is a WP thread about it containing the following link (from CarlM) to the man's statement:

https://theponzipapers.substack.com/p/i ... re-outside

And here's the WP thread:

viewtopic.php?f=21&t=420260

Draw your own conclusions. But yes, it looks like his efforts have gone to waste. At least, life in the USA seems to be carrying on as usual, which suggests hardly anybody understands (and believes) what he was trying to tell us.



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10 May 2024, 5:30 pm

3 big takeaways from Day 15 of Trump's hush money trial

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After two days of dramatic testimony from Stormy Daniels, the hush money trial of Donald Trump finished up the week with a businesslike string of custodial witnesses.

Before that, Friday started with the conclusion of the cross-examination of former White House aide Madeline Westerhout, who spoke glowingly of the former president and said she felt he was hurt by hush money revelations due to concerns for his family.

The proceedings will resume Monday, when Cohen, the state's star witness, is expected to take the stand. He earned a rebuke from Judge Juan Merchan before proceedings ended on Friday for commenting about the case on social media.

Ex-White House aide scores points for defense
During her morning testimony, Madeline Westerhout said Donald Trump "was very upset" with a 2018 Wall Street Journal story that reported on the hush-money payment to Daniels -- adding that "my understanding is he knew it would be hurtful to his family."

It was an important moment for Trump's defense counsel, who have repeatedly sought to frame Trump's motive in suppressing negative stories about him as a means to protect his family -- not his campaign.

In another moment of testimony favorable to Trump, Westerhout described him as someone who signed a "tremendous amount of documents" -- including "commissions, proclamations, executive orders, memos, letters" -- and often signed them while handling other tasks.

"Sometimes he would sign checks without reviewing them?" defense attorney Susan Necheles asked.

"Yes," Westerhout said, possibly undermining prosecutors' contention that Trump would have been keenly aware of signing the checks to Cohen reimbursing him for the hush payment to Daniels

Custodial witnesses set the stage for Cohen's testimony
After Westerhout, a parade of custodial witnesses took short turns on the stand, introducing evidence to set the stage for Michael Cohen's testimony.

They included an AT&T employee, a Verizon employee, and two paralegals from the district attorney's office, who testified about phone logs and business records associated with the case.

Among them was paralegal Georgia Longstreet, who guided jurors through text messages between Stormy Daniels' former agent and an editor at American Media Inc. regarding the hush payment negotiations between Daniels' and Trump's representatives in the weeks before Election Day.

Cohen earns rebuke ahead of Monday appearance
Before court wrapped on Friday, Judge Merchan asked prosecutors to instruct Michael Cohen to cease making comments about Trump or the case on social media.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche argued that the judge should restrain Cohen "the same way President Trump is," referring to the limited gag order the prohibits Trump from speaking about witnesses and jurors in the case.

Instead, Merchan said, "I would direct the people to communicate to Mr. Cohen that the judge is asking him to refrain from making any more statements about this case."

"That comes from the bench," he added.


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13 May 2024, 5:35 pm

4 big takeaways from Day 16 of Trump's hush money trial

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The criminal hush money trial of former President Donald Trump reached a crescendo Monday when the state's star witness, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, testified about his ex-boss directing him to "just take care of" a payment to silence adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the waning days of his 2016 presidential campaign.

Cohen claimed that Trump blessed those negotiations, approved the final deal, and signed off on the reimbursement plan in the final days before his presidential inauguration. Cohen testified that the sole purpose of the scheme was to protect Trump's political fortunes and obscure his role in orchestrating the arrangements.

"Everything required Mr. Trump's sign off," Cohen said on the stand.

Cohen delivered critical testimony for prosecutors from a man who they acknowledge carries significant baggage. But instead of the hyperbolic bombast Cohen often espouses from behind his keyboard, the Michael Cohen jurors met on Monday stayed on message.

The big question now: Will jurors buy it?

'Just do it,' Cohen said Trump told him
Donald Trump's fixer-turned-foe claimed that the then-candidate ordered him to "just do it," referring to the execution of a payment to Stormy Daniels in the waning days of the 2016 campaign.

It was the most direct testimony jurors have heard tethering Trump to the concept of "catch-and-kill" payments to keep unfavorable stories under wraps. Cohen said he solicited feedback from Trump at every point in the process -- from the moment he learned of the allegations to the day payments were executed.

He did so "because everything required Mr. Trump's sign off," Cohen said.

"I wanted to ensure that once again he approved what he was doing, because I required approval from him on all of this," Cohen said.

After hesitating to approve a payment to Daniels, Trump relented, Cohen said, after discussing the matter with "some friends."

"He stated to me that he had spoken to some friends, some individuals, very smart people. It's $130,000. Just pay it. There's no reason to keep this thing out there. Just do it. So he expressed to me, 'Just do it,'" Cohen said.

Daniels' payment was 'all about the campaign,' Cohen said
If Stormy Daniels' story had emerged in the press prior to the 2016 election, Cohen testified that the fallout would have been "catastrophic" for Trump's campaign -- particularly in the wake of the release of the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape in which Trump was heard boasting about grabbing women.

"Women are going to hate me, guys may think it's cool," Cohen recalled Trump telling him, "But this is going to be a disaster for the campaign."

"At the time, Mr. Trump was ... polling very poorly with women," Cohen testified, saying that, coupled with the "Access Hollywood" release, "would have been 'catastrophic' for his electoral prospects."

When the time came to execute a payment to Stormy Daniels, Trump still encouraged Cohen to hold out -- allegedly citing the upcoming Election Day deadline.

I want you to push it out as long as you can," Cohen said Trump told him about the Daniels story. "Push it out past the election, because if I win, it has no relevance, and if I lose, I don't really care."

In short, Cohen said, "This was all about the campaign."

Cohen stayed on script
Michael Cohen as a witness is a far cry from the Michael Cohen jurors have heard about so far.

Other witnesses have called him a "jerk" and "difficult" -- describing him as a vicious pit bull who would eviscerate anyone who threatened to damage the reputation of his former boss.

But today, in front of the jury, he seemed earnest, morose and -- most importantly for the state -- on script.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger tried to back up every word of Cohen's testimony with documentary evidence or prior testimony -- questioning him in a deliberate style of testimony-document-testimony-document -- relying as little as possible on his word alone.

And toward the end of a long day on the stand, Cohen sprinkled in a moment of levity -- perhaps in an effort to endear himself to jurors -- when he acknowledged his reputation as being short-fused.

Asked about his reaction to learning that his bonus at the Trump Organization would be slashed by tens of thousands of dollars, he said, "Even for myself, I was unusually angry," drawing laughter from the gallery.

Cohen's testimony will continue Tuesday
Cohen will return to the witness stand on Tuesday morning, when Hoffinger is scheduled tom continue her direct examination. Prosecutors still need to ask Cohen about the invoices and checks he received -- documents that are central to their case.

At some point on Tuesday, Cohen will face what will likely be a hostile cross-examination from a member of Trump's legal team -- a tete-a-tete that will no doubt test the limits of his temperament.

The state has suggested they could rest their case as soon as this week -- meaning Cohen will be one of their final witnesses.


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14 May 2024, 11:00 pm

4 big takeaways from Day 17 of Trump's hush money trial

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Across two days of testimony in former President Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen detailed Donald Trump's extensive involvement in an alleged scheme to hide negative information about himself from voters in the run-up to the 2016 election.

Tuesday afternoon, defense lawyers launched their effort to convince jurors to not believe a single word Cohen said.

Cohen's cross-examination quickly became combative, with defense attorney Todd Blanche highlighting Cohen's animosity for his former boss, who Cohen has called a "boorish cartoon misogynist," a "Cheeto-dusted cartoon villain," and a "dictator douchebag."

The cross-examination focused on Cohen's actions and remarks since being released from prison in 2020, leaving the more substantive cross-examination about Cohen's conduct related to the case for Thursday, when the proceedings resume.

Defense questions Cohen's motivations
Defense attorney Todd Blanche began an aggressive cross-examination to highlight Cohen's alleged "obsession" with Trump.

Cohen acknowledged that he often references Trump during media appearances and has made at least $3.4 million from his two books about Trump, as Blanche pushed the suggestion that Cohen has made a living since 2018 profiting from Trump.

Blanche homed in on Cohen's use of TikTok, referring to ABC News' initial coverage in his questioning.

"You are also hoping to make money on that?" Blanche asked.

"I do make money on that, but it's not significant," Cohen said.

Blanche also highlighted Cohen's past praise and admiration for Trump.

"You're actually obsessed with President Trump?" Blanche asked, pursuing a line of inquiry that he drew attention to in the defense's opening statement.

"I don't know that I would characterize it as obsessed," Cohen said. "I can't recall using that word, but I can't say it would be wrong."

Blanche asked if Cohen was "knee-deep in the cult of Donald Trump" when he said flattering things about Trump in the past.

"That's how I felt," Cohen said.

"Fair to say you admired President Trump when you were working for him?" Blanche asked.

"Yes sir," Cohen said.

Cohen recounts White House meeting
Cohen recounted a February 2017 meeting with Trump at the White House where prosecutors allege Trump personally discussed the repayment arrangement for the hush money Cohen had paid to Stormy Daniels.

"So I was sitting with President Trump and asked me if I was OK. He asked me if I needed money. And I said no, all good. He said, 'I can get a check.' I said, no I'm OK," Cohen recounted of the conversation.

"He said all right, just make sure you deal with Allen," Cohen said, referring to then-Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg.

"Did he say anything about anything that would be forthcoming to you?" prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked.

"Yes, there would be a check for January and February," Cohen said, later walking through each of the fraudulent invoices he submitted and checks he received from Trump.

Cohen testified that he last spoke with Trump in April 2018 after the FBI raised Cohen's office and hotel room.

"I received a phone call from President Trump in response to me leaving a message for him to call," Cohen said. "I wanted obviously for him to know what was taking place. He said, don't worry, I am the president of the United States -- there is nothing here. Everything is going to be OK. Stay tough. You are going to be OK."

Cohen said Trump's statements at the time "reinforced my loyalty and my intention to stay in the fold."

Cohen describes Trump's pressure campaign
Cohen told jurors that Donald Trump orchestrated a pressure campaign in 2018 to prevent his cooperation with federal investigators.

"Mr. Trump did not want me to cooperate with the government, certainly not to provide information or flip," Cohen said.

Jurors saw a series of emails between Cohen and attorney Robert Costello, who told Cohen his representation "would be a great way to have a backchannel of communication to the president in order to ensure you're still good and still secure," Cohen testified.

Jurors saw an email where Costello told Cohen, "Sleep well tonight, you have friends in high places."

"The friend in high places was President Trump," Cohen testified.

Cohen said he ultimately declined Costello's offer to represent him, though Cohen said Trump's message was clear.

"Don't flip. Don't speak. Don't cooperate," Cohen said.

Cohen tells jurors why he flipped
After spending a decade working for Donald Trump, Cohen testified that in 2018 he decided to begin cooperating with authorities at the urging of his family.

"My family -- my wife, my daughter, my son -- all said to me, 'Why are you holding onto this loyalty? What are you doing? We're supposed to be your first loyalty," Cohen testified.

"So what decision did you make?" asked prosecutor Susan Hoffinger.

"That it was about time to listen to them," Cohen said. "To my wife, my son, my daughter, to the country."

Cohen testified that he pleaded guilty to federal charges in August 2018.

"I would not lie for President Trump any longer," Cohen said.

While Cohen said he had some "great times" working for the Trump Organization, he testified that regretted many of the things he did on Trump's behalf.

"I regret doing things for him that I should not have. Lying. Bullying people in order to effectuate a goal," Cohen said. "But to keep the loyalty and do things that he had asked me to do -- I violated my moral compass, and I suffered the penalty, as has my family."


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16 May 2024, 9:54 pm

5 big takeaways from Day 18 of Trump's hush money trial

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Defense attorney Todd Blanche undertook an aggressive bid to undermine former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen's credibility Thursday in former President Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial, by attempting to frame Cohen as a prolific liar with a bone to pick against his former boss.

Cohen remained calm on the stand -- his emotions betrayed only by recordings of an expletive-laden podcast rant played for jurors -- as Blanche questioned him about his past lies, his criminal convictions, his ego, and some of his most painful personal and professional failings.

Blanche also called into doubt Cohen's prior testimony representing some of the government's most important evidence -- accusing Cohen of lying about a 2016 phone call in which he and Trump allegedly discussed a "catch-and-kill" scheme to suppress Stormy Daniels' story.

Meanwhile, as the government's case approaches its conclusion, a major question remains: Will Donald Trump take the witness stand?

Lies and more lies
Todd Blanche spent large swaths of his cross-examination establishing that Michael Cohen lied -- about a lot of things, to a lot of different people.

He lied to the House Intelligence Committee and federal investigators -- crimes to which Cohen later pleaded guilty.

Cohen also had to explain discrepancies between his testimony and what previous witnesses had said, including about his desire for a cooperation agreement, a presidential pardon, and a job in the White House.

"You told people you would like to be attorney general?" Blanche asked.

"I don't recall that," Cohen said -- even though an earlier witness, Keith Davidson, testified that Cohen told him about his desire to have that role.

On Thursday Cohen said what he really wanted was to be personal attorney to the president, "a hybrid position where I would still have the access to President Trump but not be a White House employee."

Blanche read aloud from a text message exchange between Cohen and a friend shortly after Trump's 2016 victory.

"Chief of Staff?" the message inquired.

"That would be nice," Cohen replied in the text.

Cohen keeps his cool
For five hours, Cohen fielded questions about his lies, his criminal convictions, his ego, his personal and professional failings -- in short, the darkest moments of his life.

And even as Blanche tried to provoke him, Cohen managed to remain calm, candid, and polite -- often referring to Blanche as "sir." He spoke slowly and kept an even tone as he recounted telling his daughter he was "not the right person for dhief of staff," even though he "would have liked to have been considered for ego purposes."

"But you were disappointed that after all the work you've done for Trump for nine and a half years, nobody, including President Trump offered you position in the White House?" Blanche asked.

"That's not accurate," Cohen said.

"You were not embarrassed that after all the work you've done for him, you were left being his personal attorney and nothing more?" Blanche asked.

"That's the role that I wanted," he said.

On the stand, Cohen displayed scant evidence of the man jurors earlier heard on a podcast recording saying of Trump, "I truly f------ hope that this man ends up in prison."

Blanche questions Trump-Cohen phone call
Todd Blanche launched his most direct -- and animated -- line of inquiry when he accused Cohen of lying about a phone call he said he had with Donald Trump on Oct. 24, 2016 -- a key piece of evidence in the government's case.

"That was a lie. You did not talk to President Trump that night," Blanche said, growing extremely animated, raising his voice and the pace of his speech. "You can admit it."

"No sir, I can't," Cohen said. "Because I'm not sure that's accurate."

Call logs entered into evidence show that Cohen called Trump's bodyguard, Keith Schiller, at 8:02 p.m. that night, as Cohen testified earlier in the trial. Cohen claims that Schiller handed the phone to Trump, after which the two of them discussed the Stormy Daniels payment.

But Blanche said that was untrue, suggesting Cohen actually spoke to Schiller about a teenager who kept prank-calling Cohen's phone. Jurors saw a series of texts where Cohen told 14-year-old he was reporting them to the Secret Service for "ongoing and continuing harassment."

"That was a lie," Blanche said regarding Cohen's claim of speaking with Trump, pausing for effect between each word.

But Cohen calmly and stood by his testimony, saying he spoke to both Trump and Schiller.

"Based upon what was going on and based upon the other messages regarding the Stormy Daniels matter, yes, I believe I was telling the truth," Cohen said.

Republican allies flock to courtroom
Reps. Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert were among the coterie of Trump allies to attend the trial Thursday -- the latest high-profile Republicans to show their support for the party's leader.

Out of the jury's earshot, prosecutor Susan Hoffinger complained to Judge Merchan about the disruptions caused by members of Trump's political entourage.

"I noticed that some of his guests are already here today with their security detail. But we would just ask that they not be allowed to file in, in the middle of Mr. Blanche's cross-examination," Hoffinger said.

"Yes. I would advise that that not happen," Merchan said.

Blanche said it was out of his hands.

"Your Honor, I have less than zero control over what is happening on anything or anyone that's behind me when I am crossing a witness," Blanche said.

Shortly thereafter, Gaetz walked into court in the middle of cross-examination.

Will Trump testify?
Cohen, the state's star witness, will return to the stand on Monday when court resumes after a long weekend. Blanche suggested he would conclude his cross-examination of Cohen before the lunch break on Monday.

The district attorney's office has indicated that Cohen will be their final witness, meaning prosecutors could rest their case as soon as Monday.

It remains unclear whether Donald Trump will testify -- or whether the defense will call any other witnesses. Before court concluded, Blanche left the door open for both.

If it turns out there are no other witnesses, said Merchan, the parties should be prepared to begin summations on Tuesday.


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21 May 2024, 8:58 am

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-69041617

Costello reprimanded for rolling his eyes and other snarky body language. No biggie, but good to see somebody standing up for courtesy.

I doubt Trump will be put on the stand. They'll be too worried that he'll forget where he is. Mind you, he did an excellent job of ceasing to fire off subjudicial tweets once he'd been threatened with jail for it. I've thought for some time that he's not as stupid as he pretends to be.



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01 Jun 2024, 2:25 am

So, guilty then. Now for the appeals.