Alvin Bragg, Manhattan District Attorney, took to the microphone after Tuesday’s arraignment of former President Trump to start trying his case at the court of public opinion. Trump pleaded not guilty to the 34 felonies against him.
Bragg stated that Donald Trump was arrested on a New York Supreme Court Indictment. It was returned by a Manhattan Grand Jury on 34 counts of falsifying business records. It is a New York State crime to falsify business records in the first degree with the intent to defraud or conceal another crime. Bragg claimed that Trump made 34 false statements to “cover-up” other felony offenses in New York State, but didn’t specify which crimes.
Bragg stated that the defendant had documents in his hands for nine consecutive months that contained this key lie: he was paying Michael Cohen legal services in 2017. He also personally signed checks for Michael Cohen’s payments for each of those nine months.
The evidence will prove that he did this to cover up crimes related to the 2016 election. Donald Trump, American Media Incorporated executives, Mr. Cohen, and others, agreed to a catch-and-kill scheme in 2015. This is a scheme to buy negative information and suppress it to increase Mr. Trump’s chances of winning the election.
They set up shell companies to make the payments and made more false statements in the business records of AMI, American Media Incorporated. Stormy Daniels was one of three people they paid to keep silent. Michael Cohen wired Stormy Daniels $130,000 less than two weeks before the presidential election. This payment was made to conceal damaging information from the public. The scheme of the participants was illegal. The scheme was illegal. It violated New York election laws, which make it a crime for a person to conspire to support a candidate by illegal means. The wire payment of $130,000 exceeded the federal campaign contribution limit and the false statements made in our books was also illegal.
Bragg also stated that Mr. Bragg also stated that Trump claimed he paid Mr. Cohen “fictitious legal services in 2017” to cover up an actual crime. Trump planned to “mischaracterize” the payments to Mr. Cohen to New York state tax authorities.
Bragg described the case as “the bread-and-butter of our white-collar work.”
An NBC reporter asked us the question that we all ask: “Your predecessor looked at this case carefully and decided not to prosecute it.” Federal prosecutors examined this case carefully and decided not to indict it. Are you convinced that you have new evidence to support your decision to not charge this case?
Bragg dodged the question. Bragg said that he had provided additional evidence to the office, which he did not mention. To answer your question regarding the federal, we have an independent and distinct interest in New York State. This is the global business capital. False business statements are a frequent issue. True and accurate records are the foundation of business integrity and a functioning business marketplace. This is the accusation that was brought forward. Falsifying New York state business records.”
Bragg said, “I’m going to stop going chapter by verse into my thinking… I believe the investigation was not completed into the conduct, which is the basis for the charges today.” We have had additional evidence and the opportunity to speak with other witnesses since then. As I mentioned earlier, I have been doing this for 24+ years and I don’t take cases until I’ve done a thorough investigation. The case has been filed after I have done this.
Bragg did not explain how he concluded that Trump had violated campaign finance laws. He refused to discuss it at his press conference.
Fox News contributor Andy McCarthy, an ex-assistant U.S. Attorney, said to Neil Cavuto that the case should be dismissed.
“But I think this is worse than what we anticipated,” he added. “Because what we anticipated was that they were trying to bootstrap a misdemeanor, which, by the way, they’d have a good deal of difficulty proving if it was just a misdemeanor. But they need to show that he concealed another crime in supposedly falsifying the business records.”
McCarthy stated, “And what we have thought up to now is that they were — that he was going used that as an avenue for enforcement federal campaign [law],” He has to tell us what his plans are. He must tell Donald Trump, and that’s even more important. This indictment, before you even get to the statutes of limitations or whether he has jurisdiction to enforce federal laws, I would reject on its face. It doesn’t state a crime.
Furthermore, an indictment is required to accomplish two things in the criminal justice system. It must inform a defendant of what he is being charged with. This is by stating the specific crimes. Then it gives him the second part of his vehicle. If he is ever charged with those again, he can use that first indictment to plead double Jeopardy.
He continued, “So to make that work you must tell the defendant what you are accusing him of.” “And if you want to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was concealing another crime, then you must tell him what that other crime is.”
“This indictment fails to do that,” McCarthy concluded. “This is the heart of the case. It’s not a felony unless he was trying to conceal another crime and if you don’t tell them what the crime is, how does that put him on notice and allow him to prepare his defense?”
That’s what happens when you conduct a witch hunt on a political opponent in a banana republic.