Guests: Heather Digby Parton of Salon, attorney Keith Barber of Daily Kos; Also: Election results and problem reports from KY, OR, GA, CA and MD...
By Brad Friedman on 5/22/2024, 6:19pm PT  

How many times did the disgraced, twice-impeached, four-time criminally indicted former President tell us he would "absolutely" be taking the oath to testify in his own defense at his 2016 election interference trial in New York? More times than we can count. Each time was a lie, as discussed among other matters on today's BradCast, as closing arguments are set to begin next week, before jury deliberations in the first-ever criminal trial of a U.S. President. [Audio link to full show follows this summary.]

Before we get to today's "ketchup" konversation on Trump's first criminal trial, we touch on a few noteworthy results out of primary and special elections in Georgia, Kentucky, Oregon and California on Tuesday, along with problem reports for voters and tabulation out of Georgia, Kentucky and, from last week's primaries, in both Baltimore and Prince George's County, Maryland.

Then, we're joined once again by award-winning columnist HEATHER DIGBY PARTON, of Salon and Hullaballoo, and former attorney and lifelong Republican KEITH BARBER, who now regularly blogs on legal matters as "KeithDB" at the progressive Daily Kos.

On Tuesday, the Defense rested in Donald J. Trump's criminal trial in New York on 34 felony counts related to a hush-money payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels in the weeks before the 2016 election, in a successful effort to help him cheat to win it. The trial has focused on the subsequent, allegedly falsified reimbursements made by Trump during his first year in the White House to his then lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen to cover it all up.

Last week, Cohen finished his testimony as the final witness for the Prosecution. This week, Robert Costello, a cartoonishly thuggish lawyer buddy of both Trump and Rudy Giuliani, took the stand as one of just two witnesses called by the Defense. After a turn last week before the GOP's U.S. House "Weaponization of Justice" Committee, Costello would be the final witness for the Defense, in what turned out to be a wildly failed effort to try and discredit Cohen.

We catch up on all of that today, as we discuss, among other things...

  • Justice Juan Merchan's upbraiding of Costello during his obnoxious testimony as the Defense's star witness, turning what might have been a mild win for Trump following cross-examination last week of Cohen, into what both Parton and Barber characterize as a disaster for the Defense. According to Parton, "It was really stupid of them to call him, knowing that the prosecution already knew what he had to say...He was bombastic, he was rude. ... Costello looked like a hired gun."
  • To the surprise of absolutely no one, Trump failed to take the witness stand in his own defense after all, following months of promising to do so. It may have been the only smart thing he has done to help his case during the entire trial. As Parton notes, "Trump saw him as a good stand-in for himself," as he was almost certainly testifying at the instance of Trump and against advice of counsel. It went at least as poorly for Costello as it would have gone for the former President turned current Defendant, had he taken the stand.
  • Barber details what he sees as "the missing link" in the Prosecution's case and "the biggest weakness" in the Defense's cases; how the jury is likely to view Trump's lack of testifying in his own defense ("The jury will be strongly admonished by the judge to not consider Donald Trump's failure to testify"); and what exactly they will be charged with deciding when they are finally instructed by the judge --- likely beginning next week --- to begin deliberations.
  • Parton discusses her biggest concerns about the case, and how the mainstream corporate media has failed, yet again, in its responsibility of accurately reporting on the threat to the nation represented by Trump. Barber casts more blame on his old party, the Republicans.
  • And, in a related matter today, we turn to the federal criminal indictment against Trump down in Florida for stealing highly classified national security documents and refusing to return them to the Government. On Wednesday, earlier court documents related to the eventual search warrant executed at Mar-a-Lago, were unsealed, leading Trump to lie about the FBI being "locked and loaded" in an attempt to "assassinate" him during the search...when Trump was in an entirely different state.


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