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VICTOR JOECKS: Biden campaigns for a Trump conviction

Joe Biden ran on restoring norms and defending democracy. Now, his campaign is urging a liberal jury to convict his political rival.

On Tuesday, prosecution and defense lawyers made their closing arguments in Donald Trump’s New York trial. The case doesn’t make sense. Prosecutors have charged Trump with 34 felonies for supposedly misclassifying bookkeeping records to hide a hush money payoff to Stormy Daniels. If true, that’s a misdemeanor. The statute of limitations for misdemeanors has already passed. So, using a novel — read: bogus — legal theory, prosecutors turned those misdemeanors into felonies by claiming Trump committed them in commission of another crime.

The problems are myriad. For one, prosecutors can’t quite figure out what the second crime was. The most obvious would be a campaign finance violation, claiming the payment was done for political, not personal, reasons. But the federal government dropped its probe into this in 2021. Plus, a state court can’t convict someone of a federal crime.

Another is that the case hinges on the testimony of Michael Cohen, Trump’s former lawyer. He’s not a great witness. In 2018, Cohen pleaded guilty to several crimes, including making false statements. He’s admitted to lying in court and to Congress, although perhaps he did the latter in a vain attempt to fit in. He said he told the media falsehoods about the payoff to Daniels.

On cross-examination, he admitted that he stole from the Trump Organization. That’s a more serious crime than the charge Trump faces. But prosecutors don’t care. The point is to convict and imprison Trump by any means necessary.

Biden has now joined the effort. On Tuesday, his campaign hosted a news conference outside the New York courthouse. It included ramblings from actor Robert De Niro. There’s a reason he’s famous for reading lines other people have written.

“Donald Trump wants to destroy not only the city, but the country. And eventually he could destroy the world,” De Niro said. He then said Trump “doesn’t belong in my city” and called him a “clown.”

The intended audience for those remarks wasn’t the voting public. It was the 12 jurors who will be deliberating Trump’s fate. It’s a de facto plea to ignore the details of the case in front of them and consider the political ramifications of their actions.

Sure, prosecutors haven’t proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Sure, their case depends on a known liar. Sure, they can’t articulate exactly how this is a felony. But if you don’t convict him, Trump will destroy the country and the world. He’s even scarier than global warming.

In a neutral jurisdiction, prosecutors would look into arresting Biden and De Niro for juror tampering. Or the judge would dismiss the case because Biden violated Trump’s right to a fair trial. But if politics weren’t driving this trial, charges never would have been brought in the first place.

Biden would rather govern a banana republic than lose to Trump. We’ll soon know if a New York jury is willing to go along with his scheme.

Listen to Victor Joecks discuss his columns each Monday at 7 a.m. with Kevin Wall on AM 670 KMZQ Right Talk. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on X.

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