Donald Trump could be impeached any day
© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump delivers educational remarks as he holds a campaign rally with supporters, in Davenport, Iowa, U.S. March 13, 2023. REUTERS/ Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
By Joseph Ax
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Donald Trump could be charged in New York as soon as this week for allegedly covering up hush payments to a porn star during his 2016 presidential campaign , almost seven years after the money changed.
However, legal experts say any trial for the former US president is still more than a year away and could coincide with the final months of the 2024 presidential campaign when Mr. trying to get back to the White House.
In a social media post on Saturday, Trump said he expected to be arrested on Tuesday and urged his followers to protest, though a spokesman later said Trump has not been notified of any pending arrests.
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg gave evidence to the New York grand jury of a $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign in exchange for her silence on an alleged incident, according to sources. Trump has denied the case and his attorney has accused Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, of blackmail.
If charged, Trump would become the first former US president to be criminally charged. Polls show him leading other potential contenders for the Republican nomination, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is widely expected to run for the White House.
Karen Friedman Agnifilo, a former assistant district attorney for Manhattan, said the average New York criminal case takes more than a year to go from indictment to trial, and Trump’s case is not typical.
That raises the possibility of Trump going to court in the middle of the 2024 presidential campaign, or even after Election Day, despite putting a president-elect or president on trial for state-level charges. will enter uncharted waters. If elected, he would not hold the right to pardon himself on state charges.
“This is unprecedented so it’s hard for me to say,” Agnifilo said when asked if a judge would put Trump on trial close to Election Day. “I think it is difficult.”
The New York case is one of many cases focused on Trump, including the Georgia election interference investigation and two federal investigations into his role in the attack on the U.S. Capitol. January 6, 2021 by his supporters trying to overturn his failure and his withholding of classified documents after leaving the White House.
During his early career in real estate, as a television celebrity and later in politics, Trump’s reputation as a litigator used aggressive counter-tactics. and delay in the face of legal challenges.
Trump has accused Bragg, a Democrat-elect, of targeting him for political gain and may be trying to find a way to refute the charges on that basis.
Trump will likely pursue other avenues as well, some of which could present thorny legal issues that take time to resolve.
While in office, Trump reimbursed Cohen for payments to Daniels, and federal prosecutors accused Cohen of saying in court papers that the payments were misrecorded as for with legal services. The New York Times, citing sources, reported that the most likely charges against Trump would be falsifying business records, typically a misdemeanor.
To elevate that charge to a felony, prosecutors must prove that Trump falsified records to cover up the second crime. According to the Times, one possibility is that prosecutors could assert that the payment itself violated the state’s campaign finance laws, as it was actually an illegal secret donation to promote the campaign. push his election campaign.
Using state election laws to raise accusations of false business records is an untested legal theory, experts say, and Trump’s lawyers would certainly oppose it.
Trump could also challenge whether the statute of limitations — in this case five years — should expire. Under New York law, the statute of limitations can be extended if the defendant is already out of state, but Trump could argue that the office of president should not apply.
“There are a lot of possibilities,” says David Shapiro, a former FBI agent, prosecutor and lecturer at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. “This is a dream case for defense attorneys.”
FINDINGS AND MUGSHOT
In the near term, any indictment would require Trump to go to the district attorney’s office in downtown New York to turn himself in. In white-collar cases, the defendant’s attorney and the prosecutor often agree on a date and time rather than arresting the person at home.
Trump will take fingerprints and screenshots and will appear to press charges in court. Experts say he will likely be released and allowed to go home.
Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, told CNBC on Friday that Trump would surrender if charged. If Trump refuses to come voluntarily, prosecutors could seek his extradition from Florida, where he currently resides.
Ironically, DeSantis often has to give formal approval to an extradition request as governor, even though Florida legal experts say his role will be strictly administrative.