One prosecutor could have Bragg-ing rights for adherents to the “walls are closing in” fan fiction in the Donald Trump Derangement Syndrome community.
In this case, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg might be on the cusp of—finally getting an indictment of Donald Trump, the long-coveted goal of the Left.
After two federal special counsels, two impeachment trials, Bragg’s predecessor investigating Trump businesses, the New York state attorney general, and a Georgia state prosecutor, the walls haven’t really budged.
Other than losing an election, no one has touched him on the legal front.
So, what are the anti-Trumpers breathlessly pinning their hopes on this time?
Stormy Daniels again.
Trump’s former lawyer—estranged lawyer really—Michael Cohen paid the porn star $130,000 (and reimbursed for it) in the weeks before the 2016 election to stop her from alleging she and Trump had an extramarital affair. Cohen testified to Bragg’s grand jury this week.
For his part, Donald Trump denies the allegation. But the issue is not Trump’s character, as most Donald Trump supporters like him not because of his character issues. Rather, the question is whether the hush money violated campaign finance law.
The conundrum here is that if it did, it would likely be federal campaign finance laws—and the U.S. Justice Department didn’t hit Donald Trump on this point. Bragg hopes to ding Trump on a state campaign finance charge.
The New York Times first reported that the Manhattan DA’s office was giving Trump the opportunity to testify to the grand jury—which is usually a sign the grand jury is about to issue an indictment against someone. The Times goes on to say this “could upend the 2024 presidential race in which Mr. Trump remains a leading contender.”
Is the Times kidding?
If an indictment happens, it’s not likely to upend anything. Between special counsel Jack Smith and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, there was some built-in expectation Trump’s 2024 campaign would proceed under an indictment from someone somewhere.
More to the point, it’s not going to “upend” Donald Trump—at least not his probable path to the Republican nomination.
Almost any indictment would rally Trump’s fiathful base behind him — and possibly build up Trump’s victimhood status that he embraces. But indicting him over Stormy Daniels could also create a certain degree of angst outside his core supporters. Forgot about Trump’s enemies, they’ll take anything to get the 45th president’s head on a legal pike. But even here, there will be a lack of satisfaction that they had to settle for this, which might end up being a misdemeanor charge.
Even the left-leaning Daily Beast cast a skeptical eye on the case.
“The worrisome issue is the seeming haste with which Bragg has gone from zero to 60 in his interest in prosecuting Trump,” the Daily Beast says. “To resuscitate such a cold case takes a very determined and bold prosecutor—adjectives not previously applicable in Bragg’s behavior toward Trump—so one is left wondering just how much Bragg is reacting to public criticism of him or even feeling a sense of competition with Fani Willis, the district attorney for Fulton County, Georgia, who has been working her potential case against Trump for nearly two years.”
None of this is a defense of Donald Trump. Of course, if true, the whole thing was tawdry and sleazy. But the public rightfully viewed former President Bill Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky in the 1990s, yet nevertheless opposed his impeachment for lying about it under oath. After numerous other investigations, even some Republicans that loathed Clinton were wondering, “this is what you’re nailing him for?”
Still, just the prospect of a former president, a potential party nominee-running while indicted is an intriguing prospect.
Not since Socialist Party candidate Eugene Debs won more than 1 million votes from a prison cell in 1920 has a presidential candidate faced criminal charges. Never has a former president been indicted nor has a major party nominee in the middle of a presidential race.
But in Trump’s case, it might not even hurt his chances.
Barbara Joanna Lucas is a writer and researcher in Northern Virginia. She has been a healthcare professional, political blogger, is a proud dog mom, and news junkie. Follow her on Twitter @BasiaJL.