After his Trump trial, Alvin Bragg just needs a crime to prosecute

Many of us in the legal community find Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against former President Donald Trump to be bordering on the legally obscene – an openly political prosecution based on a theory even legal pundits dismiss. However, on Monday, the prosecution seemed to actually make a case for obscenity.

It wasn’t the gratuitous introduction of an uncharged alleged tryst with a former Playboy Bunny or expected details on the relationship with an ex-porn star. It was the criminal theory itself that seemed crafted around the obscenity standard Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart famously described in 1984’s Jacobellis v. Ohio: “I shall not today attempt further to define [it]. . . . But I know it when I see it.”

Former President Trump in the Manhattan Supreme Court on the 6th day of the hush money trial against him on April 23 2024.
Former President Trump in the Manhattan Supreme Court on the 6th day of the hush money trial against him on April 23, 2024. Yuki Iwamura/Pool via USA TODAY NETWORK

The prosecution must show Trump falsified business records in “furtherance of another crime.” After months of confusion on just what crime underpinned the indictment, the prosecution offered a new theory so ambiguous and undefined, it would have made Justice Stewart blush.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass told the jury that in listing Stormy Daniels payments as a “legal expense,” Trump violated this New York law: “Any two or more persons who conspire to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means and which conspiracy is acted upon by one or more of the parties thereto, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.”

So Trump committed a crime by conspiring to unlawfully promote his own candidacy, by paying to quash a potentially embarrassing story and then reimbursing his lawyer Michael Cohen with other legal expenses.

Confused? You are not alone.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and Cari Champion attend "The Wiz" Broadway Opening Night at Marquee Theatre on April 17, 2024 in New York City.Source link


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