The People of the State of New York v. Trump

Thomas Paine: American Philosopher, & Revolutionary

From 1776 through the formation of The Constitution I helped create America. Now I have returned to help save America. American Patriots must join together, speak out in free and open discussion to fight the “woke” anti-American mob, and further the cause of FREEDOM.

The Basics and the Background

Those who are reading this post are certainly aware that former President Donald J. Trump has been indicted and charged in a criminal trial in New York City.  The basics are that New York County District Attorney for Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, who dedicated part of his campaign as a promise to prosecute Trump, charged Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.  Bragg launched his campaign for Manhattan DA in June 2019, shortly before outgoing DA Cyrus Vance Jr. began proceedings against Trump.  In July 2020 the Supreme Court ruled that Trump was not immune from a subpoena issued by Vance but New York officials did not receive the subpoenaed documents until February 2021 and a criminal investigation was launched in May.  Bragg was elected in November 2021 saying he would continue Vance’s investigation and hold Trump accountable.  But Vance’s investigation was focused on Trump’s financial statements and whether he had committed fraud by overstating the value of his assets in documents submitted to banks and insurance companies in order to secure more favorable terms.

That investigation morphed into a civil case known as New York v. Trump, brought by State Attorney General Letitia James, who also campaigned on a promise to “get Trump” and charged Trump with fraudulently misrepresenting his property values to potential lenders and tax officials.  New York assessed the value of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate at $18 million, a ludicrous estimate that wouldn’t even purchase the ground it sat on if it was a vacant lot.  Furthermore, Bank officials testified that all agreements were entered into mutually after the banks did their own due diligence all loans were repaid with interest.  That is, there were no victims and everyone made their anticipated money from the deals.  The entire case was baseless.

Nevertheless, presiding judge Arthur Engoron ordered the defendants (Trump, his three eldest children, Donald Jr. Ivanka, and Eric, CFO Allen Weisselberg, Controller Jeffrey McConney, and ten companies) to disgorge a total of $364 million.  That judgment has been appealed and legal arguments are expected to take place no sooner than September 2024.

All of a sudden Bragg was in search of something else he could charge Trump with, so he concocted a novel legal theory centered on the notion that Trump had somehow attempted to influence the 2016 election by paying Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about their alleged sexual encounter.  It was a case brought against a target in search of a crime, which reverses the application of American jurisprudence.

The prosecution alleged that Trump mislabeled, or “falsely recorded” repayments to his Attorney, Michael Cohen, as “legal expenses” in the general ledger, rather than reimbursements to Cohen, who paid Daniels from his own loan proceeds to secure the nondisclosure agreement.  Cohen testified he made the payment on his own to shield Trump’s wife, Melania, from embarrassment.

From that simple accounting entry, multiplied 34 times, Bragg made the leap of reclassifying those ledger entries, misdemeanors by New York state law, which had expired the statute of limitations, as felony violations of federal election laws by concealing the Daniels story from the voting public in order to aid his chances of a presidential victory. 

However, the New York District Attorney had no jurisdiction to bring such  charges.  If Trump was to be indicted for violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, that would be a federal case.

But this kangaroo court show trial wasn’t about justice.  It was about weaponizing the justice system to persecute a political rival in what has been termed “lawfare”.

The Nitty Gritty of the Criminal Charges Against Trump

Of the four high profile“lawfare” cases against former President Donald Trump, the so-called “hush money” payment to porn star Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, brought in New York DA Bragg, was the first to go to trial.

The trial began on April 15, 2024, in New York Superior Court before Judge Juan Merchan, following an indictment by a grand jury filed March 30, 2023. 

The indictment charged Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree, New York Penal Law §175.10 [1], described as “A person 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.”  Falsifying business records in the first degree is a class E felony, the lowest in severity, of five classes. [2]  Critical to application of this law is the meaning of “intent to defraud”. 

In this case, the prosecutors alleged that Trump committed the act of falsifying the business records with the intent to hide another crime, the second crime being a violation of New York Election Code § 17-152: Conspiracy to promote or prevent election.

“Any two or more persons who conspire to promote or prevent election of any person to a public office by unlawful means and which conspiracy is acted upon by one or more of the parties thereto, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.” [3]

The way I interpret that is the state is alleging that Trump falsified business records in the second degree (whatever that is), and did so with the intent to commit the second crime of promoting his own candidacy by “unlawful means”.  Bragg essentially charged Trump under a felony statute that required proof beyond a reasonable doubt that he did so with the intent to commit the misdemeanor of promoting his own electability by one, or more, of the following “unlawful means”:

  1. Violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act otherwise known as FECA;
  2. The falsification of other business records; or
  3. Violation of tax laws. [4]

FECA violations would seem to be “off the table” because the Department of Justice holds jurisdiction over all federal crimes, and the DOJ would be the proper avenue of prosecution.  In effect, Bragg is claiming the reimbursements were campaign contributions but the New York District Attorney had no jurisdiction to bring such a charge.  If Trump was to be indicted for violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, that would be a federal case.

On tax law violations, Merchan describes any fraudulent information or false statement related to a material matter on a tax return as “unlawful” regardless of whether it resulted in a tax underpayment.  Not much to look at there, so apparently, the “unlawful means relate to falsification of business records, the notation of Trump’s reimbursements as “legal expenses”.

Each count in the indictment relates to a specific business document, bearing dates that range from February 14 through December 5, 2017, a period during which Trump was President.  Collectively, they are known as “hush money” payments, listed as “legal expenses” payable to Michael Cohen, including:

  • 11 for invoices from Michael Cohen

  •   9 for general ledger entries for Donald J. Trump

  •   9 for checks from Donald J. Trump

  •   3 for general ledger entries for the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust

  •   2 for checks from the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust [5]

The “false entries” in the business records cited by prosecutors was the $130,000 in payments by Trump to his personal Attorney, Michael Cohen, for reimbursement of funds paid by Cohen himself, as testified in earlier proceedings, to Stormy Daniels, in exchange for her silence leading up to the 2016 election.  Trump classified those payments as “legal expenses”. 

The Judge’s Instructions to the Jury

New York State Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan provided detailed instructions to the jury following the closing arguments from both parties.  While much of the Instructions appear to be standard legalese, some Legal Analysts have described portions of the instructions as difficult to understand by a lawyer, let alone a lay person.  I’ve cited the full document in pdf format for anyone who wishes to review the pertinent sections.

According to the jury instructions provided by Judge Merchan, “intent means conscious objective or purpose.  Thus a person acts with intent to defraud when his or her conscious objective or purpose is to do so.”  That sounds like word salad from Kamala Harris, but Merchan continues, “Intent does not require premeditation.  In other words, intent does not require advance planning.  Nor is it necessary that the intent be in a person’s mind for any particular period of time.  The intent can be formed, and need only exist, at the very moment the person engages in prohibited conduct or acts to cause the prohibited result, and not at any earlier time.” [6]  OK, so intent can be spontaneous.  Then it gets “muddy”.

In the next section, Merchan writes, “In order to prove an intent to defraud, the People need not prove that the defendant acted with the intent to defraud any particular person or entity.  A general intent to defraud any person or entity suffices.” [7]  What?  So who or what exactly was Trump “intending” to defraud?

This is where the election enters the discussion.  I get it, and most people do.  Trump allegedly thought he was paying Stormy Daniels under the terms of a Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA), in exchange for her not publicizing her alleged sexual encounter that could potentially damage his candidacy.  According to Bragg’s interpretation, and Merchan’s instructions, that met the requirements of a violation of New York election law, claiming Trump was promoting his chances at the ballot box by unlawful means.  Is that defrauding the voting public?  NDAs are perfectly legal documents and they are utilized quite frequently.  But it seems odd that the judge was telling the jury that the state did not need to prove Trump had any intent to defraud the voters.  I guess they were supposed to make the connection on their own that the mere existence of the payment implied intent to defraud.

Further, on the same page, Merchan wrote, “For the crime of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, the intent to defraud must include an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.  Under our law, although the People must prove an intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof, they need not prove that the other crime was in fact committed, aided, or concealed.” [8] 

Got it?  So, to consider whether the law should even be applied, the state must conclude there was an intent to commit a second crime, or to conceal the commission of the underlying first crime.  And, the state is not required to prove that “other” (second) crime was actually committed or the first crime was concealed.  So, if the state can’t prove a second crime was committed, or even whether the first crime was actually concealed, what have they proved?  Not a damn thing, right?

In reference to New York Election Code § 17-152, Merchan instructed the jury that “Although you must conclude unanimously that the defendant conspired to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means, you need not be unanimous as to what those unlawful means were.” [9]

In other words, some jurors might think Trump was guilty of violating FECA only, while other jurors may have thought Trump was only guilty of falsifying business records, and it was not necessary that all jurors agreed.  

The Payback Will be Well Deserved

Remember that time when Hillary Clinton concocted the phony Russia collusion accusations against Trump leading up to the 2016 election?  She not only tried to pass off the false story to smear Trump’s name, but her campaign funded the entire “opposition research” and used it to encourage the Justice Department to appoint Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate it, at taxpayer expense, for two years, before Mueller reported there was no evidence of any Russian interference in Trump’s unexpected victory.  Mueller’s investigation focused on three points; Russian interference in the election, Trump associates and their connection to Russian officials (espionage), and obstruction of justice.  Her own campaign manager admitted she personally approved the plan to leak the allegations to the press in 2016.  And that was acknowledged by the extremely biased CNN. [10]

When you think about it, why would Putin want to see Trump in the White House rather than Hillary, who looked like an easy pushover when she brought out a giant red “reset” button to appease Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov? 

If Bragg is able to classify the “legal expense” of reimbursing his lawyer for a nondisclosure agreement, as intent to commit the conspiracy of promoting his own election by falsifying business records, then certainly Hillary Clinton’s Russia collusion hoax could be considered as an effort to influence the 2016 election, and all expenses incurred in that smear campaign qualify as campaign contributions.  She’s guilty of multiple felonies. 

The same can be expected for President Biden, as soon as he is removed from the White House.  The only thing that could save him from prosecution is death in office.  After his lawfare campaign against his chief political opponent, he has set a dangerous precedent, one which should haunt his every waking hour (if he is even cognizant enough to realize it).  Indicting Trump on what will prove to be phantom charges in four different jurisdictions, after trials and appeals have run their course, will give Trump every right to prosecute Biden for election interference that was far more egregious than anything he was accused of.  The Democrats are spreading fear to the voting public that Trump will exact revenge on his tormentors, in order to paint him as an evil vindictive man.  In truth, it will be more like justice, than revenge.

While we are in “roundup” mode, it would also be advisable to indict Tony Blinkin and the 51 intelligence officials who signed a letter claiming the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation, when the FBI had possession of it as early as December 2019 and knew it was real.  Then they repeatedly contacted and coerced social media companies to squash the story in order to protect the Biden candidacy leading up to the 2020 election.  If that’s not “election interference”, what is?

Comments welcomed.

Return to Monumental SCOTUS Decision

FOOTNOTES

[1]  People v. DJT Jury Instructions and Charges FINAL 5-23-24.pdf ; Post- Summation Instructions ; p. 27

https://www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/press/PDFs/People%20v.%20DJT%20Jury%20Instructions%20and%20Charges%20FINAL%205-23-24.pdf

[2]  Justia U.S. Law ; NY Penal Law § 175.10

https://law.justia.com/codes/new-york/2022/pen/part-3/title-k/article-175/175-10/#:~:text=A%20person%20is%20guilty%20of,or%20conceal%20the%20commission%20thereof

[3]  People v. DJT Jury Instructions and Charges FINAL 5-23-24.pdf ; Post- Summation Instructions ; p. 30

https://www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/press/PDFs/People%20v.%20DJT%20Jury%20Instructions%20and%20Charges%20FINAL%205-23-24.pdf

wherein Merchan cites    

New York State Senate;  Legislation, The Laws of New York, Chapter 17

https://www.nysenate.gov/legislation/laws/ELN/17-152

[4]  ibid. ; p. 31     

[5]  Prosecution of Donald Trump in New York ; Wikipedia

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prosecution_of_Donald_Trump_in_New_York

[6]  People v. DJT Jury Instructions and Charges FINAL 5-23-24.pdf ; Post- Summation Instructions ; p. 28

https://www.nycourts.gov/LegacyPDFS/press/PDFs/People%20v.%20DJT%20Jury%20Instructions%20and%20Charges%20FINAL%205-23-24.pdf

[7]  ibid. ; p. 29   

[8]  ibid. ; p. 29     

[9]  ibid. ; p. 31     

[10]  Cohen, M. ; Hillary Clinton Personally Approved Plan to Share Trump-Russia Allegation with the Press in 2016, Campaign Manager Says ; Cnn ; May 20, 2022

https://www.cnn.com/2022/05/20/politics/hillary-clinton-robby-mook-fbi/index.html

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