(Editor's note: The following has not been authored by an attorney, and does not consitute a legal opinion by Newsmax.)
On Saturday, leftist demonstrators advocating even higher taxes on New York’s still-dwindling population of high-income earners — America’s most heavily taxed population if the Empire State can keep it — carried pitchforks as they marched along Central Park South, an artery lying between two iconic buildings associated with former president Donald J. Trump.
New York County’s district attorney’s office, headed by Democratic District Attorney Alvin Bragg, is believed to be preparing an indictment of Trump.
Citing information that reached him via what he called "illegal leaks," Trump announced on his Truth Social platform that he expects to be arrested on Tuesday.
Trump’s potential prosecution is the culmination of a concerted campaign to "get him" on durable legal grounds nearly from the moment he was elected president in 2016.
In addition to his two failed impeachments and bogus accusations of collusion with Russia, that effort has included numerous investigations, lawsuits, innuendo, and possible abuses of federal investigative and prosecutorial power.
From what we know about this effort’s most recent manifestation, it may be protests in the streets of Manhattan that are more potent weapons than Bragg’s prospective indictment, the foundations of which even the radically anti-Trump New York Times describes as "untested and therefore risky."
Bragg’s indictment falls apart on multiple levels:
It follows from Trump’s alleged pre-2016 election payoff to Stormy Daniels, a porn actress who claimed she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
According to Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, who offered testimony about the transaction as part of a plea bargain in his separate prosecution for fraud and tax evasion, Cohen made the payoff and was then reimbursed by a Trump-controlled trust that paid him padded legal fees.
Under New York state law this could constitute a misdemeanor falsification of business records. The major witnesses, however, are Cohen, who is a convicted felon and relentless public critic of his former client, and Daniels, who notoriously lost a defamation case against Trump, and whose lawyer Michael Avenatti was later convicted and imprisoned for defrauding her and other clients, among other major felonies.
While this weak case is within Bragg’s jurisdiction as New York’s district attorney, his indictment reportedly rests on combining the alleged records falsification with a novel theory that Trump’s payment violated federal campaign finance laws because the payoff benefited his presidential campaign by suppressing an unflattering story.
Enforcing federal law, however, is beyond Bragg’s jurisdiction as a New York official.
Even if it were not, to make it stick, Bragg would have to prove that Trump acted solely to benefit his campaign.
This means that he would have to disprove any other motivation, including protecting his family, which Cohen — his star witness — testified was the case in his own trial.
In any event, federal law enforcement declined to prosecute Trump on the campaign finance matter, while Bragg’s predecessor Cyrus Vance Jr. — and astonishingly Bragg himself — previously declined to indict Trump for the state law violations.
Bragg resuscitated the case under heavy political pressure, but even if both alleged offenses fell under his purview, New York’s statute of limitations for misdemeanors is two years, while federal campaign finance law charges are time-barred after five years.
Pursuing Trump without legal foundation will likely only strengthen the former president as he campaigns for the Republican nomination.
Trump’s first impeachment resulted in his approval rating rising six points. His second impeachment saw him leave office with the highest polls of his presidency.
When the FBI raided Mar-a-Lago in August 2022 — an operation we now know was opposed by the field agents in charge but ordered by their politically appointed superiors, — his approval ratings soared again.
Despite disappointing 2022 midterm election results and a series of gaffes, Trump is by far the favorite for the Republican nomination.
Data suggest that independents and moderate Republicans who might oppose Trump for other reasons now fear a weaponized justice system more than a second Trump administration.
After the Mar-a-Lago raid, some 53% of Americans agreed that the FBI had been turned into "Biden’s Gestapo."
Despite their differences with the former president, many of Trump’s intraparty opponents now advocate the Bureau’s abolition and replacement after a century as the nation’s highest law enforcement body.
Worse, according to Gallup some 21% of Americans believe that their own government is the greatest threat to their country — more than any other real or imagined danger. More than half believe a civil war is inevitable in the next few years.
They may or may not be right, but using the agents of justice to persecute politicians disfavored by the political establishment will only further diminish public confidence in our institutions and enshrine their abuse as a permanent political weapon in the hands of whoever holds power.
Paul du Quenoy is president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Georgetown University. Read more — Here.
© 2023 Newsmax. All rights reserved.