Trump's Lawyers Have Blown Huge Opportunities to Win His RICO Case
By: Donald V. Watkins
Copyrighted and Published on August 27, 2023
An Editorial Opinion
Last Thursday, Donald Trump’s lawyers in the Georgia RICO case blew a huge opportunity to win the case.
Thursday was the day Trump flew into Atlanta to surrender for booking and processing after his August 14, 2023, indictment on 13 felony charges. The event was covered on worldwide television.
Trump will be tried in Fulton County, Georgia by a state prosecution team headed by District Attorney Fani T. Willis, a highly successful and experienced prosecutor.
On August 14, 2023, Willis flexed her prosecutorial muscle and demanded the surrender, arrest, and booking of Donald Trump and his 18 co-defendants by noon on August 25, 2023.
The media hype since August 14th has been about Trump’s surrender to Willis in an urban, Democratic county.
Trump could have easily changed the narrative in a way that created a strategic advantage for him to cultivate potential Fulton County jurors. His lawyers missed a unique and rare opportunity to do so.
It is important to note that trial courts in Georgia randomly select potential jurors from a pool of all eligible county residents. In Fulton County, 42.5% of county’s population is black, 39.3% is white (non-Hispanic), 8.7% is Asian, and 8.1% is Hispanic/Latino, according to the 2020 census.
As such, Trump’s Fulton County trial jury is likely to be at least 50% to 60% black and Hispanic.
The Failure to Use Harrison Floyd’s Detention to Trump’s Advantage
The narrative around Thursday’s trip to Atlanta should have been two fold: (a) the timely surrender of Trump and (b) the rescue of fellow co-defendant Harrison William Prescott Floyd, III, who has been locked up at the filthy, rat-infested, unsafe, Fulton County jail since he voluntarily surrendered himself earlier last week.
Mr. Floyd, who is black, heads an organization named Black Voices for Trump. He is also a former United States Marine. Floyd is a disabled veteran who lives off his military pension.
Mr. Floyd is the only one of the 19 RICO defendants who has not been released on bond.
Trump's attorneys could have easily shifted the media focus to Trump's rescue of a former Marine (Harrison William Prescott Floyd), who is down behind enemy lines. Trump’s legal team could have assisted in pre-arranging bond for Mr. Floyd.
Trump and Floyd should have emerged from the jail together, with their arms raised in a victory gesture. Trump could have taken full credit for securing Floyd's release. The optics and messages from that one photo would have been priceless.
The image of Trump and Floyd with raised arms in victory, coupled with Trump’s rescue narrative wrapped around it, could have cultivated at least 2 to 3 “not guilty” votes from potential black members of the 12-person trial jury. What is more, this narrative would have played out on worldwide TV throughout the weekend and during the lead up to the trial itself.
No story is more compelling in the court of public opinion than one about a former commander-in-chief coming into hostile territory to rescue one of his former Marines.
Because Trump’s lawyers blew this opportunity, the only narratives that came out of Thursday event were (a) the minimum amount of time Trump spent at the jail and (b) the use of Trump's mugshot for fundraising and merchandising initiatives. Neither one of these narratives is likely to cultivate potential “not guilty” votes at trial.
The Way Trump Used His Mugshot was Another Faux Pas
Rather than trying to look menacing in his Fulton County mugshot, Donald Trump should have emulated the dignified and stoic look captured in this iconic mugshot of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Ironically, Donald Trump was arrested in the city where Dr. King pastored Ebenezer Baptist Church. Like Dr. King, Trump is the face of a national movement in America, although Trump's MAGA movement is one that seeks to rollback the civil rights gains Dr. King paid for in blood with his life.
What is more, Donald Trump’s mugshot was taken two days before the 60th anniversary of the Dr. King’s historic 1963 March on Washington. The timing of Trump's arrest and booking event could not have been better for him to liken his alleged law enforcement "persecution" to what Dr. King experienced during the COINTELPRO era..
The mugshot released by the Trump campaign should have been juxtaposed with Dr. King’s mugshot. The subtle message to potential white jurors would have been simple and easy to understand – "When you are the leader of a national movement for political and social change in America, you should expect to be treated like a criminal."
This approach to the mugshot event could have cultivated at least 2 to 3 “not guilty” verdicts from potential white jurors in Trump’s case.
Remember, Donald Trump only needs 12 jurors in his RICO case to vote "not guilty" on all 13 counts against him. A highly skilled defense lawyer NEVER waits for the trial to commence before he/she starts the cultivation of "not guilty" votes.
The concept of "jury nullification" begins in the court of public opinion. Then, it spills over into the court of law. Trump's legal teams have repeatedly blown prime opportunities for creating the right atmosphere for "jury nullification."
The other blown defense opportunities in Donald Trump’s criminal cases are discussed in my August 18, 2023, article titled, “Trump’s Criminal Defense Team is Running a Clown Show.”
To date, the legal moves made by Trump’s defense teams have been basic textbook stuff. Prosecutors Alvin Bragg, Jack Smith, and Fani T. Willis can see these moves a mile away and can easily defeat them all day long.
There is zero creativity and strategic thinking taking place on Trump’s criminal defense teams. Apparently, Trump's lawyers simply lack the litigation experience to seize synergistic opportunities to score major points in Trump's cases. They also lack the vision to undertake actions today that will win over potential trial jurors tomorrow.
It is apparent that Donald Trump’s lawyers are representing him just for the money. His criminal cases are nothing more than business transactions for them. I see no commitment on their part to winning Trump's cases by all lawful means necessary.
Trump's attorneys are definitely NOT the legal profession's equivalent to a Navy Seals special ops team.
To date, the number and severity of miscues and mistakes that Trump’s legal teams have made are staggering. These miscues and mistakes virtually guarantee that the former president will be convicted in each one of his four criminal cases.
Donald Trump will NOT be saved by his criminal defense attorneys. To save himself, Trump must win the 2024 presidential election. Losing the election is not an acceptable option.