At long last. Criminal accountability for a U.S. President finally begins on today's BradCast Special Coverage. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]
Donald J. Trump surrendered to law enforcement on Tuesday in downtown Manhattan. He was arrested, booked and arraigned in New York State Supreme Court on 34 counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.
The crimes were carried out, according to a statement released by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office, "in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election."
As detailed in the 16-page indictment [PDF] and 13-page statement of facts [PDF] unsealed this afternoon, the charges relate to a conspiracy by the disgraced, twice-impeached former President and others to employ a "'catch and kill' scheme to identify, purchase, and bury negative information about him and boost his electoral prospects."
In one case detailed by the prosecutors, he allegedly worked with American Media Inc. (AMI), the publishers of the National Inquirer, to pay $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman to quash the man's claims that Trump had a child out of wedlock. In another, Trump is said to have worked with the same company to pay $150,000 to Playboy Model Karen McDougal to silence her about a sexual relationship they had. And, in yet another scheme Trump, he had his then attorney, Michael Cohen, pay $130,000 hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels just 12 days before the 2016 election.
Trump then issued nearly a dozen checks over the following year --- 9 of them personally signed --- while serving in the Oval Office, in a scheme to keep it all quiet. He allegedly made false entries in his business records to describe the payments as fees for legal services and "took steps that mischaracterized, for tax purposes, the true nature of the reimbursements," according to the D.A.
During his arraignment before New York's Acting Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan, Trump pleaded Not Guilty to all charges.
We're joined today by some of our favorite BradCast Special Coverage panelists, HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, award-winning columnist at Salon and founder of Digby's Hullabaloo blog, and "DRIFTGLASS", otherwise known as @Mr_Electrico on Twitter and as simply Bill at home in Illinois, where he has long produced The Professional Left Podcast.
All of us, long time progressive bloggers who have written and discussed the need for accountability for criminal Presidents for many years. Without it, each one --- specifically Republican Presidents --- have subsequently become more criminal than the last, from Richard Nixon through Ronald Reagan through both George Bushes until the system produced the most criminal of them all, Donald J. Trump.
Until now, our decades of calls for accountability have gone unmet. But today, for the first time, as we all seem to agree, accountability may finally be beginning to help right a system that has gone so horribly wrong in recent decades --- at unspeakable cost to both the nation and the world.
"We've seen one scandal after another of real, serious corruption on the part of these Republican leaders," notes Digby today. "If we are not able to get some accountability, some way for the system to right itself, I really worry that we are definitely goners. This is way, way too important. It's not just Stormy Daniels. It's that this guy feels he is unaccountable to the law."
"It's not just that [Trump] feels entitled," adds Driftglass. "It's also that Republican voters believe he's entitled to get away with murder. That's the scary part. There are 70 million plus Americans out there who think, 'Yeah, he's corrupt. Sure, he's done terrible things. But he should get away with it because we're Republicans, and that's our natural right.'"
Today we discuss what all of this means; some of today's charges; the special treatment received by Trump (despite the Manhattan D.A.'s website claim of "One Standard of Justice for All"); the former President's social media tantrums; the limp response to his indictment from his supporters; and what comes next in the accountability storm we are likely to see over the next several weeks and months.
Also today, Desi Doyen has our latest Green News Report, with several items of good news to end today's happier-than-usual BradCast!...
(Snail mail support to "Brad Friedman, 7095 Hollywood Blvd., #594 Los Angeles, CA 90028" always welcome too!)