A Manhattan grand jury has indicted former President Donald Trump, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office confirmed following late-Thursday media leaks. While the indictment remains under seal, one thing seems certain: America has now entered the era of “show me the man and I’ll show you the crime” politics.
The Democrat district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, breathed new life into the infamous boast of Joseph Stalin’s secret police chief, Lavrentiy Beria, when the Manhattan prosecutor targeted the former president in connection to a 2016 payment made to Stormy Daniels. Bragg’s decision to push for an indictment against Trump, presumably for falsifying business records, promises to herald in a new political age — one in which local prosecutors will target partisan enemies, big and small, making a mockery of the criminal justice system in the process.
The fact that news of the charges leaked to the left’s favorite scribes at The New York Times, while the indictment remained still under seal, punctuates perfectly the Sovietesque times in which we live: The legacy media may not be state-run, but they peddle propaganda nonetheless.
Until the indictment is unsealed, any discussion of the charges requires some guesswork, and with sources late Thursday reportedly telling CNN the grand jury charged Trump with more than 30 counts, the prognostication is much more difficult. But from earlier reports, it appears the D.A.’s criminal case against Trump revolves around Sections 175.05 and 175.10 of the New York penal code.
Both sections define the state crime of “falsifying business records,” with Section 175.05 providing “a person is guilty of falsifying business records in the second degree when, with the intent to defraud, he makes or causes a false entry in the business records of an enterprise.” Section 175.10 converts the “second degree” misdemeanor to a felony if the person falsified business records with the “intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission” of another crime.
The factual theory for charging the former president with falsifying business records seems to rest on “Trump allegedly causing the Trump Organization to falsely report payments made to Michael Cohen in 2017 as ‘legal expenses,’ when the money instead reimbursed (and then some) Cohen for the $130,000 payment he made to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to keep the porn star from publicly claiming she had sex a decade earlier.” The Trump Organization then reportedly paid Cohen $35,000 a month for “legal services” in 2017, while Cohen never provided any legal work for the business.
Legal pundits believe the indictment will ratchet up the alleged falsifying of “legal expenses” offense to a felony by charging Trump with lying about the payments to Cohen to conceal a violation of federal election law. Cohen has already admitted to paying off Daniels to advance Trump’s electoral chances, and he appears poised to be a star witness against Trump. Another possibility, however, is that the Manhattan D.A.’s indictment accuses Trump of falsifying the organization’s “legal expenses” to aid in tax fraud.
The U.S. attorney has already declined to charge Trump with federal election law violations, making any attempt by Bragg to tie the federal offense to the state charge of falsifying business records reek of political payback.
Bragg’s expected use of Trump’s physical absence from New York — ironically because he was serving as commander-in-chief in D.C. — to sidestep the five-year statute of limitations that applies to a felony of falsifying business records, will also add to the stench of the case. And a public that watched Trump hounded since he first announced his candidacy for president isn’t likely to focus on the legal technicalities of the statute of limitations. Rather, the average American will consider the delayed charging of Trump to be a desperate ploy to concoct a crime.
Trump himself was quick to advance this theory, opening his press release by calling the indictment “political persecution and election interference at the highest level in history.” “From the time I came down the golden escalator at Trump Tower,” the former president continued, the “Radical Left Democrats … have been engaged in a Witch-Hunt to destroy the Make America Great Again movement.”
“You remember it just like I do,” Trump stressed, ticking off the attacks: “Russia, Russia, Russia; the Mueller Hoax; Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine; Impeachment Hoax 1; Impeachment Hoax 2; the illegal and unconstitutional Mar-a-Lago raid; and now this.”
Trump will reportedly appear in a Manhattan court on Tuesday for his arraignment. Whether the indictment is unsealed before then is unknown. But the leaks continue, including, as noted above, news that the grand jury reportedly charged Trump with more than 30 criminal counts.
Unless Bragg has uncovered something much beyond the details already reported about the Daniels payment, the Manhattan prosecutor will have only made matters worse by pushing for an indictment of the former president on more than 30 criminal counts. Given the lack of leaks about anything new, the most likely scenario is that the grand jury got to 30-plus counts by charging Trump with separate counts for each of the monthly payments made to Cohen in 2017. Then, the grand jury could add additional counts for each month Trump allegedly made the payment to “aid or conceal the commission” of another crime.
With this approach, it isn’t hard to see how easily the grand jury could convert one hush-money payment into some 30 crimes. And while the left and the Never Trump right might see a lengthy indictment as further proof of Trump’s malfeasance, if the indictment contains no new details, the piling on to reach the reported 33 counts against the former president doesn’t make Trump look more guilty — it makes Bragg look more like Beria.