Analysis of the Trump Indictment
After nearly 8 years of investigations by federal and state authorities – spanning from Russian collusion to obstruction of justice to campaign finance violations to tax fraud – former president Donald Trump was indicted last week by the Manhattan District Attorney, Alvin Bragg.
And today we saw the next step in the unprecedented prosecution of a former president and current GOP presidential candidate: Trump turned himself in at the Manhattan DA’s office.
Trump arrived at approximately 1:30 p.m. for arraignment with thousands of supporters and demonstrators watching from the streets and millions watching from home or from work. It was the most most important courthouse appearance in recent memory to answer for one of the weakest indictments in New York history.
As has been reported, Trump was formally charged with 34 felonies – more on those below – and pleaded not guilty.
Here is the indictment that was just released this afternoon.
And here is the statement of facts.
Trump faces 34 counts relating to “Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, in violation of Penal Law § 175.10.” These charges relate to to bookkeeping records concerning a hush money payment of $130,000 to Stormy Daniels soon before the 2016 election; a $30,000 payment to a former Trump Tower doorman by AMI (National Enquirer); and an AMI/National Enquirer payment of $150,000 to a woman who said she had a sexual relationship with Trump when he was married.
The indictment specifies that Trump “made and caused false” entries in the business records of enterprises “kept and maintained by the Trump Organization.” Trump is said to have done this with the “intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission” of that crime. (Intent to defraud is construed broadly in New York, and can include acts that seek to avoid responsibility for a violation of law or to conceal offenses; there need not be financial harm.)
Here’s an example relating to an invoice from Michael Cohen (Count 1):
That verbiage is repeated all throughout the 16 page indictment, with differences concerning the dates and the type of record (invoice, ledger, check, etc.) that was allegedly falsified, all in violation of NY Penal Law § 175.10.
Before we get to the law itself, and the Manhattan DA’s dubious, dangerous, unheard-of application of the law, let’s begin with a basic observation: Trump was overcharged. Here’s why.