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What A Day: Speak no legal

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump Tower, Friday, May 31, 2024, in New York. A day after a New York jury found Trump guilty of 34 felony charges, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee addressed the conviction and likely attempt to cast his campaign in a new light. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

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Former President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump Tower, Friday, May 31, 2024, in New York. A day after a New York jury found Trump guilty of 34 felony charges, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee addressed the conviction and likely attempt to cast his campaign in a new light. (AP Photo/Julia Nikhinson)

UN-HUSHED MONEY

Trump faces fresh legal peril in the wake of his criminal conviction — from his own big mouth.

  • Disgraced former President Trump might to think his legal problems in Manhattan can’t get any worse after Thursday’s crushing guilty verdict on all 34 felony counts in his hush money case. But he’d be wrong. He still has to worry about sentencing on July 11, when he technically faces up to four years per count (praying with our hands clasped tightly), and the judge could send him to New York’s notorious Rikers Island. Unfortunately for Trump, his habit of mouthing off now poses real risks for him over the next month-and-a-half, according to former prosecutors, legal experts and even one of Trump’s own former lawyers. And he’s already showing he can barely hold it together.

  • Trump gave an unhinged press conference on Friday morning at which he began by noting that he is still covered by Judge Juan Merchan’s gag order, which forbids him from talking about witnesses. (Nothing like citing your gag order in a press conference you called yourself!) Trump then proceeded to thrash the prosecution’s key witness, his own estranged former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. “I’m not allowed to use his name because of the gag order, but he’s a sleaze bag,” Trump said, in a clear reference to Cohen. Trump also mentioned the key defense witness, Robert Costello, a lawyer who gave Cohen legal advice. For good measure, he branded the judge who will sentence him a “devil.”

  • This lack of self control doesn’t bode well for Trump, who violated the judge’s gag order multiple times during the trial. Independent legal experts aren’t even totally sure that Trump’s gag order is still technically in effect now that the trial is over. He might want to double-check, because any breaches could be crucial in sentencing, when judges can take a wide view of the defendant’s behavior. “Anything he does at this point is relevant, so he should be careful,” said Rebecca Roiphe, a former Manhattan prosecutor turned law professor. Trump also has to sit for an interview with a probation officer, who will write a pre-sentencing report. Trump’s natural combativeness, vitriol, and tendency to rant could turn that interview into a minefield, Diane Florence, a former prosecutor for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, told Friday’s What A Day podcast. “That’s not going to work well with the probation department,” Florence said.

What A Day

Trump’s sentencing hearing in July presents another dangerous moment for Trump, if he can’t keep his big yap shut.

  • Trump could provoke Judge Merchan if he does anything other than sit quietly, Trump’s own former lawyer Tim Parlatore warned. Defendants often use this moment to accept responsibility and express remorse, in an attempt to curry sympathy before the judge hands down a sentence. But Parlatore thinks Trump doesn’t have it in him to express contrition. “I don’t think he would say that,” Parlatore told CNN. “That’s why you don’t want him to talk.” Some legal experts think Trump will get home confinement or community service, and never see the inside of a jail cell. But legal scholar Norm Eisen thinks “a jail sentence is on the table.” No former president has ever been convicted of a crime before, so there’s no road map for where this might go.

  • Trump will be sentenced just four days before the GOP convention, raising the incentive for him to turn the whole thing into a political spectacle. Some Trump fans seem even more amped up to support him in the wake of his criminal debacle: His campaign website crashed on Thursday as small-money donors rushed to hand him $35 million. But other would-be Trump voters may be turned off by his crimes, according to Dan Pfeiffer, co-host of Pod Save America — especially those who are younger and more diverse than average Trump voters, those who voted for Trump’s primary opponent Nikki Haley, and those who see the 2020 election as legitimate.

“This is an existential risk to Trump’s campaign, if Democrats can take advantage of it,” Pfeiffer said on today’s episode of the What A Day podcast.  

- Donald Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche, on the inhumanity of cracking jokes about his boss.

WHAT ELSE

President Biden announced a new proposal Friday for a temporary — and eventually permanent — ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. The plan consists of three phases that would see the release of hostages and a withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza. The plan would begin with a six-week ceasefire that would extend until both sides agreed to terms to end the war permanently. Israel did not comment on the proposal, which comes days after a top official said the war would extend through the end of the year.

Israeli forces expanded into central Rafah, a city where hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians have gathered seeking refuge, while humanitarian aid continues to be disrupted. The Biden administration urged Israel against a potentially devastating Rafah invasion, but also said the latest developments haven’t yet crossed Biden’s “red line.”

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) said he’s leaving the Democratic Party to become an Independent. The decision is a culmination of the conservative-leaning lawmaker’s longtime break-up with the Dems. Manchin has previously said he won’t run for re-election, in a state where Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) is now widely expected to win in November. Thanks a lot, Joe! Hope the coal money was worth it!

Trump’s MAGA-media allies spewed dangerous, vengeful rhetoric in defense of the felonious former president after his guilty verdicts were announced. The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh and The Federalist’s Sean Davis both argued that Trump should make a list of Democrats that he should throw in prison should he get back in office in November. Tucker Carlson said the verdict marks the end of our justice system. Fox News’ Laura Ingraham compared Democrats to evil dictators, and Sean Hannity said the Constitution is “literally dying before our eyes.” Hey, what happened to the “Law and Order” crowd, huh?

Meanwhile, former Republican Governor of Maryland turned Senate candidate Larry Hogan said Americans need to “respect the verdict and the legal process.” Hogan was never a fan of Trump and it took guts for him to speak out against him while running for a spot in the GOP Senate. A senior Trump advisor fired back on X, telling Hogan “You just ended your campaign.” Very mafia-coded!

Elon Musk has agreed to host live video town halls with Trump and his second rival presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. that will stream on X, formerly known as Twitter, where platform users will be able to ask questions. The move underscores Musk’s deeper dive into right-wing politics coupled with his many attempts to get eyeballs on the struggling platform. It also underscores his desperate need for the kind of negative attention that apparently even the CyberTruck didn’t fulfill.

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