Kazakhstan News
Saturday, Jun 03, 2023

The Manhattan DA's likely case against Trump would be far from a 'slam dunk conviction'

The Manhattan DA's likely case against Trump would be far from a 'slam dunk conviction'

A potential indictment against Trump would be unprecedented. Here's why NY prosecutors would face an uphill battle to convict him.
After years of being mired in criminal and civil investigations into everything from his business dealings to his role in the Capitol riot, former President Donald Trump is now staring down a potential indictment from the Manhattan district attorney's office.

But despite its gravity — Trump is the current frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination — experts say the likeliest case New York prosecutors could bring is far from open-and-shut.

A Trump indictment would be unprecedented on a few levels. For one, it would be the first time an ex-president was charged with criminal violations. The facts of the case also mean New York prosecutors would need to use a largely untested approach to tie a possible violation of state law to a violation of federal election laws — and their star witness would likely be Trump's former lawyer, an admitted felon who's previously lied to investigators.

All things considered, experts say the former president may have a better shot at getting off the hook in this case compared to other legal threats he faces from state and federal prosecutors.

If Trump is indicted, the case is expected to center on an illegal hush-money payment that his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, made to the adult film actress Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump. Cohen has testified that he paid Daniels at Trump's direction, but Trump and his lawyers deny knowledge of the payment.

Trump has also denied the affair and said he did "absolutely nothing wrong." And he's accused the Manhattan DA, Alvin Bragg, of running a politically motivated fishing expedition and called on congressional Republicans to investigate Bragg's office.

Among the charges Trump could face is violating New York's business records statute, which bars individuals from falsifying business records with an intent to defraud. According to media reporting about how the DA's office is evaluating the case and presenting evidence to the grand jury, state prosecutors are seeking to charge Trump with a felony violation of the state law.

To do that, the DA's office must overcome an additional hurdle: it would have to prove that Trump falsified the records in order to commit another crime, or to aid or conceal the commission of falsifying the business records.

In Trump's case, based on public comments from the DA's office, the additional alleged crime would likely be a violation of federal campaign finance laws.

Some legal experts have pointed out that New York has a long history of bringing felony prosecutions based on falsifying business records. Just Security, for instance, found dozens of cases over the last 15 years that fall under that umbrella.

But Randall Eliason, a law professor at George Washington University, noted that state prosecutors could face an additional wrinkle where Trump is concerned.

Namely, New York's business records statute's "intent to defraud" requirement is "usually defined as intent to deprive a victim of money or property," Eliason wrote. But while all the examples in Just Security's review meet that requirement, "it's not clear how concealing a campaign contribution does."

"Prosecutors could argue an intent to deprive voters of accurate information," he added, "but it's not clear that would qualify as intent to defraud in NY (it clearly would not under federal law.)" If Trump is charged with falsifying business records, "expect to see this defense."

David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor in the Southern District of Florida, echoed that view, telling Insider that the potential case against Trump is far from a "slam dunk conviction."

Weinstein also pointed out that a significant portion of the case against Trump, if he's indicted, would hinge on the testimony of Cohen, his former fixer who claims Trump directed him to make the Daniels payments and who admitted to lying to Congress, among other crimes.

Cases like this — and others that rely on testimony from cooperating co-conspirators — are "more difficult to prove," Weinstein said.

If prosecutors argue that Trump committed a felony violation of the New York business records statute by breaking federal campaign finance laws, he added, the defense will likely argue that the DA is "overreaching" his duties of enforcing state laws.

Trump, for his part, frequently highlights Cohen's pitfalls as a star witness; earlier Thursday, he described his former longtime confidant as a "convicted nut job with zero credibility" in an all-caps Truth Social rant.

Insider reached out to a lawyer representing Trump for comment Thursday.

Barbara McQuade, the former US attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, told Insider that if Trump is charged, "the more the case relies on documents instead of the testimony of Michael Cohen, the stronger it will be."

"Whereas Cohen has some credibility issues as someone with an axe to grind and a convicted perjurer," prosecutors can get around those concerns by corroborating his testimony with bank records, phone records, and other documentary evidence.

"Documents don't lie and documents don't forget," McQuade added.

Eric Columbus, a former Justice Department official under the Obama administration, also wrote on Twitter that he had "serious concerns" about bringing an indictment against Trump focused on the Daniels hush-money payment if "there's nothing here that wasn't known in 2018," back when Cohen pleaded guilty.

Bragg's predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., strongly considered bringing an indictment against the former president centered around the hush-money payment, according to The Times.

But in the end, Vance's investigators deemed it too risky to charge Trump with falsifying business records and using federal campaign finance law violations as the secondary crime, The Times reported.

Columbus wrote that it's incumbent on Bragg's office to show that the rationale for indicting Trump has nothing to do with politics.

That rationale is "especially strong when the prosecuting office has *already* exercised such discretion and opted not to prosecute," he wrote. "If a prosecuting office reverses course, it must be able to explain why."

Reached for comment, a spokesperson for Bragg's office said that charging white-collar cases based on falsifying business records is a key aspect of its work, and that since Bragg took office, the Manhattan DA has filed more than 100 counts of felony falsifying business records counts against 29 individuals and entities.
AI Disclaimer: An advanced artificial intelligence (AI) system generated the content of this page on its own. This innovative technology conducts extensive research from a variety of reliable sources, performs rigorous fact-checking and verification, cleans up and balances biased or manipulated content, and presents a minimal factual summary that is just enough yet essential for you to function as an informed and educated citizen. Please keep in mind, however, that this system is an evolving technology, and as a result, the article may contain accidental inaccuracies or errors. We urge you to help us improve our site by reporting any inaccuracies you find using the "Contact Us" link at the bottom of this page. Your helpful feedback helps us improve our system and deliver more precise content. When you find an article of interest here, please look for the full and extensive coverage of this topic in traditional news sources, as they are written by professional journalists that we try to support, not replace. We appreciate your understanding and assistance.

Related Articles

Nvidia Joins Tech Giants as First Chipmaker to Reach $1 Trillion Valuation
Drone Attack on Moscow's Wealthiest Neighborhoods Suspected to be Launched by Ukraine
Elon Musk Meets Chinese Finance Minister in Beijing
AI ‘extinction’ should be same priority as nuclear war – experts
Prominent Hacker Forum RaidForums Suffers Substantial Data Breach
Nvidia CEO Huang says firms, individuals without AI expertise will be left behind
WPP Revolutionizes Advertising with NVIDIA's AI Powerhouse
Two US Employees Fired For Chasing Robbers Out Of Store As They Broke ''Company Policy''
Pfizer, the EU, and disappearing ink - Smoke, Mirrors, and the Billion-Dose Pfizer Vaccine Deal: EU's 'Open Secret
A provocative study suggests: Left-Wing Extremism and its Unsettling Connection to Psychopathy and Narcissism
Ukrainian Intelligence Official Admits to Assassination Attempts on Putin
Bernard Arnault Loses $11.2 Billion in One Day as Investors Fear Slowdown in US Growth Will Reduce Demand for Luxury Products
Russian’s Wagner Group leader: “I am not a chef, I am a butcher. Russia is in danger of a revolution like in 1917.”
TikTok Sues Montana Over Law Banning the App
Ron DeSantis Jumps Into 2024 Presidential Race, Setting Up Showdown With Trump
Talks between US House Republicans and President Biden's Democratic administration on raising the federal government's $31.4tn debt ceiling have paused
Biden Administration Eyeing High-Profile Visits to China: The Biden Administration is heating things up by looking into setting up a series of top-level visits to Beijing by top officials in the coming months
Debt Ceiling Crises Have Unleashed Political Chaos
Weibao Wang, a former software engineer at Apple, was charged with stealing trade secrets related to autonomous systems, including self-driving cars
Mobile phone giant Vodafone to cut 11,000 jobs globally over three years as new boss says its performance not good enough
Elon Musk compares George Soros to Magneto, the supervillain from the Marvel Comics series.
Warren Buffett Sells TSMC Shares Over Concerns About Taiwan's Stability
New Study Finds That Secondary Bacterial Pneumonia Is a Major Cause of Death in COVID-19 Patients Who Require Ventilator Assistance
King Charles III being crowned.
'Godfather Of AI' Geoffrey Hinton Quits Google To Warn Of The Tech's Dangers
A Real woman
Vermont Man Charged with Stalking After Secretly Tracking Woman with Apple AirTag
Elon Musk Statements About Tesla Autopilot Could Be 'Deepfakes,' Lawyers Claim. Judge Evette Pennypacker Does Not Understand How Far and Advanced This Technology Became
Ukraine More Prepared for Counterattack as Reinforcements Arrive
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni Discuss Migration, Defence, and Ukraine
AT&T's Successful Test of Satellite-Based Phone Call Raises Possibility of Widespread Coverage
CNN: "Joe Biden is asking for four more years — when 74% of Americans think the country is heading the wrong way“
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Cuts Short Live TV Interview Due to Health Issue
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh slams New York Times' pro-government stance and treatment of sources
Enough is enough: it's time to end the war in Ukraine. While Russia may be to blame for starting it, Russia is not the one refusing to stop it
Fox News Settles their case with Dominion Voting Systems for a staggering $787.5 MILLION
21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira has been arrested for leaking classified Pentagon Documents
The Supreme Court will allow a 12-year-old transgender West Virginia girl to compete on her middle school’s girls' sports teams amid a lawsuit over a ban
Bank of America cuts short conference after outrage at Ukraine comments
Mitt Romney calls Trump indictment 'overreach,' says charges were 'stretched' to suit a 'political agenda'
The G-7 aims to make global crypto regulations tougher
Russia arrested an American reporter for the Wall Street Journal on espionage charges
Don’t Dismiss China’s Peacemaking Bid
China and Brazil have signed a new deal that will allow them to trade in their own currencies, bypassing the US dollar as an intermediary
Elon Musk and Others Call for Pause on A.I., Citing ‘Profound Risks to Society’
“We've had evidence prior to the pandemic that masks were largely ineffective at preventing community transmission of influenza “
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz:
Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz rejects being labeled a "billionaire"
Jamie Dimon is being deposed over JPMorgan Chase role in Epstein lawsuits
Brand new security footage has just been released to the public showing the Active shooter Audrey Elizabeth Hale drove to Covenant Church School in her Honda Fit this morning, parked, and shot her way into the building