Trump’s Legal Escape From ‘Stormy’ Weather

Rudy Giuliani’s supposedly unhinged and indisciplined rant on the Sean Hannity show opened up a legal path for Donald Trump to extricate himself from La Affaire Stormy Daniels with minimal legal jeopardy. By admitting that he recompensed Michael Cohen, and thus admitting knowledge of the contract, Trump makes the non-disclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels valid, and thus ensures she is still bound by its non-disclosure terms–even as he simultaneously denies ever  having had an affair with her. Moreover, even if his recompensing Cohen can be viewed as a violation of campaign finance laws, Trump may get off with merely a misdemeanor violation and not suffer a felony conviction.

Two ugly facts conspire to make such an escape for Trump possible: it has been assumed thus far that Trump would not ‘fess up to knowledge of the contract with Stormy Daniels because to do so would be to submit to the embarrassment of having to admit that he had an affair, or at least a sexual encounter with her, which he then sought to cover up with a pay-off and a non-disclosure agreement, but in point of fact, Trump and his team have realized that there is no embarrassment in simply denying any such ‘contact’ took place. They can call Stormy Daniels a liar and rely on their usual obfuscations to do the rest of the work; for the Republican base, the misogynistic assessment of her as ‘only a porn star’ is enough. The claim that a non-disclosure agreement was the best way to get a ‘hustler’ or a ‘shyster’ to ‘shut up’ will find favor with the Republican ‘base’ quite easily. So the ‘escape’ picture emerges: the non-disclosure agreement was made ‘legally’ to silence a nuisance; the president did speak falsely on occasion, but never under oath in a court of law; his conversations with reporters are like his other lie-ridden interactions with the media, that is, nothing distinctive. Moreover, we can rely on the legal system to deliver the lightest slap on the wrist possible to Trump when it comes to violations of campaign finance law; the rigorous conditions of ‘knowingly and willingly’ required for a felony violation will be hard to meet. The payments Trump made to Cohen can be ‘contextualized’ in some fashion to make them ever so more ‘appropriate’ and not transgressive of legality; they can be made to look less like flagrant violations of campaign finance law if dressed up with the right kinds of  language.

No matter what the political costs, Trump’s legal team has at least devised a scheme for reducing their client’s legal jeopardy; it ‘works’ in conjunction with a particular social setting in which he can also rely on his sentencing on any possible violations of campaign finance laws to be rather gentle. Embarrassment as a social force only works when the subject responds to it accordingly or sees it working as intended; in the current  media setting and in the current psycho-political mood no embarrassment is enough. All will be tolerated in the name of inducing liberal rage. Fuck your feelings indeed.

2 comments on “Trump’s Legal Escape From ‘Stormy’ Weather

  1. CK Sharma says:

    You had elections. Trump (R) won. Hillary (D) lost. Since then, instead of letting Trump finish his presidential term, all the Democraps, aided and abetted by the leftist/ liberal mob, as we say in Hindi हाथ धो के Trump के पीछे पड़ गऐ हो!!

    Surely this is NOT democracy!

    Need to STFU and give Trump space to govern!!

    IMHO

  2. Nqabutho says:

    I think Michael Avenatti has assumed from the beginning that Donald Trump had knowledge of the agreement, and would disagree with the idea that Trump’s knowledge of the contract “makes the non-disclosure agreement with Stormy Daniels valid”; otherwise he would not have brought the case. The case is complex, and the conflicting accounts make the disclosure process and the deposition of Trump more likely. There are crimes other than campaign finance violations involved (e.g., bank fraud), and there is the defamation lawsuit as well.

    As with the Mueller and SDNY investigations, we should remember that there are two disjoint audiences: the credulous fear-driven Republican base, esp. the pseudo-evangelicals, and everyone else. Trump, doing only what he knows how to do (he has no conception of “law”), pursues his intuitive “PR” campaign, while the legal cases proceed under the guidance of the legal professionals. The 2018 elections will I suppose determine whether the culture of truth or the culture of dishonesty prevails.

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