Senior Legal Analyst: Prosecutors Contorted the Law, By Chris Knight (Florida)

Ann Coulter published an extract by a CNN legal analyst on the legality of the Trump New York decision. This too is interesting as it is a view from an anti-Trump source, but is still a fair assessment. Some points not covered in other articles, are that the trial judge made a small donation to an anti-trump organisation, in violation of New York law, and the common law about biases among judges on cases. Yet the judge was still assigned to the case, and to the Bannon case as well, doing a job on MAGA. The District Attorney Alvin Bragg ran for office on a platform of convicting Trump of something, anything, as Democrat revenge.

As we know by now, the key aspect of the case against Trump depended upon him committing some other crime other than the mere misclassification of payments. The misclassification was done to further election fraud. But that is the key problem here: "Here, according to prosecutors, the "another crime" is a New York State election-law violation, which in turn incorporates three separate "unlawful means": federal campaign crimes, tax crimes, and falsification of still more documents. Inexcusably, the DA refused to specify what those unlawful means actually were — and the judge declined to force them to pony up — until right before closing arguments. So much for the constitutional obligation to provide notice to the defendant of the accusations against him in advance of trial. (This, folks, is what indictments are for.)

In these key respects, the charges against Trump aren't just unusual. They're bespoke, seemingly crafted individually for the former president and nobody else.

The Manhattan DA's employees reportedly have called this the "Zombie C… [b]ut it's better characterized as the Frankenstein Case, cobbled together with ill-fitting parts into an ugly, awkward, but more-or-less functioning contraption that just might ultimately turn on its creator."

That is extraordinary about his case for people in Australia, who would not be given this coverage, is that a former president has been convicted, without the crime being specified. It is hard to think of this previously occurring in the West, and even trials in the USSR were better organised; corrupt, evil too, but with precise details. Maoist show trials come closest.

https://anncoulter.substack.com/p/cnn-senior-legal-analyst-da-bragg

https://nymag.com/intelligencer/article/trump-was-convicted-but-prosecutors-contorted-the-law.html

"Sure, victory is the great deodorant, but a guilty verdict doesn't make it all pure and right. Plenty of prosecutors have won plenty of convictions in cases that shouldn't have been brought in the first place. "But they won" is no defense to a strained, convoluted reach unless the goal is to "win," now, by any means necessary and worry about the credibility of the case and the fallout later.

The following are all undeniable facts.

The judge donated money — a tiny amount, $35, but in plain violation of a rule prohibiting New York judges from making political donations of any kind — to a pro-Biden, anti-Trump political operation, including funds that the judge earmarked for "resisting the Republican Party and Donald Trump's radical right-wing legacy." Would folks have been just fine with the judge staying on the case if he had donated a couple bucks to "Re-elect Donald Trump, MAGA forever!"? Absolutely not.

District Attorney Alvin Bragg ran for office in an overwhelmingly Democratic county by touting his Trump-hunting prowess. He bizarrely (and falsely) boasted on the campaign trail, "It is a fact that I have sued Trump over 100 times." (Disclosure: Both Bragg and Trump's lead counsel, Todd Blanche, are friends and former colleagues of mine at the Southern District of New York.)

Most importantly, the DA's charges against Trump push the outer boundaries of the law and due process. …

The district attorney's press office and its flaks often proclaim that falsification of business records charges are "commonplace" … That's true only if you draw definitional lines so broad as to render them meaningless. …

But when you impose meaningful search parameters, the truth emerges: The charges against Trump are obscure, and nearly entirely unprecedented. In fact, no state prosecutor — in New York, or Wyoming, or anywhere — has ever charged federal election laws as a direct or predicate state crime, against anyone, for anything. None. Ever. Even putting aside the specifics of election law, the Manhattan DA itself almost never brings any case in which falsification of business records is the only charge.

Standing alone, falsification charges would have been mere misdemeanors under New York law, which posed two problems for the DA. First, nobody cares about a misdemeanor, and it would be laughable to bring the first-ever charge against a former president for a trifling offense that falls within the same technical criminal classification as shoplifting a Snapple and a bag of Cheetos from a bodega. Second, the statute of limitations on a misdemeanor — two years — likely has long expired on Trump's conduct, which dates to 2016 and 2017.

So, to inflate the charges up to the lowest-level felony (Class E, on a scale of Class A through E) — and to electroshock them back to life within the longer felony statute of limitations — the DA alleged that the falsification of business records was committed "with intent to commit another crime." Here, according to prosecutors, the "another crime" is a New York State election-law violation, which in turn incorporates three separate "unlawful means": federal campaign crimes, tax crimes, and falsification of still more documents. Inexcusably, the DA refused to specify what those unlawful means actually were — and the judge declined to force them to pony up — until right before closing arguments. So much for the constitutional obligation to provide notice to the defendant of the accusations against him in advance of trial. (This, folks, is what indictments are for.)

In these key respects, the charges against Trump aren't just unusual. They're bespoke, seemingly crafted individually for the former president and nobody else.

The Manhattan DA's employees reportedly have called this the "Zombie C… [b]ut it's better characterized as the Frankenstein Case, cobbled together with ill-fitting parts into an ugly, awkward, but more-or-less functioning contraption that just might ultimately turn on its creator.

***

Here, prosecutors got their man, for now at least — but they also contorted the law in an unprecedented manner in their quest to snare their prey." 

 

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Saturday, 20 July 2024

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