Oh mama, I’m in fear for my life from the long arm of the law Styx Outlaw
Oh, Man! So often in these hearing things, what looks like a wharf riot in the making in the lead up, turns out to be a slap fight at a garden party. Not today. Not with Judge Tanya Chutkan on the bench.
This is not sarcasm, nor is it meant as an insult. Judge Tanya Chutkan is everything that Judge Aileen Cannon isn’t. Judge Chutkan is smart, savvy, and has almost a decade of judicial experience under her belt, not to mention vast experience in court before her elevation to the bench. Judge Cannon has almost no judicial experience, and almost no actual court experience as a former AUSA before her freak elevation to the bench in the dying days of the Trump dynasty. And most importantly, Judge Chutkan is a hard and level headed jurist, one totally committed to the law. Judge Cannon is a star struck judicial teeny-bopper, beholden to her master, and with apparently little actual devotion to the law as a concept.
And today Judge Chutkan brought her A-Game. This is her courtroom, and she’ll brook no bullsh*t from anybody. But moreover, it was obvious that she had done due diligence on the lawyers appearing before her on both sides, and had a feel for their styles and goals. Most importantly, she had obviously done her homework on one Traitor Tot.
For instance, Special Counsel Jack Smith basically asked for pretty much a blanket Order of Protection. Chutkan knows an opening gambit in negotiation when she sees it. Likewise, The Trump legal gnomes pretty much asked for permission to put whatever they get on News Max or The Drudge Report. Judge Chutkan also knows horsesh*t when she sees it.
Like King Solomon, Judge Chutkan split the baby, although not quite in half by my reckoning. Former US Attorney Harry Littman pegged it at a 60-40 split for the prosecution. My take was a little closer to 65-35%, But the way she did it covered every base she wanted to cover.
Chutkan gave Smith what he wanted the most. Trump will be unable to view any sensitive evidence, such as names and addresses of grand jury and FBI witnesses, along with other things without at least one of his paid lawyers present. Trump is forbidden from taking an y notes, or carrying any digital reproductive equipment, such as a cell phone with a camera, or a digital camera to photograph evidence. One Ruby Freeman and Shea Moss is enough for a case, thank you very much. She also put the kibosh on the Trump legal team using unpaid legal volunteers to examine sensitive information. Go sell a building or something.
But she also gave the defense enough of what it wanted to serve two purposes at once. One, it showed conclusively that she was not a prosecution lap poodle, like Cannon is for Trump. Two, she made it clear that repeated violations of her orders and rulings could lead to her adjusting the order to the detriment of the defense.
Then she kicked Trump in his ego balls, more than once. The first thing she did was to throw Trump lawyer John Laura under Trump’s own bus. She grilled Lauro on Trump’s repeated rally assertions that he doesn’t care what happens, nobody is going to violate his First Amendment Rights to shoot off his mouth and threaten witnesses and expose sensitive case information. I’m hoping that Lauro was wearing Depends when he rose to reply, otherwise he must have asked for a brief recess afterwards. Lauro stammered through numerous assurances that not only would His Lowness adhere to her rulings and instructions, he’d adhere to the Order of Protection as well. This not only places him in direct conflict with his own client, but it allows Judge Chutkan to slap him around like a tetherball if Trump defies her.
Then Chutkan gave Trump a chainsaw vasectomy. While she repeated and defended Trump’s First Amendment Rights, she also reminded Lauro repeatedly that his client is still a criminal defendant, and subject to the same rules as any other criminal defendant. And violating those rules could lead to increasing sanctions of severity if he continues his non compliance.
Then she swung for the fences when she told Lauro that while Trump had every right under the constitution to run for President, that didn’t mean jack sh*t to her. Trump is still nothing more than a criminal defendant in her courtroom. She put Trump and his defense team on notice when she said that his political calendar would have no effect on her rulings or scheduling decisions. And just to rub his nose in it, she repeated once again that he was a criminal defendant, subject to the rules and schedule of the court.
Look, we all know that this is just legal Kabuki, and Trump could give a sh*t less. He isn’t going to let some minority woman in a black muumuu tell him what to do. Looking weak in front of his slobbering base would be the kiss of death. And so Judge Chutkan put the hammer down where it hurts the most.
Trump’s entire legal strategy is to try to delay the trial until after the election when with a victory he could make it go away. And so in one smooth move Chutkan grabbed that toy out of his hand.
And then she took him behind the woodshed. She told Trump’s lawyer that it was his responsibility to make it clear to his client that he needed to dial down the threatening rhetoric. Continued escalating threats against prosecutors, the judge, and potential or actual witnesses would leave her no choice but to move up the trial date to ensure a safe and orderly environment. Talk about putting Dracula under a sun lamp.
That’s it. The two sides will meet again in her court on August 28th for the already scheduled preliminary hearing. And this time Trump will be required to be present. If any of Trump’s lawyers have the cojones to give him an unvarnished version of today’s hearing, it will be interesting to see how The Cheeto Prophet behaves himself the next two weeks. Because it should finally be starting to sink in to him that not only is he finally facing a woman who isn’t intimidated by him, that woman has the legal authority to make his life a living hell. Don’t touch that dial..