The move to indict a former president for the first time in our country’s history will make political prosecutions the new norm in America.
A Manhattan grand jury appears poised to indict Donald Trump, according to news reports and the former president himself. Here’s what you need to know to understand the chatter about the anticipated criminal charges against Trump—and why the move to indict a former president for the first time in our country’s history will make political prosecutions the new norm in America.
While only the grand jury and prosecutors know for certain what charges against Trump, if any, are being considered, the consensus is that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg, a Democrat, is pursuing a criminal case against Trump for allegedly falsifying business records, in violation of Sections 175.05 and 175.10 of the New York Penal Code.
Section 175.05 provides “a person is guilty of falsifying business records in the second degree when, with the intent to defraud, he makes or causes a false entry in the business records of an enterprise.” Falsifying business records in the second degree is a misdemeanor, subject to a two-year statute of limitations.
A violation of Section 175.10, however, is a felony, subject to a five-year statute of limitations. That section defines the offense of falsifying business records in the first degree and provides that if a person falsifies business records with the “intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission” of another crime, the offense is one in the first degree.
The underlying factual theory for charging the former president rests on Trump allegedly causing the Trump Organization to falsely report payments made to Michael Cohen in 2017 as “legal expenses,” when the money instead reimbursed (and then some) Cohen for the $130,000 payment he made to Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to keep the pornography performer from publicly claiming she had sex with Trump a decade earlier. In total, the Trump Organization reported legal expenses of $420,000 paid to Cohen in 2017, at a monthly rate of $35,000. Cohen, however, had provided no legal services for the Trump Organization that year.
To bump what would be a misdemeanor under New York law to a felony, pundits are suggesting the D.A. will argue Trump caused the Trump Organization to falsify its business records to conceal the commission of one or more federal election crimes. The Manhattan prosecutor, however, might also advance the theory that Trump caused the Trump Organization to falsely report the payments with the intent of committing tax fraud.
Even before reaching the merits of the legal theories being bandied about to charge Trump criminally, a public suspicious of the Get-Trump attitude seen over the last seven years will notice the statute of limitations seems to bar Bragg’s prosecution of Trump. But Bragg has two ways to sidestep the two- and five-year statutory time limits.
Approved ~ FS