On the one hand, indicting Donald Trump for paying hush money to Stormy Daniels seems like small change. On the other hand, I sure do enjoy when bad things happen to Donald Trump. On yet another hand, however, it bothered me that this indictment seemed like a real stretch, which lends credence to the claims by MAGA folks that it’s politically-motivated. However much I despise Trump, I don’t want to encourage an abuse of prosecutorial power.
Then I came across a random tweet from a total stranger that managed to put it all in perspective:
The weirdest part about Trump being indicted for fraud, is that he was once President.Tgage @tgagemurphy — 4:40 PM · Mar 31, 2023
Once you see it, it seems so obvious.
If Trump had wiped out early in the Republican primary, the story here would be about a rich New York real estate developer and New Jersey casino owner who got indicted for some shady business dealings. As a news story, that’s about as dog-bites-man as it gets. The subsequent legal wrangling might get good coverage by the New York media, but most Americans wouldn’t even know it was going on. Maybe some late-night comedians that tape in New York would do three or four jokes on it.If Donald Trump hadn’t also been a well-known reality TV performer, his indictment would be a purely local story.
Without the shine of the Presidency, Trump would be just a shady real estate developer/casino owner who’s been getting away with doing shady shit his entire life because he’s rich, politically connected, and surrounded by sacrificial lackeys. That he finally got hit with criminal charges would surprise no one. The most outrageous thing about his indictment is that it hadn’t happened earlier.
|↑1||If Donald Trump hadn’t also been a well-known reality TV performer, his indictment would be a purely local story.|
Humble Talent says
This case is bizarre.
It’s not illegal to pay off a mistress and have it go under an NDA. NDAs exist for literally this kind of thing. It’s not even illegal to write off your NDA money as a tax write off… It is legitimately a legal expense. It *might* be illegal for a politician to write off an NDA with a mistress in proximity to a campaign, because there is an argument that the politician’s campaign would suffer were the information about the mistress to surface.
There are things you’d have to look at like how close to the campaign the NDA was signed, whether previous NDAs had been signed, whether the public knowledge of the affair would actually hurt the politician (It was during the campaign, there were, and it didn’t.).
But if you feel like this is a case you can win, which isn’t impossible: Juries do all kinds of weird things, and sometimes you just gotta shoot your shot, this in particular might be rough:
“The most outrageous thing about his indictment is that it hadn’t happened earlier.”
Like…. Within the statute of limitations earlier. The statute of limitations for a misdemeanor (which this really was) is two years. The statute of limitations for a felony (which Bragg has somehow morphed this into) is five. The payment was made in 2016, the taxes were filed in 2017.It is 2023. It’s almost like DA Bragg waited until his case had as little a chance at success as possible before filing it.
Or he waited until it would have as much political impact as possible.
Just saying. It won’t surprise me if Trump ends up convicted of crimes. I’m not opposed to him being convicted of crimes. He generally acts like he believes laws are for little people, and that ought to end up biting him eventually. However, this case ain’t it, and he has good reason to think that laws are for little people, based on the actions of law enforcement.
Mark Draughn says
Interesting comment, as usual.
As I understand it, under New York law, the statute of limitations clock can stop running when the subject is outside of the jurisdiction of New York, as Trump has been. At least that’s what Bragg is arguing. I guess we’ll see if that works. And it’s a felony, according to Bragg, because it was covering up another crime, a campaign finance violation… a campaign finance violation at the federal level, which the feds have declined to prosecute Trump for…like you say, it’s a mess.
I wrote this post because I find the “indicting a former President is unprecedented” argument less than convincing. For one thing, it proves too much: You could make the same argument if Trump was credibly accused of murder, and presumably no one agrees he should get away with that. Also, I suspect there’s probably a few former Presidents that should have been indicted, and that’s the real injustice. My point here, however, was that “former President indicted” may be unprecedented, but “former New York real estate developer indicted” is not, and there’s no reason the former should override the latter.
All that said… I never liked Trump, I’ve long thought him a sociopath, and in the last few years I’ve developed a furious hatred for the guy… but based on what I’ve heard in the media and the legal analyses I’ve encountered, if I were on his jury, I doubt I would vote to convict on these charges.