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The Absurd Criminal Case Against Trump is Headed to Trial in New York

Let the circus begin.

Absent an eleventh hour reprieve from a higher court, Donald Trump will become the first U.S. President to face a criminal trial when it commences on Monday in New York.

Let the circus begin.

The ringmaster of the Big Top clown show is Alvin Bragg, the progressive Manhattan District Attorney who campaigned —unethically— on the promise to bring down Trump.  Once in office, Bragg inflated a time-barred and nominal misdemeanor into a multitude of dubious felonies by mangling evidence and contorting the law.

With a wave of his showman’s cane, Bragg transformed a singular transaction into 34 separate charges in what’s known as “count stacking” that no good prosecutor would ever do.  It’s a transparent window into an otherwise opaque case.

The gravamen of the indictment is that in 2016 Trump paid money to Stephanie Clifford (a.k.a. Stormy Daniels) in exchange for her silence about a purported affair that occurred a decade earlier, that he incorrectly recorded the payments in business records, and that all of it violated election laws, even though it did not.

Bragg surely knows his case is specious, at best.  But it doesn’t matter.  He’s counting on the sympathies of a liberal trial judge, Juan Merchan, and the venom of a jury pool destined to be dominated by Trump-hating New Yorkers.  The once-respected standard of an “impartial jury” is being treated as a mere inconvenience instead of a constitutional right.

Instead of ruining Trump, their antics have fortified his popular support.

It is self-evident to many that the charges against the former president would be brought against no one else not named Trump.  The fact that he is the leading candidate for president in the upcoming election is the only reason he is being persecuted under the guise of prosecution.  Even the left-leaning New York Times could find no other instance in which a falsification-of-records case was elevated (i.e., misused) in such a felonious manner.  The DA’s legal theory is not just untested, it’s absurd.

The most curious —and corrupt— aspect of Bragg’s case is that he still has not identified what underlying crime Trump supposedly committed.  This, of course, is required under the Sixth Amendment.  But no one, least of all Judge Merchan, seems the least bit bothered by it.  His Honor ruled that Bragg had presented “legally sufficient evidence” to proceed.  Okay, but under what law exactly?

In his malign indictment, the DA vaguely accuses Trump of “violating election laws” without specifying which ones were transgressed.  No applicable statutes are set forth.  The reason for the masquerade is obvious —in a state case, a local prosecutor has no authority to charge federal crimes allegedly committed during the course of a federal election.  Period.

None of that is stopping Bragg or his sycophant judge.  The DA asserts that any payments to Stormy Daniels were illegal campaign donations.  Forget the fact that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigated Trump and concluded that said payments do not constitute unlawful donations.  Never mind that the Department of Justice also studied the same expenditures and decided that no crimes were committed.  Even Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance, chose not to charge Trump at the end of his years-long investigation.

As I have pointed out repeatedly, money paid in exchange for non-disclosure agreements (or NDAs, as they’re known) are perfectly legal and quite common.  Corporations and individuals do it every day.  I have negotiated many of them as a normal conclusion to settlement agreements, encouraged by judges who were motivated to resolve lawsuits.

However, Bragg seems insistent that since Trump’s then-attorney, Michael Cohen, pled guilty to a federal charge of making an illegal campaign contribution, then that somehow makes Trump guilty, too.  It does not.  There are two reasons for this.  First, the plea of one person does not determine the guilt of another.  Second, Cohen willingly pled guilty to a non-crime to gain leniency in his sentencing for other crimes he committed, including fraud.

In the end, Cohen was shipped off to the Hoosegow for telling so many whoppers that you’d need a calculator to keep track.  Yet, Bragg has no reservations in featuring an inveterate and confessed perjurer as his star witness against Trump.  The same is true of Clifford, who has told inconsistent stories about her putative relationship while preening for cameras in endless interviews.

The only credible case that Bragg could bring against Trump is falsely representing an NDA reimbursement as a payment for legal services to Cohen.  But even that improbable legal theory (which requires evidence of an “intent to defraud” that is difficult to prove) constitutes a mere misdemeanor, and it is barred by the statute of limitations that expired 4 years before the indictment.  So, to circumvent the extinct statute, Bragg is cleverly twisting the law by attaching the misdemeanor to a felony that has not lapsed, but over which he has no jurisdiction.

A conscientious and able judge would have long ago halted Bragg’s abusive derelictions.  But Merchan is neither.  Instead, he is blithely enabling the district attorney’s illicit scheme to “get Trump” by ignoring fundamental rules of law, as well as his own duty to see that justice is fairly administered.

The charges against Trump are a prime example of selective prosecution driven by political animus.  It is a patently partisan attempt to interfere in a presidential election.  Manipulating the legal system by bringing a slew of spurious criminal charges against an opponent to delegitimize his candidacy is reprehensible “lawfare.”  It has gained in popularity, especially among media handmaidens who have happily embraced the righteous cause by declaring Trump guilty in the court of public opinion before any trial has ever begun.

Will their machinations work?  I doubt it.

What Biden Democrats and the liberal press underestimate is the intelligence of American voters.  They see the dirty tricks of Alvin Bragg, Georgia DA Fani Willis, special counsel Jack Smith, and Attorney General Merrick Garland for exactly what they are —a pernicious attempt to steal an election through an abuse of our legal system.

Instead of ruining Trump, their antics have fortified his popular support.  A growing number of people see the former president not as a villain, but as a victim of unscrupulous political enemies who weaponized the law to destroy him.