2 Views on the Case Against Trump

We finally have a look at the New York case against former President Trump and “there are few surprises, except perhaps astonishment that Mr. Bragg’s case looks even weaker than we expected,” writes the Wall Street Journal editorial board, which is left asking, “Where is the second crime?” Trump is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. For that crime to be a felony, the defendant needs to have falsified records to commit another crime or cover up a crime. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg claims Trump’s alleged agreement with Michael Cohen to pay $130,000 to Stormy Daniels to hush up her alleged affair with Trump violated campaign-finance laws, specifically the federal cap on campaign contributions. But the editorial board doesn’t buy that.

It cites Brad Smith, formerly of the Federal Election Commission, who claims the payment would not “constitute a campaign expenditure” since “people pay hush money even if they’re not running for office.” On Tuesday, Bragg further claimed New York election law “makes it a crime to conspire to promote a candidacy by unlawful means” and mentioned “statements that were planned to be made to tax authorities.” But that’s far too vague for the board’s liking. “After dragging the country through the first indictment of a former President in US history, Mr. Bragg owes the public a better explanation of his theory of the case,” writes the board, ultimately concluding that such a case would not have been brought “against any defendant not named Donald Trump.”

But the Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board notes such a case was brought against 2004 Democratic vice-presidential nominee John Edwards. Whatever the outcome, Trump’s case is “a testament to the American system of justice, where no one is above the law,” the board writes. And David Firestone of the New York Times‘ editorial board argues the charges against Trump are “more significant and more sweeping than previously suspected,” with Bragg describing “a broad conspiracy, with Mr. Trump at the center.” The DA, who reportedly has evidence that Trump intended for the hush money to influence the election, “made it clear that he would describe a much broader pattern of payoffs” and cited several state laws that were apparently violated, including tax law, Firestone writes. (Read more Donald Trump stories.)