TURLEY: Democrats May Have a Trump Trial Featuring Stormy Daniels – but All they Need Now, is a Crime

Since Manhattan D.A. Bragg has yet to define or say exactly what crime former president Trump is being tried for, this trial is obscene 

By Jonathan Turley

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Texas Insider Report) — It was a dumpster fire that New York Judge Juan Merchan watched burn for a full day – and then said the jury may have to disregard much of what they saw and/or heard. 

Before the start of the Manhattan prosecution of former President Donald Trump, I described the case of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's case against Donald Trump as being based on some a type of obscenity standard – like in the 1984 pornography case before the U.S. Supreme Court, when Justice Potter Stewart wrote: “I shall not today attempt further to define [obscenity]... But I know it when I see it.”

Yet to this day, D.A. Bragg (right,) has refused to clearly define the crime that now-former president Trump was seeking to conceal when payments for a Non-Disclosure Agreement (or NDA,) were listed as a legal expense.

We would just know it when we saw it at trial.

We are still waiting.

Yet after what we've seen so far this week, D.A. Bragg seems to be prosecuting an actual obscenity case.

The prosecution fought with Trump’s defense counsel to not only call porn star Stormy Daniels to the stand, but to ask her for lurid details on her alleged tryst with Trump. The only assurance that they would make to Judge Juan Merchan was that they would “not go into details of genitalia.”

For Merchan, who has largely ruled against Trump on such motions, that was enough. He allowed the prosecutors to get into the details of the affair despite the immateriality of the evidence to any criminal theory.

Neither the Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) – nor the payment to Daniels – is being contested. It is also uncontested that Trump wanted to pay to get the story (and other stories, including untrue allegations) from being published.

The value of the testimony was entirely sensational and gratuitous – yet Merchan was fine with humiliating Trump.

Daniels’ testimony was a dumpster fire in the courtroom.

The most maddening moment for the defense came at the lunch break when Merchan stated, “I agree that it would have been better if some of these things had been left unsaid.”

He then denied a motion for a mistrial based on the testimony – and blamed the defense for not objecting more. That, of course, ignores the standing initial objection by Trump's defense team that Daniels whould even be allowed to appear, not to mention their specific objections to the broad scope allowed by Merchan.

This is precisely what the defense said would happen when the prosecutors only agreed to avoid “genitalia.”

There was no pure legal prosecution reason for Daniels to appear at all in the trial. Even if he was adamant in allowing her to testify, Merchan could have imposed a much more limited scope for her testimony. He could also have enforced the limits that he did place on the testimony when it was being ignored by both the prosecutors and the witness.

Merchan said he is considering a limiting instruction for the jury to ignore certain aspects of Daniel's the testimony – but that is of little comfort for the defendant.

The court was told that this would happen, it happened, and now the court wants to ask the jury to pretend that it did not happen.

Merchan knows that there is no way for the jury to unhear the testimony.

More importantly, the prosecution knew that from the outset.

Daniels appeared eager to share the stories for the same reason that she was eager to sell her story. While she said that she “hates” Trump and wants him “held accountable,” Daniels is no victim. She had an alleged tryst with Trump and then sought to cash in on the story.

It is a standard form of extortion of celebrities.

She later sought to cash in on the notoriety by appearing in strip clubs as part of a “Make America Horny Again” tour. She is in her element in Merchan’s courtroom.

In New York, the relevance or credibility of witnesses like Daniels is largely immaterial.

This is a district that voted against Trump, 84.5% to 14.5%, in the 2020 Presidential Election.

New Yorkers elected a State Attorney General, Letitia James, who ran on the Noble Pledge that she would bag Trump on something, anything – without so much as even consideration of specifying any crime.

Bragg then indicted Trump without clearly defining any crime – a debate that continues among legal experts after two weeks of testimony.

This is entertainment for many in New York – as is the thrill of the possibility of his going to jail under Merchan’s poorly written and arguably unconstitutional gag order.

When it comes to a thrill kill trial, who better to call than Daniels?

Yes, it was "Stormy Daniels Day" in Judge Merchan’s courtroom this week, and it is a bit late for the court to express shock over her testimony. (She has been given the key to the city of West Hollywood, California, on “Stormy Daniels Day.”)

In comparison, Stormy Daniels may be the only authentic part of the entire case in New York v. Trump.

It is not the witness, but the case that seems increasingly obscene.

A professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University Law SchoolJonathan Turley is a nationally recognized legal scholar who has written extensively in areas ranging from Constitutional Law to Legal Theory & Tort Law. He is often asked to testify before Congressional proceedings about complex Constitutional & Statutory Issues, including multiple impeachment hearings and removal trials such as the impeachments of Presidents Bill Clinton & Donald Trump. He appears regularly as a legal expert on all of the major television networks, as well as in national publications such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal.