Scholz to Putin: We will defend ‘every square inch’ of NATO territory

NEW YORK: Former President Donald Trump says he will appeal his historic conviction, likely centering on porn star Stormy Daniels’s salacious testimony about their alleged sexual encounter and the novel legal theory prosecutors used in the case.
“We will appeal this fraud,” Trump, the Republican presidential candidate for 2024, said on Friday. He faces a tough fight.
His defense attorney, Todd Blanche, told CNN on Thursday that Trump will appeal after the verdict is announced on July 11. The verdict is unlikely to be decided before his rematch against Democratic President Joe Biden on November 5.
Twelve jurors found the real estate mogul turned politician guilty on Thursday of falsifying business records to cover up the payment of $130,000 in hush money by his former lawyer Michael Cohen to Daniels to illegally influence the 2016 election, which he won.
Trump has pleaded not guilty and denies having sex with Daniels, whose first name is Stephanie Clifford. He argues that the Manhattan district attorney’s office, led by Democrat Alvin Bragg, brought the charges to jeopardize his presidential campaign.
To succeed in his appeal, 77-year-old Trump must prove that Judge Juan Merchan made significant errors in overseeing the trial.
If Trump’s appeal in the New York state courts is unsuccessful, he could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Trump’s lawyers would have to convince at least four of the court’s nine judges to hear his case.
To prevail, Trump would then have to prove that the state’s charges violated his constitutional rights and that his legal team followed proper procedures in the earlier stages of the trial.
While Trump could not bypass the lower state courts and appeal directly to the Supreme Court, he could seek redress if, for example, he faces prison time in the middle of his election campaign.
The court’s 6-3 conservative majority includes three Trump-appointed justices, and the court has handled other Trump-related cases in ways that have proven beneficial to his candidacy.
When the court in late February allowed Trump’s claim that he enjoyed absolute immunity from prosecution for his actions as president, it postponed the case’s hearing until late April. That delay could prevent Trump’s trial in Washington on election fraud charges, to which he has pleaded not guilty, from taking place before the election.

IS SPANKING IN A MAGAZINE RELEVANT?
On appeal, Trump’s lawyers will likely argue that Daniels’ testimony about the encounter at a Lake Tahoe hotel went into too much detail for a case that was more about whether Trump falsified documents than whether he had sex with Daniels.
On May 7, Daniels testified that she slapped Trump on the butt with a rolled-up magazine and that he did not use a condom. She mentioned the position they were in. She said she “passed out” and could not remember removing her clothes, but said she did not consume alcohol or drugs and never said “no” to Trump during the encounter.
Defense attorney Todd Blanche twice asked Merchan to declare a mistrial based on her testimony, which he believed biased the 12-member jury.
“How can we come back in a way that is fair to President Trump?” Blanche told the jury on May 7.
The judge denied both requests, in part because Blanche said in her opening statement on April 22 that Daniels’ account of an encounter with Trump was false. Merchan said prosecutors have the right to obtain witness testimony to prove their credibility.
Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School, said none of Merchan’s decisions were obvious errors, which reduced Trump’s lawyers’ chances of having the ruling overturned.
“I can’t imagine an appeals court would say the newspaper fine warrants reversal,” said Roiphe, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

NEW THEORY
In addition to Daniels’ testimony, the defense could argue on appeal that the judge’s gag order limiting Trump’s public statements about witnesses violated his rights. Trump alluded to this on Friday when he complained about restrictions the judge placed on the potential testimony of an election law expert whom the defense ultimately chose not to call as a witness.
“We will appeal on many counts. He did not allow us to have witnesses. He did not allow us to talk, he did not allow us to do anything,” Trump said.
The defense will also likely argue that the charges themselves were not legally justified. Some legal experts have said the case could be vulnerable to such a challenge because the prosecution’s legal theory was not tested on appeal.
Falsifying business records is a misdemeanor in New York, but is upgraded to a felony when done to further or cover up another crime.
In that case, prosecutors say Trump was trying to cover up a conspiracy involving him and Cohen to further a run for public office through unlawful means, a misdemeanor in New York state. They say the hush money payment to Daniels was a de facto campaign contribution that exceeded the $2,700 limit for political contributions in 2016.
When Trump’s lawyers urged Merchan to dismiss the lawsuit last year, they argued that New York state law did not apply to federal elections.
Merchan allowed the case to continue, but Jed Shugerman, a law professor at Boston University, said the law was unclear on this point and could cause problems on appeal.
George Grasso, a retired New York state judge who attended the trial, said it was unlikely the defense would succeed in challenging the decision.
“They will try to appeal everything,” Grasso said, but added that he thought the judge’s decision was reasonable.

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