It appears to several legal experts that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against former President Donald Trump is rapidly heading in one direction.
Their opinions stem from Bragg’s 34-count indictment against Trump for allegedly falsifying business records, making him the only former president in the country’s history to be charged with crimes.
But Bragg is a long way from actually getting any legitimate indictments, experts who spoke to Fox News said.
“If it wasn’t Donald Trump, no prosecutor in the world would have touched this,” former assistant district attorney Daniel Bibb, who spent more than 20 years trying murder cases in Manhattan, told the network. “If you and I did what Trump did, we never would have been charged.”
The indictment against Trump is based on a new legal theory and heavily relies on the testimony of his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who has been disbarred and convicted of lying.
Trump is accused of falsifying internal business records by having Cohen arrange a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged sexual encounter during his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump has denied the affair, and he has pleaded not guilty to Bragg’s charges.
One month before the 2016 presidential election, Cohen, who was then an employee of the Trump Organization, used a shell corporation to pay off Daniels. After Trump won the election, Cohen was reimbursed $420,000, disguised as payments for legal services he had supposedly rendered, under a fake retainer agreement. This figure included taxes on the income and a $60,000 bonus, Fox News said, adding:
Bragg has argued that this payment was an illegal campaign contribution because it wasn’t disclosed and exceeded the amount allowed under federal law.
Cohen was convicted in 2018 of federal charges, including campaign-finance violations, for arranging hush-money payments to Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also claims she had an affair with Trump, which he has denied.
A few months later, Cohen pleaded guilty to lying to Congress.
After a prison stint, Cohen wrote a book blasting Trump as “a cheat, a mobster, a liar, a fraud, a bully, a racist, a predator, a con man” and has continued to attack the former president in countless media interviews.
“If Michael Cohen told you today was Wednesday would you believe that unless you looked at your own calendar?” former Manhattan prosecutor-turned-criminal defense lawyer Mark Bederow told Fox News Digital.
Bederow commented that prosecutors would probably need to summon Daniels to testify, which some may perceive as an unsympathetic move to capitalize on the situation.
The indictment alleges that Trump intended to commit or conceal a second crime in order to upgrade the misdemeanor charge of falsifying business records to a felony but does not specify what that second crime is.
Bragg stated in a press conference that he is not legally obligated to disclose this information, according to the outlet.
“The bottom line is that it’s murky,” Richard Hasen, an expert in election law and professor at UCLA law school. “And the district attorney did not offer a detailed legal analysis as to how they can do this.”
“If you bring an unprecedented case like this against a former president and current presidential candidate, it’s essential for the credibility of the criminal justice system to present a clear and cogent explanation of your theory as opposed to saying I don’t have to tell you,” Bederow said.
“If you come at the king, you best not miss,” he said, in quoting the HBO hit series “The Wire.”