How Trump's Lawyers 'Lost a Winnable Case'

Former federal prosecutor says 'deny everything' approach backfired
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2024 9:53 AM CDT
How Trump's Lawyers Got It Wrong
Donald Trump speaks to the media alongside his attorney Todd Blanche after the conclusion of his trial in New York, Thursday, May 30, 2024.   (Michael M. Santiago/Pool Photo via AP)

Donald Trump is now a convicted felon, but his hush-money trial in New York could have ended differently if his lawyers hadn't blown it, according to former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti. "The prosecution's case had flaws that couldn't be wallpapered over" and with a better defense strategy, there would likely have been a mistrial or a misdemeanor conviction, if not an acquittal, Mariotti writes at the New York Times. Instead, he writes, they "lost a winnable case by adopting an ill-advised strategy that was right out of Mr. Trump's playbook."

Mariotti says he's almost never seen a defense team win "without a compelling counternarrative"—but Trump's team presented a "haphazard cacophony of denials and personal attacks" instead of a simple story. "The prosecution's evidence of Trump's "personal approval of the falsification of business records was thin, the evidence for most of the other relevant facts was rock solid," Mariotti writes. But instead of focusing on the weaknesses in the prosecution's case, Trump's team used a "deny everything" approach and tried to "fight everything and everyone," dragging the case out for weeks.

Mariotti notes that the Trump team "went for broke" and didn't seek a jury instruction that would have allowed the jurors to find him guilty of misdemeanors, not felonies. He concludes that Trump's legal team was a "reflection of its client, always attacking and never backing down. That playbook has worked for Mr. Trump again and again. For this trial and in a Manhattan courtroom, the attitude and strategy backfired." Click for the full piece. (More Trump hush-money trial stories.)

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