Bragg’s Case Against Trump Doesn’t Have an Underlying Crime

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“Alvin Bragg and the Art of Not Taking the Law Too Seriously” by Jonathan Turley is a good read. He says the trial is making Rube Goldberg’s 13 step self-operating napkin look like a model of efficiency and clarity. It is so convoluted and illogical it is mesmerizing.

It’s a “fantastic illogical machine.”

The premise of the prosecution always had that Rube Goldberg feel. It was so implausible as to be impossible. After all, the base charge is a simple misdemeanor under a New York law against falsifying business records. Trump paid Cohen hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and costs, including $130,000 for a nondisclosure agreement with Daniels.

Bragg is vague as to what should have been noted on the ledgers for the payments. It is not even clear if Trump knew of this expense’s designation as a legal cost. However, it really did not matter, because the misdemeanor has been as dead as Dillinger for years.

The dead misdemeanor was shocked back into life by claiming that it was committed to conceal another crime. Under New York’s penal law, section 175.10, it can be a felony if the “intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.”

We don’t really know what the crime is. Bragg hasn’t told us. He’s throwing some possibilities out, hoping a Trump-hating jury will go for one of them or some of the 34 charges for signing his name 34 times.

For months, Bragg has suggested that the “other crime” was the violation of federal election laws, suggesting that the payment was really a campaign contribution Trump made to himself that was not properly recorded. The problem is that the Justice Department investigated that crime already and decided that it was not a viable criminal claim. It did not even seek a civil fine.

Bragg’s predecessor and Bragg himself rejected the theory behind this prosecution. But then a pressure campaign led Bragg to green-light a prosecution roughly eight years after the 2016 campaign.

A Rube Goldberg

In the trial, Bragg added a type of frying pan flip to his Rube Goldberg contraption by arguing that Trump may have been trying to hide his violation of another dead misdemeanor under yet another New York election law prohibiting “conspir[ing] to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means.”

In other words, Trump was conspiring to try to win his own election, even though the notations were made after he had won the election and even though Trump was running for a federal, not a state, office. And even though there is no underlying crime.

Watch attorney Dave Schoen explain further:


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