Manhattan DA Bragg's hush money bribe and fraud case against Trump could go to trial first following federal delays

 December 28, 2023

Of the four separate criminal indictments against former President Donald Trump, the first one filed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg may also end up being the first one that goes to trial, according to an MSNBC op-ed.

That indictment alleges that Trump bribed women accusing him of infidelity to remain silent with hush money payments during the 2016 campaign and then falsified business records to cover up those bribes.

The case, which is widely regarded as the weakest of the four indictments against Trump, will likely be the first to go to trial in late March since Special Counsel Jack Smith's federal 2020 election-related case, slated to go to trial in early March, will likely be delayed as an appeals court and the Supreme Court settle the question of whether Trump is protected from prosecution by presidential immunity.

DA Bragg could get first shot at criminally prosecuting Trump

The MSNBC op-ed, penned by anti-Trump law professor Laurence Tribe and former prosecutor Dennis Aftergut, seemingly acknowledged that the situation would be better if Special Counsel Smith's federal case was tried first but concluded that it was "OK" that DA Bragg would get the first shot at prosecuting the former president.

The piece argued, as has Bragg, that Trump's hush money payments to silence the accusations of two women ahead of an impending election -- keeping their claims hidden from voters -- constituted a form of interference and theft of the election that was then compounded by fraud with the alleged falsification of business records to hide the reimbursement of those payments to his personal attorney at the time.

"No one should give up hope that an early resolution of Trump’s federal appeals will block his attempts to manipulate the judicial process. But if it turns out that they stall his D.C. prosecution for more than four months, there is a strong Plan B," the op-ed concluded. "All of us should be grateful to Bragg and to the New York grand jury: If they hadn’t put an important criminal trial of Trump on the docket, we would be without a crucial backstop to guard against Trump’s sordid legal strategy."

Manhattan hush money case deemed weak and unlikely to succeed

For as much as the MSNBC op-ed attempted to bolster the significance of the Manhattan hush money case, that won't change the fact that it is generally regarded as a rather weak case that is far from guaranteed to result in a conviction and imprisonment for former President Trump, according to the New York Post's analysis at the time the indictment was handed down in March.

That is because DA Bragg is using a "novel legal theory" to prosecute the former president that involves resurrecting misdemeanor business records falsification charges for which the statute of limitations had expired and then elevating them to felonies by linking them to alleged federal campaign finance violations.

Notably, the Justice Department had reportedly once considered pursuing similar federal campaign finance violation charges against Trump over the alleged hush money payments -- on the theory that they constituted contributions to his presidential campaign -- but ultimately decided against doing so as the case was believed to be too weak and too difficult to prove in court, much less survive the appeals process.

Possibility the Georgia racketeering case could be first to trial

Despite the likely delay of Special Counsel Smith's federal election-related March 4 trial date against former President Trump and the appearance of DA Bragg being next in line to go ahead with his prosecution set to begin on March 25, there is reportedly a chance that the final criminal indictment against the former president might end up being the first to go to trial.

Salon reported on the emerging possibility that Georgia's Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, who has criminally charged Trump and others with an alleged racketeering conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results, could make a move that would allow her to launch her trial "within weeks."

The Georgia trial is slated to begin in August 2024, but the outlet cited legal experts as saying that the likely delays to Trump's federal trials -- his classified documents case scheduled to begin in May also appears likely to be delayed -- "opens up a window" for DA Willis to make the first move against the former president.

That can supposedly be done if she calls for a "simplified trial" involving just the former president and a couple of close associates that could begin as soon as January or February.

However, that plan could be disrupted -- if not rendered moot and the case dismissed -- if the D.C. Circuit Court and Supreme Court rule quickly in favor of Trump's claimed presidential immunity from prosecution for actions taken while he still served as the president.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
© 2015 - 2024 Conservative Institute. All Rights Reserved.