Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Trump Hush Money Trial - What Has It Been Really About?


The long drawn out trial of former Republican President Donald Trump in a New York State court is finally drawing to a close amid much anticipated controversy. While America's far - left Democratic Party are cocksure that Trump will be found guilty on all counts by a jury packed with Democrat Party supporters in a case brought by a Democrat Party activist State Attorney General in a court presided over by by a judge who is a Democrat Party activist and has a financial interest in a public relations company which provides lobbying services to the Democratic Party.

It’s been called the hush money case, but Donald Trump isn’t charged with paying hush money  because baying for somebody's silence it not a crime. It’s been called an election interference case, but that might not fully explain it, either. The main charge against Donald Trump is falsification of business records, because a composite payment to a lawyer (who is now doing jail time for perjury,) for legal tasks which included making a payment to an 'adult entertainment' actress.

Most unbiased opinion has taken the view that describing such a payment as being for 'legal services' is both accurate and legally proper. An entry in a ledger does not have to be detailed, the details are in the customer's copy of the invoice. 

Democratic Party supporters claim a more precise way to describe the case is that it’s about allegedly covering up a hush money scheme — or, allegedly covering up 2016 election interference. But the payment was not made until after the 2016 election and as previously stated, paying hush money is not a crime in the USA or the state of New York. If election law required political candidates to reveal details of all their personal dealing, there would be no political candidates.

So what has the Trump trial really been about? Here’s how Judge Juan Merchan  summarised the case for jurors:

The allegations are in substance, that Donald Trump falsified business records to conceal an agreement with others to unlawfully influence the 2016 presidential election. Specifically, it is alleged that Donald Trump made or caused false business records to  hide the true nature of payments made to Michael Cohen, by characterizing them as payment for legal services rendered pursuant to a retainer agreement. The People allege that in fact, the payments were intended to reimburse Michael Cohen for money he paid to Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, in the weeks before the presidential election to prevent her from publicly revealing details about a past sexual encounter with Donald Trump.

Based on those allegations, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. The former president has pleaded not guilty and denies the allegations, as he has done in his other three pending criminal cases.

So, technically, it’s a falsifying business records case. Of course, that doesn’t have the same ring to it as hush money or election interference. Perhaps more importantly, that dry description doesn’t get to the heart of the matter.

The defense is not contesting the payment and the fact of the affair is not central to the allegations.

The question before the court is whether the payments were unlawfully denoted as legal expenses with the intent to somehow steal the 2016 election.

It is not a crime to use a NDA or other means to quash an embarrassing story, not to reimburse one's attorney for the purpose of negotiating such a deal even if that involves paying for sombody's silence. The only circumstances in which it would be a crime is if the person receiving the payment were a material witness in a criminal prosecution.

As Trump has already been tried for fraud in connection with this matter, and aquitted the question in this trial is: 'What crime is Trump on trial for?' There is no crime and it seems that Donald Trump's personality is on trial rather than his actions. 

However the trial hinges on the phrase 'legal expenses' used to identify a payment in the accounts of an organization in Trump's business network. How is this falsification if the payment was made to a lawyer, no matter what the services involved so long as it was within the law and the earlier acquittal proves it was  

Bill Clinton had a host of lawyers quashing allegations of affairs and sexual assaults throughout his presidency. He ran into trouble when he committed perjury in the effort to hide what Hillary Clinton called one of his “bimbo eruptions.”

Moreover, denoting this as a legal expense, on the advice of counsel, is not necessarily wrong. It is not clear how it should have been to be denoted. A “nuisance payment”? The campaign of Hillary Clinton and its general counsel Marc Elias hid the funding of the Steele dossier as a legal expense and was fined by the government for doing so. They litigated the question, insisting that that is precisely what it was and had the fine quashed.

Furthermore, falsifying accounts in New York state law is not a felony but a misdemeanour so why is Trump charged with a felony?

Given the records of Judge Merchan and AC Bragg in cases involving Trump it seems the prosecution was to stage a show trial before a biased jury to obtain a conviction the prosecution hope will keep prevent Trump from standing as Republican candidate in the 2024 election. Not only is that a blatant example of the felony of election interference, such a verdict, though certain to be overturned on appeal, would plunge the USA into a state of civil unrest in the run up to the election. And that is what the trial has really been about.


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