Alvin Bragg’s 2020 campaign for New York County DA included a promise to “get Trump.” He is trying to deliver on his pledge by filing a pile of charges against the former President. Unfortunately, even the liberal press, known to turn cartwheels defending progressive DAs like Bragg, is skeptical.
Vox explains the root of the skepticism in its article of April 4, The dubious legal theory at the heart of the Trump indictment, explained. A few words can summarize:
“The actual felony counts arise out of allegedly false entries that Trump made in various business records in order to make the payment to Daniels appear to be ordinary legal expenses paid to Cohen.
But Bragg built his case on an exceedingly uncertain legal theory. Even if Trump did the things he’s accused of, it’s not clear Bragg can legally charge Trump for them, at least under the felony version of New York’s false records law.”
The HuffPost, while seemingly expressing hopeful thoughts of a Bragg success, states in its April 4 article How The Manhattan District Attorney Ended Up Charging Donald Trump With Felonies,
“There are potential pitfalls for DA Alvin Bragg in the legal theory he is using to charge the former president with 34 felony counts.”
Conservative Washington Free Beacon seems to have had a field day quoting liberals in its article of April 5, Even the Liberal Media Aren’t Buying Alvin Bragg’s Bogus Trump. Possibly the best quote is,
“[Bragg is] plunging forward with a premise that has given pause to even some of Mr. Trump’s toughest critics.” — Charles Savage, New York Times
And there is more.
Trump is accused of violating a state law that makes it a crime to falsify business records with the intent to defraud, specifically to conceal another crime. The concealment of another crime turns the misdemeanor of falsifying business records into a felony. A felony conviction is what DA Bragg wants, even if he must stretch facts and laws. And stretch he does.
- The alleged other crime is influencing the outcome of the 2016 presidential election by arranging for hush money to keep two women from divulging their affairs with Trump. But Trump was running for a federal office, so it is questionable whether Bragg can bring state charges based on an alleged federal violation.
- Bragg claims Trump violated a New York election law that makes it a crime to conspire to promote a candidacy by unlawful means. But this law is not mentioned in Bragg’s charges.
- Trump’s final payment of hush money was in 2017. The statute of limitations for the felony charge of falsifying records to conceal another crime is 5 years. The statute of limitations for the misdemeanor charge of falsifying records is 2 years.
- Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, made the hush money payments on behalf of Trump, and Trump then reimbursed Cohen, calling the reimbursement “legal expenses.” The Feds charged Cohen with violation of campaign finance law. But the legality of the charge was never tested in court since Cohen quietly went to prison without contesting the charge. Trump could challenge the legality of the charge now. If the hush money payments are not deemed illegal, then there is no violation of campaign finance law for Bragg to hang his felony charge on.
One could wonder why bring dubious charges.
DA Bragg is simply following a script prescribed by those who do not wish their long-standing power disturbed by Trump: just keep throwing stuff at him until, 1) he quits, or 2) voters can no longer stand the turbulence and want Trump gone from public life.
It really does not matter what is thrown – a lineup of accusing ladies (we are talking back in 2015), claims of Islamophobia, impeachments, treason, inciting violence, too many Tweets.
In all fairness, it should be mentioned that Donald Trump’s penchant for creating chaos provides good cover for the extreme actions taken against him. However, it should also be mentioned that Trump supporters view chaos as means to reform. Alvin Bragg may have just helped to ensure Donald Trump’s return to the Presidency.
Pictured: New York County District Attorney Alvin Bragg announcing his charges against former President Donal Trump.