Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times Former President Donald Trump arrives at Trump Tower after he was found guilty of all counts in his criminal trial in New York on May 30.

Opinion: Trump’s new fixers

Fixers from Alaska and elsewhere step in after guilty verdict

“Alaska Republicans back Trump after historic conviction in hush money case,” the Anchorage Daily News headline read as if anyone might have expected otherwise. It was clear after the indictment was announced a year ago that they wouldn’t respect the outcome of the trial unless he was fully acquitted. And they’ve been letting Trump lie with impunity for so long that they’re now fully vested in his world of alternative facts.

Indeed, this case and the three far more serious indictments against him all stem from his affinity for lying.

In a social media post, the chairwoman and two other state Republican Party officials said the verdict was evidence of “weaponization of the justice system against President Trump.” Like Sen. Dan Sullivan and Gov. Mike Dunleavy, they reached that conclusion without ever considering the allegations in the indictment or the evidence presented at trial.

The real facts are the FBI opened the investigation that ultimately led to this trial while Trump was president. And even he doesn’t dispute one fact that’s central to the case. Michael Cohen paid Stormy Daniels, a porn star, $130,000 in exchange for not revealing that she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.

In January 2018, the Wall Street Journal broke the story about the payoff. It was made just weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Trump initially denied having any knowledge about it. He admitted it was true only after his lawyer and longtime friend Rudy Giuliani told the Washington Post that Trump had repaid Cohen in 2017. But he claimed it had nothing to do with the election.

Giuliani explained it differently on Fox News.

“Imagine if that came out on Oct. 15 in the middle of the last debate with Hillary Clinton,” he told Fox. “Cohen didn’t even ask. He made it go away. He did his job.”

By August, Cohen had pleaded guilty to eight counts, including violating campaign finance laws by making the payment that directly benefited a candidate for public office. That count stated “he coordinated with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.”

If what Cohen pleaded was true, then the only question remaining is whether Trump was one of the people he coordinated with.

People can argue that the jury shouldn’t have accepted Cohen’s account because he’s an admitted liar. But the prosecution presented a witness who made Cohen’s story believable.

As publisher for National Enquirer, David Pecker had been friends with Trump for years. He testified that he helped buy the silence of a former Playboy model who claimed to have a yearlong affair with Trump.

“Was your principal purpose in entering into the agreement with Karen McDougal to suppress her story so as to prevent it from influencing the election?” a prosecutor asked.

“Yes, it was,” Pecker replied.

The jury heard a recorded phone call in which Trump and Cohen discussed that payment. Pecker also said he’d been asked to help suppress the Daniels story, but declined.

Trump didn’t take the stand to defend himself even though he said he “absolutely” would before the trial. Given all the lies he’s publicly told, and the deposition in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case in which he lied under oath, the prosecution would have had an easy time destroying his credibility.

As in the other cases, Trump’s defense has always been directed at court of public opinion. That’s why he’s whining that President Joe Biden, either directly or indirectly through the Department of Justice, has had a role in prosecuting the hush money case.

Joe Tacopina, who until January had been on Trump’s defense, has a problem with that. After the verdict was reached he said it’s “one of the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard.”

Back in 2016, a big part of Trump’s appeal to voters was his willingness to “tell it like it is.” But he’s long since turned that into a habit of giving them what they want to hear even if it’s not true.

And there’s almost no one left in the Republican Party who respects the truth enough to tell them that he’s lying. Instead, they’ve assumed Cohen’s old job of trying to protect him from being held accountable for the messes he creates.

• Rich Moniak is a Juneau resident and retired civil engineer with more than 25 years of experience working in the public sector. Columns, My Turns and Letters to the Editor represent the view of the author, not the view of the Juneau Empire. Have something to say? Here’s how to submit a My Turn or letter.

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