Former President Donald Trump is currently facing criminal charges in the state of New York following three separate instances where he engaged in hush-money payments during the prior presidential election cycle in 2016.
Alongside these, there are 34 more first-degree counts of falsifying business records, according to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who told reporters, “These are felony crimes in New York State no matter who you are. We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct.”
In response, Trump’s personal attorney Joe Tacopina stated, “Today’s unsealing of the indictment shows that the rule of law died in this country. If this man’s name was not Donald J. Trump, then there is no scenario that we’d all be here today.”
These allegations are levied during a time when political movements heat up as the U.S. moves into the 2024 election cycle, the start of which is only a few months away.
With the indictment came the release of a statement of facts by Bragg, showing that Trump had organized a broader pay-out scheme to avoid negative coverage throughout his 2016 campaign, including the hush-money payments to Stephanie Clifford, otherwise known as “Stormy Daniels,” the woman with whom Trump had an affair.
The charges themselves date back to 2015 when the Trump campaign allegedly tried to suppress negative media publications to boost his political prospects, and by doing so violated free and fair election laws, alongside the making of false business entries.
There were also missteps within the campaign and adjacent organizations concerning intentional mischaracterizations, for tax purposes, which were commonly referred to as a tax-scheme.
Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, made illegal campaign contributions in the form of buying silence regarding Trump’s personal relations. Cohen had worked for Trump in regard to Clifford, stating that he was responsible for transferring $130,000. However, the money came from a home equity line of credit which had been used as reimbursement over the course of the next year.
There was also over $400,000 worth of a “retainer payment” directed to Cohen which came out of a private trust. While some may view Cohen as biased, Bragg stated that the facts would emerge at trial. According to ABC12, former federal prosecutor Cheryl Chader said, “There are some risks and complications, but I also think there’s a path to conviction.”
Republican members in the House also submitted a subpoena to investigate Bragg. The House Judiciary Chair, Jim Jordan, requested Pomerantz, a former special assistant district attorney, for a private deposition on April 20. For Congress, it is rare to subpoena a prosecutor by stating that Bragg did not cooperate with adequate oversight. Bragg made the case that this is the latest attempt for Republicans to interfere in the case. This subpoena occurred only a few days after Trump appeared in New York state court.
Anthropology and political science student Mariami Ramirez noted, “I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere; he’s been impeached twice with no consequences, I don’t think that there will be any consequences to this either. Out of all the things he should be held responsible for, I don’t think we’re going to be successful in holding him accountable for that. His base will just get angrier. They have a tribal attachment to Trump; they don’t care what he does, they will always support him. They have literal golden statues of Trump.”
A freshman political science student added, “I think it’s good; I like people being held accountable for their mistakes. From my understanding is that most of the Republican Party does not even like Trump as much as they did originally. If you’re not even getting that support from your own party, I think that’s a big concern.”
Trump is currently facing 34 accounts of fraud at a criminal level in New York state, alongside three fraudulent hush-money payments which came out of his campaign and were mischaracterized during his 2016 campaign.
As it stands, the next court appearance for a pre-trial hearing is to be scheduled for December of this year, with the trial itself having been tentatively scheduled for 2024, at the same time that Trump is running for the presidency once more.