Frustrated and upset,’ Trump goes silent, then seethes A Surprise Accusation Bolsters a Risky Case Against Trump
(Voice News )Donald J. Trump is charged with fabricating documents in the unsealed lawsuit against him, allegedly in part to set the stage for future lies to tax officials.
Donald J. Trump, the former president, during his arraignment on Tuesday. Prosecutors must demonstrate that he meant to commit, help in, or conceal a second crime for the bookkeeping fraud accusations against him to become felonies. Credit… Image of a pool by Andrew Kelly
In Washington An unexpected charge was included in the unsealed indictment against former President Donald J. Trump on Tuesday, which strengthened what many legal experts have seen as an already hazardous and unusual case: He allegedly fabricated business records as part of a scheme to defraud state tax officials, according to the prosecution.
Spectators have been speculating about the specific charges Manhattan district attorney Alvin L. Bragg might file for weeks. Many people feared that accusing Mr. Trump of bookkeeping fraud to hide campaign finance breaches may result in serious legal issues. It turns out that Mr. Bragg’s idea included that accusation—but not exclusively.
According to Rebecca Roiphe, a professor at New York Law School and former state prosecutor, “pundits have been speculating that Trump would be charged with lying about the hush money payments to illegally influence an election. However, that theory rests on contentious legal issues and could be difficult to prove.
According to the indictment, Trump is also accused of falsifying records to conduct a state tax offence, she added. That charge eliminates the various issues and is much simpler.
34 charges of bookkeeping fraud were included in the indictment in relation to Mr Trump’s payment in 2017 to Michael D. Cohen, his former attorney and fixer. Shortly before the 2016 presidential election, Mr. Cohen gave porn star Stormy Daniels, who has said she and Mr. Trump had an extramarital affair, a $130,000 hush money payment.
An supplementary statement of facts claimed that various business records regarding such payments to Mr. Cohen misrepresented them as being for legal services rendered in 2017. According to Article 175 of the New York Criminal Code, the grand jury accused Mr. Trump of felony bookkeeping fraud for each of these records. If found guilty of that offence, you might receive a four-year term.
Nonetheless, accounting fraud is typically a misdemeanour. Prosecutors must demonstrate that a defendant intended to commit, assist in, or conceal a second crime for the charge to become a felony, which begs the question of what other crime Mr. Bragg would claim is involved.
On Tuesday, Mr. Bragg made the claim that the prosecution is putting up several ideas for the second offence, potentially offering judges and juries other ways to determine whether bookkeeping fraud was a criminal.
He is allegedly referring to infractions of both federal and state election regulations, as was generally expected. By doing so, he is partially moving forward with a claim that has even some of Mr. Trump’s most ardent detractors scratching their heads.
It is debatable if paying off a mistress was a personal or campaign expense in terms of content.
The legal issue of whether a state prosecutor can invoke a federal offence even when he lacks the authority to charge that crime himself is raised by the citation of federal law. Nevertheless, Article 175 makes no mention of the requirement that the second planned crime be a violation of state law.
Since that federal elections are controlled by laws that normally take precedence over state laws, citing state law raises the question of why New York election regulations would apply to a presidential election.
Mr. Bragg cited both state and federal election laws during a press conference. He referenced a New York state election statute that makes it a crime to plan to use illegal tactics to advance a candidate, but he did not clarify why that law would apply to a presidential election. Additionally, he mentioned a federal limit on campaign donations without explaining how he had the right to mention a crime he was unable to personally prosecute.
But Mr. Bragg also put forth still another idea, claiming that Mr. Trump had fabricated financial records in order to support his phoney tax returns.
In the statement of facts that was included with the indictment, Mr. Bragg stated that “the participants also took actions that mischaracterized, for tax reasons, the true nature of the funds made in furtherance of the conspiracy.”
The statement of facts included information about how Mr. Trump sent Mr. Cohen a larger sum of money than he had given Ms. Daniels in order to pay the income taxes Mr. Cohen would owe. During his news conference, Mr. Bragg emphasised that idea once more.
He used unclear language at times. He appeared to hint at one point that Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen’s alleged violations of the state law prohibiting conspiring to assist a candidate through illicit methods included their intended false statement to New York tax officials.
Yet, providing false information to the state government is also illegal. At another point, Mr. Bragg appeared to present an alleged scheme to defraud tax authorities by pretending that Mr. Cohen had received payment for “legal services provided in 2017” in order to hide what was in fact a reimbursement.
Mr. Bragg stated: “To get Michael Cohen his money back, they prepared one last false statement, in addition to covering up campaign finance crimes committed in 2016. They intended to present the repayments to Mr. Cohen to the New York state tax authorities as income in order to carry out the scheme.
Christopher Conroy, the prosecutor, charged Mr. Trump with ordering the Trump Organization to generate a number of fake financial records, saying that he “even mischaracterized the true nature of the payment for tax purposes.”
Given the debate over how bookkeeping fraud charges might be elevated to felonies, several legal experts found it particularly relevant that prosecutors mentioned the possibility of intentional false representations on tax forms.
According to Ryan Goodman, a law expert at New York University, “the reference to fake tax filings may shield the case from legal challenges that may come if the felony charges are based simply on federal and state election statutes.”
Many election law experts expressed new scepticism on Tuesday regarding Mr. Bragg’s ability to successfully use campaign finance rules to escalate the bookkeeping fraud accusations to felonies. Richard L. Hasen, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Benjamin L. Ginsberg, a longstanding Republican Party election lawyer and Mr. Trump detractor, were two among those sceptics.
Robert Kelner, the head of the election and political law practise department at the company Covington & Burling, was unsure whether or not the addition of the accusation concerning intended false statements to tax authorities would demonstrate an intent to conduct another crime.
He claimed that the local prosecutors appeared to be partially relying on a bank shot that took advantage of Michael Cohen’s guilty plea in a federal campaign finance case. That was a problematic premise for a prosecution against a former president because there were significant legal concerns with the evidence against Cohen. Also, the prosecution makes oblique references to “actions” made to break tax rules without providing much context.
But, Mr. Bragg underlined that at this time, it was unnecessary for the prosecution to go into specifics of any more crimes they believed Mr. Trump intended to commit.
But someday he’ll have to disclose his cards. The next stage of the case would force prosecutors to reveal more, according to retired judge Barry Kamins of the New York Supreme Court, who is currently in private practise.
The prosecution would now be required to provide information during discovery, he predicted. “Defense counsel will find out in discovery the substance of the tax issues and election law infractions that Mr. Bragg identified in his statement of facts.”