As former President Donald Trump faces potential indictment by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg over a $130,000 hush payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to cover up their alleged affair, his defenders are arguing that the indictment is political targeting over a minor offense.
Even former Vice President Mike Pence, who has been critical of his former boss and is considering a run against him for president himself, slammed the New York D.A., telling reporters, "the fact that the Manhattan D.A., in the midst of a crime wave in New York City, then says that indicting the former president is his highest priority. It tells you everything you need to know about the liberal left in this country."
Some of Trump's critics from the left, too, appear disappointed that this might be his first indictment, with former Obama strategist David Axelrod calling it the "least meaningful" case against him.
But liberal journalist Judd Legum wrote for his "Popular Information" blog on Monday that this case is a big deal, and it cuts to the heart of a matter that changed the course of American history.
"There are some basic rules about how federal campaigns operate. If you spend money to benefit your campaign, it must be publicly reported. If you run an ad, you must disclose that your campaign paid for the ad. The underlying principle of these rules is transparency — voters have a right to know what you are saying and doing to get elected," wrote Legum. "If Trump is charged, it will be because prosecutors believe he violated the law in order to hide relevant information from voters in the days leading up to the 2016 election. After Election Day, Trump allegedly engaged in more crimes, including falsifying business records, to cover up his actions."
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"If Bragg decides to charge Trump, he will have to make the case in detail. But Trump's conduct was not unmeaningful, and efforts to hold him legally accountable are not outrageous," wrote Legum. "Trump schemed to conceal relevant information from the voting public in the days before the election, engaged in an elaborate coverup, and then lied about his involvement. This deceit was a subversion of the democratic process and may have changed the course of history."
The most likely charges that Trump could face are misdemeanor bookkeeping fraud. However, it could rise to a felony, which carries jail time, if prosecutors could show Trump committed the fraud in order to conceal a second crime.
Trump has claimed that the case cannot be brought because it is outside the statute of limitations; however, the statute only applies while Trump continuously lives in the state of New York, and he has spent most of his time since the hush payment living either in the White House or his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.