For the first time in US history, a former president will face criminal charges. Donald Trump has been indicted by a New York grand jury. The case is related to hush money payments made in 2016 to an adult film star known as Stormy Daniels through Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen. The money was paid to Daniels to keep her from going public about an alleged sexual relationship with Trump back in 2006. Trump denies the extramarital affair.
Former President Donald Trump indicted over hush money payments
So we haven’t got our hands on this indictment yet. It seems to be still under seal. But we do know a lot based on what witnesses before the grand jury have talked about. Among those witnesses is Trump’s former fixer, Michael Cohen. Cohen says he was directed by former President Donald Trump to pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 in the waning weeks of the 2016 election to keep her quiet. We do know that these kinds of hush money payments are not illegal under New York law, but making false entries in one’s accounting books are. And that seems to be one of the main things DA Alvin Bragg has been investigating over time. We haven’t seen the actual charges, but Cohen and other witnesses have spoken a lot about these bookkeeping type offenses.
Republicans have come to Trump’s defense just 100%. And Trump himself has essentially called this investigation politically motivated. He’s taken shots at Bragg, making sure people know that he’s a Democrat. You know, and just kind of going across the gamut here of Republicans, whether it’s House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who has been saying that this is just politically motivated to people who run committees in Congress, we see how they’ve lined up and doing that really continues to give Trump the clear lane for the nomination if he wants it, even despite all of this.
This is the first president to be indicted on a criminal offense
We can’t overlook the fact that this is the first former American president to be indicted on a criminal offense. However, he’s laid the groundwork for this being a hit job repeatedly over and over and over again. And what we’ve seen in the polling are polling. A Quinnipiac poll that came out this week is that Republicans overwhelmingly think that these investigations are biased or witch hunts and is really kind of insulated.
The only way that this would hurt Former President Donald Trump is if there’s a sustained effort from other Republicans running against him to to really, you know, nail him down on this, to take him down a few pegs. But they haven’t done that. In fact, Ron DeSantis, who would be the top potential candidate if he does decide to run, was more interested today after this, putting out a statement saying that he wouldn’t have Florida help in any kind of extradition of Trump if it came to that, which it’s not going to.
Kerry has bragged, defended himself at all to these Republican attacks. I know House Republicans have already engaged with him, sending him letters saying that they want to investigate his investigations. Well, it would be virtually unprecedented for Republican members of Congress to try to penetrate an ongoing criminal investigation in New York state. And Bragg has told the committee that repeatedly. Bragg has also promised to his prosecutors in his office in a message to the entire office that he will support them.
AG Bragg defending his team following Trump indictment
He knows they’re doing the right thing and that he will protect their safety because Bragg has been threatened after all of these attacks the former president has made against him. Bragg has also confirmed tonight that they’ve contacted Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender for an arraignment, which may happen next week, and that more information will be forthcoming there. The other thing we’ve heard from Bragg is that his investigation has not been. Motivated by politics, even though Trump and his allies continue to insist that this is all an attempt to interfere with the ongoing presidential race right now.
I could see someone looking at a criminal charge that might involve something like bookkeeping and think this is a relatively low hanging fruit kind of a crime. It might lend credence to the idea that it does look political when you consider who Donald Trump is.
There are legitimate questions about why this is happening now. Since the conduct occurred in 2016. Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to a federal crime already many years ago. And there’s a question about why this New York prosecutor is pursuing these allegations so many years after the fact and whether, you know, in many cases, these bookkeeping offenses are considered misdemeanors, not felonies. We don’t know in which direction.
AG Bragg still has to make his case
Bragg and the grand jury have gone here, but there are even some serious legal questions from scholars, former public corruption prosecutors, a guy in D.C. named Randy Eliason, who points out that even for this bookkeeping charge, there needs to be an intent to defraud. And he’s not sure that prosecutors can prove that, because one of Trump’s arguments that his lawyers have been making all over town and all over TV is that Trump basically wanted to cover up this sexual affair and protect his family, his wife and his children, not defraud anybody.
Plenty of us are old enough to remember Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. And I think because of the nature of the behavior that is surrounding this, you know, the public might have a different view about this. It does. To Kerry’s point earlier. Will people see this as somebody who is just trying to protect his family and taking extreme steps, or is he a criminal? And I don’t have a good sense of how it will shake out publicly. But we know from the past that the American public can be kind of forgiving about this type of behavior.
There’s a big difference, though, between a conviction and an indictment. You know, just bringing charges against somebody is one thing. But politically, if there isn’t a conviction, all of the things that Trump has been saying has been laying the groundwork for. It’s just going to add more fuel to his political fire to be able to have people behind him fully in his corner on the Republican camp as he’s engaging in this Republican primary. And they’re already softened up to the idea that this could be, you know, a “witch hunt” and an acquittal would certainly lend credence to that.
Former President Donald Trump facing multiple investigations
This is just the beginning of other investigations into the former president. He’s facing another investigation in Georgia and two federal investigations as well.
There’s an ongoing and active grand jury investigation in Georgia over Trump’s alleged attempts to pressure the secretary of state there to find him more votes to win the election. And then, of course, there are these two special counsel investigations, two investigations by the new special counsel, Jack Smith. One deals with whether Donald Trump engaged in any criminal behavior with respect to January 6th and the violence that occurred on the Capitol that day, the attempt to disrupt the counting of the electoral votes.
Trump’s lawyers preparing to surrender to NY Authorities
And secondly, the idea that the FBI found dozens and dozens of classified documents marked classified at Trump’s resort in Mar a Lago after he told authorities that he didn’t have any more secret materials stored there. So both of those things are very active. Judge recently found that Trump may have used his own lawyer to further some kind of criminal offense with respect to Mar a Lago. So everybody’s going in and talking to grand jurors. We haven’t seen any charges come of that yet, but I wouldn’t count that out at all.
Trump’s lawyers seem to be negotiating the terms of some kind of surrender to New York authorities. And if he agrees to that, he will wind up being processed like other defendants are and make an initial appearance in court in New York. There are lots of concerns, too, of course, about security. There have been barricades put up already. The NYPD is on high alert. Federal and local authorities are very concerned about the potential for violence. And they say they’re on the case watching for that now.