Trump’s vintage remarks after convictions renew dilemma for media, voters: NPR

Donald Trump, at Trump Tower on Friday, reacts to his conviction on 34 counts in the “hush money” trial.

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Former President Donald Trump stood in the lobby of Trump Tower in Midtown Manhattan Friday morning, looking somewhat uncomfortable in his own building.

He wore his signature suit, shirt and tie and stood alone at a lectern with five American flags and a cold stone wall behind him. Gone is the usual human setting of flag-waving supporters seen at MAGA rallies. He stood alone, without a script or teleprompter, armed only with two sheets of paper and a look of barely controlled rage.

It was a press conference intended to respond to the jury’s verdict which had convicted him the day before on 34 counts. But it was more of a speech than a press conference. A contingent of journalists with cameras stood a few feet away, but Trump spoke without interruption and took no questions.

Not far away, a small crowd of supporters, including some family members, clapped and cheered at intervals. Trump never really decided which group he was addressing, checking in only sporadically with the live television broadcast camera. Some TV news channels eventually cut out as he rambled for a total of 33 minutes.

It’s the same place Trump spoke nine years ago this month when he took the “golden escalator” down to the same lobby and announced his first campaign for the Republican nomination for president. The stage that day featured Melania and Ivanka Trump, both dressed in white, and a forest of cameras brandished beneath Trump’s elevated stage. Everything about these plays described a different time in a different world.

Trump will remember this occasion on Friday when he almost immediately began attacking immigrants, as he did in 2015.

But first, he had to face the present moment – ​​and why he was here.

“This is a case where if they can do this to me, they can do this to anyone,” Trump said, referring to prosecutors and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. “They are bad people. In many cases, I believe, these are sick people.”

It was an echo of Trump’s frequent assertions to his crowds at his rallies that it is they, not him, who are the target of all his legal problems and his political adversaries.

But Trump reserved most of his vitriol for Judge Juan Merchan, who did not want to move the trial out of New York and rejected most of the motions filed by Trump’s lawyers.

“We just had one of many experiences where we had a confrontational, very confrontational judge. There has never been a more divisive judge,” Trump said.

Trump has long tried to blame Merchan’s $35 total in contributions to Democrats in 2020 and the judge’s daughter’s Democratic ties. At Merchan’s request, both issues were reviewed by the New York Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics and his denial of recusal was upheld on appeal.

But Trump returned to the charge on Friday, and the accusations of bias were only beginning.

“As far as the trial itself, it was very unfair,” Trump said. “We were not allowed to use our election expert under any circumstances.”

Merchan did allow this expert to testify, on the condition that the prosecution could also call its own expert. At that point, Trump’s team decided not to call the witness.

“You saw what happened to some of the witnesses who were on our side, they were literally crucified by this man,” Trump said, again referring to the judge.

“He looks like an angel but he’s really a devil,” Trump said of Merchan. “He looks so nice and gentle.”

Hearing Roy Cohn in Trump’s words

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference at Trump Tower following the verdict in his secret trial at Trump Tower on May 31, 2024 in New York.  A New York jury found Trump guilty Thursday on all 34 counts of concealing a $130,000 secret payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to prevent the publication of his story about their alleged affair during the 2016 presidential election. Trump is the first former US president to be convicted of crimes.

Former President Donald Trump speaks during a news conference at Trump Tower on Friday following the verdict in his secret trial in New York.

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Trump’s weeks of lambasting Merchan are reminiscent of the maximum he received a half-century ago from a lawyer named Roy Cohn, known for saying, “Don’t tell me what the law says, tell me who the judge is. »

Cohn has had an unparalleled career in the legal profession. The son of a judge, he graduated from Columbia and Columbia Law School at age 20 and went to work for the Justice Department. He helped convict Julius and Ethel Rosenberg of helping the Soviets steal nuclear secrets. FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover later recommended Cohn to the senator. Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin, who hired him to help in his hunt for communists in government.

Cohn then spent 30 years representing many of New York’s biggest names, including athletes, entertainers, a cardinal and organized crime bosses. In the 1970s, he represented Trump’s family real estate business when it was accused by the federal government of racial discrimination.

Trump himself continued to rely on Cohn for years. Even after reaching the White House in 2017, he complained that none of his many lawyers fought for him like “my Roy Cohn.”

Trump’s infamous playbook of misrepresentations

Trump didn’t let his latest legal reversal take up all his time on camera Friday. With live television coverage, at least for a while, he backed away from his latest legal reversal to attack the man he wants to replace in the White House in November.

Call for election day in November. 5 “on the most important day in American history,” Trump blamed Biden for all his legal troubles. He said the New York trial was orchestrated “in Washington” to protect the current administration, which he called a “fascist state.”

Trump has already made these accusations, without any form of proof, as he did not yet do on Friday. But he used the allegation of Biden’s involvement to attack Biden on immigration.

It was a kind of reprise of what you might call Trump’s greatest success. In his speech in this same room in 2015, he stunned the political world with his language about immigrants on the US border with Mexico: “They don’t send the best of themselves… they bring drugs, they are rapists. “

On Friday, Trump expanded his attack to include a number of other specific countries and nationalities sending “millions” who were “flooding” unchallenged across “open borders.” He mentioned Congo in Africa and China in particular.

He said Venezuela’s prisons had been “emptied” and countries were expelling people from their psychiatric facilities.

He provided no evidence or sources for any of these statements.

And while some of his claims took the form of glib, unproven superlatives, such as “record numbers of terrorists” entering the country, others were downright false and in blatant contradiction of the facts.

At the start of Friday’s speech, when criticizing the Manhattan district attorney, he said crime was “endemic” in the city and described it in apocalyptic terms. New York’s crime statistics are actually much lower today than in the 1990s, the decade in which Trump ally Rudy Giuliani was elected to two terms as mayor. Shootings and homicides have notably declined over the past two years.

But this type of inaccuracy or misinformation has been part of Trump’s arsenal for some time. He often raises rhetorical questions and makes sweeping statements that seem to come from an alternate reality.

His talent for selling his own version of reality posed a challenge to the media from his years as the star of a “reality show” called The apprentice. Trump was in the middle of his 14 seasons on the show when he began publicly asking whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States.

It is precisely this kind of lie – echoed and promoted by countless commentators on cable television, websites and social media – that made Trump a political force before he was an actual candidate. And when, during the fall 2016 election campaign, he informed the world that he himself had put an end to the “Birther” issue (which he blamed on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 campaign ), this forced many mainstream media outlets to re-examine their long-standing aversion to the topic. the word “lie”.

By the end of Trump’s term, the media had come to consistently label many of his claims as false – particularly his denial of his defeat in the 2020 election. Some had also begun calling Trump’s statements they believed to be lies. that he must have known they were false.

But Friday at Trump Tower was another reminder that as the November election draws closer and the political season begins to prevail, Trump can be expected to once again test and exceed the limits of reality and fiction.

Are we better prepared to deal with it this time?

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