HomePolitics5 Key Things You Need to Know About Donald Trump's Felony charges

5 Key Things You Need to Know About Donald Trump’s Felony charges

Donald Trump, the initial ex-president to confront legal accusations, is utilizing the allegations as a storyline to bolster his re-election campaign.

With what offenses was Donald Trump accused?

The unsealed indictment revealed on Tuesday comprises 34 charges of fabricating business documents with the intention of aiding and covering up the commission of another offense. This is classified as a Class E felony, which is the least severe level of felony under New York state law.

According to the prosecutors, the Trump Organization handled each check as a monthly legal services payment disguised under a retainer agreement. However, as per the statement of fact presented with the accusations, there was no actual retainer agreement.

“We can’t permit New York enterprises to alter their records to hide unlawful activities,” Bragg stated in a press release concerning the accusations. “Manhattan is the hub of the nation’s most crucial business market.”

What information do we have regarding the ‘catch and kill’ tactic?

Bragg’s case is based on the assertion that Donald Trump routinely employed a “catch and kill” strategy to bury unflattering details.

According to the prosecutors, there were three occurrences in which Trump allegedly “orchestrated” such a scheme with executives at American Media Inc., the company that publishes the National Enquirer. All three took place after Trump announced his presidential candidacy in June of 2015.

In the first instance, that fall, AMI paid $30,000 to a former doorman of Trump Tower who claimed to have information about a child that Trump had supposedly fathered outside of his marriage. Even though the magazine determined that the story was not valid, executives agreed to maintain the doorman’s agreement until after the election, according to prosecutors. The payment was also “falsely characterized” in AMI’s financial records.

The second instance happened in June of 2016, when Karen McDougal, a former Playboy playmate, accused Trump of having an extramarital affair with her. Prosecutors allege that Trump, Cohen, and AMI’s CEO David Pecker “had a series of discussions” about who would pay McDougal to secure her silence. Ultimately, AMI paid her $150,000 “with the understanding” that Trump or his company would reimburse the publisher. However, on the advice of AMI’s general counsel, the reimbursement never occurred.

The final incident was the $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in October 2016, just before the election, to keep her allegations of an affair at a celebrity golf tournament in 2006 from becoming public.

Trump has denied all three stories about the affairs.

What will prosecutors need to prove?

In accordance with New York state law, falsifying a business record is only considered a felony if it was done with the purpose of hiding or committing another crime.

In a news conference after Trump’s court appearance on Tuesday, Bragg explained what prosecutors believe are two other potential crimes in the Trump case.

The first is New York state election law, which “criminalizes conspiring to promote a candidacy by illegal means,” according to Bragg. In this case, that might involve false statements, such as misrepresenting the payments to Michael Cohen to tax authorities.

The second is federal election law, which limits the amount that can be donated to candidates in federal elections.

The indictment does not identify these other offenses. Bragg believes that New York state law does not require prosecutors to do so.

How is Trump reacting?

After being twice impeached as president, Trump, who still received a record-breaking number of electoral votes, sought to use his appearance in court to his advantage. He left the courthouse in a motorcade that major news networks tracked with helicopter footage. His 2024 election campaign started selling a T-shirt with a fake mug shot for a $47 donation. He attacked the charges as political persecution before an audience of his supporters at Mar-a-Lago, dismissing other investigations he’s facing, and attacking Judge Juan Merchan and his family as “Trump-hating” people. Although there were small gatherings of Trump supporters near the courthouse, Trump’s campaign had raised $10 million off the news of the indictment, and even Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, accused Bragg of pushing “a political agenda.” According to a Quinnipiac poll released Wednesday, two-thirds of all respondents think that the charges in New York are not that serious, and six in 10 say the investigation is politically motivated.

What happens next?

The trial is not likely to start anytime soon, as the next major court date has been set for December 4th by Judge Merchan. While the prosecution wants to start the opening arguments in January 2024, Trump’s defense has requested a few more months, which may delay the trial until the spring of 2024, right in the midst of primary season. Furthermore, Trump’s defense may try to file motions to delay the case, such as relocating the trial to another venue. The possibility of Trump being charged in one of the other three investigations he’s facing, including the Fulton County investigation in Georgia and the Department of Justice investigation in Washington, D.C., may also create timing complications for the Manhattan DA case.

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