The jurors in the criminal trial of Donald Trump, the 45th US president, took an oath to put aside all bias, keep an open mind, and follow the facts and law wherever they led in rendering their verdict. The jurors who previously got most of their news from Truth Social and Fox News clearly kept that oath.

Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville showed up at the trial in a bright red tie determined to do the opposite - to keep a closed mind, ignore the evidence presented in his presence, and hew to his party leader no matter what – which is completely antithetical to America’s system of justice.

Now that they have rendered a guilty verdict after hearing seven weeks of evidence, Tuberville has joined a MAGA chorus savagely impugning the twelve citizens who took seven weeks of their lives to hear from more than 20 witnesses and review more than 200 documentary exhibits placed into evidence.

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I was also privileged, in my dual capacity as an attorney and a journalist, to be one of the few Americans in the courtroom, hearing the evidence and arguments directly, and not through the filter of either NewsMax or MSNBC. I could not have been more impressed at how much stronger the evidence was in person, compared to hearing the two-minute summaries of the days’ proceedings on TV.

In fact, my direct experience left me with no doubt that a reasoned jury would see that Trump directed a scheme for Michael Cohen to pay off Stormy Daniels for her silence, just after the Access Hollywood tape release and right before the election, and attempted to hide the reimbursement of Cohen’s expense as a stream of fake legal retainer fees.

Overcoming the Dementia of the Free World
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Overcoming the Dementia of the Free World

Kamala Harris should seek the presidency and include the Republicans’ “Proposed Plan for Victory in Ukraine” as part of her platform.

This false substitution of expenses for income required the generation and submission to the state and federal governments of false tax records, 1099 forms for the faux income from phony legal fees - a crime to hide another crime. Under New York law, that boosted the misdemeanor of falsifying business records to 34 felony counts analogous to evidence tampering and fraud.

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It is hard for me to believe, as much as I have in common with Tuberville, how different our perceptions were of the trial. We both have many formative years of experience, me as a high school student at Indian Springs and Tuberville as a football coach at Auburn, that created strong ties to Alabama, though we both no longer live in the state. We both had an opportunity to experience the proceedings directly (not that he seems to have been listening).

One thing I heard that likely did not strengthen Trump’s credibility with the jury was his drop-dead insistence, as in the previous  E Jean Carol case - that he had never had anything to do with Stormy Daniels or Karen McDougal and that they were both lying about their less-than-satisfactory sexual encounters with him.

That is inconsistent with everything we know about Donald Trump, whose hard-partying exploits with Jeffrey Cohen at Studio 54 filled the pages of New York tabloids and Playboy Magazine for decades. Remember when he announced, after getting his draft deferments, how he fought his “own personal Vietnam” against the STDs so prevalent in his hedonistic social circles (though the judge kept such prejudicial evidence from the jury)?

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More importantly, the question of whether he actually had sex with Stormy Daniels was completely irrelevant to the legal question of whether he falsified business records to hide the alleged affair to influence the imminent 2016 election. Nonetheless, he directed his attorneys to die on the hill of the obvious lie that his only contact with Stormy Daniels was the selfie taken together - and their fortunes surely did flag on that hill.

But the prosecution still had the burden of proving its case. And what I heard was the prosecution satisfying every element of the criminal statutes under which Trump was charged. I already recounted how the scheme Trump knew and approved to pretend the reimbursement to Cohen was really income earned as legal fees - and how this swap of income for expenses required the creation of false tax forms, a crime to hide the crime of illegal campaign contributions intended to fool the public and win the election.

Did Trump know about the scheme? That is one of the questions on which the media focused some skepticism. However, if Tommy Tuberville had sat in the courtroom the day prosecutors detailed how Trump and his team tried to hide the signing of the phony checks to Michael Cohen, even Tuberville might have wondered.

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Why would you Fedex fake checks, check stubs and invoices to the home address of Trump’s personal chief of security to smuggle them into the White House, evading the normal screening process? And then protest that you did nothing wrong? And did not know about the elaborate scheme you went to such great lengths to conceal from anyone outside the Trump Org’s inner circle?

Is Tuberville saying Trump did not do any of these things? Or is he saying it is OK for Trump to do these things?

But I have a more fundamental difference with Tommy Tuberville.

In our court system, the evidence presented to a jury must pass a legal bar of trustworthiness and relevance - which is why statements that have no factual basis to meet that legal test, such as Trump and Tuberville’s clamor on Fox News that Joe Biden was directing the prosecution, cannot be uttered in the courtroom.

The jury who decided Trump’s fate - now so roughly abused by Tommy Tuberville, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Tim Scott, JD Vance, Jim Jordan, Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Mike Johnson - is so fundamental to our system of justice that is it embedded in the US Constitution along with the right to counsel and due process - of which Donald Trump received seven weeks’ worth, contrary to MAGA claims of the trial being a “sham” and a “disgrace.”

Now that the jury rendered a verdict that is not advantageous to the convicted felon Tuberville blindly follows, promising to grind the government to a halt- though, to be fair, that is his proven specialty and default position. Personally, I believe the founders of our republic devised an ingenious system of government founded on the Constitution. I saw that system work in the Trump trial, and I vote to let it keep on working. May it grind the close-minded obstructionists like Tuberville in its beneficent gears.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post.

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