The Trump Indictment: Making History in the Worst Possible Way

Below is my column in on the Trump indictment. There is a report of 34 counts against former President Donald Trump, which may be count stacking based on individual payments or documents. We will have to wait to see. In the meantime, the prosecution came about in the most overtly political way from Bragg campaigning on charging Trump to a public pressure campaign to indict from his former lead prosecutor.

Here is the column:

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has finally made history. He has indicted former President Donald Trump as part of an investigation, possibly for hush money payments. We are all waiting to see the text of the indictment to confirm the basis for this unprecedented act. But history in this case — and in this country — is not on Bragg’s side.

The only crime that has been discussed in this case is an unprecedented attempt to revive a misdemeanor for falsifying business documents that expired years ago. If that is still the basis of Thursday’s indictment, Bragg could not have raised a weaker basis to prosecute a former president. If reports are accurate, he may attempt to “bootstrap” the misdemeanor into a felony (and longer statute of limitations) by alleging an effort to evade federal election charges.

While Trump will be the first former president indicted, he will not be the last if that is the standard for prosecution.

It is still hard to believe that Bragg would primarily proceed on such a basis. There have been no other crimes discussed over months, but we will have to wait to read the indictment to confirm the grounds.

What we do know is the checkered history leading to this moment.

The Justice Department itself declined to prosecute the federal election claim against Trump. There was ample reason to decline.

The Justice Department went down this road before and it did not go well. They tried to prosecute former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on stronger grounds (which I also criticized) and failed. In that case, campaign officials and donors were directly involved in covering up an affair that produced a child.

At the time, Edwards’ wife was suffering from cancer. The prosecution still collapsed. The reason is that you need to show the sole purpose for paying hush money in such a scandal. For any married man, let alone a celebrity, there are various reasons to want to bury a sexual scandal.

For Trump, there was an upcoming election but he was also a married man allegedly involved in an affair with a porn star. He was also a television celebrity who is subject to the standard “morals clause” that’s triggered by criminal conduct or conduct that brings “public disrepute, scandal, or embarrassment.” These clauses are written broadly to protect the news organizations and their “brand.”

Various presidents from Warren Harding to Bill Clinton have been involved in efforts to hush up affairs. They also had different reasons for burying such scandals, including politics. However, scandals are messy matters with a complex set of motivations. Showing that Trump only acted with the future election in mind — rather than his current marriage or television contracts — is implausible. That was likely the same calculus made by the Justice Department.

That is also why the use of the “bootstrapping” theory as the primary charge would be an indictment of the prosecution and its own conduct. The office has already been tarnished by the conduct of the prosecutors who pushed this theory.

When Bragg initially balked at this theory and stopped the investigation, two prosecutors, Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz, resigned from the Manhattan DA’s office. Pomerantz then did something that some of us view as a highly unprofessional and improper act. He published a book on the case against Trump — a person who was still under investigation and not charged, let alone convicted, of any crime.

It worked. Bragg ran on his pledge to bag Trump and Pomerantz ramped up the political base to demand an indictment for a crime. It really did not matter what that crime might be.

While other crimes have not been discussed in leaks or coverage for months, it is always possible that Bragg charged Trump on something other than the state/federal hybrid issue in his indictment. There could be other business or tax record charges linked to banks or taxes. Ironically, the bank and tax fraud issues were also a focus of the Justice Department, which again did not charge on those theories. Moreover, Bragg could face the same statute of limitation concerns on some of the issues previously investigated by the Justice Department.

Finally, Bragg could stack multiple falsification claims to ramp up the indictment. There are reports of 34 counts of business record falsification. But multiplying a flawed theory 34 times does not make it 34 times stronger. Serial repetition is no substitute for viable criminal charges.

Bragg could have something more than the anemic bootstrapping theory — and it would be more defensible. Conversely, if Bragg moves primarily on that theory, the Democrats are inviting a race to the bottom in political prosecutions. That is something that we have been able to largely avoid in this country.

Bragg had a choice to make. He cannot be the defender of the rule of law if he is using the legal process for political purposes. That is what would be involved in a formal accusation based largely on the bootstrap theory. The underlying misdemeanor could pale in comparison to the means being used to prosecute it.

We have already watched the unseemly display of Bragg’s former lead prosecutor in publishing a book and publicly calling for charges during an ongoing investigation. Proceeding solely on the bootstrap theory would be a singularly ignoble moment for the Manhattan District Attorney.

What is clear is that whatever comes out of that gate next week, it will not just be Trump who will face the judgment of history.

371 thoughts on “The Trump Indictment: Making History in the Worst Possible Way”

  1. American history is hardly lacking in examples of real voter manipulation and electoral skullduggery, especially in the segregation-era deep south. To this day, the US electoral system is widely viewed as an anomaly in the western world because of persistent problems with the reliability of its voting machinery, frequent bureaucratic incompetence, the lack of uniform standards from state to state or even county to county, the systematic exclusion of more than 6 million felons and ex-prisoners, and the tendency of election officials to adopt rules that benefit their party over democracy itself.The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a report in September that urged all states to adopt paper ballots before 2020. Why is paper best for verifying election outcomes?But this strategy is a problem for states like New Jersey and Georgia, where currently there’s no paper trail at all.The key insight behind auditing as a cyber defense is that if you have a paper record that the voter got to inspect, then that can’t later be changed by a cyber attack. The cost to do so is relatively low. My estimate is it would cost about $25 million a year to audit to high confidence every federal race nationally. So you see, yes, follow the Science, right? It is possible to steal an election. , there are so many gaps left in election security—particularly when it comes to polling place equipment. It would certainly be possible to sabotage election systems in ways that would cause massive chaos. Source: Scientific America study 2018.

  2. “Dear House Judiciary Chairman @Jim_Jordan:

    Subpoena Matthew Colangelo.

    Matt’s the key link between Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg and the Biden DOJ.

    In their efforts to politicize and weaponize our federal and state justice systems to get Trump.

    Who is Matthew Colangelo?

    When Bragg appointed Colangelo in December, CNN simply reported he was “a senior official in the US Justice Department and before that served as an attorney on the Trump Foundation investigation with the New York attorney general’s office.”

    But CNN failed to report Colangelo is a lifelong leftwing activist (including NAACP lawyer for 7 years) and senior Democrat political appointee for nearly 15 years:

    – currently appointed to made-up position in Soros-backed Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s office (to get Trump; first indictment ever of a former president; bogus, trumped-up charges previously declined by prior Manhattan DA, US Attorney, FEC, and Bragg himself)

    – acting #3 in Biden Justice Department (then as #2 to radical #3 Vanita Gupta, when Biden and Garland appointed her; leader in politicizing and weaponizing Biden DOJ, including prosecuting Christians praying outside of abortion clinics while giving amnesty to abortion-industry activists terrorizing Catholic Churches, crisis-pregnancy centers, and Supreme Court justices and families in homes)

    – senior lawyer for disgraced Democrat New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (including his Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice) (to get Trump) (Bragg served as chief deputy attorney general when Colangelo brought dozens of lawsuits against Trump administration and led investigations into Trump Foundation and Trump’s finances)

    – senior White House economic advisor to President Obama

    – top aide to Obama Labor Secretary (and future DNC chair) Tom Perez

    – top lawyer to Obama DOJ Civil Rights Division head Tom Perez

    Colangelo has never served as a line prosecutor or defense attorney.

    He is simply a senior Democrat operative, brought in by Bragg to get Trump.”

    Quote Tweet
    🇺🇸 Mike Davis 🇺🇸

    5:15 PM · Apr 2, 2023

    1. “In December, Soros-backed Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg hired Matt Colangelo to revive the “zombie case” against Trump.

      The media portrayed Matt as a “former senior DOJ and NY AG official.”

      Failed to mention?

      Matt was a political appointee for both Obama and Biden Administrations.”

      “Matthew Colangelo became Acting Associate Attorney General on January 20, 2021.

      Prior to his appointment, Mr. Colangelo served in the New York Attorney General’s Office as the Chief Counsel for Federal Initiatives and as Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice. He has been a Distinguished Lecturer at the Georgetown University Law Center, and served in the Obama administration as a Deputy Assistant to President Obama and Deputy Director of the National Economic Council. Prior to that, he served as Chief of Staff to Department of Labor Secretary Tom Perez for three years, and as Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights at the Department of Justice.

      Mr. Colangelo holds a J.D. from Harvard University.”

  3. Nobody bought let alone read the Pomerantz rag book. And of course the indictment was in New York, a bastion of hot liberalism that the upstate voters want rid of.
    It seems that every effort is being made to try & prevent T45 from running in 2024, & we all know Biden* & company has no chance of repeating their steal of the 2020 election.

    1. The 2020 election wasn’t stolen, and this doesn’t prevent Trump from running. He’s even trying to raise donations off of it.

      1. ATS, the 2020 election results are in doubt because the left broke many rules and even afterward refused to have a proper audit. In some cases the ballots were stolen and could not be found for an audit.

        Blame the left that has tried to side-step ballot security. You support illegal actions by the left because you are a trickster and liar.

  4. That didn’t take long.

    I just said below that the DA’s nutty decision to charge Trump in this way set a precedent for state officers to charge Biden ‘kith and kin’ and other Democrats.

    And now this:

    The Dems thought they could open the basket and take out only one cobra and now the floor looks to be crawling with snakes.

    Whoever stole elections to put these ciphers in office has much to answer for, and the damaged are growing fast.

    1. If they also appear to have broken state laws, they should also be investigated and indicted if the GJ agrees (in which case they’ll he same rights as Trump: the right to an attorney, the right to a jury trial, the right to appeal if convicted). No one should be above the law, and everyone who is charged should have due process.

      1. ATS, we know you don’t believe in the rule of law, ATS, because you defended Antifa’s rioting and said little when they received little or no punishment. Chansley acted peacefully, yet you were satisfied with his long prison sentence and solitary confinement.

        We note how you nitpick trying to stretch the law, breaking it for the left, but when it is Chansley you don’t care that the prosecutor clearly violated the Brady disclosure law.

        You are a giant hypocrite.

      2. ATS: “If they also appear to have broken state laws…”


        You have raised an interesting point, one that I have wondered about before but never bothered to check because our country used to be sane and I never thought it would be an actual issue.

        Can a state prosecutor charge someone with a federal crime?

        DA Bragg [or whoever thinks for him] seems to think so because it is said his charges include at least one federal felony.

        The Constitution creates only one Court, the Supreme Court, and other federal courts are creatures of legislation and have limited jurisdiction. State courts have general jurisdiction and if a thing is a matter for a court then a court of general jurisdiction should be able to hear and decide the issue.

        If Congress had not created federal courts then all federal issues would have gone to state courts. Can state courts still have latent or quiescent jurisdiction over federal matters? Can a state court prosecute federal crimes?

        As I said, I have thought about this but never bothered to pursue the question to an actual answer. Maybe some others here know the answer, Mespo seems likely. Please pitch in if you know. It’s likely an obvious answer but I somehow missed it.

        1. The indictment is still sealed. Wait til it’s unsealed and you don’t have to guess.

          1. ATS, do you know you repeat yourself a lot telling others to wait when you never do?

            You are a hypocrite.

          2. ATS, you completely missed the point. I asked a general legal question:

            Can a state prosecutor charge someone with a federal crime?

            It makes no difference what Bragg does. It is a legal question.

            Generally state prosecutors don’t charge defendants with federal crimes. Is their restraint due to courtesy, custom or actual law? If custom is the only restraint then Bragg has shattered it with his political persecution/prosecution and opened the door and given a motive for the prosecution of Democrats. Maybe every future Democrat candidate for the presidency should be indicted. That seems to be the game now.

            I remember Bomber Harris in an old clip talking about the heavy bombing of Germany. “Germany started this war thinking they were going to bomb everyone else and nobody was going to bomb them…” Do the Republicans have a prosecutorial equivalent of Bomber Harris?

            There are over 3,000 countries in the US, each one with a DA or Prosecutor. Could there be just one out of 3,000 willing to go for the Bidens or Mayorkas or Pelosi?

            I wonder if DA Bragg ever heard of Pandora’s Box? Probably not. He does seem exceptionally stupid even for a Democrat politician. Has he won the Nifong Award yet?

    2. From the Post article:

      “’All bets are off. You can expect grand jury indictments of leftist politicians like Biden, [former House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi and [Senate Majority Leader Chuck] Schumer as surely as night follows day,’ said Tom Fitton, president of the conservative legal group Judicial Watch.”

      Please, no. You don’t eradicate the tyrannical idea of political “criminals” by creating other political “criminals.” Doing so is a self-destructive strategy that further erodes the principles of Western jurisprudence. Motivation by revenge is always a bad idea.

  5. “A straight arrow?”

    Those are your words, Steve. My words were, ” in his presidential duties, Trump, compared to other Presidents, was a pretty straight arrow..” and “He is not pure”

    Do you see the difference between your comment and mine?

    “He doesn’t show up to the inauguration symbolizing the peaceful transfer of power”

    But as a trade-off, he made America energy independent. I didn’t like that action of his, but compare that to Nancy Pelosi who ripped up the speech. I would say that is worse since she was Speaker of the House and Trump was a private individual. Not only that, but Speaker Pelosi inhibited the US from becoming energy independent. Do you see what I mean when I compare him to others?

    “after spreading election lies he knows were false.”

    Do you have superhuman powers that can read the mind of others? I don’t think you do, or you believe you do, but you are reading Trump’s mind. By the way, I believe the election was flawed and cannot be sure who legally was the winner. I accept Biden as the winner recognizing it might not legally be true. Are you now going to tell me I know what I am saying is false? What you are doing is reading your own mind, not the minds of others.

    “It’s hard to out-due Hillary Clinton on the narcissist meter. But somehow he managed to do it.”

    Maybe, maybe not. I cannot make that decision, and you can’t either, but Trump kept us out of war while Hillary created all sorts of problems as Secretary of State. I think results are more important than how one characterizes the individual’s narcissistic characteristics, don’t you?

  6. Pretty sad the BAR nor any other authority put a stop to this NY hack and liar, and of course a shame the DNC didn’t stop him when he ran on promised political persecution through prosecution.
    IMO we have no backbone idiots in charge, most of them are criminals in the real sense with the D as their protection shield.

  7. It is sad watching all the Trump-suckers dance around the fact that he did exactly what he is accused of, and that many others have been sent to prison for far less. Rs are the party of “law and order” against people they don’t like but magically not so “law and order” if one of their own does something illegal.

    And for all those who will say “but he is innocent until proven guilty”, that line does not seem to apply to liberals accused of crimes.

    1. The indictment is still sealed, so we don’t know what Bragg’s accused him of, and everyone is legally innocent until proven guilty, but the court of public opinion often works separately from the legal court. You can have the opinion that Trump is guilty of something(s), and someone else can have the opinion that Biden is guilty of something(s).

    2. It’s been years of “investigations.” The media and his father insist, for years now, that he has done “nothing wrong.”
      Has Hunter Biden been charged with any crimes? Like say, lying on a federal gun background check? Underage sex trafficking? Or how about tax evasion, money laundering? Or Foreign Agents Registration Act FARA violations? You know, the same crime Mueller swiftly charged and threw Manafort in prison for? Where are Hunter’s indictments? Crickets.

    3. The leftstream media keep talking nonstop about Trump ‘finally being held accountable for his crimes.’ What crimes?
      They are liars. They all lie all day long.

      In addition to the serious crimes of Hunter Biden (that the FBI/DOJ are well aware of, yet they will not charge him)….there are real serious crimes (as opposed to trumped up charges against Trump) showing actual bribes being paid to Biden family by the CCP….bribes that clearly compromise the current president…impeachable crimes….financial crimes that affect our foreign policy and national security as a country….and with actual evidence including bank records and a money trail….and they are just getting started.

      Interesting that the leftstream media has nothing to say about any of those ‘alleged’ crimes. Not a peep. Shhhh. They don’t even cover the stories about Biden, who is the current president! No, the media are in lockstep Protecting Biden. Nothing to see there. Oh But…look over there! Get Trump!

    4. If you truly believe what you say, then you are incurably deluded. America is now in a Bizarro World with an out-of-control Two-Tiered System of Justice. And the “scales of justice” always give preference to “liberals accused of crimes” (although your use of “liberal” is incorrect).

      There’s a little discussed classic example of that in the recent news. Douglass Mackey (also known online as Ricky Vaughn) was found guilty for a satiric Twitter post in which he encouraged voters for Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election to vote by text message on Wednesday, the day after the election. It was merely a joke and nobody took it seriously, as evidenced by the fact that the prosecution couldn’t find even a single voter who voted “by text” in lieu of legitimate voting methods.

      In stark contrast, Kristina Wong posted the same sort of satiric meme on Twitter on election Day in 2016 and encouraged voters for Donald Trump to vote for Trump by text on Wednesday, the day after the election. Wong even wore a MAGA hat and included Trump signs in her post.

      The two cases were essentially identical and each were protected under the First Amendment in a land governed by the US Constitution. But not here.

      The difference between Pro-Trump Mackey and Pro-Clinton Wong? A potential 10-year prison sentence for Pro-Trump Mackey! And Pro-Clinton Wong was never even charged.

      But, I’m sure in your “world,” all this is very “normal” and genuine “justice.”

      1. Mackey was convicted by a jury after the prosecution proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Mackey *intended* for his tweets to disenfranchise Clinton voters. Intentionally deceiving qualified voters to prevent them from voting is voter suppression, a federal crime.

        “As proven at trial, between September 2016 and November 2016, Mackey conspired with other influential Twitter users and with members of private online groups to use social media platforms, including Twitter, to disseminate fraudulent messages that encouraged supporters of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton to “vote” via text message or social media which, in reality, was legally invalid. For example, on November 1, 2016, in or around the same time that Mackey was sending tweets suggesting the importance of limiting “black turnout,” the defendant tweeted an image depicting an African American woman standing in front of an “African Americans for Hillary” sign. The ad stated: “Avoid the Line. Vote from Home,” “Text ‘Hillary’ to 59925,” and “Vote for Hillary and be a part of history.” The fine print at the bottom of the deceptive image stated: “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by Hillary For President 2016.” The tweet included the typed hashtag “#ImWithHer,” a slogan frequently used by Hillary Clinton. On or about and before Election Day 2016, at least 4,900 unique telephone numbers texted “Hillary” or some derivative to the 59925 text number, which had been used in multiple deceptive campaign images tweeted by Mackey and his co-conspirators.”
        So much for “nobody took it seriously.”

        We’ll have to wait to see whether the conviction is overturned on appeal.

        “The two cases were essentially identical”

        Among the differences: Mackey gave a # for people to “text” their vote too, and Wong did not. Wong posted under her name and works as a comedian, and Mackey didn’t/isn’t.

        1. Anyone who is interested in the merits of the case against Mackey should check out Glenn Greenwald’s podcast on Rumble or YouTube yesterday. Apparently, Mackey was wearing a MAGA hat in his Twitter profile, which should have tipped off anyone that it was a joke.

          1. Pay attention to the charges. Mackey was charged and convicted with 18 USC 241 – Conspiracy against rights:
            “If two or more persons conspire to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same; or
            “If two or more persons go in disguise on the highway, or on the premises of another, with intent to prevent or hinder his free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege so secured—
            “They shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and if death results from the acts committed in violation of this section or if such acts include kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, they shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or for life, or both, or may be sentenced to death.”

            Two or more persons. He wasn’t doing it on his own as a personal “joke.”

            Again: it was proved to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. This is how our legal system works: the prosecutor and his defense attorney both present their arguments and evidence, and the jury comes to a decision. Did you listen to the trial? If you didn’t, then you are not coming to a conclusion based on the evidence and arguments presented at the trial.

            Are people sometimes convicted by a jury when they’re innocent? Yes. Are people sometimes cleared by a jury when they’re guilty? Yes. That’s how our system works. He can now appeal.

            Note that the fine print at the bottom of one of his deceptive image stated: “Must be 18 or older to vote. One vote per person. Must be a legal citizen of the United States. Voting by text not available in Guam, Puerto Rico, Alaska or Hawaii. Paid for by Hillary For President 2016.” That’s another difference between him and Wong; she made no such deceptive claim about funding. I also haven’t seen any evidence that she conspired with anyone else about it.

            And if you think most people can read the words on the hat in his Twitter profile, you’re kidding yourself. At normal size, all people know is that it’s a red hat with a bit of white.

            1. I looked at his Twitter profile and the hat said Make America Great Again, clearly visible. Your lecture about the proper running of the legal system is irrelevant when the jury pool has poisoned by politics.

              1. You must be using a larger screen than I am, because it’s not clearly visible on mine.

                I don’t share your opinion that “the jury pool has poisoned by politics,” and again: If you didn’t listen to the trial, then you are not coming to a conclusion based on the evidence and arguments presented at the trial.

                1. “If you didn’t listen to the trial, then you are not coming to a conclusion based on the evidence and arguments presented at the trial.”

                  Always with the ‘you didn’t read that’, and ‘you didn’t listen to that’ garbage by ATS the one who links to 50 page documents which don’t prove what he is saying. ATS you are full of it. Get a job.

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