Manhattan prosecutors are signaling that indictments of Donald Trump are coming in the recently resurrected Stormy Daniels case. That’s the story after “sources familiar with the matter” leaked their intentions to The New York Times in an obvious attempt to prep the news cycle.
Get ready for another round of “the walls are closing in” coverage from the press.
Breaking News: Manhattan prosecutors have signaled to Donald Trump that he could face criminal charges, an indication that they are nearing an indictment. https://t.co/dNEEO7m5rT pic.twitter.com/TZRJgw9V3x
— The New York Times (@nytimes) March 9, 2023
The Manhattan district attorney’s office recently signaled to Donald J. Trump’s lawyers that he could face criminal charges for his role in the payment of hush money to a porn star, the strongest indication yet that prosecutors are nearing an indictment of the former president, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.
The prosecutors offered Mr. Trump the chance to testify next week before the grand jury that has been hearing evidence in the potential case, the people said. Such offers almost always indicate an indictment is close; it would be unusual for the district attorney, Alvin L. Bragg, to notify a potential defendant without ultimately seeking charges against him.
This is a case I’ve written on several times, and it remains weak tea. Even the Times admits that it’s based on an “untested” and “risky” legal theory that attempts to connect several different laws, some of which may not actually connect. The maximum sentence if convicted would be four years in prison.
The other problem is who the prosecutors would have to rely on for testimony. Michael Cohen would presumably be the star witness given he has said before that Trump ordered him to pay off Daniels. That would then be used as evidence to show that the payment was misclassified (the case ultimately centers on the alleged falsification of records). But Cohen is a former felon with an ax to grind. Trump’s lawyers will likely have a field day attacking his credibility.
Further complicating matters for prosecutors is the fact that they need to show Trump intended to commit a second crime by making the hush money payment. That’s the hook to upgrade the charges from a misdemeanor to a felony. Their theory is that the payment became an “improper donation” because it supposedly helped Trump’s candidacy. That would be a crime in New York, but again, that seems like a really tenuous stretch.
With all that said, I can pick things apart all day on the internet. What matters is what a judge thinks and what a jury thinks, and a Manhattan jury is going to be a tough draw for the former president. Still, the case seems incredibly weak given even the far-left DA initially scuttled the investigation. This latest pursuit feels like the indictment will be the punishment more than any high probability of a conviction.
Broadening out, this was always the endgame with Trump’s 2024 announcement. Democrats know that indicting the former president will just rally Republicans around him in the primary while harming his electability in a general election. It’s a no-lose move, and it won’t be the last. Indictments in the DOJ’s special counsel investigation are also likely, and they’ll be just as politically timed.