Columnist says Trump helped Bragg by attempting to move case into federal court

By 
 August 15, 2023

In an article put out this week, Daily Beast contributor Jose Pagliery argued that former President Donald Trump had all but provided Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg with a smoking gun in his business records case.

However, Trump insists that no matter the outcome in court, the legal attacks will only help his White House run. 

Failed attempt at getting case transferred to federal court

In his piece published on Monday, Pagliery pointed to Trump's attempt in June at having the case transferred to federal court.

It rested on the claim that payments made to former adult film actress Stormy Daniels in exchange for her willingness to sign a non-disclosure agreement concerning their alleged sexual relationship were a federal matter as they touched on his role as president.

U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein did not agree, writing in his July 19 order that "Trump has not explained how hiring and making payments to a personal attorney to handle personal affairs carries out a constitutional duty."

"Falsifying business records to hide such reimbursement, and to transform the reimbursement into a business expense for Trump and income to [Michael Cohen], likewise does not relate to a presidential duty," Hellerstein continued.

Judge says Bragg need not prove that Trump committed a separate felony

In addition to concluding that "Trump is not immune from the People’s prosecution in New York Supreme Court," the judge went on to discuss the underlying legal theory.

Whereas falsification of business records is normally a misdemeanor, it can be elevated to the status of a felony when it is done in furtherance of another felony.

Bragg contends that Trump violated federal campaign finance laws by disguising the payments to Daniels as a business expense when they really amounted to an expenditure for his 2016 presidential campaign.

Yet Hellerstein wrote that the district attorney "need not establish that Trump or any other person actually violated [New York or federal election laws.]"

Rather, the judge maintained that Bragg need only demonstrate that the former president intended to commit such a crime. According to Pagliery, this means Trump has given prosecutors "a little-noticed ace in their pocket."

Trump says indictments are helping his campaign

Yet The Hill noted how far from expressing concern, Trump actually touted his legal troubles while speaking at an event earlier this month, saying, "Any time they file an indictment, we go way up in the polls."

"We need one more indictment to close out this election. One more indictment, and this election is closed out. Nobody has even a chance," the former president boasted.

Interestingly, Reuters reported on August 4 that an Ipsos poll found 6% of those who voted for President Joe Biden in 2020 now plan to vote for Trump while another 19% said they either aren't sure who to support or will vote for a third party candidate.

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