Report: Lori Loughlin eager to rehabilitate her reputation by ... going to trial

This is like being called a coward and deciding to disprove it by climbing into the tiger cage at the zoo. There must be a less insane way to make the point.

Go skydiving. Take up boxing. Attend a MAGA rally and heckle Trump.

Although I’m not sure that last one would be safer than fighting the tiger.

The good news is the Trial of the Century is shaping up nicely. The bad news is that, when this is over, Aunt Becky might end up missing the entirety of her daughters’ 20s.

“Lori feels like so much damage has been done publicly that the only way for her to counter it is to fight this case in court,” the source tells PEOPLE. “She feels like once all the evidence is presented, that people will understand how things happened.”…

“She doesn’t want to spend time in jail,” the source says, “but she knows that any sort of plea or conviction at this point will include jail time. Her only chance of avoiding jail is to go to court and be found not guilty.”…

“Everyone has seen snippets of the evidence, but there’s a lot more out there,” says the source. “When you look at it in context, you can argue that this is a woman who didn’t understand exactly what she was doing — and she was being counseled and guided by a man who this was his area of expertise. When the evidence comes out, she’ll have a case to make.”

You can see her point. It’s not like a mega-rich television celebrity at the center of a white-hot public scandal has options in how to tell her side of the story.

Sure, she and her daughters could probably land an interview with Oprah. But why not roll the dice on a criminal trial in which she’s facing up to 40 years in prison instead?

I assume this is a strategic leak aimed at showing the feds how serious she is about having her day in court, hoping that they’ll sweeten the plea deal that’s on the table in order to avoid trial. Her problem is that she’s the biggest name among the defendants in the college admissions scandal who haven’t yet copped a plea and thus the last person whom the feds would want to show weakness towards. If they back down in the face of Loughlin’s legal saber-rattling, all the other remaining defendants will start playing hardball too. In a sense, she may be partly a victim of the scam’s success: If there were fewer examples of rich parents paying bribes, the DOJ might be less intent on making an example of her.

What I want to know is what other “evidence” could conceivably be out there, per the source quoted above, that might exonerate Loughlin. Presumably the feds have hard proof that Loughlin’s husband sent $100,000 to an official in USC’s athletics department and another $400,000 to Rick Singer, the fixer who’s now cooperating with the probe. We know from the affidavit that they have audio of Loughlin and her husband, separately, conversing with Singer about how their “donations” to him would be characterized to conceal the fact that they were used to get her kids admitted to USC as athletes. It must be that they have all of the emails exchanged between Singer and the Giannullis while the scam was playing out and that nothing in those emails provides an innocent explanation for the payments made to the USC official. In which case, what exculpatory evidence can Loughlin and her husband offer? Apart from testifying that Singer assured them this was all on the up-and-up, which is worth next to nothing, how do they debunk what looks to all the world like a conspiracy among the three of them to bribe someone at USC? She can’t really want to go to trial knowing the consequences if she loses.