Why Trump’s sleaziest criminal case is so important

Why Trump’s sleaziest criminal case is so important

David Corn writes:

Since the beginning of Donald Trump’s indictment-o-rama, the politerati have considered the criminal case filed in New York City against the former president by District Attorney Alvin Bragg to be a sideshow. Though this case has key elements of a bona fide scandal—porn star! hush money! alleged extramarital affair!—pundits and politicos have struck a dismissive attitude toward Trump’s Stormy Daniels mess and the legal peril it poses him. Perhaps because it’s not as weighty a matter as swiping top-secret documents or attempting to overturn an election by subverting the constitutional order of the republic. Also perhaps because this caper involves the less-sexy charge of falsifying business records to hide a possible violation of election law. Bor-ing, right?

Yet on Thursday, a New York City judge kicked aside a Trump motion to cancel the prosecution and set a trial date for March 25. Presuming there are no postponements in this case, this means the first criminal trial of a former president will focus on Trump’s effort to pay off an adult movie actor in the weeks before the 2016 election. Up to now, the presumption was that special counsel Jack Smith’s election interference case against Trump would come before a jury first, with Smith’s stolen-documents case, the Georgia RICO case, and the Bragg case lagging behind. But Trump has successfully delayed the two Smith trials with assorted motions and maneuvers, and the Georgia case has hit its own snag, as District Attorney Fani Willis has had to defend herself against the allegation that her romantic relationship with a fellow prosecutor working on the case somehow amounts to a conflict of interest.

It might be fitting that the sleaziest case will go first. But this prosecution ought not to be diminished. It also involves alleged criminal actions taken to influence an election—or prevent an election from being influenced by Daniels’ claim that Trump had a tryst with her at a 2006 charity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe while his wife, Melania, was home with 4-month-old Barron. And here’s an important fact: The Justice Department and a federal court have already declared that a crime occurred in the commission of this $130,000 payoff.

Those of you who might need a refresher course in the Trump-Daniels Affair are fortunate. About a year ago, I published a comprehensive rundown of this nasty business based on court records and public accounts. If you believe possessing a thorough knowledge of all this will impress your friends, you should read this article. But for our purposes now, you only need to recall this: Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to arranging the bribe paid to Daniels, and he was sent to the hoosegow for that and other infractions of the law. That is, a crime did happen. The question now is whether Trump will be held accountable for it. [Continue reading…]

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