90 Miles From Tyranny : Manhattan DA's Trump case rests on shaky legal, ethical ground, experts say

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Monday, March 20, 2023

Manhattan DA's Trump case rests on shaky legal, ethical ground, experts say

Ordinarily, such a charge would be considered a misdemeanor and come with a two-year statue of limitation.

Former President Donald Trump on Saturday shocked the world with an announcement that he expects to be arrested Tuesday in connection with an ongoing investigation by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a case legal scholars have suggested has a questionable legal basis.

The investigation involves Trump's 2016 alleged payment of $130,000 in hush money to Stormy Daniels via his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, whom he later reimbursed.

While Bragg has not announced specific charges, legal scholars such as George Washington University Professor Jonathan Turley are predicting an indictment for falsifying business records under New York Section 175. Such a charge would likely be based on Trump's labeling his reimbursement of Cohen as a legal expense.

Trump's attorney, Joe Tacopina has argued that Trump's payment to Cohen was in fact a legitimate legal fee. Trump, he noted, never directly paid Daniels any money. Rather, he only paid his own lawyer for services rendered, i.e. legal fees.

"The payments were made to a lawyer, not to Stormy Daniels," Tacopina said last week on MSNBC. "The payments were made to Donald Trump's lawyer, which would be considered legal fees. Michael Cohen ... was his lawyer at the time and advised him that this was the proper way to do this to protect himself and his family from embarrassment. It's as simple as that."

The host then argued that the money Trump paid to Cohen went to Stormy Daniels and was therefore not a legal fee.

"It went to Stormy Daniels from Michael Cohen," the Trump attorney countered. "He decided he was going to do it this way and asked for the reimbursement of what he billed as legal fees. That is not a crime."

Ordinarily, such a charge would be considered a misdemeanor subject to a two-year statute of limitation, meaning Bragg cannot pursue it solely on this basis. Bragg does, however, have the discretion to convert it into a Class E felony, if he can prove that Trump's alleged "intent to defraud involved further criminal intent to either hide the commission of another crime or to assist in the commission of that other crime," according to Saland Law.

In order to meet even the threshhold standard for prosecution, Bragg would therefore need to argue that Trump falsified business records concealing his reported "hush money" payment to Daniels with the intent to conceal another crime.

As a hush money payment to ensure silence about an affair would not be illegal in and of itself, Bragg's case would likely hinge on a possible campaign finance violation. If Cohen's payment to Daniels constituted an illegal campaign contribution, then the falsification of records would have concealed an underlying crime, providing legal predicate for a Class E felony charge of first degree falsifying business records. Trump would face up to four years in prison if convicted on the charge.

Bragg, therefore, needs to demonstrate that the payments occurred specifically with the intent to affect the election, a prospect Turley called "extremely difficult," given the myriad other legitimate reasons Trump might have for wanting to keep an alleged affair out of...

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wildman said...

legality has nothing to do with it. its purely political. dems and rinos are afraid trump will uncover more corruption if elected and that scares them. as if we arent disgusted enought already with them and the media.

Anonymous said...

Could be. I think they are still punishing him for winning in 2016. They will never let go of that.


Anonymous said...

Didn't winning the 2016 election come about from the destruction of Deep State servers in Germany (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs) and shutting down "decommissioned" channels in comms satellite being used to coordinate fraudulent voting? The White Hats did some fancy technical rabbit punches on the DS mechanisms back then. Would be good to see again.

Gretz said...

This is the very definition of malicious prosecution and political prosecution, both of which the Democrats are infamous for doing. Ken Oden was notorious for doing it out of Travesty County against any Republican he could target until he was compelled to resign.

It's laughable that he is the "Ethics Manager" at a firm that had a partner resign over bribery and other corruption.

Linda Fox said...

That's a hellava stretch. Worthy of Jack McCoy (from Law & Order), who famously twisted the law into knots, trying to figure out a way to charge someone who was guiltless under current statutes.

Anonymous said...

While this DA imbecile is at it, let’s review Billy Clinton’s scandals when he was ‘President.’ How many allegations of sexual improprieties, rape, sex in the Oval Office and lies were downplayed by the democrat apparatus. Furthermore, when he was going through an impeachment for lying, why were many articles of evidence not allowed to be admitted which was a strategic move to exonerate him? President Trump has been the target of non stop investigations, harassment, lies, smear tactics and character assassinations. Why? Because he and his supporters are a real threat to the traitors and criminals in DC as well as to the Mao Communists working In lockstep burning the country they do hate to the ground