Why I believe the talking heads are wrong

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Donald Trump and his lawyer, Todd Blanche, were laughing uproariously about something. No one knew what it was about or why they were laughing so hard, but Trump was showing a side he rarely (or never?) showed. Trump, who lacks most ordinary human qualities, appeared to be displaying actual humour.

I don’t know for sure what was going on either, but I think I have a pretty good guess. It goes like this. I think Trump’s lawyer told Trump that if the jury got to the end of the second day of deliberations without a verdict, that meant they might be having trouble. That meant the jury just might be deadlocked. And if they could safely get to the weekend …

Whatever they were actually laughing about was incidental, really. Trump wasn’t so much showing humour as supreme relief. In the wake of that relief anything would seem funnier than it actually was. He thought he was just about out of the woods. It was a quarter past four in the afternoon of the second day of jury deliberations and Judge Juan Merchan was about to send the jury home.

Then came the shock. At four twenty the jury rang the bell. They had reached a unanimous verdict. That was very bad news for Trump. Both Trump and Blanche, er, blanched. Their demeanour abruptly changed and became grave. They braced themselves for the bad news, and the news was supremely bad indeed. Guilty. Guilty, guilty, guilty. Guilty on all 34 felony counts.

After what seemed like a thousand years, Trump and Blanche disconsolately filed out of the courtroom. Face contorted in hate, Trump performed his usual monologue for the press waiting outside. I won’t quote him directly because by now you can already guess what he said. He’s that predictable. It was a disgrace. It was rigged. It was a rigged disgrace. It was a disgraceful rigging. Trump blamed Biden. He pronounced the President’s name with twisted hate, with the same bizarre, two-syllable singsong cadence he uses to pronounce the word “China.” Then he abruptly turned on his heels and left, with reporters shouting questions after him.

Then came the smug talking heads. After marvelling over the history-making fact that a former president of the United States was now a convicted felon, the talking heads came out with the usual bland, temporising analysis. Judge Juan Merchan had scheduled sentencing for July, and whatever that sentence was going to be, it was “very, very unlikely” going to include jail time.

I think they’re wrong, and I’ll tell you why. First of all, statistics show that in cases involving class E felonies, where the defendant has no previous convictions, jail time is only given about one time in ten. Ten percent is not exactly what I’d call “very, very unlikely.” Ten percent is a scary percentage for anyone facing possible prison, especially when there are so many extenuating circumstances. And those extenuating circumstances will continue to toll between now and July 11th, sentencing day.

Trump has tremendous power to do harm, more power than any criminal defendant cum convicted felon has ever wielded. He has the power to make the lives of every witness, every officer of the court, every prosecutor and every judge presiding over his fate a living hell. And he will employ that power viciously, relentlessly and mercilessly between now and the day he is sentenced.

Moreover, while it’s true that Donald Trump has no criminal convictions per se, he has left in his considerable wake a string of civil court losses involving rape, fraud and malfeasance amounting to fines of at least half a billion dollars. That makes his ten percent chance of going to jail look like the world’s biggest miscalculation.

And while he has no technical previous convictions, Trump has serious and numerous summary convictions in the form of repeated violations of his gag order. That gag order will remain in force until July 11th. At that point the court will sentence Donald Trump for his crimes, and only then will the jurisdiction of the court and the gag order come to an end. So he has lots of time to accumulate further gag order violations, and as sure as I’m typing this, he will.

If you think otherwise, if you think the gag order violations won’t amount to much, just ask New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg. When asked by reporters about Trump’s gag order violations, Mr Bragg told them to wait until the sentencing in July. In other words, Trump’s gag order violations will be dealt with then. That’s an ominous warning that everyone has seemed to miss. Judge Merchan promised Trump that his gag order violations could result in prison time. So just keep talking, Donald.

So don’t write off the possibility that Trump will be sentenced to prison, brothers and sisters. From where I’m sitting that ten percent is looking more and more like 99 percent. Meanwhile, Trump’s attorneys are probably once again telling him what he wants to hear, and Trump and Blanche are probably laughing. I think that laughter will meet the same fate it met when they mistakenly thought the jury was deadlocked. I think we, the people, are the ones who will have the last laugh. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

Important Note: Palmer Report is moving to a reader-supported format with a significantly reduced number of ads so we can reach a broader audience at this crucial time for our democracy. Support us via PayPal and GoFundMe.