The Manhattan DA Case Is Appropriate And Serious

There has been the usual bullshit out of the mouths of Trump enabler Republicans that the Manhattan D.A.’s case against Trump for his payment to porn actress Stormy Daniels to remain silent is “just a bookkeeping error” and is a “politically motivated” prosecution that others would not face.

Of course this is not true. The GQP is a party built upon lies and propaganda.

Siven Watt, Norman L. Eisen and Ryan Goodman break down at Just Security blog, Survey of Past New York Felony Prosecutions for Falsifying Business Records (excerpt):

A core crime that the Manhattan District Attorney will likely include in an indictment of former President Donald Trump is “falsifying business records in the first degree,” a felony under New York State law (N.Y. Penal Code § 175.10). Prosecutors and indeed all of us are compelled by the rule of law to consider how such a charge compares to past prosecutions. Are like cases being treated alike?

Here it appears they are. Prosecution of falsifying business records in the first degree is commonplace and has been used by New York district attorneys’ offices to hold to account a breadth of criminal behavior from the more petty and simple to the more serious and highly organized. We reach this conclusion after surveying the past decade and a half of criminal cases across all the New York district attorneys’ offices.

* * *

Before turning to the full Table listing these and many other cases, we offer a brief description of the applicable law. In New York, the criminal law on falsifying business records is found at Article 175 of New York’s penal code. The crime of falsifying business records can be committed in the second degree, which is a class A misdemeanor (N.Y. Penal Code § 175.05), or in the first degree, which is a class E felony (N.Y. Penal Code § 175.10).

An individual is “guilty of falsifying business records in the second degree when, with intent to defraud, he:

    1. makes or causes a false entry in the business records of an enterprise; or
    2. alters, erases, obliterates, deletes, removes or destroys a true entry in the business records of an enterprise; or
    3. omits to make a true entry in the business records of an enterprise in violation of a duty to do so which he knows to be imposed upon him by law or by the nature of his position; or
    4. prevents the making of a true entry or causes the omission thereof in the business records of an enterprise.” N.Y. Penal Code § 175.05

An individual “is guilty of falsifying business records in the first degree when he commits the crime of falsifying business records in the second degree, and when his intent to defraud includes an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.” N.Y. Penal Code § 175.10.

For Trump to be prosecuted for felony violation of falsifying business records, the statute requires the DA to prove not only that Trump is guilty of falsifying business records (a misdemeanor), but that he did so with the intent to commit “another crime,” or aiding or concealing the commission of “another crime.”

The Table of dozens of cases is provided in the 24-page … separate online PDF.

Keep in mind that the Falsification of Business records criminal case that Alvin Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance, Jr., indicated was ready to file when he left office, and was shelved by Alvin Bragg, is still sitting on the shelf and has not been closed; it could be revived and made part of this indictment.

Note: This largely depends on whether or not Trump Organization CFO, Allen Weisselberg, currently serving time in prison and facing a possible second prosecution is now willing to be a cooperative witness. New York Attorney General Leticia James is pursuing the same matter as a civil fraud case which is going to trial in October. Weisselberg is not needed for this paper records civil case.

Ryan Goodman and Andrew Weissmann write at the New York Times, Make No Mistake, the Investigation of Donald Trump and the Stormy Daniels Scheme Is Serious:

Though it may be tempting to do so, it is a mistake to assess the Manhattan district attorney’s investigation of Donald Trump by comparing its relative severity with those of myriad other crimes possibly committed by him. That is not how state and federal prosecutors will — or should — be thinking about the issue of charging Mr. Trump, or for that matter, any other defendant.

Prosecutors are trained to consider whether a case can be brought — in other words, is there proof beyond a reasonable doubt to support a conviction? They also consider whether a case should be brought — principally, is the crime one that is typically charged by the office in like circumstances? [See above.] Put another way: Is bringing the charge consistent with the rule of law that requires treating likes alike?

Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, would be well within his discretion in determining that the answer to those questions is yes and therefore supports charging Mr. Trump in connection with any crimes arising from an effort to keep Stormy Daniels from disclosing an alleged affair to the electorate before the 2016 election.

This case is just one of a few ongoing criminal investigations into Mr. Trump’s conduct — including potentially a much larger financial investigation by the Manhattan district attorney — and the hush money scheme is no doubt the least serious of the crimes. It does not involve insurrection and undermining the peaceful transfer of power fundamental to our democracy, nor the retention of highly classified documents and obstruction of a national security investigation.

But does that mean the Manhattan criminal case is an example of selective prosecution — in other words, going after a political enemy for a crime that no one else would be charged with? Not by a long shot. To begin with, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who was instrumental in the scheme, has already pleaded guilty to a federal crime emanating from this conduct and served time for it and other crimes. Federal prosecutors told the court that Mr. Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction of” Mr. Trump (identified as “Individual 1”). It would be anathema to the rule of law not to prosecute the principal for the crime when a lower-level conspirator has been prosecuted.

This charge focuses on the means that Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen apparently devised to carry out the alleged scheme: Mr. Cohen would arrange for the payments to Ms. Daniels; Mr. Trump would reimburse Mr. Cohen; and Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump would cover up the true nature of the payments by recording the reimbursement as legal fees pursuant to a “retainer agreement” that the Justice Department said never existed. Because such “fees” would need to be reported by Mr. Cohen on his taxes, the Trump Organization paid Mr. Cohen substantial additional sums to pay for these taxes. Similarly, to keep the Daniels payments secret, neither Mr. Trump nor his campaign would report the payments as a campaign contribution by either Mr. Cohen or Mr. Trump.

The district attorney’s office has frequently charged people with making false business filings, often as felonies but also as misdemeanors. A common use of such a charge is when a defendant commits fraud, such as insurance or tax fraud, and in the course of that scheme creates a false business record to cover up the crime and avoid detection. As a new study co-authored by one of [above] us shows, precedents include charging a teacher for allegedly submitting a fake Covid-19 vaccination card to the New York City Department of Education and her school principal; an auto repair store owner who failed to file proper tax forms, resulting in more than $60,000 in unpaid taxes; and a woman who fraudulently obtained store credit at a Lord & Taylor and then used that credit to purchase several items before she left the store.

While the analogy to Mr. Trump is imperfect, since paying hush money is not itself illegal, in his case the false “legal fee” records appear to have furthered and covered up New York state tax fraud (the false Cohen tax filings) and the failure to report Trump campaign contributions.

Do such potential crimes have potential defenses that will be raised and litigated by Mr. Trump if he is charged? Surely. But such charges are not outside the norm and are well within what is required by the rule of law.

In short, it is Mr. Trump who is asking for special treatment. But his former job does not and should not immunize him from the accountability that would be sought for anyone else.

So Trump enablers and apologists who would excuse any criminal behavior by Donald Trump can just fuck off.





3 thoughts on “The Manhattan DA Case Is Appropriate And Serious”

  1. So says AZBM as the case against Trump falls apart before everyone’s eyes.

    • Wow, look at John Government Checks Kavanagh, rooting for the criminals and against law enforcement.

      I don’t have a lot of time to mock Johnny Where’s My Government Money Kavanagh this morning, I have meetings to attend at the private sector job where I work.

      Johnny Government Checks wouldn’t understand that, on account of all the government checks he gets every month.

      Oh well, let’s all do some good today and send some money to RaicesTexasDotOrg and/or the ACLU.

      Raices provides free or low cost legal help to immigrants, and the ACLU has been defending the US Constitution from people like John I Like Government Money Kavanagh for over 100 years.

      Hooray!

      Right now some nut is planning to shoot up a school and murder children with guns John Kavanagh wants him to have while John Government Money is the Best Money Kavanagh worries about drag queens.

      Wait, checking my notes, that can’t be right…nope yep, John I Live On Government Money Kavanagh is more worried about drag queens that school shooters.

      Gotta’ run, I don’t get multiple government checks every month, I have to actually earn my paycheck.

    • What was that, Johnny Government Checks? Did you say something?

      Case fell apart?

      Must be some different case about a corrupt Manhattan Real Estate Agent Former Reality TV Game Show Host Illiterate getting jiggly with the pr0n stars and using his business money to pay her off while using fake names and funneling the payoff through a third party to avoid embarrassment on the campaign trail and the marital boudoir.

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