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The Hush Money Trial: All the President's Criminals

Updated: May 23

Trump sleeps in court
Sometimes Donald Trump has trouble staying awake in his own trial.

Like most of you, I have been following the so-called hush money trial featuring Donald Trump, Stormy Daniels, and Michael Cohen. The prosecution has carefully and methodically presented a mountain of documents and supportive witnesses to suggest that Cohen, Trump, and others participated in a conspiracy to hide Trump’s illicit relationships by paying off the women with whom he had affairs.

The defense strategy in Judge Juan Merchan’s courtroom, has been to question the credibility of two key witnesses: Stormy Daniels and Michael Cohen. Whether or not the defense has succeeded in causing the jury to question these witnesses’ credibility is still to be determined. However, the defense was saddled with two very important truths that should be impossible to overcome: 1. The documentary evidence, and 2. The defendant’s own astounding lack of credibility.

The documents speak for themselves—I will not rehash the brilliant drip, drip, drip presentation of various pieces of evidence that prove Trump’s crimes and cover-up. The prosecution will be unable to challenge Trump’s credibility where it would love to—on the witness stand. But the documents corroborate witness testimony and destroy a key defense contention made during opening statement: Donald Trump’s counsel claimed that the alleged affair with Daniels never happened.

What testimony have we heard from any witness that is less credible than that obviously false statement? Can even the most ardent Trump supporter deny the affair and still retain credibility? The other key argument is that Cohen orchestrated the pay-off and cover-up on his own, without Trump’s knowledge. Considering that these two events benefitted Trump and not Cohen, it is almost impossible to believe that Cohen operated alone. Here again, in a battle of two participants with no credibility, common sense suggests that the more credible story is Cohen’s.

Trump's Hush Money Trial

In 19 days of trial, the defense has done nothing to support the lie it told in opening statement. I’m certain that the jury, after hearing Trump’s initial denial, has been waiting, with bated breath, for the proof of this assertion. In addition, while much has been made of Michael Cohen’s credibility or lack thereof, there is a clear timeline of his truths and falsities. False statements came in defense of Trump and support for his denials of the alleged affairs between him and Daniels and him and Karen McDougal. Consistent truth followed his plea bargain, imprisonment, and agreement to testify against his former boss.

And Cohen is only one of multiple people close to the president who has either been indicted, served time in prison, been convicted of criminal activity, is awaiting the outcome of an appeal, been pardoned, or cut a deal to avoid prison. Perhaps the most amazing accomplishment of Trump’s presidential campaign, presidency, and post-presidency is that he has yet to serve time in prison.

To date, Michael Cohen, Allen Weisselberg, Peter Navarro, Steve Bannon, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, Roger Stone, and Rick Gates have been indicted and convicted of at least one crime. Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro, and Scott Hall have accepted plea deals (in the Georgia election subversion case), and Rudy Giuliani and others have recently been indicted in Arizona.  These Trump associates have been found guilty in and around the criminal stink that permeates the air around Donald Trump. Yet, the hush money case defense team would have the jury believe that Trump is more credible than Cohen.

The charges in the hush money case are the most inconsequential of the Trump indictments.

The case reminds me of President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial—what public official wouldn’t lie about or conspire to conceal an illicit affair? I would have preferred that the insurrection case in DC, the election interference case in Georgia, or the classified documents case in Florida go first.

Yet, Michael Cohen and Allen Weisselberg went to prison for crimes related to this conspiracy–why should their primary co-conspirator, the man who benefitted from their participation, not be convicted on the same set of facts?

Multiple Trump associates have had their lives turned upside down while pledging fealty to Trump. We keep hearing that no one is above the law. In Trump’s case, that axiom has not yet been proven true. Isn’t it time for Donald Trump to face the consequences of his actions? 

As the case winds down, we will soon hear one jury’s answer. For the sake of America, I hope the answer is a definitive and resounding “yes.”

Bello Book

Please check out Mark Bello’s latest book, "The Anti-Semite Next Door," an exploration of antisemitism in the context of today's political environment.

Bello Books graphic

It's the latest in Bello's ripped-from-the-headlines legal thrillers, all available online at Amazon and other major online booksellers. He has quite the hero in Attorney Zachary Blake, who fights for justice on all fronts. His previous books are Betrayal of Faith, Betrayal of Justice, Betrayal in Blue, Betrayal in Black, Betrayal High, Supreme Betrayal, Betrayal at the Border, You Have the Right to Remain Silent, and The Final Steps – A Harbor Springs Cozy Legal Mystery. He’s also written a wonderful children’s book about bullying, “Happy Jack, Sad Jack,” and he's just released "Love Hate Law," a new legal romance novel. For more info, just check



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