Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg may have a tricky backup plan ready for former President Donald Trump’s attorneys should the prosecution’s original charges fall flat, according to a new report from The Hill.
The Hill argues that Bragg’s office could be hedging its bets by presenting a broad case against Trump, which features a ‘mishmash’ of local and federal statutes:
The much-awaited charges against Donald Trump show Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D) plans to largely rest on campaign laws to prosecute the former president for obscuring his reimbursement of hush money payments.
But sprinkled into charging documents and public statements from Bragg are references to tax law violations — a sign New York prosecutors may be hedging their bets by bringing a broader case against the former president.
Norm Eisen, who served as counsel for the Democrats in Trump’s first impeachment trial, says the broadness of the case is deliberate.
Eisen argued to The Hill that combining the New York tax statute with federal election charges gives Bragg a deeper basket of tricks, especially considering the ample time to prepare for trial.
Eisen said the tax statute does give Bragg additional options as he builds his case. Attorneys aren’t expected in court again until December on the matter.
“The DA is notifying Trump and all of us this may be an issue that he will litigate at trial. You know, it’s very common for prosecutors to cast a broad net and then to focus in on their case,” Eisen said.
“Think of it this way. There’s two campaign finance [violations]. There’s state campaign finance violations; federal campaign finance violations — that’s belt and suspenders. This is an additional possibility. Think of it as belt, suspenders, and duct tape. He’s taking no chances on holding up his case, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Trump on Tuesday pleaded not guilty on all 34 counts, but it’s still not entirely clear what charges Bragg plans to bring.
Trump’s attorneys must file a bill of particulars in order to get the full scope of Bragg’s claims.
“They do not have to specify the crime at this juncture; they will have to down the road. And the best way to read the sprinkling of the reference to potential tax violation is that they are clearly reserving the right to use that state tax statute as a third way of elevating what would ordinarily be a misdemeanor into a felony,” said Jeff Robbins, a former prosecutor now in private practice.
Time will tell whether or not DA Alvin Bragg’s ambitious case will fly in court; Trump’s legal team has voiced supreme confidence over the charges, with one lawyer, Joe Tacopina, even predicting that the case will not make it to trial.
“There’s no crime at all — at all,” Tacopina told “CBS Mornings” Wednesday.
“I mean, this is not a game. You’re charging the [former] president of the United States with crimes, crimes that will never be sustained in a court of law because they don’t exist.”
Tacopina also described the defense’s “relief” after seeing the charges.
“The indictment itself is boilerplate. It’s really disappointing. It’s sad and we’ll fight it,” Blanche said outside the Manhattan Criminal Court Tuesday.