If you thought MAGA law professor Jonathan Turley had really forsaken Donald Trump just because the evidence against him in the Mar-a-Lago case is “extremely damning,” think again.
There was lots of talk last week when, after the details of the DOJ indictment against Donald Trump were revealed, Turley said – on Fox News, no less – that the indictment is “extremely damning,” “overwhelming in its details,” “damaging,” “highly incriminating” and “not an indictment that you can dismiss.”
But I had a feeling Turley would not be lost for long. Sadly, I was right.
On Wednesday, Turley visited Fox News’ Your World show from his newly-reclaimed perch on the Trump Train, in a video Fox called “Jonathan Turley: Trump is running on this case, not from it.”
There was barely a mention of the very damning evidence, nothing about how much Trump may have endangered U.S. security or his fascistic threats to make the DOJ his presidential puppet and sic it on Joe Biden. Now, Turley was all about tarnishing the case against Trump. First, Turley suggested the prosecutors would likely lose the case against Trump because he looks too much like a victim to too many.
TURLEY: We just saw a poll showing that 47% of people believe that this [case] is politically motivated. Now, roughly the same number believes that this is a justified series of charges, but that is still a difficult jury pool if it's reflected in Miami.
Remember, while Trump can't lose a single count without facing a very significant threat of jail, Smith can't lose a single juror. And so that's going to be troubling.
And you know, when we talk about sort of losing the room, Smith is bringing this case after years of the FBI engaging in what was biased targeting, was an investigation without ample support. You just had the Durham report come out to say that there wasn't enough evidence to start that investigation and Trump was put through years on the Russian conspiracy claim. That leaves a mark with citizens, that leaves a lasting impression. So, as a prosecutor, you have to be concerned that these jurors are going to view this case as part of that continuum.
Now that doesn't mean that it's insurmountable. Both prosecutors and defense counsel all the time overcome the preconceptions of jurors, but it's going to make this very complex. And on top of that, you have a multi-front effort here against Trump. He's going to be pulled into three different states, that it's going to create scheduling issues, but it's also going to magnify these views by many people, that this is a coordinated political effort.
It was host Neil Cavuto who mentioned how damning the indictment is:
CAVUTO: [When this case] goes to trial and the jury is hearing everything that's at stake and his trial and everything that Donald Trump is alleged to have orchestrated, you know, lying about, again, from the government's point of view, about the existence of documents, resisting returning those documents, moving them around, even bragging about moving them around sharing sensitive info with people who should not have gotten that info, then in other words, in that vacuum, and in that trial, is that moment and these charges and these, if it gets that far for this former president, whatever it happens, don't look good.
But Turley suggested that the prosecutorial misconduct he alleged is just as bad as any Trump crimes:
TURLEY: [A]t the same time, you have to wonder how much of this indictment will make it into trial. A lot of this really surprised me to the degree it was based on former counsel. Now, we know that they had an exception for the crime-fraud exception to the attorney client privilege, but they seem to have really gone broadly in terms of asking about statements made by Donald Trump and some of these statements do trouble me as you strip away that protection.
I mean, you had Trump, according to the government, asking about whether he could just refuse to turn over the documents or refuse to respond to the government. Those are questions that our clients ask all the time. Sometimes our clients ask about things that are illegal. And the reason we have this privilege is that we want them to do that so, we can say "That's not an option. That's not a good idea." To see those types of exchanges in the indictment are frankly troubling.
I find many of the other allegations troubling as well. These pictures are troubling. The audio tape is troubling. But so are also the reliance on former counsel to effectively incriminate a client based on his own confidential communications.
Turley went on to acknowledge that Trump’s attacks on special counsel Jack Smith and his wife might get him gagged in some way by the court. But Turley helpfully “balanced” that by equating Trump’s attacks with left-wing criticism of Judge Aileen Cannon.
Host Neil Cavuto did not point out that Trump’s attacks are far more inflammatory and dangerous: He has called Smith a “thug,” accused him of “political hit jobs” and called him a “dangerous lunatic,” e.g. Attacks on the Judge Aileen Cannon, on the other hand, are based on the facts that she has already made shocking rulings on Trump’s behalf during the pre-indictment, investigative part of this case, the scathing reversal from a conservative appeals court panel in which two of the three judges were appointed by Trump, and her disturbing inexperience. To my knowledge, no prominent person has publicly called her a dangerous lunatic or a thug or any of the other smears uttered by the man who wants to re-occupy the White House in 2025.
(Turley image via screen grab)