Soviet-style: Judge tells Trump jury each can pick which crimes they think he committed, but must be unanimous he’s guilty of something

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By BRETT ROWLAND | THE CENTER SQUARE

The judge overseeing the hush money trial of former President Donald Trump spent an hour telling the jury how to apply the law to the case, including that they must reach a unanimous decision but don’t have agree on the means. 

Some jumped on the statement as circular reasoning. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio compared the trial to those of the Soviet Union. 

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Judge Juan Merchan read 55 pages of instructions to the jury Wednesday morning before deliberations began. 

Among the instructions: “Although you must conclude unanimously that the defendant conspired to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means, you need not be unanimous as to what those unlawful means were,” according to the instructions. “In determining whether the defendant conspired to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means, you may consider the following unlawful means: (1) violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act otherwise known as FECA; (2) the falsification of other business records; or (3) violation of tax laws.”

U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio lashed out on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. 

“Judge in Trump case in NYC just told jury they don’t have to unanimously agree on which crime was committed as long as they all at least pick on,” Rubio, R-Fla., wrote. “And that among the crimes the can pick from are ones Trump WASN’T EVEN CHARGED WITH!!! This is exactly the kind of sham trial used against political opponents of the regime in the old Soviet Union.”

Legal analyst Jonathan Turley called Merchan’s instruction a “coup de grâce.”

“He said that there is no need to agree on what occurred,” Turley wrote on X. “They can disagree on what the crime was among the three choices. Thus, this means that they could split 4-4-4 and he will still treat them as unanimous.”

The case centered around Trump’s alleged sexual encounter with an adult film actress in 2006 and a $130,000 payment to her in 2016 to keep her quiet ahead of the 2016 election. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denied the encounter happened.

Prosecutors allege that Trump covered up the payment to Stormy Daniels and another hush money payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal ahead of the election, falsifying records to claim they were legal payments.

Trump, 77, is the first former U.S. president to be charged with a felony.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records related to money paid to Daniels and McDougal. Bragg has alleged Trump broke New York law by falsifying business records with the intent to commit or conceal another crime.

Prosecutors allege Trump falsified internal records kept by his company, hiding the true nature of payments that involve Daniels ($130,000), McDougal ($150,000), and Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen ($420,000). Prosecutors allege the money was logged as legal expenses, not reimbursements.

87 COMMENTS

  1. I imagine this will be appealed to SCOTUS within the hour of announcing he’s guilty.

    And of course he’s gonna be guilty. That outcome was pre ordained before Bragg filed the first charges.

    • These types of charges are one of the reasons its very hard to get on board with other Republican aspirants to higher office.

      Romney, McCain, GWB, weren’t forced to go through these courtroom struggle sessions after leaving office – but was it because they were ‘moral paragons’ – or simply not a threat?

      Our justice system is so far gone. When considering future ‘conservative’ rising stars, I’ll probably have to ask myself – “Why AREN’T corrupt Democrats falling over themselves to drag this man through the courts? Are they already paid for?”

        • “Show me the man, and I’ll show you the crime.” – Laverentiy Beria

          Aside from Greg Forkner not being old enough to remember ‘moral’ John McCain’s S&L activities in the late 80s, getting charged and convicted increasingly depends on where the trial is held, who appointed/elected the judge and DA, what types of people are allowed to serve on the jury.

          John Durham played small ball, tried to bring slam dunk ‘lying to FBI’ charges on a minor player (Sussmann) in a biased Washington D.C court, and they returned a ‘not guilty’ verdict, not because the act wasn’t committed, but because the charges were political. Jurors gave interviews after the fact confirming this.

          Sadly, the only way out of this is likely conservative bastions prosecuting Democrats in conservative venues. The process is the punishment. Unfortunately, this will require conservatives learn to actually develop a killer instinct in our new tribal political environment.

    • I have no doubt it would be difficult for him to find an unbiased jury there, however, even though I think Trump is a disgrace, if I were on the jury, no way could I find him guilty. There is an ocean of reasonable doubt in Cohen’s testimony alone and the case, as a whole, seems pretty weak.

    • He’s not called the Teflon Don for nothing dummy. Not our fault your all twisted up because Trumps gonna be your POTUS, again. Get over it, DeSantis never had the stones Trump does.

    • What, in your opinion, is Donald Trump guilty of, Greg?
      Seriously. There has been nothing except constant investigations into this man since 2015, and they turned up… well… pretty much nothing. The (so-called) fraud case where no one was actually a victim? The Russian Collusion hoax? Even the E. Jean Carroll case was a miscarriage of justice.
      And… more and more evidence is showing up every day that the Mar a Lago raid was a set up.
      .
      So, aside from being guilty of being a politician that Greg does not like, what is Trump guilty of?

        • Curious how the FEC did not see it the same way you do.
          He could have actually been charged with an actual crime he did commit… but… Oh.. the FEC (the agency responsible for enforcing campaign finance laws) did not see a crime.
          .
          But… Greg knows better, right. Better apply for a job with the FEC so that you can prosecute this hardened criminal.

            • You cannot provide an answer to what I write.
              Seriously, everyone here knows you abhor Trump, but you cannot actually provide any facts that back up your claims.
              .
              Just because you like the outcome of this miscarriage of justice, does not make it anything but a miscarriage.

      • CB. You are impervious to evidence and reason like all Trump supporters. And you’ve been fooled. You want to be fooled

        • If I am impervious to evidence or reason, than so are dozens of legal experts from all political affiliation.
          Are you going to tell me that Alan Dershowitz, Law Professor Emeritus and well known Democrat is impervious to evidence and reason when he says this was a clown show?

  2. It’s ironic how the “party of Democracy” is doing everything it can to undermine democracy.

    And rule of law.

    And women.

    And common sense.

    • What rules of law are not being followed? How are they undermining women? This guy rapid a woman and brags that he grabs em by the pussy. Common sense is to jail this white collar thug and bully.

      • What woman did Trump rape?
        Oh… E. Jean Carroll? Seriously? You actually believe that story? Like somehow at rush hour in Manhattan, a major department store was basically empty, and (unusual for this particular retail outlet which is well known for having customer service people available at all times) there was no corroborating witnesses. Added bonus, the “victim” was actually wearing a jacket that was not produced until several years after the so-called rape happened. She makes Cristine Blassy Ford look believable.
        .
        Besides, Trump was dinged for slander, not rape.
        .
        Also, where are all these woman who were supposedly grabbed by the pussy? If Trump is some kind of drive by molester, there should have been dozens, if not hundreds of women coming forward in 2016 with believable stories about getting grabbed.
        .
        Now, as to the rule of law that is not being followed, it is called the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution. This bit right here:
        “…and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.”
        Trump was not informed to what felony charge was being filed against him, and even the Judge’s instructions to the Jury makes it clear the 6th Amendment was not followed. The defense was denied the right to bring witnesses, and the cross examination of the prosecution’s witnesses was cut short by the Judge.

  3. …Isn’t that… exactly how jury trials work? The verdict is a single verdict that must be unanimous, but different people would naturally have different feelings about which pieces of evidence/arguements they consider valid or invalid?

    In a murder you could have 10 jurors decide guilty and maybe 6 of them chose based on physical evidence where as perhaps 4 were convinced based on testimony. What matters is if 100% of them agree that the defendant committed murder beyond a reasonable doubt.

    The reason we have jurors is because it takes a great burden of knowledge and evidence to convince a group of people to all agree on a single verdict. If they all had to have the same reasoning for the verdict as well only jury’s made up of identical clones would ever come to agree 100% and murderers would get hanged jury’s all the time.

    • This is not a question of which evidence is the most compelling to convince the jury of guilt. This is a question of which crime he is being convicted of. In your murder example: let’s say the DA brings the following charges:
      1) 1 count First Degree Murder
      2) 1 count manslaughter
      3) 1 count negligent homicide.

      Each of these charges carry different levels of intent, burden of proof, and sentencing severity.

      One can be found guilty by a jury of manslaughter, but not guilty of first degree murder and criminally negligent homicide. During the trial, the prosecution may be aiming to demonstrate that the defendant is guilty of first degree murder. The defense will try to argue that none of these charges should stick… arguing for “not guily” on all three.

      The jury might consider both cases, go into deliberations, and come out with the following conclusions:
      The driver was drunk, the driver was texting, but the driver did not intentionally run down the pedestrian. This would put the crime below the threshold for first degree murder, but elevate it above negligence, because the driver knowingly chose to drink, text, and drive.

      The jury would have to be unanimous on one, two, or three of these charges INDIVIDUALLY, in order for them to stick.

      This New York judge instructed the jury to find trump guilty, regardless of which crime they deem him guilty of. In other words, they can find “not guilty” on each individually, but the fact that all jurors believe he is guilty of charge 1, or 2, or 3, or 4, means he is guilty of SOMETHING.

      This is total nonsense.

    • While in theory that is how juries work. The particulars in this case distorted that process with, what can only be assumed, to favor a conviction.
      .
      In this case, the defendant was put in trial for committing a felony, but was never informed what felony he committed. He was, instead charged with a host of misdemeanors. The prosecution tried to convince the jury that the defendant “intended” to commit a felony (still never actually naming it or formally charging him with it).
      After testimony, and closing arguments, the Judge provided instructions to the jury. Normal.
      However, in this case the instructions made it clear that the jury could pick from three possible felonies (none of which the Defendant was charged with) and determine of the prosecution proved beyond a shadow of a doubt the defendant “intended” to break that law.
      (Let’s also note that the defendant did not, in fact, actually violate any felony statute)
      .
      So, now the jury is deliberating on whether the “misdemeanor” (which was not actually proven by the prosecution from what I have read about the trial) constitutes “intent” to commit a felony (that is one of three possible.)
      On paper, the process is normal. But, in this case, there is nothing normal about this case in any way.

  4. Does anyone, even the most adamant Trump haters actually think this is legit?
    Serious question. If you actually believe this trial is legit, that it was conducted fairly, and that the verdict is not politically motivated, please provide your reasoning as a reply.
    Thanks!

    • I do. Trump is a crook. Not to single him out since most businessmen of his caliber are. Things are by the book because the world is watching and appeals are waiting. It’s legit. Some like to downplay democracy. It works.

    • I do. The evidence is OVERWHELMING! The prosecution has convincingly laid out a path that proves many (maybe34) of the misdemeanor charges were done in support of election interference, which is a felony. And though NOT evidence, his actions in the Stormy Daniels brief sexual ickiness and subsequent cover up and his bullying of witnesses and staff IS 100% TRUMP. Unfortunately, we have 8 years of behavioral record to support that. Total loser. The only people more loserly are citizens that can’t see that.

      • If it demonstrated election interference, why do the Jury instructions include three possible felonies? Not the one.
        .
        And, ickiness is not criminal. If it were, Bill Clinton would be in jail.

      • “Total loser. The only people more loserly are citizens that can’t see that.”

        So, by this statement you are implying that roughly half the voting public are “more loserly” than a total loser. Got it.

        As an FYI for other readers, the moniker Jeff Butler routinely trolls this and other non-left leaning media with disparaging and incendiary language.

  5. Stay tuned for the new reality series on Fox: “Donald Trump the Most Persecuted Man in America.”

  6. It’s unbelievable to think that this trial never would have taken place if Trump hadn’t cheated on his wife with a porn start and then tried to cover it up. I really feel for the guy.

  7. So, a political party can charge a political opponent with a supposed crime that happened years ago and choose the venue, a hand picked judge and prosecutor, the jury pool, and the timing of the trial relative to an election, and claim that it is not political.

        • If I may, I’ll step in for Forkner. As for spin, ben port says “supposed crime”. It was a real crime. Years ago is irrelevant; choosing venue is irrelevant. “Hand picked”implies collusion and conspiracy. None of that. Judges are picked randomly from a pool.

          The jurors are vetted equally by prosecution and the defense. No conspiracy. As for timing, convicted felon trump when he was president neutered the Judicial processes. That accounts for four years of delay. Verdict? Forkner claim of spin is correct.

  8. That “judge” is foreign born (Columbia) and holds dual citizenship with Canada. He was appointed by the anti White Jew Bloomberg and supported by anti White Jew Soros’s DA.
    White people are barely 10% world population and when the boomers kick the bucket it’s over, they are the largest voting block. Keep that in mind when these subversives carry on about “minorities and evil wacists”.

    • As Masked Avenger would say, do you have a problem with Jews? It appears you do. Does US law require judges to be natural born citizens? If not, why do you have “judge” in quotes? Did you misplace your Klan robe somewhere?

      • Bloomberg and Soros hate White nationalism as do most Jewish organizations.
        U.S. law traditionally forbid foreign born people holding public office, and why should founding stock Americans tolerate being ruled or judged by the likes of Columbians?
        If White people advocate for their own collective and racial interests anywhere in the world the Jewish establishment is first to attack. Every single time.
        Why are HIAS and Jewish family services aiding the CCP and the UN in Panama to flood our land and all European nations with foreigners?
        Jewish organizations are currently advocating for mass Muslim migration to Japan as we speak.
        Get a clue, diversity means less White people.

  9. I hope everyone here understands, this is awakening the voters of every race and gender. If they can frame a POTUS, they can do it to you. Put him in jail the predictions show it will be a landslide for DJT, larger than Ronnie’s.

  10. Jury deliberating by rank choice method. Crime determined by betting on Win Place or Show. Evidence or proof optional.

  11. Donald Trump will not testify simply because he lies about everything. Either he did not have sex with a porn star, or he lied about it the next day on the golf course while he was cheating on his score. It will be interesting next year when he has to pay legal fees out of his own pocket

    • And, here is Frank, demonstrating his ability to read minds.
      .
      Donald Trump will not testify because only an absolute idiot testifies in their own defense. He knows it, his lawyers know it, and everyone alive that has even the remotest idea of legal proceedings know it.

  12. If you were on trial and the jury went into deliberations to determine your verdict and you said…

    “I don’t even know what the charges are?”

    Would you think you are competent enough to be the President of the United States?

    • It was a felony trial, but no actual felony charges were brought against the defendant.
      So, yes. In this situation, it demonstrates clearly that he is more than capable enough to be President.

  13. On 23 January 2016, Trump said “The people, my people, are so smart, and you know what they say about my people? The polls. They say I have the most loyal people — did you ever see that? Where I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody, and I wouldn’t lose any voters. It’s like incredible.”

    Shooting someone is usually considered a felony so Trump’s prediction has actually come true. He can commit felonies and “his people” would stand by him. What ever happened to the party of law and order? No one is above the law including the loser dictator wanna be.

  14. As usual, the Dems take us to a new low. Trump will appeal, multiple times if necessary, and win. But now lawfare is permissable in the USA, just like in Venezuela, or Zimbabwe, or Libya. Good job protecting democracy Brandon!

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