“America’s Got Trump”: Get Ready for a Truly Made-for-TV Prosecution

Below is my column in The Hill on the expected indictment this week of former President Donald Trump and the danger of prosecution by plebiscite.  I have been critical of the indictment, which is reportedly based on a highly dubious use of a New York misdemeanor charge to revise a long dormant federal election law charge. We will have to wait to confirm the details on the indictment but this remains, in my view, a blatantly political prosecution.

Here is the column:

“The moment that we are waiting for, we made it to the finale together” — those familiar words from “America’s Got Talent” — could well be the opening line for Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg next week, when he is expected to unveil an indictment of former President Trump. With Trump’s reported announcement that he expects to be arrested on Tuesday, it would be a fitting curtain raiser for a case that has developed more like a television production than a criminal prosecution. Indeed, this indictment was repeatedly rejected only to be brought back by popular demand.

Trump faces serious legal threats in the ongoing Mar-a-Lago investigation. But the New York case would be easily dismissed outside of a jurisdiction like New York, where Bragg can count on highly motivated judges and jurors.

Although it may be politically popular, the case is legally pathetic. Bragg is struggling to twist state laws to effectively prosecute a federal case long ago rejected by the Justice Department against Trump over his payment of “hush money” to former stripper Stormy Daniels. In 2018 (yes, that is how long this theory has been around), I wrote how difficult such a federal case would be under existing election laws. Now, six years later, the same theory may be shoehorned into a state claim.

It is extremely difficult to show that paying money to cover up an embarrassing affair was done for election purposes as opposed to an array of obvious other reasons, from protecting a celebrity’s reputation to preserving a marriage. That was demonstrated by the failed federal prosecution of former presidential candidate John Edwards on a much stronger charge of using campaign funds to cover up an affair.

In this case, Trump reportedly paid Daniels $130,000 in the fall of 2016 to cut off or at least reduce any public scandal. The U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York had no love lost for Trump, pursuing him and his associates in myriad investigations, but it ultimately rejected a prosecution based on the election law violations. It was not alone: The Federal Election Commission chair also expressed doubts about the theory.

Prosecutors working under Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., also reportedly rejected the viability of using a New York law to effectively charge a federal offense.

More importantly, Bragg himself previously expressed doubts about the case, effectively shutting it down soon after he took office. The two lead prosecutors, Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz, resigned in protest. Pomerantz launched a very public campaign against Bragg’s decision, including commenting on a still-pending investigation. He made it clear that Trump was guilty in his mind, even though his former office was still undecided and the grand jury investigation was ongoing.

Pomerantz then did something that shocked many of us as highly unprofessional and improper: Over Bragg’s objection that he was undermining any possible prosecution, Pomerantz published a book detailing the case against an individual who was not charged, let alone convicted.

He was, of course, an instant success in the media that have spent years highlighting a dozen different criminal theories that were never charged against Trump. Pomerantz followed the time-tested combination for success — link Trump to any alleged crime and convey absolute certainty of guilt. For cable TV shows, it was like a heroin hit for an audience in a long agonizing withdrawal.

And the campaign worked. Bragg caved, and “America’s Got Trump” apparently will air after all.

However, before twelve Simon Cowells can vote, Bragg still has to get beyond a series of glaring problems which could raise serious appellate challenges later.

While we still do not know the specific state charges in the anticipated indictment, the most-discussed would fall under Section 175 for falsifying business records, based on the claim that Trump used legal expenses to conceal the alleged hush-payments that were supposedly used to violate federal election laws. While some legal experts have insisted such concealment is clearly a criminal matter that must be charged, they were conspicuously silent when Hillary Clinton faced a not-dissimilar campaign-finance allegation.

Last year, the Federal Election Commission fined the Clinton campaign for funding the Steele dossier as a legal expense. The campaign had previously denied funding the dossier, which was used to push false Russia collusion claims against Trump in 2016, and it buried the funding in the campaign’s legal budget. Yet, there was no hue and cry for this type of prosecution in Washington or New York.

A Section 175 charge would normally be a misdemeanor. The only way to convert it into a Class E felony requires a showing that the “intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.” That other crime would appear to be the federal election violations which the Justice Department previously declined to charge.

The linkage to a federal offense is critical for another reason: Bragg’s office ran out of time to prosecute this as a misdemeanor years ago; the statute of limitations is two years. Even if he shows this is a viable felony charge, the longer five-year limitation could be hard to establish.

Of course, none of these legalistic problems will be relevant in the coming frenzy. It will be a case that is nothing if not entertaining, one to which you can bring your popcorn — so long as you leave your principles behind.

Indeed, some will view it as poetic justice for this former reality-TV host to be tried like a televised talent show. However, the damage to the legal system is immense whenever political pressure overwhelms prosecutorial judgment. The criminal justice system can be a terrible weapon when used for political purposes, an all-too-familiar spectacle in countries where political foes can be targeted by the party in power.

None of this means Trump is blameless or should not be charged in other cases. However, we seem to be on the verge of watching a prosecution by plebiscite in this case. The season opener of “America’s Got Trump” might be a guaranteed hit with its New York audience — but it should be a flop as a prosecution.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at The George Washington University. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

211 thoughts on ““America’s Got Trump”: Get Ready for a Truly Made-for-TV Prosecution”

  1. “Trump said in a post on Truth Social Saturday that “illegal leaks” indicate that “the far & away leading Republican candidate & former president of the United States of America, will be arrested.” A Trump spokesperson later clarified that there had been no actual “notification” about an imminent arrest and the former president hadn’t been involved in any communication from prosecutors.”

    Oops.. Trump the liar strikes again, He’s getting desperate and anxious about getting arrested possibly sometime this week. He’s fomenting civil unrest and violence as his MAGA nutties spiral into fits of rage and anger leading to violent rioting. Trump wants his followers to save him.

  2. Trump supporters and the right are already advocating violence and murder.

    “Far-right broadcaster Pete Santilli called on members of the military to execute former President Barack Obama, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and former National Security Advisor Susan Rice if former President Donald Trump is arrested.

    …Santilli responded on his show by calling for Trump’s supporters in the military to rise up and round up Obama and his former administration officials and shoot them against a “concrete wall.”

    “Get the military, whatever few are left that are gonna side with the people. You military personnel and you people with guns and badges and law enforcement will succumb to the will of the people,”


    This proves the right is always violent and advocates for the overthrow of our government. These are people Trump is relying on to save him from being arrested. The violent right seems ready to act at a moment’s notice.

    1. It proves nothing of the sort. Political violence is almost ENTIRELY a phenomenon of the left. And however crazy this guy’s advice is, it would not overthrow the government

    2. Svelaz – how many listeners does Santelli have? I have never heard of him, nor have I been able to find his “broadcast” anywhere on the radio in the Detroit area.

  3. Ever-grandstanding, marginally competent and Soros lapdag Bragg just told the American people they can’t have something. We’ll see how this works out. Probbaly like Elon Musks says, it’s a prelude to Trump getting another “Hail to The Chief” moment.

  4. Trump will probably be convicted in a courtroom packed with people who are definitely against him. This trial will probably go on most of this year. The retrial will probably go on into next year’s election season. Then he will be exonerated in appeals. During the fall election season.

    1. Well, Nancy and her drunk, bi husband are in New York City today. Probably to give out bribes.

  5. New York’s Case Not As Serious As Georgia’s

    But ‘Who’ Is Trump’s Base?

    And ‘What’ Do They Stand For?

    Currently throughout the Red States, women suffering pregnancy complications are experiencing legal and medical nightmares because of abortion restrictions. So-called ‘Right-To-Life leaders actually expect women to be near death before doctors are allowed to terminate pregnancies. These Taliban-like policies are the results of last year’s Dobbs Decision.

    The Dobbs Decision was made possible because Donald Trump, a one term president, got 3 picks to the U.S. Supreme Court (one of those picks came at Barack Obama’s expense). In fact, a large percentage of Trump voters are so-called ‘Christian Conservatives’. These so-called ‘Christians’ seek to re-shape America as a ‘Christian nation’ subscribing to ‘Christian values’.

    So is it peculiar that Donald Trump, the political leader of ‘Christian America’, paid hush money to a porn star to cover their affair during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump was, in fact, married during the time of their affair. What’s more, Trump was also seeing a Playboy Playmate around that same time.

    In a normal America, a married man having affairs with a porn star and Playboy Playmate is hardly an appropriate leader for Christian values. Most traditional Christians would be appalled to learn their presidential candidate is of such low, moral caliber. We saw that kind of outrage when the Lewinsky scandal rocked Bill Clinton’s presidency. Those most outraged included people who eventually voted for Trump. So where is that outrage now??

    Professor Turley, like most Trump apologists, makes no effort whatsoever to explain the glaring hypocrisies here.

    1. Trump’s private life is completely irrelevant. Nobody has ever claimed or imagined that he leads a decent life. Or that he is a Christian of any kind. Nobody voted for him on that basis.

  6. What the Democrats used to stand for — FDR, Jan. 6, 1941, State of the Union (excerpt)
    “[65] Certainly this is no time for any of us to stop thinking about the social and economic problems which are the root cause of the social revolution which is today a supreme factor in the world.
    [66] For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:
    [67] Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.
    [68] Jobs for those who can work.
    [69] Security for those who need it.
    [70] The ending of special privilege for the few.
    [71] The preservation of civil liberties for all.
    [72] The enjoyment . . . the enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.
    [73] These are the simple, the basic things that must never be lost sight of in the turmoil and unbelievable complexity of our modern world. The inner and abiding strength of our economic and political systems is dependent upon the degree to which they fulfill these expectations.
    [74] Many subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement.
    [75] As examples:
    [76] We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.
    [77] We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.
    [78] We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful employment may obtain it.
    [79] I have called for personal sacrifice. And I am assured of the willingness of almost all Americans to respond to that call.
    [80] A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes. In my Budget Message I will recommend that a greater portion of this great defense program be paid for from taxation than we are paying for today. No person should try, or be allowed, to get rich out of the program; and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.
    [81] If the Congress maintains these principles, the voters, putting patriotism ahead of pocketbooks, will give you their applause.
    [82] In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.
    [83] The first is freedom of speech and expression–everywhere in the world.
    [84] The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way–everywhere in the world.
    [85] The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.
    86] The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.
    [87] That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.
    [88] To that new order we oppose the greater conception–the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.
    [89] Since the beginning of our American history, we have been engaged in change–in a perpetual peaceful revolution–a revolution which goes on steadily, quietly adjusting itself to changing conditions–without the concentration camp or the quick-lime in the ditch. The world order which we seek is the cooperation of free countries, working together in a friendly, civilized society.
    [90] This nation has placed its destiny in the hands and heads and hearts of its millions of free men and women; and its faith in freedom under the guidance of God. Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose.
    [91] To that high concept there can be no end save victory.

    1. Thank you, Comrade General Secretary Marx.

      In fact, the sole function of the government of the United States of America, under its Constitution, is to provide maximal freedom to individuals through the provision of security and infrastructure while severely limiting and restricting government that is designed deliberately to be infinitesimal.

      Freedom is the destination; the success or failure of any entity is irrelevant and immaterial.

  7. In spring 2007, Durham County (North Carolina) District Attorney Mike Nifong zealously prosecuted three Duke University lacrosse players- Reade Seligmann, Collin Finnerty, and David Evans- for the rape and sexual assault of a stripper during an off-campus team party. Despite mounting evidence suggesting that the players were innocent, Nifong seemed to completely discount it (even withholding some of it) and quickly indicted the three players. North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper eventually dropped the charges against all three players, noting that “[this] case shows the enormous consequences of overreaching by a prosecutor.” In June 2007, Nifong was disbarred for prosecutorial misconduct. Appearing at his preliminary hearing for criminal contempt of court, Nifong apologized to the three players and their families, stating his hope that “all of us can learn from the mistakes of this case, that all of us can begin to move forward.” He was found guilty in September 2007.

    – Public Apology Central

  8. Appearances suggest that just another shoddy political saga all too common in these days of our lives clouds us yet again. And it is again we are reminded of the dangers to be considered whenever criminal justice systems are used to target political foes by whichever scheming political party is in power at the time. While the perpetrators in this case come from a lower more local level it is certain they have the backing of the higher federal level. Unfortunately, the problem for the locals is that what they are selling never sold at the federal level.

  9. My understanding of NDAs is that they are invalid if used (in any part) to conceal criminal activity and involvement, or to muzzle a witness thereto. The intent was to cover up an extra-marital liaison — itself a legal if unsavory act.

    Bragg is barking up the wrong tree.

  10. The purchasing power of money never ceases to amaze me, and Turley is the poster-boy. First of all, no indictment or arrest warrant has been forthcoming, but the pig Turley is paid to defend by attacking Joe Biden* and Democrats, claims, without any proof, not only will he be arrested on Tuesday, but he, once again, exhorts the members of his cult to protest and “take back” America. Protest what? The Rule of Law that traditional Republicans claim they care about more than anything else?. How is indicting Trump for paying off a porn actress to keep quiet his (brief, and unimpressive, according to her) sexual liaison, and then lying about the payment as being “legal fees” for election reporting purposes somehow undermining America? There is hardly any person in this country who has done more to undermine America than Trump, beginning with cheating his way into office, proceeding with trashing our economy and public health, starting a trade war with China, getting impeached twice and starting an insurrection when America voted him out.

    Does the lack of any paperwork stop Turley from criticizing the legal basis of charges that have yet to be filed or engaging in his usual whataboutism? How about that di*kless wonder, Mike Pence, who called the charges he has yet to see “politically motivated”? How can any ethical person criticize legal charges that have yet to be filed, or, to pander to the Trump cult are they claiming that ANY legal charges, no matter the validity, must be “politically motivated”? Now, Turley is claiming that the charges are back by “popular demand”. How does he know what the inner workings are of the Manhattan DA’s office? And, BTW, that office has repeatedly refused to publicly comment on Trump’s claim, which proves they aren’t motivated by pollitics or publicity. D.A. Bragg has a very impressive resume–more so than Trump. Then, there’s another di*kless wonder, McCarthy, who promised that Republican-led committees would “investigate” the Manhattan DA’s office. Maybe Turley’s supposed legal expertise could come into play here–he could explain to McCarthy that the actions of a Manhattan DA’s Office are NOT under federal control, and that making this claim is just to show-off for the deplorables.

    Of course, since he’s on the Fox payroll, he just has to throw in criticism of Hillary Clinton and claim Trump’s campaign proven collusion with Russia was “fake”. He pathetically tries to throw in the Steele Dossier, feeding into the fake Fox narrative that the “dossier” was the impetus for the Mueller investigation, something Turley knows isn’t true. Turley actually has the stones to claim that people supporting Trump being held accountable have “left their principles behind”. Turls, you did that when you went on the Fox payroll. Oh, and on your employer’s network, one of the pundits pointed out that it’s been 5 years now, and they’ve come up with nothing on the “Hunter Biden Scandal” from the laptop. Michael Cohen went to prison over this incident and lying about it, as well as other things he did on behalf of Trump–why should Trump get a free pass? Did any of Hillary Clinton’s lawyers go to prison for things they did on her behalf? Trump claims he’s a “leading candidate”, but he hasn’t been nominated yet, and may never be. He certainly isn’t leading in any overall national polls to be the POTUS in 2024. According to Dr. Mary Trump, he knows he’s likely to get indicted and/or arrested, and one of his biggest fears is being handcuffed and/or doing the “perp walk”, so that’s why he announced his “candidacy”–thinking it will insulate him and give him an argument that all of this is politically-motivated.

    *see other recent posts, where Turley accuses Biden of lying–something Trump does every single day and has for years, with little to no coment from Turls.

    1. There is a ray of hope that the New York prosecutor will find the end of his career soon. While Democrats were still competitive in the congressional ballot throughout the fall, they trailed Republicans by 13 points on which party would do better on crime. A quarter of Democrats in October said Republicans would do a better job. That included a quarter of Blacks and a stunning half of Hispanics and Asian Americans. This prosecutor should consult with Lori Lightfoot to understand the eventual result of his easy on crime positions. No matter. He’ll have his big house and his fancy car paid off by Soros before he is forced to step down. Serving the people has never been given second thought by the easy on crime boot lickers. Did you notice how Soros’s boots are always shiny?

    2. “…and then lying about the payment as being “legal fees” for election reporting purposes…” I do not think you have your facts right, Gigi.

      That is what Hillary did with the Fusion GPS / Christopher Steele payments. What they did for her was illegal at worst and “oppo research” at best, but she (and the DNC) paid Perkins Coie with campaign funds to pay Fusion GPS to pay Steele so that she could falsely report those payments as “legal fees” and have plausible deniability.

      Trump on the other hand used his personal funds to hush the porn star and never reported it, because it was his own darn business. They are saying it was a campaign expense, and he should have used campaign funds and reported the expenditure.

      We always have to keep an eye on politicians to make sure they do not use campaign funds for personal purposes, but since Trump has caused Democrats to descend into the depths of bizzaro-world we are prosecuting him for using personal funds to pay off porn stars when he should have used campaign funds to pay off porn stars, because of course.

      1. tommylotto: you should review the facts. Trump had Michael Cohen pay Stephanie Clifford (a/ik/a “Stormy Daniels”) $130K and sign an NDA to keep her quiet about suckering her to his hotel room under the guise of being willing to finance her as a legitimate film producer, but he showed up at the door wearing nothing but a robe. He had invited her to dinner on the premise that they would discuss financial arrangements for producing films, but that didn’t happen either. Then, his campaign reimbursed Cohen and he reported it as “legal fees” to the federal election commission. Cohen went to prison over lying about this. The reason why the disposition of campaign funds is monitored and reported is to prevent and uncover bribery and influence-peddling. Trump knew he wasn’t liked or respected by most Americans, so to sucker in the Evangelicals, he got Pence as a running mate and had to silence Stormy Daniels and Karen McGougall, a Playboy bunny he was also shagging, because he knew that wouldn’t go over well with the base he hoped to generate.

        1. Gigi – the source of the money was not “campaign funds” but Trump’s personal funds, according to a Trump tweet (May 3, 2018), which has not been disproven. BTW, did Cohen “report” the Stomy Daniels payments as legal fees to the FEC? Why would have made any report to the FEC? He was not part of the Trump campaign. It appears that what happened is that the Manhattan U S Attorney’s office decided to charge Cohen with violating the campaign finance laws because of the Stormy Daniels’ payment, even though the FEC itself had dropped its inquiry into the payments. Cohen was not rich enough or strong enough to fight the charges. Or, since he was also convicted on an unrelated perjury charge, he may have thought it was pointless to contest the campaign finance charge.

        2. Let’s make this simple for the dum dums in the back:
          Clinton paid $8000 fine for “Campaign finance violation in payments to law firm”
          Same thing they want to ARREST Trump for.
          ➡️Hillary’s was for the Steel Dossier
          ➡️Trump’s is for a woman who lost her suit against him, had to pay his legal fees, and her lawyer is now in jail.

    3. Gigi is cutting and pasting her comments once again. Basically she says that because Trump lied it’s okay for Biden to lie too. She presents herself as above it all but then she justifies the Joe Biden lies. One would think that being above it all that she would condemn the lies of both men. Lying is immoral but with Gigi morality has nothing to do with it. It’s such a foreign word. Gigi, with your writing ability you could write a child porn book that would be highly popular in Jr, High Libraries. Your fortune awaits.

      1. What did Joe Biden lie about? Turley claims that Biden’s claims about how little the wealthy pay is based on “disputed” measures of investments, but just because something is “disputed” doesn’t prove Biden lied. Trump, on the other hand, is a chronic, habitual liar, well-proven. Where do you get off putting words in my mouth?

    4. no indictment or arrest warrant has been forthcoming, but the pig Turley is paid

      Sure Natcha. Ignore the Grand Jury. Stupid is as Stupid does.

      I know your a troll. But aren’t you embarrassed to be seen as such an imbecile?

    5. Gig – you are rather unfocused and repetitive. Let’s look at one quote: “How is indicting Trump for paying off a porn actress to keep quiet his (brief, and unimpressive, according to her) sexual liaison, and then lying about the payment as being “legal fees” for election reporting purposes somehow undermining America? There is hardly any person in this country who has done more to undermine America than Trump, beginning with cheating his way into office, proceeding with trashing our economy and public health, starting a trade war with China, getting impeached twice and starting an insurrection when America voted him out.”
      First, to whom did he “lie” about the payment being “legal fees”? This was a private book entry, not a communication to the public. And why could the payment not been identified as a “legal fee”? It was paid to settle a blackmail claim. How would you have characterized the payment on his books?
      Second, did he really report the payment to the FEC? I can find no evidence he did so. Why would he, since it is not a campaign contribution, except in the minds of anti-Trumpers.
      Third, you repeat your frequent statement that Trump “cheated” his way into office. He won both the primaries (which were not fixed, like the Democratic primaries) and then beat Clinton notwithstanding the opposition of almost the entire MSM,
      Fourth, you repeat your frequent statements that Trump “trashed” the economy by starting a trade-war with China. In fact, as anyone can remeber, the economy was growing under Truump, at least until COVID hit us. And, if he started a trade-war with China, it is long overdue.
      Fifth, your reference to “public health” makes no sense at all unless you are referring to COVID, and Trump bore no responsibility for that Fauci-made disaster. Biden has continued the disaster.
      Sixth, blaming Trump for getting impeached? That is like blaiming JFK for getting shot by Lee Harvey Oswald.
      Seventh – starting an insurrection? What nonsense, but you leftists cling to the myth like shipwrecked sailors cling to life-rafts.

    6. Read this Marco Polo report. It’s 630-pages with over 2,000 citations that thoroughly documents 459 crimes committed by the Biden family and their business associates.

      •140 business crimes
      •191 sex crimes
      •128 drug crimes

      The Bidens received at least $31 million from Chinese businessmen linked to the highest levels of Chinese intelligence.
      Hunter even admitted in his own words that his business partners worked for Chinese intelligence.

      The Bidens sold access to the highest levels of the US government to officials working for Chinese intelligence.

      Where is the DOJ? Where is a special counsel? Why aren’t the MSM even talking about this and hounding Biden with questions? Where are the subpoenas? When is Biden going to be impeached and tried for treason? For real.


  11. When faced with a folly, such as this case, always ask: What is it intended to achieve?

    Here, the Left hopes to achieve three things:

    1) Give the MSM a sound bite, so that they can delude the public into thinking that Trump is toxic. “Trump the indicted . . .” ad nauseam.

    2) As a rationalization to invoke 14A, S3.

    3) The people need circuses.

    1. “3) The people need circuses.” Exactly. 24/7/365 constant drumbeat of, “No, look over here, not at how we’re grifting you, lesser-than plebs!”

  12. If it takes a diagram to explain why a law was broken, you know it is a junk prosecution.

    Joe was bribed by Ukraine and China. The money went to his family members then to him. Simple. Bribery and money laundering. At the least this is influence peddling and his relatives are unregistered foreign agents.

    Hillary paid her dirty tricksters through her law firm so that she can conceal these obvious campaign expenses (and possible illegal behavior) as legal expenses instead. A clear violation of campaign law.

    A corporation with no link to Trump other than that it was created by Trump’s lawyer paid hush money to a porn star to conceal an alleged affair between Trump and the porn star while Trump’s wife was pregnant, and Trump reimbursed the lawyer’s hush payment with Trump’s personal, not campaign, funds. Although the payment may have been made to spare Trump personal embarrassment, not to mention keeping him out of the dog house with his wife, he was also running for office. So, the payment could maybe also have had campaign benefits. If, a big if, the campaign purpose predominated over the personal purpose then theoretically the hush money was a campaign expense (but let’s not kid ourselves, if he had used campaign funds to pay the hush money, then certainly they would have prosecuted him for using campaign funds for a personal purpose). But let’s assume it was a campaign expense, then the legal fees / hush money paid to the porn star through the lawyer was really a campaign contribution from Trump to Trump’s campaign, which is a violation of state campaign finance laws for REASONS.

    I don’t know you, but I see a difference. We live in an empire of lies in a clown world.

  13. “A Section 175 charge would normally be a misdemeanor. The only way to convert it into a Class E felony requires a showing that the intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.’ That other crime would appear to be the federal election violations which the Justice Department previously declined to charge.” (JT)

    Let me get this straight: A local DA wishes to use a state misdemeanor law (with an expired statute of limitations), to rationalize the prosecution of a *federal* law that is itself vague and capricious.

    In their manic desire to create political “criminals,” the Left has turned the law into a deadly game of deuces wild.

    1. The failed case against John Edwards shows how difficult the campaign violation would be to prove. Maybe there is a different crime Bragg will allege.

      In any case there are statute of limitations issues. As I understand it, the misdemeanour charge is two years and the felony five. The payments were made in fall 2016. Maybe the statute runs from a slightly later date. Does anyone know when the Stormy story first got aired?

      1. Hey there Daniel: I may be wrong, but I believe there had been some talk about New York’s CPL Section 30.10(4), which “provides that when calculating the time limitation applicable to commencement of a criminal action, the following periods shall not be included:
        (a) Any period following the commission of the offense during which (i) the defendant was continuously outside this state”

        1. That is not how those laws work.
          The “defendant must have been out of state for the purpose of evading prosecution – which means that at the very least there had to be an open investigation.

          Time is tolled when a defendant – that is someone who is ACTUALLY the current target of an investigation makes themselves unavailable.

          There were no warrants against Trump, no investigation over most of this time,

          This is actually dealt with all the time in criminal courts.

          1. JohnB: While what you state is often true in some jurisdictions, the NY law does not provide for that express/explicit contingency.
            There’s an older appellate case (Knobel) discussing this but I dunno.
            p.s. and see People v. Cruciani (2019)

            1. (either way, the merits of the five-year felony case are much more shaky an issue for me than the SOL)

              1. When there are myriads of issues, the case dies over something.
                Which flaw is picked as the fatal one ?

                Andrew MacCarthy posited that Bragg knows he has a dead bang loser.
                But he is hoping that by charging Trump – by breaking the ceiling so to speak that the Altanta DA and the SC are more likely to proceed.
                I do not know that is the case.

                I suspect that all this is just about trying hide Biden’s mess.

                Trying to Damage Trump before the election is stupid. Purportedly Trump is the candidates Democrats WANT to run against.
                They beleive that DeSantis is much more dangerous too them.

                At the Same Time Bragg Ran on “getting Trump” – statements that I am sure will feature prominently in Trump’s briefs.

            2. “Moreover, the People’s interpretation is consistent with and furthers the
              statutory purpose. The statutory language ’emphasizes the difficulty of apprehending a
              defendant who is outside the State . . .without regard to a showing of any
              specific intent of the defendant to thwart the prosecution by fleeing or hiding’ (People v
              Seda, 93 NY2d 307, 312 [1999])”

              1. Statutory purposes do not make unconstitutional laws constitutional.

                This is a constant problem with those on the left.

                You have a non crime to start with.
                You are in the area of political speach – which means LOTS of first amendment issues.
                If there is a state nexus at all here – it is nebulous.
                You have a legal act – a non-disclosure about consensual sex.
                You have a legal purpose – hiding it from Melania.
                If you get past that – even the claim that it is ilegal to hide things from the public has all kinds of first amendment problems.

                As I noted with Svelaz – if it is illegal to use campaign funds – assuming we have actually established that campaign funds were used – which I do not think has been done, to hide an alleged affair – a legal act, it would also be illegal to use campaign finds to hide ANYTHING embarrasing – such as The Biden campaign supressing the NY Post story.

                If you can get this far – which I doubt, there is this odd documents claim. Again presuming that is true – again not proven,
                there has to be a harm that comes from falsifying the documents. All lies are not fraud.

                As another example – Trump likely has far more tax deductions than he can take advantage of – that is typical of real estate investment.
                Lets Say that Trump deliberately or accidentally misrepresents his deductible auto expenses on his taxes.
                Is that a Crime ? If correcting the deduction does not change his taxes – then NO.

                Then there is the SOL problem.
                The likely unconstitutional overreach on the claim that the SOL is tolled.

                The fact that the weaker this is the more political it looks.
                The Fact that Bragg campaigned on “getting Trump”

                What will be the card that causes this house of cards to collapse ?
                Does it matter. Bragg must win EVERY incredibly weak claim.

                Not happening.

                We will find out soon, and I could be proven wrong – democrats are Nuts.

                But I think this is Trump Trolling.

            3. I will look into the case – but Absent a person removing themselves from a jurisdiction specifically to avoid prosecution,
              it is highly unlikely that the NY law would be constitutional.

              My wife deals with this all the time. When there is an open investigation, or an outstanding warrant – time is tolled.
              When there is evidence the defendant fled – time is tolled.

              There MIGHT be an argument because Trump was president – but even that is weak in light of SCOTUS allowing the Clinton lawsuits to proceed.

              NY was not investigating this at the time.

              I am not entirely convinced Trump is not trolling everyone.
              This is a piss poor case – and this is just one of many weaknesses.
              As I noted to Svelaz – the legal theory of this case would allow Biden to be similarly charged for quashing the NY Post story.

              Biden’s actions there – though despicable are not criminal – nor are Trumps.
              Cases with this many problems pretty much always fail over something.

      2. The statute ofr limitarions is not the Big problem.

        The big problem is that if Trump actually committed a crime – then Biden has committed the same crime – except worse.

        A wise person would conclude that something that has never been changed as a crime, was not subbenly committed by both of the last two presidents.

        With respect to Bragg finding something else.

        Derschowitz and many others have rightly pointed out that it NOT how the law is supposed to work.

        “Show me the man, and Ill show you the crime.” – Lavrentiy Beria

        is the law of tyrants.

        We all know What Trump’s conduct was.
        Either the crime is self evident or their is no crime.

        If it hinges on details in dusty law books – then we are abusing the law.

  14. Some of the language JT uses I found troubling due to overheated rhetoric and questionable suggestions (in order): (1) “a blatantly political prosecution”, (2) “ like New York, where Bragg can count on highly motivated judges and jurors”, (3) “the case is legally pathetic”, and (4) “Bragg caved”. I definitely prefer the understated JT when he talks about good faith disagreements and uses moderate language.

    1. Concerned Citizen, Turley is stoking the rage that he often critcizes of when they do it. He’s engaging in fomenting outrage and incredulity in the idea that a former president can be indicted. He’s fully invested in this Trump enablement of his atrocious behavior by feeding his gullible readers and MAGA nutties red meat so they can satiate their rage

      1. He’s fully invested in this Trump enablement of his atrocious behavior

        There are no atrocious behaviors. ONLY the lies you push. In this case. The DoJ, the FEC, and Bragg himself determined there was never a crime.
        Just he execution of a very pedestrian NDA

      2. Please read again, if not for the first time, Turley’s facts and analysis, and then give us as best you can something of a comment that is equally factual, dispassionate and even-handed. Who knows. You just might break the spell of your unhinged and personal animosity for Turley, and give your readers something of a real reason why they should stop reading him.

    2. I have been a JT fan for some time. I appreciate his legal mind, his defense of the First Amendment, and his reasonableness and evenhandedness. However, as the threats to free speech and the politicizing of the law have grow more grave and outrageous, I have urged him to realize what time it is. It is time to break glass in case of emergency.

    3. I definitely prefer the understated JT when he talks about good faith disagreements

      Our host has given up trying to support the Democrat machine, with its non-stop stream of lies, and clear double standard of Democrat prosecutors that are using the law as a means to smear their political adversaries.

      In short, good manners have run out, along with goodwill, and exercising the benefit of doubt.

      1. “[G]ood manners have run out, along with goodwill . . .”

        Except, of course, for our host — who is a Gentleman Scholar, with all the virtues that honorable title implies.

    4. You sound very timid, afraid of the shadow you produce should you take an actual position. It’s either that or you are trying to look bigger than you are.

      Either way, your comment doesn’t enhance your reputation.

  15. Bottom line, trump has to get indicted in this case even though it’s low on his scale of worries. His lawyer, acting on trump’s behalf, went to jail. This case is about whether the rule of law actually exists for the wealthy.

  16. It is a distraction.
    The Biden admin needs a distraction/s from,
    Getting millions of dollars from the CCP via a third party to three or four BCF members.
    The Hunter laptop.
    The economy and inflation.
    The SVB failure and the bailout that was not a bailout that IS a bail out for all those Democrat donors and even Chinese companies.
    Even as the good professor points out the various issues with this case, the Biden admin is getting desperate to the point of the absurd.
    Just look at Biden’s most recent lie: Billionaires only pay 3% in taxes.
    More distractions.
    Recognize them for what they are and keep attention to the above and what else might be coming e.g. more economic woes.

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