'Sprawling' indictment: Trump team's planned defense may be worthless — here's why
Donald Trump (Photo by Chandan Khanna for AFP)

Based in part on reports that the sealed Manhattan grand jury indictment handed down against Donald Trump has up to 30 counts in it, the Daily Beast is reporting that a planned defense by attorneys for the former president may now be worthless when they go to trial.

As the Beast's Jose Pagliery and Roger Sollenberger explain, the prevailing belief was that Trump's indictment would be solely about his alleged hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels based upon information handed over by former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen.

However, as the possible 30 counts would suggest, what Trump's lawyers will be facing is likely well beyond what they're prepared for and they could be faced with starting over from scratch.

According to the report, "Finally faced with an actual criminal indictment, former President Donald Trump is settling on a familiar—if contradictory—defense strategy: Blame his previous lawyer, and say he would have done it anyway. There’s just one problem: The indictment might be more sprawling than just the Stormy Daniels hush money payments that Trump’s team has claimed it was expecting for months."

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Noting that a Trump insider hinted the former president's defense would hinge on questioning Michal Cohen's truthfulness while also pointing out that the then-New York businessman would have paid Daniels to keep quiet to protect his marriage whether he was running for office or not.

"CNN reported that the indictment wasn’t nearly as narrowly focused on the hush money payments as Trump’s legal team and news reports have made it seem," the Beast report notes before adding, "Instead, CNN reported, the grand jury has brought more than 30 counts against the former president, including for business fraud. This suggests that the 'novel legal theory' talking point, which Trumpworld has promoted, may not be Bragg’s silver bullet after all."

"To that point, Bragg’s office might be centering the case against Trump on its already extensive investigation into his business dealings, which have already yielded a court victory. If prosecutors can tie the hush money payments to business, financial, or tax fraud at the state level, they can sidestep the federal question altogether," Pagliery and Sollenberger concluded.

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