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NYC Prosecutor May Use State Law To Charge Federal Candidate Trump

As Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation into Donald Trump’s payment to an alleged mistress appears to be concluding, it remains unclear what a criminal case against the former president would look like. Bragg could seek charges from a grand jury that heard Monday from Michael Cohen, a former Trump confidant, who spent three hours there and is expected to resume on Wednesday, says the Washington Post. Cohen paid $130,000 to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 to keep her from claiming she had an affair with Trump. Bragg is examining whether Trump broke campaign finance laws by using what appeared to be legal fees to reimburse Cohen the money he paid to Daniels. Trump denies the affair and maintains that Daniels was shaking him down because of his stature and his vulnerability as a presidential candidate.


It would be unusual for a state prosecutor to use an alleged violation of a federal law as grounds to elevate a false-paperwork case from a misdemeanor to a felony. It would also be unusual to prosecute a presidential candidate for violating state — as opposed to federal — campaign finance law. “If there’s an indictment, I look forward to seeing how DA Bragg has crafted his allegations,” said election lawyer Jerry Goldfeder. “What appears to be untested is a state prosecutor hanging his hat on a state-law crime to prosecute a federal candidate.” Bragg would have to rely partly on testimony from Cohen, an avowed Trump critic who served time in prison for the Daniels payments, tax evasion and lying to Congress about plans to build a Trump property in Russia. Trump’s defense lawyers would be likely to use those facts to undermine Cohen’s credibility before a jury. No former president has been indicted for a crime. Bragg has given Trump until Thursday to say whether he wants to appear in front of the grand jury. “Alvin Bragg, through his actions, is clearly signaling that he’s at the one-yard line to indict Trump,” said Karen Friedman-Agnifilo, who served as chief assistant district attorney under Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance Jr.

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