• Trump Indicted

    April 4, 2023

    Tags: , , , ,
    Posted in: Biden, Democracy, Trump

    What would you have done if you were Alvin Bragg? Would you have indicted Donald Trump? Or would you have walked away, concerned about accusations you as a Democrat were playing politics, and more concerned the indictment would somehow help the man you are trying to take down? You don’t play with such fire around a guy like Trump casually.

    At Bragg’s insistence, Trump was indicted by a Manhattan Grand Jury on Thursday. The actual charges will not be announced until Trump is arraigned before a judge, likely in about a week. The charges will however be based around Stormy Daniels, who allegedly had sex with Trump in 2006, which he denies, and which she and Michael Cohen once also denied. She then took money in 2016 to sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) to keep silent. She willfully violated the NDA to revive her career and profit selling her story to the National Enquirer. Meanwhile, when faced with jail time for all sorts of dirty deeds, Trump’s now disbarred former lawyer Michael Cohen, a felon himself, violated attorney-client privilege to claim on his word the NDA payoffs were actually complex technical violations of New York business records law (a misdemeanor) and Federal campaign finance law (potentially a felony.) If this all sounds complicated, it’s because it is. No wonder even the Washington Post labeled this a “zombie case.” It is also the weakest case in the universe of legal troubles around Trump.

    But there is a bigger question: if you were Bragg, can you win? Will voters object to a district attorney in New York trying to play kingmaker in the 2024 election, prosecuting a Federal case locally in Manhattan? Candidate Trump, surrounded by an aura of legal invincibility, is already earning partisan points claiming he is the victim of banana republic politics, and this indictment will allow him to claim he was right all along. Trump will fire both barrels, one aimed at Bragg, the other likely at Biden (who he will accuse of playing a role.) He was already the victim of partisan use of justice, as the FBI did try to influence both the 2016 election (with Russiagate) and the 2020 (by deep-sixing Hunter Biden’s laptop claiming falsely it was Russian misinformation) and now is taking a swing at 2024 with the Mar-a-Lago documents. If public opinion moves further to Trump’s side, Alvin Bragg through his indictment just reelected Trump to the White House as a sympathy candidate. CIA spooks, no strangers to manipulating elections abroad, call that blowback, and it is a real threat in this instance.

    For the nation’s sake any action against Trump must preserve what is left of faith in the rule of law applied without fear or favor, or risk civil disenfranchisement if not outright civil unrest. Bragg will have to address the case involving former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who maintained an unsecured private email server which processed classified material. Her server held e-mail chains classified at the Top Secret/Special Access Program level which included the names of CIA and NSA employees. Clinton and her team destroyed tens of thousands of emails, potential evidence, as well as physical phones and Blackberries. She operated the server out of her New York (!) home kitchen despite the presence of the Secret Service on property who failed to report it. Her purpose in doing all this appeared to have been avoiding Freedom of Information Act requests during her tenure as SecState ahead of her 2016 presidential run. The Hillary campaign and the DNC also did something naughty in paying for the Steele dossier as “legal expenses” and not campaign expenditures, and got off with only an Election Commission fine.

    In addition, those who claim Trump’s indictment is not political in nature will also have to account for the non-actions against the Obama campaign. Barack Obama’s presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012 were not found to have violated campaign finance laws and no charges were even levied. During the 2008 campaign donors were able to make contributions using fictitious names, such as “Mickey Mouse” and “Donald Duck,” and the campaign was criticized for not doing enough to prevent fraudulent donations. Another controversy involved the Obama campaign’s use of untraceable prepaid credit cards, which raised concerns about the possibility of illegal foreign contributions. No charges were ever filed.

    There is also the case of John Edwards. Edwards, a former United States Senator and 2004 Democratic vice presidential nominee, was indicted in 2011, on charges of violating campaign finance laws during his 2008 presidential campaign. The charges stemmed from allegations Edwards used nearly $1 million in illegal campaign contributions to conceal an extramarital affair during his campaign. Sound familiar?

    Specifically, the government alleged Edwards received money from two wealthy donors and used it to support his mistress and their child in return for their silence. The government claimed this constituted a violation of campaign finance laws, which limit the amount of money that individuals can contribute to a campaign and require that such contributions be disclosed. Edwards maintained the payments were gifts and not campaign contributions, and therefore not subject to campaign finance laws. A jury acquitted Edwards on one count of violating campaign finance laws and deadlocked on the remaining five counts. The government ultimately decided not to retry Edwards.

    The other fear which should have held Bragg back is that business records mismanagement and even campaign finance violations are typically dealt with either via administrative penalties and fines (Trump will not go to jail for any of this.) Most of the laws Trump may have broken require some sort of intent to do wrong. In other words, Trump would have had to have taken the steps with Stormy not just for ego or his presidential library or as some crude souvenir of virility but with the specific intent to commit harm. Proving a state of guilty mind — mens rea — will be the crux of any actual prosecution. What was Trump thinking at the time. “It should be clear,” says the New York Law Journal, “Cohen’s plea, obtained under pressure and with the ultimate aim of developing a case against the president, cannot in and of itself establish whether Trump had the requisite mental state.” If DA Bragg has other key witnesses beyond Stormy and Cohen he has not signaled as such.

    The final questions are probably the most important: Bragg knows what the law says. If knowing the chances of a serious conviction are slight, why would he take the case to court? Then again, if knowing the chances for a serious conviction are slight, why would he have gone to the Grand Jury at all, his predecessor and the Department of Justice having passed on this case. No one is above the law, but that includes politics not trumping clean hands jurisprudence as well.

    If Bragg successfully navigates the politics, if he proves his case in court, then what? Trump’s “crimes” are minor. Could Bragg call Trump having to pay a fine or even do some sort of community service during the 2024 campaign a win? It seems petty, as even a conviction would not disqualify Trump’s bid for the White House (Eugene Debs ran for president while locked up.) Controversy is home turf for Trump; he is clearly again the center of attention and the dominant figure in his party. It sure seems Trump wins politically big-picture whether he wins or loses at court. If you were Alvin Bragg, how would you answer accusations of the weaponization of the legal system to advance a political agenda?

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  • Recent Comments

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Having fled New York for Hawaii you of all people should be able to see these events from a distance. While Trump has to defend himself on four fronts, he will not be able to launch a serious attack on his opponents— DeathSantis, Hutch, Colonel Hogan, etc. His MAGATs will desert him as the election nears. He will certainly call for war from his Maralongo bunker. But nobody will follow him. Like that Waco lunatic, he only succeeded in burning down his own house.

      The End.

      04/5/23 8:13 AM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Ignorance of the Law is no excuse. But in the case of Donnie Little Fingers, it is his only defense. “I didn’t know it was illegal to seize voting machines. I didn’t know it was illegal to pressure Georgia to throw out votes. I didn’t know I could not steal classified government documents.”

      As to the instant case of DA selective prosecution, obviously you haven’t watch one episode of Law and Order. Selective prosecution is the Law of the Land. If DLF -and I don’t mean Ivanka- had quality advisors to keep his dumbass out of legal trouble, prosecutors would have hard a harder decision to go forward. But with DLF’s legal team, it’s like shooting a dead fish in the barrel. And he doesn’t have Barr on the hook.

      04/5/23 1:23 PM | Comment Link

    • Rich Bauer said...


      Stormy Weather

      Oh, I can’t go on, can’t go on, can’t go on
      Everything I have is gone
      Stormy weather, stormy weather
      Since my man, I mean me and my daddy ain’t together
      Keeps raining lawsuits all of the time
      Oh, oh, keeps raining lawsuits all of the time
      Oh, all of the time
      Stormy stormy
      Stormy weather


      04/6/23 9:39 AM | Comment Link

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