April 23, 2024

Analyst in ‘utter disbelief’ over Trump-Bragg trial opening statements

Law professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University expressed "utter disbelief" at the opening statements of the trial presented by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

On Monday, former President Donald Trump attended the courthouse to attend the opening statements delivered by the prosecution and defense teams in relation to the 34-count indictment that charges him with tampering with business records in order to obscure a purported hush money payment to former pornographic actress Stormy Daniels, as The Daily Caller reported.

Michael Cohen, the former attorney for Donald Trump, allegedly paid Daniels $130,000 to conceal an extramarital liaison between the two of them prior to the 2016 presidential election.

The Analysis

“What is clear is in this case, Trump is right,” Turley said. “I mean, this is an embarrassment. I mean, the fact that we are actually talking about this case being presented in a New York courtroom leaves me in utter disbelief.

"I mean, the arguments today did in fact capture all the problems here. You know, you had this misdemeanor under state law that had run out. This is going back to the 2016 election. And they zapped it back into life by alleging that there was a campaign finance under the federal laws that doesn’t exist. The Department of Justice doesn’t view it this way.”

The now-discredited claims that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election were investigated by the Steele Dossier, which Hillary Clinton's campaign funded. Turley drew a comparison between the two cases.

“But also keep in mind, this is what Hillary Clinton’s people did. Remember, when they funded the Steele Dossier, which they denied to reporters. They put it as a legal expense, and then they fought the eventual fine that they received from the federal government saying ‘well it was a legal expense.’ But now you’ve got some of the same Democrats supporting this same bizarre theory,” Turley continued.

Prosecution's Team

The prosecution is "being led in part" by Michael Colangelo, who resigned from his position as U.S. Associate Attorney General during the administration of President Joe Biden to serve as a state prosecutor for Bragg's office, according to John Roberts of Fox News.

Colangelo's role, according to Turley, lends credence to Trump's claims that the case is "coordinated."

“The fact is that most people in most courts would be, like, ‘woah, lets nots start with the former Biden Justice [Department] attorney to make this argument. But in New York, it doesn’t matter, because not much else matters except the name of the defendant on the caption, Donald Trump,” he added.

Trump was allegedly the target of a "long-running conspiracy" to intervene in the 2016 election, as reported by The Associated Press, which Colangelo alleged in his opening statement.

“The defendant, Donald Trump, orchestrated a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election. Then he covered up that criminal conspiracy by lying in his New York business records over and over and over again,” Colangelo reportedly said.

Trump's Innocence Plea

A defense attorney for Trump, Todd Blanche, reportedly confirmed the legal team's claim of innocence of the former president, according to the news source.

“President Trump is innocent. President Trump did not commit any crimes. The Manhattan district attorney’s office should never have brought this case,” Todd Blanche reportedly said.

Court documents indicate that Trump's legal team is prepared to portray Daniels and Cohen as liars motivated by financial gain and grievances, as CNN reported. Reportedly, the prosecution's objective is to determine whether the former president's reimbursement of Cohen violated federal, state, or federal tax laws.

Trump entered a not-guilty plea to all 34 charges during his judicial appearance on April 4, 2023.

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