Credit: Wikimedia Commons

HUSH HUSH, SWEET STORMY:  Eventually, all roads lead to Santa Barbara. This is not a statement of statistical probability. It’s a codified law of physics, right up there with inertia, entropy, and gravity. Just ask the Physics Department out at UCSB. In this week’s criminal indictment against Donald Trump — dangerously dubious, in my estimation — the local hook is pretty immediate. 

Until April 2019, Michael Avenatti, the trash-talking TV-show attorney hired by porn courtesan Stormy Daniels during the hush-money scandal, parked his $4.5 million private plane, bought by stealing clients’ money, at the Santa Barbara Airport, where federal agents confiscated the jet. Late last year, Avenatti — once warmly regarded by all right-thinking, Trump-hating MSNBC watchers for his anti-Trump tirades — got sent away for 14 years. Had Avenatti milked a cow as ruthlessly as he did his customers, he could have been prosecuted for animal abuse, too.

The point here is that the enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend.

Then there’s the complaint filed with the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office in December 2018 against Stormy Daniels’s husband, Glendon Crain, for sending a threatening and homophobic note to two of Stormy Daniels’s “gay dads” who live in the Santa Ynez Valley. They had helped Daniels set up an online marketing portal to peddle her line of merch, and Crain purported to believe these two had bilked Daniels — and, by extension, Crain himself and the couple’s daughter — out of $25,000 from T-shirt sales.

The T-shirt in question depicted an almost-naked Daniels in an enticing pose for those in the proctological community with the words “Don’t Make Me Spank You” emblazoned across the top. This refers to Daniels’s allegation that she had spanked the then-TV celebrity Trump with a rolled-up copy of Forbes magazine during the assignation about which she was later paid $130,000 to shut up

Among my many disappointments with the 34-count indictment against Trump is the utter lack of light it sheds on whether Trump’s face — as has been alleged — graced the Forbes cover in question. The self-love possibilities here are staggering — Trump’s face fused to his own ass in a percussive combustion of connubial bliss!

Daniels’s relationship with Avenatti got pretty stormy, too; she would eventually accuse him of ripping her off. “Bilking,” I think the word was. The “gay dads” thought this ungrateful on Daniels’s part, given all he had done for her; they said as much in media reports. Out of this, the Santa Ynez Valley got another 15 minutes of fame. 

As for the indictment itself, it underwhelms in the extreme. I’m certain that Trump did everything alleged, but as a matter of law, falsifying business records to perpetuate a conspiracy to violate campaign finance reporting law — seems like a glass jaw waiting to get punched. I had to squint to understand the multi-pronged geometry of the legal argument. Even then, it seemed a bit technical. As has been noted elsewhere, this will be the first time such a legal theory has been prosecuted, making it what the experts like to call “untested.” Also grand juries are notoriously fungible things in the hands of even an average prosecutor. As one New York judge famously opined, any decent prosecutor can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich. (That judge was himself subsequently indicted for sending sick and creepy angry letters — a condom was enclosed in one — to the teenage daughter of a woman who’d abruptly ended the affair they’d been having.)

Trump may be as close to a ham sandwich as any prosecutor could find, but grand jury indictments need not be unanimous — a simple majority will suffice. Real juries, by stark contrast, have to be unanimous to return a felony conviction. In a real trial, all you need is one juror to say — as Trump reportedly has — that the real reason for the cover-up was to keep his wife Melania from finding out about his Stormy Daniels moment.

Consistency, I know, is the hobgoblin of little minds, but I remember the horror and outrage I vented during the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton not so long ago because he lied about a sexual relationship he had with a 22-year-old intern. In fact, we all did. I’m not sure what moral code says you can’t impeach a president for lying under oath about a surreptitious blow job in the Oval Office, but that’s the one we cited. It was in this context that Hillary Clinton concluded there was “a vast right-wing conspiracy” out to get the Clintons.

Guess what? She was right. But so too are MAGA-heads and Trump supporters who regard this indictment as politically motivated. 

Of course it is.

My real frustration here is with the Deep State. Where are they when you need them? And if you’re going to trigger World War III — as these charges certainly will — why go into battle armed with only a water pistol? Why not wait for a real bazooka of a case, such as the indictment looming over Trump’s role fomenting the attack on the Capitol, in which people actually died and about 120 police officers were injured? Or why not wait to indict Trump for pressuring Georgia’s election czar to “find 112,000 votes” to reverse the state’s election results? These are obvious offenses. They also have the capacity to outrage people in the middle spectrums of America’s ever-inflamed cultural schisms. Like it or not, these people are our neighbors.

By contrast, the underlying offenses in these other cases are immediately obvious. No squinting is necessary.

The enemy of your enemy is not necessarily your friend

Remember that.


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