Why DA Alvin Bragg 'did the right thing' with 34-count Trump indictment: attorney

Why DA Alvin Bragg 'did the right thing' with 34-count Trump indictment: attorney

When a grand jury indicted former President Donald Trump on 34 criminal counts, his MAGA defenders — from far-right Fox News hosts to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) — were quick to slam Democratic Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg as a ruthless partisan who was carrying out a politically motivated prosecution. Some Trump detractors have been critical of the indictment as well, albeit with radically different arguments and motivations.

Some of those indictment skeptics believe that Bragg doesn't have a very strong case against Trump. And some argue that other Trump-related investigations — including two by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and special counsel Jack Smith and one by Fulton County, Georgia District Attorney Fani Willis — could lead to much more intense prosecutions.

Some Bragg skeptics who blame Trump for the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building will argue that a prosecution for inciting an insurrection would be way more damning than a prosecution for alleged hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

READ MORE: Alvin Bragg smacks down Jim Jordan: No 'legitimate basis for congressional inquiry'

Attorney Philip Rotner, however, vehemently disagrees with those Bragg indictment skeptics. In an article published by The Bulwark on April 11, Rotner lays out some reasons why he believes that the Manhattan DA has a strong case against Trump and "did the right thing" with the indictment.

"It's easy to understand the public angst about Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's indictment of Donald Trump," Rotner explains. "To many, including some who are not Trump supporters, the case looks 'thin' or 'weak,' especially when compared to the weightier claims brewing within the Department of Justice investigations, now headed by special counsel Jack Smith, of the Mar-a-Lago documents and Trump’s attempts to overturn the results of the presidential election — and the Georgia investigation of Trump's attempted interference with the election in that state. Nearly all of the skepticism over the Manhattan indictment issued last week boils down to one of two core complaints, either: (1) the case shouldn't have been brought at all, or (2) it shouldn't have been brought first."

Rotner continues, “The second of those concerns can be quickly dispatched. The proposition that the Manhattan indictment shouldn’t have been brought first, before cases are brought either in Georgia or by special counsel Smith, is a complete non-starter. The idea that three separate jurisdictions should collaborate so as to sequence their indictments for maximal public-relations or political impact is repugnant. If that had happened, the critics would truly have something to complain about.”

The attorney goes on to explain why the allegations in Rotner's case should not be taken lightly.

Rotner, describing Bragg’s case, says, "Trump instructed his two fixers, (Michael) Cohen and Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, to find a way to make the Daniels hush money payment look like something else, and to mask the fact that the payment came from Trump himself…. This was accomplished by falsifying the company's business records. Trump recorded the reimbursements for the hush money payment as payments for fictional legal services provided by Cohen pursuant to a nonexistent retainer agreement."

READ MORE: Pro-Trump Republicans — not Alvin Bragg — are 'undermining the rule of law': former Reagan speechwriter

The attorney continues, “At the end of the day, Trump had gotten Cohen to make a six-figure hush money payment using his own money, hidden his personal involvement behind both Cohen and the Trump Organization — which had absolutely nothing to do with his alleged affair with Stormy Daniels — and gotten his company to fork over reimbursements for the payment to Cohen…. Since Trump had falsely recorded his reimbursement of Cohen as a Trump Organization payment for legal services, Cohen now had a problem: He would have to declare the phony 'income' in his tax returns and pay tax on it. Filing a deliberately phony tax return, even one that might be construed as favorable to the government, is a crime under both federal and New York State law."

Some of Trump's critics are warning that Bragg's prosecution will inspire Republicans to rally around him in the 2024 presidential election. But such political considerations, Rotner writes, should have no influence on Bragg's decision to move forward with a prosecution.

"Yes, it will give Trump a boost with his core supporters, at least in the short term," the attorney argues. "Yes, it is divisive because Trump has a large political following that believes he can do no wrong…. There's always a cost for doing the right thing.”

READ MORE:Legal expert explains why Alvin Bragg has a good chance of convicting Trump

Read The Bulwark’s full article at this link.

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