Shred the Rulebook and There are no Rules

It has been, as the New York Post’s giant ‘wood’ summed up Robert de Weirdo’s tough guy routine in Foley Square outside the Trump trial, so much ‘Raging Bullsh*t’. In olden days, type so large had to be mounted on stout oak blocks to stymie distortion under the pressure of the platen, hence the printer’s lingo. But no font however big and twisted can represent what the past weeks have witnessed. All the high-minded planks and aspirations of American justice, all its flowery “for all” incantations, remain on the books but its execution has been squeezed and crushed far beyond mere distortion.

Donald Trump, guilty as charged on all 34 criminal counts.

Now they can put him away for decades, four years per charge if acting judge — do notice the ‘acting’, because there’s a story behind it — is so inclined.The sentencing is to be on July 11. Golly gosh! Gee whiz! Holy smoke! What a coincidence! That’s just a week before the GOP convention kicks off in Milwaukee. Are Republicans to nominate and Americans to back a contender who is, as the White House immediately began branding him,  ‘the convicted felon’. Trump could be placed under house arrest, made to wear an ankle monitor or both. He might be forbidden to leave the state without permission, just as he was ordered to attend every day of the trial, and thereby kept off the campaign trail. This right now is Merchan’s moment to pay back the insults Trump flung at him, not to mention the embarrassment of it having been exposed that his daughter, a Democrat operative, has raised and profited personally from the $90 million in donations she used the trial to solicit. Vengeance and justice are supposed to be two different things but the latter went missing well before the first juror was sworn in, and now we can expect Merchan to invoke the former. He’s that sort of guy.

What have they got on Merchan, you have to wonder? What are they paying him, what promised reward could produce such an infamous performance? What secret scandal might force a man to so thoroughly compromise the public face of his good name? Surely a judge with regard for his reputation could not have conducted a trial as he has done this one. Esteem is supposed to come with the black robe because, if the courts and their judgments are to be credible, public confidence can never accept a party-line corruptocrat wielding the gavel. That sort of crooked justice happens in dark and benighted regions, and America, or so it tells itself, isn’t Burma or Malaysia or some Putinesque parody with show trials and predetermined verdicts. Apart from another New York judge, Joseph Force Crater, who vanished in the night as a 1932 corruption probe loomed, America’s best known bent jurist would have to be Cotton Mather, the fanatic parson who presided over the Salem witch trials. Now Mather has some stiff competition.

The first thing to know about Merchan is that, rather than being plucked at random from the pool of available judges, which is the way it’s supposed to work, he was specifically selected and assigned to preside over the trial just concluded, plus looming prosecutions of Trump confidante Steve Bannon and the defendant’s corporate entity, the Trump Organization. As Congresswoman Elise Stefanik put it in letter demanding the New York judiciary’s watchdog open an immediate investigation:

If justices were indeed being randomly assigned in the Criminal Term, the probability of two specific criminal cases being assigned to the same justice is quite low, and the probability of three specific criminal cases being assigned to the same justice is infinitesimally small. And yet, we see Acting Justice Merchan on all three cases.

The simple answer to why Acting Justice Merchan has been assigned to these cases would seem to be that whoever made the assignment intentionally selected Acting Justice Merchan to handle them to increase the chance that Donald Trump, the Trump Organization, and Steven Bannon would ultimately be convicted.

By one legal scholar’s estimate — apologies, I was driving north from Dixie to Connecticut and didn’t catch the academic’s name — there are at least ten solid grounds for the verdict to be overturned, starting with witnesses not called, or, in the case of the country’s leading election law specialist, a former head of the Federal Election Commission no less, stopped by Merchan from testifying .

Ah, but there’s the rub. Contesting a New York verdict means appealing first to a lower court of review, then a higher one and, penultimately, to the state’s Supreme Court. After that, should the original decision not have been reversed, it’s off to the US Supreme Court. Put simply, it could be four, five, even six years before such a case as Trump’s escapes the Empire State’s judiciary, of which Merchan and his ethics are a dictionary illustration.


NEWS of the verdict reached Connecticut not long after I did, and we were heading out to dinner — son, daughter-in-law and baby — when the alert came over the car radio. It wasn’t that I expected pitchforks and flaming brands, this being deep Democrat blue Connecticut that could never happen, but some sort of reaction surely? At the pub, though, eavesdropping on bar chatter and neighbouring conversation picked up no hint that what had just happened in Lower Manhattan was a milestone to be talked about, analysed and studied  a century and more from now — if allowed to be talked about at all in whatever it is the US is on the road to becoming. God knows, but this is a terrifying development, and that is said without a scintilla of hype. When one side tears up the rulebook the new rule is that there are no rules. (To see where this all leads, to politics transferred from stump to courtroom and revenge ruling all, read John Hinderaker’s fighting words at Powerline.)

The first ex-president to be convicted and face prison. The undeniable fingerprints of the White House on the levers of justice. The pretense of impartiality indicted by the speed with which 12 typical New Yorkers reached their 34-count verdict, which took them well under eight hours of deliberations, not including the testimony read-backs and Judge Merchan’s slanted instructions. They were presented with a complex, indeed convoluted, train of evidence and witnesses; to imagine it all could be distilled into a single word, ‘guilty’, in such a short spell beggars belief if you don’t know the ways of Gotham.

So picture a jury drawn from a city that votes consistently and overwhelmingly for Democratic presidential candidates — 87% for Biden in 2020, 92% in 2016 for Hillary — and you don’t need to apply much imagination to hear the jury-room conversation. Who needs to understand how a petty misdemeanour, that of mislabelled bookkeeping, could be reanimated long after the statute of limitations expired, inflated to 34 criminal felonies  and tied in ways never explained to purported campaign finance violations? Must one be corroded by cynicism to picture those jurors immediately concluding as the door clicked shut that Donald Trump is guilty of being Donald Trump and that is enough of crime in itself.

Making the decision and the speed with which it was reached all the more peculiar has been the commentary. CNN, no friend of Trump by any means, marked the course of the case with a stable of legal experts’ often scathing remarks about the prosecution’s poor showing, the salacious irrelevance of silk pyjamas and spankings, and the overall weakness of a charge in which the particular election law said to have been abused was never actually revealed. Even MSNBC, tireless promoter of the Russiagate hoax, both impeachment pantomimes, the January 6 panel’s stitch-up and dozens, literally dozens, of harassing and vexations civil actions against Trump, had to concede DA Alvin Bragg’s argument was tenuous at best. Yet, just like that, the jury rules Trump is guilty and sends him down. As Cindy Adams, the octogenarian columnist and gossipeuse puts it, ‘Only in New York, kids. Only in New York.’


PERHAPS the prime-time savants just don’t get out enough. A few weeks ago when the Trump trial was but a pup, I happened to be in another America and in another pub, this one with a barkeep opposed to changing the channel. ‘People, they want the sport,’ he said, which seemed dubious as there were only two other patrons, land whales of the sort to be found wobbling and waddling in ever greater numbers the further inland you penetrate America’s heartland. As to the ‘sport’, it was South American women’s college soccer and less interesting than watching meat rot.

Time and again in that part of the world, where locals tell you with twisted and often gap-toothed self-deprecating grins that you’re in ‘hillbilly country’ — the Virginia backwoods, Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia, bits of Maryland and Pennsylvania — you’ll see signs of the red-state loyalty that Trump commands, bumper stickers and MAGA hats the least of it.

“Mind if we switch the TV to see how the Trump trial is going?” I asked the diners, who barely stopped inhaling chicken wings to nod their assent. Then, between mouthfuls,  the larger one weighed in with a legal opinion. “He’s going to jail. They won’t let him get out of this.”

And they didn’t.

I don’t know if the hillbilly with hot sauce in his beard will be voting in November, but if does, it will be for convicted criminal Donald J. Trump.

24 thoughts on “Shred the Rulebook and There are no Rules

  • Peter OBrien says:

    Great summary Roger.

  • STD says:

    Roger, there is definitely something rotten afoot. A President…..patriotic American is convicted in the court of political jurisprudence and yet the millions of illegal immigrants that have invaded by ill intent- broken the law in the first instance with break and enter and the red carpet is rolled out right across a once great country.
    And yet Hunter Biden has complete political immunity as does vindictive Hillary and her lecherous beau.
    In my opinion the left are all very queer indeed!
    As Allan Jones once put it “get the Hessian bags out at the ready”.

  • Lazlo says:

    Surely, they will appeal.

  • Peter Smith says:

    Even your withering account Roger doesn’t do justice to what is happening. We are witnessing the death of Western civilisation. Without the rule of law – that everyone is subject to the law without fear or favour – everything else falls apart. This has never depended on constitutions or common law; it depends only and entirely on the character of the population. Are they overwhelming decent. The demonic Democrat politicians and their hordes of useful idiot and ne’er-do-well supporters have demonstrated a preparedness to put aside common decency. They have called the bluff. It was always a bluff. Despotic states often have high-sounding constitutions. Meaningless. It’s character that counts. Too many people in the US population have crossed to the dark side to sustain democracy. It’s all over red rover – we just don’t know it yet.

  • Phillip says:

    “…to restore the soul and secure the future of America, requires so much more than words. It requires the most elusive of all things in a democracy – unity. Unity. “, his Royal demented Highness Joe Biden at inauguration 21 Jan 2021.

    ….well that worked out well…!??!

  • Citizen Kane says:

    Just as in Newtons’ third law of motion – for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. This is also true in the pendulum of politics and social movements.

    Far from being the demise of Trump and the Republican Party at the upcoming election, this concentrated force of lawfare from the cabal of leftist globalist elite (the Democrats most influential constituency) will now be met (indeed is directly responsible for) the emergent diffuse mass political uprising and pushback that will sweep this sinister force from power.

    You reap what you sow..

    The Trump campaign slogan should now be his own post trial quote writ large at every opportunity – ‘the people will decide on November 5’ – as this nicely captures the notion that democracy is ultimately in the hands of the Everyday American if they so choose to exercise it on mass.

    Its catchy

    • Guido Fookes says:

      Much still depends on who counts the votes. This may merely be the starter course for a banquet of election rigging on a scale only previously hinted at in 2020. Obama and the Clintons will be reluctant to give up a fourth term of government when such carefully laid plans for a global reset are so close to being realised. Trump’s last election message to the people – “They’’re not after me, they’re after you, I’m just in the way” was spot on. Most have singularly failed to grasp the gravity of that message….

  • Patrick McCauley says:

    So its ‘bye bye miss American Pie,
    drove the chevy to the Levy but the Levy was dry
    and good ol boys were drinking whisky and rye
    singin’ – this’ll be the day that I die
    … this’ll be the day that you die’

  • Patrick McCauley says:

    A long, long time ago
    I can still remember how that music
    Used to make me smile
    And I knew if I had my chance
    That I could make those people dance
    And maybe they’d be happy for a while
    But February made me shiver
    With every paper I’d deliver
    Bad news on the doorstep
    I couldn’t take one more step
    I can’t remember if I cried
    When I read about his widowed bride
    But something touched me deep inside
    The day the music died

    So, bye-bye, Miss American Pie
    Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry
    And them good ol’ boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
    Singin’, “This’ll be the day that I die
    This’ll be the day that I die”

    [Verse 2]
    Did you write the book of love?
    And do you have faith in God above
    If the Bible tells you so?
    Now, do you believe in rock ‘n’ roll?
    Can music save your mortal soul?
    And can you teach me how to dance real slow?
    Well, I know that you’re in love with him
    ‘Cause I saw you dancin’ in the gym
    You both kicked off your shoes
    Man, I dig those rhythm and blues
    I was a lonely teenage broncin’ buck
    With a pink carnation and a pickup truck
    But I knew I was out of luck
    The day the music died

  • Jack Brown says:

    The Republic has been an empty shell for decades and that is now official with Biden always referring to it as a democracy, or rather ‘our democracy’ the ‘our’ indicating referring to the oligarchy that controls the voting.

  • Michael Mundy says:

    ‘mislabelled bookkeeping’
    Seriously? For relentless protectors of democracy the author and correspondents flag easily under the slightest pressure. That a ‘billionaire’ with a huge lawyer platoon cries foul when a democratically elected court official oversees a trial where the defendant is judged by 12 of his peers to have committed a felony wreaks of entitlement to say the least. Trump did business in New York. He would have been well aware that every commercial ‘i’ had to be dotted and every commercial ‘t’ had to be crossed. The failure to ensure that he was operating legally stops with him. If he can’t run his own corporation then how can he be trusted to run a nation? Your correspondents love cliches and conspiracy theories but every now and then they have to face the realities of life. Trump oversaw a criminal act and he was caught and convicted. Not surprising that like any 5 year old he blames his demise on everyone else.

    • Mike says:

      Michael Mundy.
      Only you believes that.

      • Searcher says:

        I disagree with Mike’s comment “Only you believes that.” I think that many people believe it. Of course, such people are practically insightless; but still I think they are many. Groupthink is a powerful process, and Marxism, conscious or unconscious, is rampant in America. Mike can fairly reply that many people think the opposite, that Trump is the target of show-trial political lawfare. We shall learn something of the relative numbers. Perhaps no more than just something of them. For the Dems probably have voting fraud well organised.

    • DougD says:

      Michael, the charges against Trump were not that he falsified his business records. They were misdemeanours, all time-barred. The Democrat prosecutor needed a felony, not time-barred, to get Trump. So he alleged Trump was party to a felonious conspiracy to win the 2016 presidential election by covering up as business expenses hush money he paid to a prostitute. The Democrat prosecutor’s theory was that, unlike Democrats JFK and Bill Clinton, exposure of Trump’s sexual activities would have prevented. his election win.

    • Paul Govier says:

      What an utterly fatuous analysis. It amounts to “if you don’t do anything wrong you don’t have anything to worry about”. A five year old’s understanding of civil liberties and due process. Application of the law matters as much as the law itself. It needs to be applied without fear or favour. The prosecutor who was elected on the promise to “Get Trump” and the Judge who donated to the “Stop Trump” campaign and whose daughter is fundraising for the Democrats were incapable of applying the law without fear or favour. A classic case of Stalinist: “Find me the man and I will find you the crime”. It doesn’t matter that Trump is a narcissist incompetent oaf. The law is there to protect us all, even the most obnoxious of us.

    • Roger Franklin says:

      “That a ‘billionaire’ with a huge lawyer platoon”

      The prosecution’s team is much larger, and it includes the former federal Justice Dept #3, a veteran of the Russia! Russia! Russia! farce, who took a demotion and pay cut to join the case.

      “when a democratically elected court official”

      Merchan was appointed, not elected, and elevated to the criminal bench from the family court.

      “to have committed a felony”

      the bookkeeping offence was years beyond the statute of limitations and, in any case, a misdemeanour. That it became a felony is entirely due to DA Bragg’s innovative legal theorising: Trump concealed the payment, allegedly, because voters would have thought less of him.

      Well, the whole country already knew about the ‘grab ’em by the rude bits’ tape and still voted for him. That he shtupped a prostitute, who didn’t mind getting her rude bits grabbed, wasn’t going to phase anyone other than those already phased.

      “He would have been well aware that every commercial ‘i’ had to be dotted and every commercial ‘t’ had to be crossed.”

      What anyone, not just Trump, needs be aware is that New York is a citadel of tall buildings and even greater sky-scraping corruption. No one gets anywhere in the NY legal system unless they tug the forelock to the Democratic Party.

      MM, lay off getting your news from Their ABC for a bit.

    • jackgym says:

      Mate, you should be wearing a cape.
      You’re a Super Moron.

    • Greg Lloyd says:

      I’m trying to think of a corporation that Biden would be capable of running. I got nothin.

  • Winston Smith says:

    Elsie is fine and getting fat. I’ll cut her kibble down.

  • Stephen Ireland says:

    For a incoherent rant on the current state of American politics here’s the Speaker Emerita of the House of Reps. I love the way the progressive paint tax-cuts of any form as their money being handed to someone else, rather than revenue foregone for whatever reason:
    Sadly but not surprisingly Ms Pelosi thinks that political phenomena only occur near Maryland, possibly forgetting that she wasn’t even in the US

  • Watchman Williams says:

    We’ve seen all this before, about 100 years ago. Everything the Nazis did was legal, including the murder of Jews and other citizens deemed troublesome or undesirable. All it takes is a crooked legislature and a crooked judiciary. The US has both.

  • norsaint says:

    The fact that Merchan was dredged up from the “”family courts”” ought to tell one enough.
    Ipso facto, he’s practised in the art of due process fiascos. ie corrupt.

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