On Tuesday, Donald Trump was arraigned in New York on 34 felony criminal charges of falsifying business records. The official indictment revealed exactly what all of us in conservative media were expecting: District Attorney Alvin Bragg is stretching the charges in order to go after Donald Trump
Anyone who has read any of my other work will be able to tell you that I am the furthest thing from a fan of Donald Trump. I would love nothing more than for him to vanish from American politics. But this indictment is unjust, meant to serve the political end of advancing Alvin Bragg’s career and centering Donald Trump as the focus of Republican politics once again.
For those unfamiliar, the indictment’s logic goes as follows. Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s then-lawyer, paid off Stormy Daniels to not share her story about an alleged affair with the billionaire playboy in the leadup to the 2016 election. Donald Trump then paid Michael Cohen back for the payments to Daniels, under the “guise” of legal fees, in a series of payments throughout 2017. The Trump organization characterized these payments as standard legal fees, paid as a retainer to Cohen. Bragg’s argument is that this mischaracterization amounts to felony falsified business records, and has chosen to charge each of the 34 instances of the discrepancy as a separate charge.
In the words of National Review’s Dan McLaughlin, “To call this thin gruel is an insult to thin gruel.”
The crime of falsifying business records demands that the perpetrator has “intent to defraud” in altering the nature of such payments. For a felony charge, it demands that such mischaracterizations were made in order to “commit or conceal another crime.” In this case, that second crime was federal and state campaign finance laws.
The primary criticism with this case comes down to the statute of limitations. Under New York Penal Law § 175.10, the statute of limitations for falsifying business records is two years, and that time frame is bumped up to five years in the case of felony charges. Even under the most favorable interpretation of the law, that being that the statute of limitations began counting when Donald Trump left office, the two year cap has already passed. Alvin Bragg has thus chosen to charge Trump with a felony, demanding that Trump used the first crime to cover up another crime.
Advisory Opinions host Sarah Isgur pointed out on Twitter that Bragg is “tying felony falsification of business records to another state crime that requires unlawful means…so now we need a third crime in order for this ‘felony turtles all the way down’ charge to work. The two state crimes can’t point back to each other!”
As immoral as I view the alleged actions of Trump, paying a porn-actress to not reveal an affair is perfectly legal. He paid these fees with his own money, and he had plenty of motive to make such payments outside of his electoral aspirations. Namely, preventing his wife and children from finding out about the allegations, which was sure to create a rift in those relationships.
Additionally, there is no limit on the contributions Donald Trump can make to his own campaign, so the fact that he paid back his lawyer using his own money amounting to an illegal campaign contribution is a thin grasp at best, and willfully negligent of the law in order to stick it to your political opponent at worst.
Overzealous prosecutors targeting individuals for political ends are an utter failure of our system, which is designed to separate the law from political motives as much as possible. Bragg ran his campaign for District Attorney on a promise of holding Donald Trump accountable for his crimes, which I’m all for, but this goes too far.
There are plenty of other cases in which Trump could be held accountable for his loose relationship with the law, namely the grand jury in Georgia charged with determining if Trump and his associates illegally interfered with election processes in the Peach State. I would vastly prefer if Bragg left these charges in the past, rather than refocusing our political processes around a man who allegedly pays porn stars to keep their mouth shut about affairs.
Later today I will break down the political ramifications of the indictment, and explain why I believe it to cast poorly on the fate of our upcoming elections, so stay tuned.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.