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The conviction of Donald Trump by a Manhattan jury this week sent shockwaves throughout the legal and political worlds, not only because it's the first ever criminal conviction of a former President and leading presidential candidate, but also because of the massive controversies underlying the prosecution's case and how it was handled by the judge. In this episode, we talk with a legal expert about those controversies and former President Trump's options moving forward. I'm Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief John Bickley. It's June second, and this is a Sunday edition of Morning Wire.


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Joining us now to give a legal perspective on the Hush Money verdict. The road ahead is semi-retired attorney, Leslie McAdoo. Gordon, Leslie, thank you for coming on.


Thank you for inviting me.


If one were to watch the legacy media on this verdict, they might think that there was nothing unusual about this case, that it was just standard operating procedure. But that's far from the reality. First, can you walk us through the key points about what makes this case different and why so many legal analysts like yourself have sounded the alarm over it?


Well, the first obvious thing is that it's the first criminal case ever brought against a former president of the United States. That in and of itself is just jaw-dropping in its own way. But you're right, the legacy media has covered this case as if it's just another low-level felony matter in any trial court, in any district in the country, and this is absolutely not what's going on with this case. If we were talking about someone whose last name wasn't Trump, this case wouldn't have been brought in the first place. The politics is clearly driving the prosecution. From a a long-time lawyer's perspective, that is absolutely 100% not the way the law is supposed to work. Right. Lawyers, regardless of their political persuasion, should be saying and should be voicing the view that this is an inappropriate way to the legal system. But you don't see the legacy media sounding that alarm. One of the things that makes the case unusual, very, very unusual, is that these are the offenses that prosecutors usually decline. They usually talk to the individual if they've investigated it at all, and there's some an agreement that the person is going to straighten out their records or that they're not going to engage in this conduct again, and it does not go to court.


Very unfortunately, the situation appears to be a case where this defendant is being prosecuted because of who he is, not because of the commission of a crime. The legacy media is simply ignoring that altogether.


What about the argument that this is a Frankenstein case, that you have a dead state-level misdemeanor charge, mashed together with an ambiguous second crime that's never fully fleshed out, and that really should fall under federal jurisdiction?


Right. This case is extremely complicated. Filter Learning out all the politics, all the personalities, the legal theory that the government chose here is extremely complicated. This question of, can you mash up, as you've put it, a state case with a federal case has multiple layers to it. From a strictly jurisdictional point of view, the state doesn't have the authority to prosecute federal offenses. That's clear. Everybody knows that. On the other hand, that's not what this state prosecutor did. He didn't charge the former president with the federal violations. The idea was to use the federal election charge as one of the means of committing the state underlying felony. I know of no case that says that state prosecutors cannot do that as a matter of jurisdiction. But why it looks wrong in this case is more that the federal officials who are charged with investigating and prosecuting that federal crime took a pass in this case, that they determined that there was no such crime. At a minimum, they've never charged it against the former president. It seems inappropriate that the state prosecutor is doing that using that a federal offense when the The heads themselves have declined it.


What they did was they charged him with books and records offenses. In order to make that charge under New York state law into a felony, they linked it to another statute in New York. Because the felony version of the books and records offense says that the person has to have altered the records with the specific intent to have committed or covered up another crime. The other crime that the prosecutors claimed was at issue in the case was a moving target. Not, it was a moving target. Pre-trial, during the trial, really up until just before the closing arguments, the defense was in the dark as to, well, what's the other offense that the prosecutors are relying on? Now, unfortunately, in many places, keeping the defense in the dark like that up till the very end, again, doesn't technically violate the rules. I think here that that probably is a good due process claim that Trump's lawyers can bring, that on the facts and circumstances here, he was deprived of the ability to defend himself with due process. Due process requires at a minimum, the very barest bones version of due process is you have to have notice of what the issue is and a right to be heard on it.


Here, I think there's a problem under both prongs. He wasn't told until the very end, really, what their theory was. The way the New York statute works, which is not the way it is everywhere, the defense argues first, then the prosecutors, and the defense does not have a right to respond to that. I think there's a very good argument that he did not get either a proper notice or an opportunity to be heard on what exactly that second offense was.


I think most observers, and we've heard a lot of legal analysts make this case, would say that reaching a verdict without having to have a unanimous agreement on the underlying crimes, which helped elevate this to a felony, seems indefensible and ripe for appeal.


Let me explain the unanimity a little bit. The jury, of course, all of them, however many there are, in this case, 12, they all have to agree that you're guilty. But under that general heading, there is additional law about, well, what exactly do they have to agree on? Do all of them have to agree on every single thing? The way the law has developed, there's basically two strands. One is what's called elements of an offense, and the other is called means, means of achieving that offense. The law is very clear that for the elements of the offense, the jury has to be unanimous on each element, and they all have to think the same element has been proved. In order to prove It's an assault, you have to prove that there was this unwanted touching. They all have to agree that that happened. Means of achieving an offense is different from the elements of the offense. The means are buried in this intent element. You start out with, you have to have the specific intent to commit another crime or cover up another crime. A Court of Appeals is going to look at this and say, the jury had to be unanimous.


All 12 of them had to agree that the defendant had the specific intent to commit the other offense or to cover up the other offense. They will probably also say that all 12 of them had to agree on what that other offense was. The further question, though, is did they all have to agree on the means by which this election interference allegedly took place? The theory on that was extremely unclear. The instructions that the judge gave the jury didn't really help them. You'd have to, I think, interpret between the the facts and the law to figure out what the prosecutors were trying to say was the improper means. The reason it looks wrong is because you're really reaching. These prosecutors, they're just reaching. They're just contorting, distorting, stretching everything in order to come up with something to charge the person with. That's why it looks wrong. A lot of what the objections are to this case, what the prosecutors are doing is technically permissible. But when you start piling on top of one another things that technically permissible, but the better course of judgment would be that you don't do it that way, the more of those that you pile up, the farther and farther you tack away from what you should be doing.


That should be telling you as a prosecutor that you shouldn't be pursuing this theory of prosecution.


I think this is what has so many people so shocked and outraged by this. This is the first ever conviction of a former president. You think it would need to be extremely clear and buttoned up, but it's the opposite. The fact that this is this convoluted and that you have political biases built in with a Democrat DA and a former member of the Biden administration on the prosecution, that's not just a bad look. No matter if there's a technical rationale for some of the moves, how is this not an abuse of the law for political purposes?


Right, correct. It should be, it's supposed to be, I always thought it was, anathema in this country to use the legal process to go after political opponents. This is something that we have always said, Americans don't do that. That is un-American. I still think that. But again, if we want to talk technicalities, there's technically nothing wrong with an official from the Biden Justice Department leaving the Department and joining the state prosecutor's office and joining that team. This is the reason that we have developed conflict of interest statutes, because we do think it's inappropriate for government officials to be in the government, carrying out political agendas for the administration, and then coming out into the private sector and turning right around and working with the government again. Those kinds of rules do not apply to lawyers. The law and policy has always looked at lawyers differently in that way. Okay, there's nothing technically wrong with that. But in the law, there is a very strong policy that normally applies of the appearance of justice. So lawyers and the court and the prosecutor's office are all supposed to be conducting themselves not just within the law, not just within the rules of ethics, but also giving the appearance of it, because it is terribly, terribly important that the people that our body politic see the law as neutral and objective, not just that no man is above the law, but also that people aren't below the law, that political opponents are not being targeted and prosecuted.


It becomes very difficult for the public to believe that when you have these appearance problems, you have that problem with the judge in this case.


Right about that. The Trump team and many legal analysts have argued that Judge Mershon should have recused himself due to his past political donation to Biden and his family ties to the Democratic Party. One would think the appearance of impartiality is all the more crucial in arguably the most high-profile case of all time.


Exactly. The context is terribly important. There, you should air even more on the side of it has to look fair. It has to be fair, and it has to look fair. You just want to boil it down to the vernacular.


Now, Judge Mershon has set the sentencing date for July 11th, four days before the Republican National Convention. A lot of people are pointing that out. A lot of pundits are debating whether or not Mershon will end up sentencing Trump to prison. In terms of legal precedent, what is the most likely outcome there?


Okay, so even though this is a felony in the New York system, it's the lowest level felony. This is a probation case from a defense lawyer's point of view, right? It's not a jail case. It's probation on its best today. It's books and records keeping, no financial loss, no what I used to say, the things that drive up your sentencing are money, drugs, violence, and sex. If you don't have any of those things in your case, you're not going to get very long sentence. We don't have any of that here. Plus, you have under normal circumstances, you have a defendant who is not young. He's an older man. He's got no criminal record. He's got a long history and record of public service. In a normal case, if his last name wasn't Trump, that's a probation case.


But his last name is Trump.


His last name is Trump, exactly. What's interesting about that is this judge apparently has said that typically this is not the set of charges where jail would be a proper sentence. He may still think that. We'll see.


What about the gag order Mirshawn slapped on Trump? Another highly controversial part of this case Will that still be in effect during this process?


Technically, the answer is yes. But the force of it has gone out because in theory, it's supposed to be protecting the jury, which I always thought was laughably absurd in this case. But technically, that order stands, I think, as long as this judge has jurisdiction, which he won't lose until the appeal starts.


How would the appeal process affect the sentencing? You're saying it's very unlikely that we'll see a jail sentence, but how does that tend to work in this case?


On the criminal side of the courthouse, you cannot appeal until you've been sentenced. There are exceptions. But in general, the case is not considered final until you have been sentenced. So they can't even appeal until he's been sentenced. If the judge were to order the person to serve their sentence right away, they would have finished and served long before the appeal really has even gotten started for short sentences. In that situation, the law allows for the defense to ask for a stay, and you can ask for a stay of the sentence from the trial judge, and then you can also ask for a stay of the sentence from the Court of Appeals if the trial judge won't give it to you. Then if neither of them give it to you, in a normal case, that's it. But in a high-profile case like this with so much on the line, the president's lawyers might try to get the federal court to intervene and stay a sentence. I think in practical reality, if Judge Marchand gives Trump any sentence to serve in jail, I think either he or the Court of Appeals will probably give a stay because the test for whether you are entitled to this stay is a combination of factors, one of which is, will you have served your sentence before the appeals that gets around to ruling on your issues?


Do you have any really solid issues to raise where you might get the reversal? There's usually another factor in there for the balance of whether justice is served by letting the person not serve their sentence right now. He'd have all those arguments. I think all of those favor, in this case, would favor the defense.


On the special condition that the fact that he's a leading presidential candidate in the middle of an election.


Right. They're not going to be able to ignore that. They simply can't ignore that, that he's on the campaign trail. In another case, they don't care about what your job is. They don't care that you're out of work. They don't care. But in this case, they're going to have to care. He's a special case.


Is there any chance that the Supreme Court intervenes?


In the most extreme This circumstance, could that happen? I think there is this is what I always used to tell clients. There's a non-zero chance that the Supreme Court could do that. I can't say that it's literally nothing because if Murchan were to sentence, let's say he gave him six months to serve and he won't give Trump's lawyers a stay, and the Court of Appeals won't give Trump's lawyers to stay, and the highest court in New York won't give Trump's lawyers a stay, and the district Court says, We're not going to get involved in this. If all of that were to happen, and he has a sentence to serve, that in theory, he's supposed to be serving right now that would take up the rest of the campaign and the election, then maybe the Supreme Court would feel like they have to do something.


Final question, big picture. What aspect of this case do you feel is not being emphasized enough in the national narrative by the legacy media?


I would say the uniqueness of the prosecution, as you started out with. They just are ignoring that issue. From a lawyer's point of view, that's the biggest issue. That's the huge elephant in the room that this case should not have been brought in the first place. The exercise of prosecutorial discretion, the norms that we normally operate under in the legal system, the values that we have as Americans that we don't do this thing, they're not talking about that. That's the biggest problem. It's not technically a legal problem is the frustration for his lawyers. It's a cultural problem. It's a values problem.


Well, Leslie, thank you so much for coming on and giving us your expert analysis on this very consequential case.


You're more than welcome. Thank you again for inviting me.


That was attorney Leslie McAdoo-Gordon, and this has been a Sunday edition of MorningWire.