In a case that would have otherwise never even made the local news, an attorney for a convicted crack dealer went as national as you get last week by trying to use a comment by President Trump in his attempt to defend his client. The judge didn't let him get very far with the, if nothing else, rather entertaining strategy.
During his closing arguments, the crack dealer's lawyer began to cite Trump's comment in a recent interview with Fox News about his former "fixer" Michael Cohen "flipping" on him.
"If somebody defrauded a bank and he’s gonna get 10 years in jail, or 20 years in jail, but you can say something bad about Donald Trump and you’ll go down to two years or three years, which is the deal [Cohen] made, in all fairness to him most people are going to do that," Trump told "Fox & Friends" co-host Ainsley Earhardt. "It's called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal."
"You know what’s funny? Yesterday [Paul] Manafort was convicted," attorney Kafahni Nkrumah said in his closing statement in defense of crack dealer Jamal (Mally) Russell, citing Manafort's conviction, which included a cooperating witness.
Judge Gregory Woods stopped Nkrumah from finishing the thought, though the NY Daily News reports that "out of earshot of the jury" Nkrumah said he planned to quote Trump's remark that "flipping" "almost ought to be illegal.'"
"I believe that the president’s opinion of cooperators is just as pertinent as anyone else’s opinion about cooperators," Nkrumah said, but Woods disagreed.
"I did not permit the defendant to comment on that presidential tweet," said Wood. (Trump did not tweet the statement, but his comments during the interview were tweeted out by others.)
The judge said bringing Manafort and the president into the argument was unnecessarily "politically charged."
"I should note the tweet is that it 'almost ought to be illegal,' but as we all know, and as I am going to instruct the jury, it is not illegal," Woods explained. "And so I was also concerned about the confusion that may be wrought upon these jurors by presenting that as the view of the speaker."
Nkrumah's defense went slightly better than his aborted attempt to quote Trump: Russell was convicted of conspiracy to deal crack but was acquitted of the charge of carrying a firearm in connection with dealing drugs, which would've resulted in more serious consequences.