So what’s the charge? By the WSJ Editorial Board.
The charges are based on the $US130,000 that former Trump fixer Michael Cohen paid to hush up Stormy Daniels about her alleged affair with Mr Trump. Mr Cohen was reimbursed via a monthly retainer “disguised as a payment for legal services”.
The 34 counts in the indictment are each for an individual business record: invoices from Mr Cohen, reimbursement checks from Mr Trump, ledger entries at the Trump Organisation. Mr Bragg has padded the indictment this way to include nearly three dozen counts, but they describe the same conduct. …
Here’s the big question that Mr Bragg still hasn’t adequately answered: Where is the second crime?
Recall that falsifying business records is a misdemeanour in New York. It’s a felony only if the books were cooked with “an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.” When Mr Trump worked out this reimbursement arrangement with Mr Cohen, what other crime was he allegedly trying to cover up?
Paying hush money is legal. Breaking campaign-finance laws is illegal.
The leading theory going into Tuesday was that Mr Bragg would claim a violation of campaign-finance laws, and he does. …
Brad Smith, a former member of the Federal Election Commission, has argued the money to Ms Daniels didn’t constitute a campaign expenditure. “People pay hush money even if they’re not running for office. They buy clothes, get haircuts, settle lawsuits, make charitable contributions,” Mr Smith wrote on Twitter.
Political candidates also buy clothes, maybe more expensive ones than they otherwise would, but that doesn’t make it a campaign expense.
At a press conference Tuesday, Mr Bragg was given a second shot to explain what other crime Mr Trump was supposedly covering up. The DA cited the federal cap on campaign contributions, as expected. But he also brought up “New York State election law,” which “makes it a crime to conspire to promote a candidacy by unlawful means.” Mr Bragg then mentioned “statements that were planned to be made to tax authorities.” Planned to be made?
After dragging the country through the first indictment of a former President in U.S. history, Mr Bragg owes the public a better explanation of his theory of the case. His unclear and evasive reply Tuesday isn’t helping his cause, and the country shouldn’t have to wait for months to find out the answer.
The motive is so obvious:
Some news reports say Mr Trump’s next court appearance is probably on the docket for December. That’s only about a month or two before the Iowa caucus is supposed to take place.
What timing. Mr Trump is being indicted for conduct that happened in 2016. Federal prosecutors already examined this activity and apparently decided to let it drop. Seven years later, after a halting local investigation, an elected Democratic DA has indicted Mr Trump, in a case that could finally come to a resolution right in the middle of the 2024 primaries.
The question that keeps smacking us upside the head is whether this case would have been brought against any defendant not named Donald Trump. It’s hard to avoid answering no.
How it will affect Mr Trump’s 2024 candidacy is anyone’s guess. Maybe the better question is how it will affect the public’s view of justice.
No doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more about the technicals in this case, but why bother? It’s all about politics, and a continuation of the left’s ugly new American practices:
hat-tip Stephen Neil