Even CNN's Legal Analyst Destroys Bragg's Case Against Trump for its 'Weakness'

Angela Weiss/AFP via AP Pool

Donald Trump's "hush money" trial began Monday. It's unprecedented for a lot of reasons, mainly because it's the first time a former president has to stand trial for criminal charges but also because paying hush money isn't even illegal.


Nevertheless, one thing the trial will succeed in doing is pulling Trump off the campaign trail since he's required to be present because it is a criminal trial. Considering we have a partisan prosecutor in a partisan jurisdiction, it's unlikely that Trump, a high-profile public figure, could possibly get a fair trial. But even CNN analyst Elie Honig admits that the case against Trump is weak.

"Donald Trump is about to face trial for conduct that happened eight years ago; if you have kids in college now, they may have been in elementary school when it all went down," Honig writes in New York Magazine. "The crime is a paperwork offense relating to how Trump and his businesses logged a series of perfectly legal (if unseemly) hush-money payments in their own internal records."

The prosecution’s star witness is a convicted perjurer and fraudster who openly spews vitriol at the defendant, often in grotesque terms, essentially for a living. 

The famously aggressive feds at the Southern District of New York passed on the case years ago, and current Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg’s predecessor could have indicted [Trump] before he left office but did not. 

The charges are either misdemeanors or the lowest-level felonies (depending on how the jury decides the case), and the vast majority of defendants convicted of similar offenses are sentenced to probation and fines, not prison.


Did I mention that Honig is a legal analyst for CNN?

"Paying hush money is not a crime," Honig admits. "In fact, a hush-money agreement, though seedy, is legally no different from any other contract between private parties. So Trump knowing about the Daniels payoff — and he clearly did — is merely a starting point here and insufficient to prove anything criminal."

The charged New York State crime here is falsification of business records. The DA alleges Trump had the hush-money payments fraudulently recorded in his internal books as “legal expenses” (rather than, I don’t know, “hush money to porn star”). 

If proved, that’s merely a misdemeanor, a low-level crime virtually certain to result in a non-prison sentence. For comparison, under the New York code, falsification of business records has the same technical designation as shoplifting less than $1,000 of goods.

Honig essentially has taken the same position as Jonathan Turley, who calls the case against Trump an "indictment of the New York legal system."

For Our VIPs: Why Should Anyone Care if Trump Is Convicted?

"Now Bragg is bringing a case that has taken years to develop and millions of dollars in litigation costs for all parties," explains Turley. "That is all over a crime from before the 2016 election that is a misdemeanor under state law that had already expired under the statute of limitations."

On top of that, Hillary Clinton essentially did the same thing and was never charged.


Before the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton’s campaign denied that it had funded the infamous Steele dossier behind the debunked Russian collusion claims.

The funding was hidden as legal expenses by then-Clinton campaign general counsel Marc Elias. (The FEC later sanctioned the campaign over its hiding of the funding.). When a reporter tried to report the story, he said Elias “pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’” Times reporter Maggie Haberman declared, “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.”

Likewise, John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, was called before congressional investigators and denied categorically any contractual agreement with Fusion GPS. Sitting beside him was Elias, who reportedly said nothing to correct the misleading information given to Congress.

Yet, there were no charges stemming from the hiding of the funding, though it was all part of the campaign budget.

 I wonder how much money Trump will raise for his campaign today.


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