In the National Interest II

Based on the success of my first novel In the National  Interest, I wondered if there was room for a new fictional genre, implausible conspiracy theories in which the motive and participants were unimaginable.  However, as with my account of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, making the implausible possible depended on the use of the public record to back up the story.  In the National Interest, the counter-intuitive narrative that Kennedy’s death was engineered, not by enemies, but a close advisor at the request of the president himself.  The details are laid out in a contemporaneous journal maintained by one of the individuals tasked with planning and carrying out the events in Dallas on November 22, 1963.

Following last Thursday conviction of Donald Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business documents to coverup a sexual encounter with an adult film actress right before the 2016 presidential election, I wondered if this format that worked once, might work again.  The premise was simple.  Was there something not quite kosher about the relative ease with which the jury so quickly came to a unanimous verdict on all counts?  If so, had someone who put a thumb on the scale kept a journal of the process he or she used?  And who might that be, especially if it was someone least expected to want to see the ex-president go down?

NOTE:  The following is an abridged version of a fictional account of the behind the scenes conspiracy to ensure Donald Trump would be convicted using the public record including transcripts of the trial.

My first clue something was afoot came when, the evening after Donald Trump’s conviction, CNN anchor Kaitlin Collins asked lead defense attorney Todd Blanche whether he or his client was responsible for the defense strategy.  In response Blanche told Collins he and Trump made decisions as a team, adding the following justification which was contrary to everything I had ever heard about the attorney/client relationship in a criminal trial.

It was both of us.  If there’s a lawyer that comes in and says that they’re in charge of their defense strategy, they’re not doing a service to their client.

Todd Blanche is no Rudy Giuliani or Jenna Ellis, both of whom have lost their licenses to practice law for malpractice in the service of Trump.  He had experience as a prosecutor and was well thought of in New York legal circles.  Moreover, he had resigned as a partner in one of Wall Street’s most prestigious firms, moved to Florida, bought a home near Mar-a-Lago and started his own firm where Donald Trump would become his primary client.  According to the New York Times, Blanche’s former colleagues during his tenure as prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York are baffled by “a striking career move–forfeiting a lucrative law firm partnership to represent a man notorious for cycling through lawyers and ignoring their bills.”

The New York trial is only one of three in which Blanche Law (his new firm) is representing Trump including the Mar-a-Lago documents and the federal January 6 cases.  In these cases, Blanche and his team have focused on ensuring neither goes to trial before the November 5, 2024 election.  One can only imagine why a lawyer who had to deal with Trump’s in-court and out-of-court behavior in a case he had the best chance of winning would want to risk becoming known as a three time loser if the Supreme Court and Aileen Cannon ever let the either two go to trial.  UNLESS, having played in Trump’s legal sandbox for years before the current spate of indictments–he also represented Paul Manafort–he decides, in the national interest, maybe I should help take down this narcissistic psychopath.

If so, he then had to ask, how could I do this?  To see the answer, all you have to do follow the New York falsified business records trial.  Consider the following lists of behaviors and arguments which certainly contributed the jury’s guilty verdict.

  1. Involve Trump in decisions related to his defense knowing he will “direct” you to focus on messaging rather than the evidence and the law.
  2. Let Trump think that Juror #2’s presence on the panel, because he included Truth Social as one of his news sources, made a hung jury a slam dunk.  On that assumption, Trump was convinced he could now use the trial for political messaging without fear of a conviction.
  3. Unleash Trump to attack the judge, judge’s staff, witnesses and jury knowing it would result in a gag order his client would violate, irritating the judge.  All the while, standing stoically beside him to cover his complicity in Trump’s self-destructive behavior.
  4. In your opening statement, tell the jury Trump did not have sex with Stormy Daniels.  The jury would know it was a lie, and therefore could not trust anything else Blanche said.
  5. When Trump, for some reason, does not demand that his defense team challenge the accounts offered by David Pecker and Hope Hicks, let him have his way.  Was Trump afraid they, especially Pecker, had even more dirt on him?
  6. Obviously, vendetta-seeking Trump wanted to use the trial to destroy Stormy Daniels?  Instead, Blanche and his co-counsel Susan Necheles decided to slut-shame her, making her more of a sympathetic witness than she deserved to be.
  7. Trump’s motive for dealing with Michael Cohen was the same.  How could Blanche make this backfire?  First, bore the jury to sleep with hours of cross-examination that achieved nothing except to have Cohen simply confirm everything he had admitted during direct questioning.  Second, set up a “gotcha” moment which, maybe just maybe, Blanche suspected the prosecution could undercut with a time-synced video of Trump and his “bag man” Keith Shiller.
  8. Trump tells the defense team they have to call Robert Costello to bury Cohen, based on Costello fiery testimony before House Republicans accusing the Biden Administration (without evidence) of weaponizing the Department of Justice.  Blanche knows it will be a disaster based on the emails and text messages provided by the DA’s office during discovery.  But he gives Trump his wish anyway.
  9. In his final summation, Blanche continues to tell the jury the payments are for legitimate legal services, something he knows is not true and nobody on the jury will believe.
  10. Still unsure if he has convinced the jurors that Trump should be found guilty, Blanche hammers the final nail into his client’s coffin.  In his closing he says, “You cannot send someone to prison, you cannot convict somebody based upon the words of Michael Cohen.”  Blanche knew this inappropriate behavior, referencing sentencing when the juror has no role in that process, would infuriate Judge Merchan.  And Merchan would give the jury curative instructions which would telegraph his displeasure.

One or two unintentional mistakes by a legal team are understandable during a seven week trial.  But ten suggests a strategy.  And there are only two explanations.  Knowing they could not win on the evidence, Blanche risked his reputation so Trump’s appeal lawyers could point to these “errors” and suggest Blanche and his team were guilty of malpractice.  Or, having become frustrated with Trump’s trying to play lawyer, Blanche decided, “I’ll show this know-it-all SOB just how stupid he is.  And I dare him to accuse us of misrepresenting him.”

Where is Occam and his razor when we really need them.

For what it’s worth.

One thought on “In the National Interest II

  1. I can only hope, for Mr Blanche’s sake, that he billed daily, immediately payable in cash. But I DO like your final supposition.

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