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2024-03-30 12:43:05

'An attack on the rule of law' - Federal judge calls out Trump for threats to judges & their families

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Barbara , I'll start with you and these comments , these rare comments , I should say public rare comments from Judge Reggie Walton first .

Just give us some context for what it means for a sitting federal judge to speak out like this in this manner .

And what do you think of what he had to say about what him , his family and other judges are experiencing all because of the cases .

They are taking .

Well , judges traditionally think of , uh , their , their comments as coming only through their orders .

Uh , they are typically pretty loath to make public comments particularly about any particular case , uh , because they don't want to suggest anything other than impartiality .

And so I think it is quite extraordinary for the judge to be speaking out here , but I think that only judges know what they experience are like and the kinds of threats that they're getting and how new this phenomenon really is .

You know , we can look at some examples of judges who were on the receiving end of threats to their lives .

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There was a judge in New Jersey whose son was killed with bullets meant for her .

There was a judge in Chicago whose husband and mother were killed by someone looking for her .

So these threats can be very , very dangerous .

Um And you know , I think the fact that the judge is , is choosing to speak out , keep in mind , this is a judge appointed by Republican presidents , both Ronald Reagan and George W Bush .

And so for him to be uh going out there , this is not uh you know , a pro Republican pro democrat type of a comment .

This is a comment about the state of our judiciary and the rule of law .

And speaking of that , Eugene Donald Trump has publicly attacked so many people over the last nine years .

It's stuff we cover on a regular basis .

He hasn't faced any real consequences for those verbal attacks .

And that's obviously been devastating to the state of political discourse in this country because it's really set new parameters , created a new culture if you will , where this seems to be acceptable for some people in Trump's circle .

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What does it say about our justice system that this judge is now publicly raising this alarm ?

Well , it says that , uh this is an issue that is worthy of attention from the highest levels of in our country .

There's been a report that came out this week from Reuters that says since 2020 attacks on federal judges have more than doubled since 2015 .

The year that former President Donald Trump launched his first presidential campaign , that number has more than tripled .

And you've seen Republicans in the judicial system come out and say they believe it is because in part , uh the norms that have now been set uh by Donald Trump , we haven't seen many Republicans on Capitol Hill if any come out and say that this is something that needs to stop and if it does not , we could expect it to continue .

Uh , and there could be even worse consequences than some of those we've already seen which have been quite severe in some cases .

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Barbara , as you pointed out , you know , Judge Walton was appointed by Republican presidents , the Washington Post points out that other Republican appointed judges have also spoken out about this .

It's clearly not a Democratic or Republican issue at this moment no matter what Donald Trump says or what he tries to portray it as but what can be done .

And is the fact that he has been given so much leeway where he has not been held to account just for the rhetoric of what he has said about judges , clerks of the court , daughters of judges , family members of judges is that in of itself unprecedented and dangerous that he is not held to account .

Yeah , you know , I mean , historically , you didn't have to tell people not to make death threats about judges and their family members or not to , you know , say things that were likely to inflame the public such that they would become the subject of these kinds of threats .

And so we're , we've really crossed over into a new era .

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Um And , you know , Donald Trump is going to look for any loophole he can find in these uh gag orders .

The one that was issued by Judge Mershon did not include the judge's family .

And so , uh that's who Donald Trump goes after , who's , who's left , who's outside the scope .

Now , the judge can amend that order and I suspect he will to include the judge's family to make the next go around prohibited .

But you know , Donald Trump will then look for somebody else because the judges have been careful to exclude themselves and the prosecutors from these gag orders to allow Donald Trump to criticize the prosecution and the judiciary in these cases .

I do think though that the way to at least curtail some of this is through vigorous prosecution .

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You may recall that when Merrick Garland was asking us attorneys around the country to gather their law enforcement partners and be sure to have a program in place to prosecute people who are engaging in threats at school board meetings , with health officials , with election board officials .

And when he testified before Congress members of the Senate cracked down on him as suggesting that he was violating the First amendment rights of parents and other people in communities , threats are not protected by the first amendment .

And so we have to make that very clear here that this is a serious crime and it threatens to affect the rule of law in this country .

And so those people who give any sort of serious discussion to this as if prosecuting threats is in any way violative of the first amendment is absolutely absurd and is just enabling those who communicate these threats .

John , let's bring you into this conversation to big stories that are connected this week .

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The bond Trump has to pay in the fraud case , reduced to $175 million and stock for his social media platform , truth , social going public , the value of that public stock in the billions , even though the company doesn't really make any money and all of this against the backdrop of a clock still ticking for Trump to post his bond .

Where do you see all of this heading ?

Now let me just go back for one second .

And if you don't mind , I just want to say we don't have to theorize about what uh the effect of Donald Trump's words are when he goes and attacks people .

We have seen it , he has seen it himself .

He told his supporters that Mike Pence was the problem uh with the 2020 election and they went to the Capitol uh and Shannon that they wanted to hang him .

They , they sought out Mike Pence , they sought out lawmakers .

So this is not an abstraction , it's not something that we have to wonder about .

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It's not something Donald Trump can pretend he doesn't understand because the best argument for him on January 6th is he said something that people took him , you know , more seriously than he wanted .

So , just wanted to get that out of the way as far as what's going on with Trump in terms of the reduction of bond and what's going on with his true social stock .

Uh , it's a very good monetary week for Donald Trump .

It could have been a very bad one .

And it looks like he's gonna be uh significantly wealthier at the end of this than uh than we might have expected heading into this week .

Eugene according to the Washington Post , uh some of the GOP billionaire donors who backed away from Trump after January 6th are suddenly rediscovering their support for him .

Um uh make that make sense for us .

What should voters be taking away from it ?

Why are they suddenly pivoting to a guy that many distanced themselves for , for what he did on January the sixth to suddenly embracing him uh in the span of less than four years .

Well , it's pretty simple .

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It's two words , it's tax cuts .

Uh President Trump , uh when he was in the White House , uh put forward legislation that made uh things very uh lucrative for many of these billionaires .

And uh President Biden has pledged to advance uh legislation and laws that uh could see these uh individuals uh uh experience a decrease in their wealth .

And so despite being very upset uh with former President Trump after January 6th or at least vocalizing that you've seen a number of billionaires attend fundraisers and planning to attend the one that the Trump campaign is suggesting next week will bring in $33 million with the hope that if Trump gets to the White House , that they can remain the billionaires that they currently are and hopefully make even more money .

Something that is at risk if Biden is to win the election , John for the most part , though Trump has been able to choose when he wants to be in court .

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And once his hush money trial starts April 15th , he'll actually have to be in court a lot .

Uh President Biden , the Democrats are already massively out raising Trump .

They're definitely out raising the GOP .

What is this campaign going to look like when this trial starts uh in a couple of weeks time ?

Yeah , when you talk to uh senior Republican officials , senior campaign officials for Trump , they say that they don't need to raise as much money as Joe Biden in order to win this election .

And um I guess that's good news for them because they are not gonna raise as much money as Joe Biden or at least .

Um you know , if , if things continue along their current trajectory , what this campaign looks like , uh once his trial starts is you're gonna see a whole lot of Donald Trump in court .

Uh , and then you're gonna see some Donald Trump on the campaign trail .

We're gonna , um , you know , see him on the campaign trail on the weekends .

We may see , uh , you know , one day a week or so of , of court , not in session where he gets out and does some events .

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Uh , we're gonna see surrogates out there for him , uh , in terms of family members , other people are closely identified with his brand and he's going to make the argument that the trial is in fact impeding his ability to campaign .

Um You know , obviously , uh obviously there , those are gonna have uh less sympathy for that than others .

But , um I think we'll see Trump on the campaign trail in some ways , it benefits him because he doesn't actually like to be out there all that much .

Uh And now he has already made excuse , um Barbara , I'll close this out with the theme that we were opening it up with and that is the outlook for Trump's uh appeal of the Fannie Willis situation in Georgia .

Perhaps the trial that most were looking forward to as one to hold Trump accountable for January the sixth in some fashion .

Uh now sliding by the day , but is this appeal likely to go anywhere ?

I don't think so .

I mean , first we have to see a certification from Judge mcaffee , although he's indicated that he would do that .

I don't think that this appeal though is likely to either delay the case because it's not an issue of , of , of substance .

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It's an issue about the qualifications of the prosecutor and I don't think it's likely to succeed .

I'd say have her removed from the case .

Remember that Judge mcaffee found that there was no actual conflict of interest .

What he found was the appearance of impropriety .

And so he sort of went above and beyond by suggesting that Nathan Wade should be removed from the case .

And so I don't see any success resulting here .

I think this case is finally on track to go forward to trial after these motions get decided .

Hey , everyone , MS NBC has a new and improved app .

You'll get real time alerts and analysis , live blogs in depth essays , video highlights and the best 2024 election coverage .

Download the new MS NBC app .

Here's how to do it .

You tap on the app store on your phone , you hit search on the bottom right corner , you type in MS NBC , you click on the MS NBC app , you click on get or the cloud icon and enjoy it .

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