How Trump's own DOJ laid out his guilt in the Stormy Daniels payoff

How Trump's own DOJ laid out his guilt in the Stormy Daniels payoff
Former President Donald Trump in July 2022 (Gage Skidmore)

As much as former President Donald Trump is trying to claim he is a victim of political persecution following his indictment in New York, it was his own Justice Department officials, under his own administration — along with the politically evenly divided Federal Election Commission at the time — who first helped lay out the evidence his $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels was a crime, argued former Solicitor General Neal Katyal on MSNBC's "The ReidOut" on Friday.

"Pecker entered a nonprosecution agreement in which he admitted the payment had been made in order to help Trump's campaign — that's David Pecker," said anchor Joy Reid. "He testified twice before this grand jury. Does that say to you that [Trump attorney Joe] Tacopina might be trying to make it seem innocuous when it's really part of that kind of scheme?"

"Well, before getting, Joy, to Tacopina, I want to say my bottom line on this is, we should be absolutely celebrating the fact that we have a functioning judicial system that treats all of its citizens equally, but I don't think we should be celebrating the fact we have a former president who has been indicted," said Katyal. "This is an incredibly important event for our country and an incredibly solemn one."

"When Tacopina says this, that there was no crime and stuff like that, I think you're exactly right to point out, wait a minute, the FEC has concluded this was a campaign finance violation, and the Justice Department in 2018 sent someone to prison for this hush money scandal, a guy named Michael Cohen," said Katyal. "And they put Michael Cohen in jail for the same stuff, and the Justice Department, when they did that, they filed a sentencing memo, and in writing, it says this was a crime and it was directed at not Michael Cohen coming up with this on his own, but Donald Trump was the one who ordered Cohen to do this. And that was not just — that was the U.S. Justice Department, but not the Barack Obama or Merrick Garland Justice Department. That was the Trump Justice Department that made that conclusion. When you hear Lindsey Graham and others talking about this being political and stuff, you know, it's a little hard given what the Trump Justice Department said in 2018."

"My bottom line on this ... is we haven't seen the charges, Lindsey Graham hasn't seen the charges, so not sure exactly how he knows what's in them," said Katyal. "But whatever those charges are, Trump is going to be entitled to all of the protections of the criminal system, which our founders bent over backward to protect criminal defendants. All 12 jurors are going to have to agree that Trump committed a crime, and under the highest standard in the law, beyond a reasonable doubt."

"What I think people like Lindsey Graham are upset about is for the first time, Trump is going to have to face the music, a jury of his peers," Katyal added. "He can't plead executive privilege. He can't plead Speech or Debate immunity. He can't plead immunity as a sitting president. It's finally time for him to have to answer the call of the prosecutors."

Watch the segment below or at this link.

Neal Katyal says Trump's own Justice Department indicated his

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