Indicted Trump must now face 'the rule of law' — not the 'rules of politics': former federal prosecutor

Indicted Trump must now face 'the rule of law' — not the 'rules of politics': former federal prosecutor

On Thursday, March 30, 2023, Donald Trump became the first former president in U.S. history to be indicted by a grand jury. The exact charges that Trump will face have not been revealed by the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, Jr., the prosecutor in the case. Bragg has been investigating hush money payments made to porn star Stormy Daniels by Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney who alleges that he made the payments on the ex-president's behalf.

But whatever the charges turn out to be, pro-Trump Republicans — from House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-California) to pundits at Fox News — have been railing against Bragg relentlessly. As they see it, the indictment is an act of political persecution — a claim that Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-California), defending Bragg on MSNBC, has denounced as utter nonsense.

University of Baltimore law professor Kimberly Wehle, a former federal prosecutor, weighs in on the indictment in an article published by The Bulwark on March 30. And she emphasizes that this indictment is a whole new experience for Trump, who must now contend with "the rule of law" rather than "the rules of politics."

READ MORE: Donald Trump indicted in New York

Wehle explains, "Politicians can lie to voters with impunity as long as the voters allow it…. But…. the rules of courts are stricter than the rules of politics. Trump allegedly engaged in a ‘catch-and-kill’ scheme orchestrated by then-National Enquirer publisher David Pecker to hide his relationship with adult film star Stormy Daniels and thereby avoid bad press in the month before the 2016 election. Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in federal court to eight criminal counts, including tax evasion and campaign finance violations arising from his payments of $280,000 to prevent Daniels and one other woman from telling their stories. Cohen was allegedly repaid by Trump in $35,000 installments under monthly legal 'retainer' agreements that had nothing whatsoever to do with the provision of legal services."

The law professor adds, "One anticipated theory of Bragg's case against Trump is that he falsified related business records in the first degree in violation of New York Penal Code Section 175.10, which is a felony 'when (a defendant's) intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.'"

Trump, Wehle argues, "won’t be able to lie his way out of legal trouble the way he has lied his way out of political trouble so many times."

"It's hard to imagine Trump will fall prey to the problems of poverty, structural racism, and inadequate counsel that many Americans face," Wehle writes. "Any conviction will be subject to appeals, too, which, given Trump's prior position, could well include the Supreme Court — an impossibility for the rest of us. Trump is on trial, but the rule of law is also being tested. The most important outcome is that the rule of law wins."

READ MORE: Why Trump should brace for 'much more serious charges' in Georgia probe: journalist

Read Kimberly Wehle’s full article for The Bulwark at this link.

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