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  /  News   /  Dan Abrams responds to partisan critics on Megyn Kelly verdict debate

Dan Abrams responds to partisan critics on Megyn Kelly verdict debate

Watch the full debate below:

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily of NewsNation.

(NewsNation) — After the guilty verdict of former President Donald Trump last week, I had my friend Megyn Kelly on the show to react to it. It was a spirited back-and-forth discussion.

Not surprisingly, her position was that the verdict was unfair, and she blamed the district attorney and the judge, among others.

Now, she and I agreed that the case never should have been brought to court. But when it came to the broader question of whether Trump technically did anything wrong or even illegal, our views were not aligned, and that led to a heated discussion that got picked up by various media entities.

Fair enough; that’s what happens when you argue on TV.

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But then this weekend, various characters from the MAGA world took a small clip of what transpired and declared that I had been “owned,” “eviscerated,” and “schooled,” with hundreds on the far right coming after me.

Dan Bongino told his 5.2 million followers on X that I am “as dumb as a box of rocks.” The popular right-wing Twitter account called Catturd declared to its 2.5 million followers that “Dan Abrams just proved what an idiot he is in real time.”

Now, putting aside that what makes this particularly funny is that on Sunday, I was also getting attacked by the left for saying on ABC that Judge Juan Merchan should have recused himself and that I thought the case never should have been brought to court.

But of course, they cut off the part of me in the clip saying that Megyn was wrong. But that is the game.

And it also, of course, ignores the fact that as much as I often feel like an idiot who wishes he had the intellectual prowess of, say, Dan Bongino, I was right.

I get that right and wrong don’t matter in the clip wars, but to those who do care, this is for you.

First of all, we were discussing whether Trump did anything wrong at all, legally or even morally. And let’s put aside that this was a personal expense, not a business one, even though he falsely put it down as a legal expense.


Trump could have been charged, just as Michael Cohen was, for campaign finance violations in federal court. Megyn had claimed that if the payment could ever have been made outside the campaign context, then it was not a campaign finance violation.

Except the law is actually the inverse of that.

The FEC says a prohibited personal expense in this context would be one “that would exist irrespective of the candidate’s campaign or responsibilities as a federal officeholder.”

So the legal question is whether the payment would have been made “irrespective of the campaign.” That does not mean the question is whether it could ever be made outside the campaign context.

I called it a substantiality test. It means that it’s not a violation if it would have been made regardless of the campaign. So would this be considered a violation by the FEC?

Well, in 2021, they found that American Media “knowingly and willfully violated the law by making and consenting to prohibited corporate in-kind contributions with regard to payments related to Karen McDougal” — the other woman Trump and David Pecker were trying to silence by buying their stories.

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So we know the exact same sort of payout was deemed to be a violation.

And Pecker and also Cohen made clear the payment here was made to protect the campaign.

You can believe it wasn’t proven; you can believe, as the Republican former head of the FEC has said, that these facts don’t pass the test here to warrant a criminal prosecution.

And you can also believe, as I do, that this petty case should not have been brought against the former president.

But you can’t change the law to fit your theory. I am not saying they should have brought this criminal charge as they did with Cohen. But on the question of whether did Trump do anything wrong here, it seems the FEC has pretty much answered that for us.

So to the handful of you who asked me to respond, here it is. To the others who just insulted me and made me a viral villain, thanks for the clicks.