Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan District Attorney, has charged former President Donald Trump with 34 misdemeanors, alleging that he attempted to cover up a serious crime. To date, however, Bragg has yet to name the crime that Trump is alleged to have committed to prompt the cover-up.
The prevailing theory is that Trump violated federal campaign finance regulations and falsified business records in an effort to conceal it. However, this theory has been rejected by the Federal Election Commission and the Department of Justice, who both concluded that no crime occurred.
Commissioner James E. “Trey” Trainor of the FEC has stated that there was no campaign finance violation and no reporting violation of any kind. He also noted that the jury will be presented with evidence that both the law enforcement experts and civil enforcement experts found no violation of the law.
The other theory is that Trump committed fraud on voters in New York County by paying off Stormy Daniels (and Karen McDougal) to keep them from talking about his extramarital affairs. However, this theory has several issues, including the precedent set by US v Edwards which made it impossible to prove that payments were made to protect a campaign, as opposed to protecting a spouse. Trainor notes that the FEC also had difficulty proving any violation in the Trump-Cohen case.
In addition, the indictment itself exposes problems with the fraud-of-voters theory, as it alleges that the first crime Trump committed occurred on February 14, 2017, after the election. This means that Trump had already been elected president and thus could not have fraudulently gained office.
🚨 FEC Commissioner James Trainor on Trump v. Stormy Daniels:
“The paperwork violation took place AFTER 2016 which means it could not have been done to help with the 2016 election and it isn’t obvious the payments were meant to influence the election.”
— Patriot Alerts (@alerts___) April 6, 2023
Finally, it is not illegal to offer financial remuneration in exchange for an agreement to keep private matters private. It is also not a fraud for politicians to keep potentially derogatory non-criminal information from voters before an election, as this would mean that every politician who ever ran for office would be in prison.
In sum, Alvin Bragg has yet to name the crime that Trump is alleged to have committed and covered up, and the theories that have been presented have several legal issues. If the judge does not dismiss the case or demand that Bragg amend the indictment to include the predicate felony, then this case could very well turn into a test of the justice system in New York.