Trump Pleads Not Guilty to 34 (Nearly Identical) Felony Counts
April 4, 2023, 2022 (EIRNS)—Former U.S. President Donald Trump pled not guilty at his arraignment in Manhattan on 34, nearly identical felony charges related to falsifying business records “with intent to defraud and intent to commit another crime and aid and conceal the commission thereof.”
This transparently political and legally ridiculous prosecution reminds this writer of the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on bills of attainder—declarations of guilt outside the judicial process.
One might ask, tongue in cheek, whether Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg will be charged with making an illegal campaign contribution to Trump’s 2024 re-election campaign, as the absurd charges brought by this DA, who has otherwise downgraded to misdemeanors more than half of the felonies his office has addressed, rely on legal theories that can only be termed “novel.”
As falsifying business records is itself only a misdemeanor, Bragg will have to prove that the falsification was carried out in furtherance of “another crime.” If that crime is related to campaign finance violations, considering hush money paid to Stormy Daniels and others as in effect being campaign expenses, Bragg stands alone in thinking so. As Jonathan Turley has written, “The Justice Department itself declined this prosecution and both the former chair of the Federal Election Commission and various election law experts have thrown shade on the theory.” The five-year statute of limitations, for example, would appear to be an insurmountable hurdle. And “Bragg will have to convince a court that Trump paid the hush money for the sole purpose of the election,” Turley notes. “As a married man and television celebrity, Trump had other reasons to try to avoid a scandal.”
Other cases, including one in Georgia and the issue of classified documents found at Mar-a-Lago, may also result in indictments.
This latest display in the use of the justice system for lawfare—a result of leaving insufficiently challenged the political prosecution of Lyndon LaRouche—may boost Trump’s standing in the eyes of the electorate or, in coordination with other charges, tie him up in judicial proceedings that will possibly brand him a felon.
But one thing is for sure: The development is intended to be engrossing, preoccupying.
The absurdity of the prosecution can be acknowledged while understanding that there are more effective levers to shift the course of history than opining on the patently political prosecution of the former president.
(Alvin Bragg’s afternoon press conference following the arraignment was not consulted in writing this article, which was also composed before Trump’s planned press conference in the evening.)