EXPLAINER: Facts About Case Against Donald Trump
Former US President, Donald Trump was indicted on various charges including falsifying records.
Manhattan grand jury’s indictment of former President Donald J. Trump was unsealed on Tuesday following his historic arrest, booking, and plea of not guilty.
The 34-count indictment charges Trump with falsifying business records in the first degree under New York Penal Law 175.10 involving—among other things—his alleged payment of $130,000 to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about his sexual relationship with her, which he denies, in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election.
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Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg identifies multiple hush-money payments for which Trump allegedly reimbursed his former attorney Michael Cohen, plus a series of actions to hide the payments, falsely claiming in a string of records that the money paid Cohen was for legal fees.
In a press conference after the arraignment, Bragg framed the case as being about “34 false statements made to cover up other crimes,” including “New York election law,” which makes it “a crime to conspire to promote a candidacy by unlawful means,” as well as a “federal election law cap on contribution limits” in campaigns.
Because Manhattan is the “financial center of the world,” with an interest in “true and accurate record-keeping,” Bragg stated, his office is the right one to bring this case.
An accompanying statement of fact from Bragg’s office lays out the details. Cohen, who pleaded guilty to eight federal charges arising from the Stormy Daniels payoff, including tax evasion, bank fraud, and campaign finance violations, figures prominently in the record.
After an FBI search of the home and offices of Cohen, Trump allegedly told him to “stay strong,” and on April 21, 2018, he sent a tweet encouraging Cohen not to “flip.”
These kinds of details bear, for example, on whether Trump had the requisite criminal intent to dupe voters about the election when he engaged in the hush-money schemes, rather than aiming only to avert his wife’s ire.
But contrary to the expectations of many commentators, Bragg’s case does not hinge exclusively on Cohen’s testimony.
In the same email, Lawyer C, wrote, “You are making a very big mistake if you believe the stories these ‘journalists’ are writing about you.”
At this stage, the public has no sense of the additional evidence Bragg’s grand jury has undoubtedly accumulated in the form of written records or perhaps even audiotape evidence to back up the fundamental theory that Trump engaged in this elaborate silencing scheme to help him win the presidency.
The case will likely be delayed in any event, while Trump’s lawyers file a wave of motions to dismiss the indictment or reduce the charges to a misdemeanor and, failing that, to narrow the evidence that goes to the jury, among other things.
Meanwhile, Special Counsel Jack Smith continues apace with his investigations of Trump’s role in the attempts to subvert the 2020 election and his Mar-a-Lago withholding of presidential records from the government.