Welcome to this week’s episode of Serious Trouble, in which Josh attempts to troll me about maximum sentences and I resist exploding from schadenfreude. It was a week of FAAFO.1
In New York, manchild/futon stain Sam Bankman-Fried was speedily convicted by a jury that took only several hours — one of them spent at dinner — to deliberate. Apparently the Hail Mary pass of his testimony was not a completion. Josh and I discuss whether the government will bother to try him on the remaining charges against him and what his sentencing prospects look like under the United States Sentencing Guidelines.2 Spoiler: not great, Bob.
Meanwhile, also in New York, in the New York Attorney General’s case against the Trump Organization, Trump and his lawyers continued on a strategy best described as “burn everything down and see what emerges from the ashes.” Attorneys Christopher Kise and Alina Habba persisted in their attacks on Judge Arthur Engoron for having and using a law clerk, a decision that is legally suicidal but may be politically beneficial among donors who own more than one pair of Truck Nutz. Engoron rewarded them with a new gag order. Donald Trump took the stand and was obnoxious, combative, and truculent, as were his lawyers, further demonstrating that the Trump trial strategy is less “win” and more “spin an anticipated loss as a sign of the system being broken.”
In D.C., the court of appeals has issued a temporary administrative stay on Trump’s appeal of Judge Tanya Chutkan’s gag order, allowing the parties to brief whether there should be a longer stay. No, that doesn’t mean they’ve ruled on the merits; no, it’s not particularly significant. Eat your vegetables, it’s the building blocks of the appellate process.
Meanwhile, former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows’ publisher is suing him because he’s allegedly made statements to Special Counsel Jack Smith that contradict the narrative in his book The Chief’s Chief that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump. According to media reports, Meadows has admitted to Jack Smith that everyone knew Trump lost and told him so. That, says All Season Press, violates his contractual obligation to deliver a truthful product, and hurts the reputation they have carefully cultivated with philosophical works like Levi’s Unbuttoned: How The Woke Mob Took My Job But Gave Me My Voice.3 But Josh and I want to know — what exactly did All Seasons Press think they were paying for? And wasn’t the time to complain when Meadows handed them a lunatic screed back in 2021?
In California, former Trump “legal advisor” John Eastman has endured a shocking 32 days of State Bar proceedings culminating in a preliminary finding of culpability. Normal attorneys would turn to submission of mitigation evidence but Eastman is doubling down with statements that the State Bar prosecutors should be disbarred. No word yet on whether the proceedings are invalid because one of the judge’s ancestors was a foreigner. Eastman delights Josh and enrages me by following up with a 60 Minutes interview, which goes about the way you would expect.
Finally — and to Josh’s delight — we give you anti-SLAPP and Lizzo. Yes, Lizzo has filed an anti-SLAPP motion in the salacious lawsuit against her filed by various ex-employees claiming harassment and discrimination. How would that work? I explain and Josh is skeptical, but the bottom line is that a discrimination claim might be subject to an anti-SLAPP motion if the discrimination is intertwined with artistic expression. But listen and find out why the motion is bogus anyway.
Until next week,
Episode links and references
“Fuck around and find out.”
Did you know we made an episode with an in-depth chat about the sentencing guidelines and how they work? We did. It’s here.
We are not making this up.