Law professor calls case against Trump 'legally pathetic'

 March 20, 2023

Fox News recently reported that former President Donald Trump may be indicted in the coming days by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg over allegations he paid illegal hush money to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016.

This has led to criticism, and not just from Republicans, with George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley dismissing Bragg's case as being "legally pathetic."

Turley made that assertion in an op-ed piece published by The Hill this past weekend, saying that "Bragg is struggling to twist state laws to effectively prosecute a federal case."

Turley said six years ago it was a weak case

While opponents contend that Trump's alleged attempt to buy Daniels' silence about their brief affair amounted to an illegal campaign expenditure, Turley dismissed the argument.

"In 2018 (yes, that is how long this theory has been around), I wrote how difficult such a federal case would be under existing election laws," the law professor noted, adding, "Now, six years later, the same theory may be shoehorned into a state claim."

"It is extremely difficult to show that paying money to cover up an embarrassing affair was done for election purposes as opposed to an array of obvious other reasons, from protecting a celebrity’s reputation to preserving a marriage," Turley insisted.

Edwards case rejected

As evidence of that, Turley cited the failed attempted to prosecute former Democratic presidential candidate Jonathon Edwards.

He noted that the case against Edwards actually involved the use of campaign funds, whereas Trump is accused of using his own money to reimburse former attorney Michael Cohen for the $130,000 paid to Daniels.

"The Southern District of New York’s U.S. Attorney’s office had no love lost for Trump, pursuing him and his associates in myriad investigations, but it ultimately rejected a prosecution based on the election law violations," Turley pointed out.

"It was not alone," he continued, stressing that "the Federal Election Commission chair also expressed doubts about the theory."

Previous DA rejected effort

Further, Turley pointed to how "Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr., also reportedly rejected the viability of using a New York law to effectively charge a federal offense." Also of interest is the apparent lack of consistency when it comes to campaign finance allegations.

Whereas "the Federal Election Commission fined the Clinton campaign for funding the Steele dossier as a legal expense," Turley recalled that "there was no hue and cry for this type of prosecution in Washington or New York."

Yet despite the weak nature of the case, Turley expects Bragg will push ahead with charges against Trump, something the professor says will do "immense" damage to the rule of law.

"The criminal justice system can be a terrible weapon when used for political purposes, an all-too-familiar spectacle in countries where political foes can be targeted by the party in power," he concluded.

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