Lawyers and laypeople alike can be forgiven for questioning the former president’s initial indictment, oscillating between historical significance and related gruesome facts.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said:
The accusation that Donald Trump falsified internal business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to “actress” Stormy Daniels is not what people pay attention to.
The case is making its way to cable TV shows long before we see the inside of the courtroom.
Trump’s indictment certainly adds a sleazy coating to Donald’s image.
But the legal basis for this case is reminiscent of the burn trial of former US Senator and 2004 Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards, who was indicted in 2011 on six felony counts.
These charges included four counts of illegal campaign fundraising, one count of conspiracy, and one count of making false statements.
The crux of Edwards’ indictment was that he solicited about $1 million from wealthy donors to cover up his relationship with Riel Hunter, a videographer who campaigned twice in the presidential election.
After a year of drama, in 2012 a jury acquitted Edwards of one count of illegal use of campaign funds.
When the jury was unable to reach a verdict, miscarriage of justice was declared on all other counts against him.
even Avenatti is cautious
Today, even Stormy Daniels’ former attorney, Michael Avenatti, who gained liberal acclaim for bringing Stormy Daniels’ accusation into the national spotlight in 2018 when Trump was president, is still criticizing Bragg’s prosecution. I have strong doubts about
Avenatti is serving an 11-year sentence for extortion and fraud, but his tweets from prison should not be ignored.
He believes the unreliability of Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg’s star witness Michael Cohen, who once served as Trump’s personal attorney and provided hush money, is devastating.
“Rule: If you have to meet a witness more than 20 times to find out the ‘facts’ and ‘truth’, run away!!! Don’t let a horrible witness untrustworthy and possibly ruin your career and reputation. Because you own it.
He had previously commented: Unfortunately, they would be very damaging to the prosecution if Trump were to go to trial. At this time, we cannot base our claims on Cohen & Daniels’ testimony. ”
There are many similarities between the Trump indictment and the John Edwards indictment.
First, both cases were filed by the prosecutor of the other party and were viewed with skepticism.
In the Edwards case, the Obama Justice Department authorized U.S. Attorney George Holding, appointed by President George W. Bush, to file the case.
Holding then resigned and ran for the House of Representatives in 2012, where he won.
In Trump’s case, Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg is known to be politically ambitious, and has run out before progressive prosecutors elected with the help of mega-donor George Soros. to Donald Trump.
Second, a decade ago, Edwards’ attorneys argued that a $1 million donation made to Edwards by 101-year-old Gillette Razor heiress Rachel “Bunny” Mellon and fellow trial attorney Fred Barron was It claimed it was a personal gift from a friend, not a campaign donation. And he was supposed to hide the incident from his wife, who had cancer, not the voters.
In Trump’s case, his attorney, Joe Tacopina, is sticking to Edwards’ legal playbook, saying Trump’s payments were “personal to prevent anything from being revealed to be false.” It was done with funds, but it’s embarrassing to himself and his family’s little son,” Tacopina told ABC News this year.
Third, both cases involve star witnesses whose credibility was directly questioned.
In Edwards’ case, it was his former aide, Andrew Young, who took the stand under immunity to testify against him.
Cross-examination by the defense painted Young as an inconsistent witness.
In Trump’s case, it would be Michael Cohen who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and admitted to lying to Congress by arranging hush money payments to Daniels.
“Just as the cross-examination of Andrew Young was crucial in the John Edwards case, the cross-examination of Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels, if she testified, was vital no matter what the indictment was. will be,” Stephen Friedland said. A law professor at Elon University in North Carolina and a former federal prosecutor who followed Edwards’ case told ABC News.
University of North Carolina professor Jeff Welty told the Raleigh News & Observer earlier this month that prosecutors must prove intent to break the law in campaign finance cases.
In Edwards’ case, the jury found his testimony of intent ambiguous.
They could not understand what the former senator had personally instructed, what his aide Andrew Young had done on his behalf, or what the intentions of “Bunny” Mellon to donate to Edwards were.
After Edwards’ case was closed, juror Cindy Acqualo believes the defendant was guilty of something.
But she said he was smart enough to cover it up and the jury couldn’t find any evidence. “We couldn’t find any evidence.”
Fourth, the legal theory Alvin Bragg is using to indict Trump for campaign finance violations is far from established.
Former prosecutor Friedland says it is as “novel” today as it was in the Edwards case unsuccessfully.
DA office chaos
In fact, prosecutor Mark Pomerantz, who oversaw the investigation in Alvin Bragg’s office, resigned last year after Bragg abandoned an investigation into Trump’s business practices.
He calls the indictment that Bragg is now pursuing a “zombie” case against Trump that is surrounded by legal holes.
Many Democrats are embarrassed by Bragg’s decision to disrupt the situation in which he is pursuing Trump. “Bill Clinton’s impeachment was able to score points by saying it was all about sex, not lying,” one top Democratic consultant told me. Stepping in…an incident where Trump’s enemies appear to be chasing him as Clinton was cornered, and the hysteria may be about to repeat itself.”
In the coming days, we will see legal experts opining that the lawsuit against Trump is more substantive and compelling than those against Clinton and Edwards.
But among many other legal professionals who won’t step out in front of the television cameras, the impression is that Mr. Bragg is following a rattled case that could set a terrifying political precedent.
Bragg boasted that he helped sue Trump more than 100 times while in the New York Attorney General’s office during his campaign to become a prosecutor in 2021.
Bragg won the 2021 Democratic nomination by just three points.
Now, Trump’s indictment has elevated Bragg to the status of America’s newest celebrity prosecutor.
But painting an ugly portrait of Donald Trump is not the same as winning a lawsuit, either in court or in a court of public opinion.