New York Times Guest Essay Criticizes Bragg’s Trump’s Prosecution

Daily Report April 25,2024

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against former President Donald Trump has been tagged a “historic mistake” by a law professor.

Professor Jed Handelsman Shugerman, from Boston University, made this remark in a New York Times Guest Essay published on Tuesday.

Shugerman argued that the prosecutors’ allegations of Trump committing a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election is an unprecedented use of state law. He also added that the allegations fail to specify a crime committed.

“After listening to Monday’s opening statement by prosecutors, I still think the Manhattan D.A. has made a historic mistake,” Shugerman wrote. “Their vague allegation about a criminal scheme to corrupt the 2016 presidential election’ has me more concerned than ever about their unprecedented use of state law and their persistent avoidance of specifying an election crime or a valid theory of fraud.”

The former president is being tried on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to an alleged hush money payment before the 2016 presidential election.

Trump pleaded not guilty to all 34 counts of the indictment during a hearing last April.

Shugerman went on to claim that Bragg’s office avoided potential evidence of a crime committed by Trump. However, they considered Trump’s actions as election interference.

“As a reality check, it is legal for a candidate to pay for a nondisclosure agreement. Hush money is unseemly, but it is legal,” Shugerman wrote. “The election law scholar Richard Hasen rightly observed. Calling it election interference cheapens the term and undermines the deadly serious charges in the real election interference cases.”

However, Bragg’s office argued that Trump had committed election fraud by attempting to unlawfully influence the 2016 presidential election.

“None of the relevant state or federal statutes refer to filing violations as fraud,” Shugerman said. “Calling it election fraud is a legal and strategic mistake, exaggerating the case and setting up the jury with high expectations that the prosecutors cannot meet.”

Shugerman concluded by pointing out that Trump’s lawyers argued that New York shouldn’t charge him for a crime committed outside their jurisdiction.

The professor also questioned if the indictment is influenced by Manhattan politics rather than New York law.

“Eight years after the alleged crime itself, it is reasonable to ask if this is more about Manhattan politics than New York law,” Shugerman said. “This case should serve as a cautionary tale about broader prosecutorial abuses in America and promote bipartisan reforms of our partisan prosecutorial system.”

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