The Walls Are (Once Again) 'Closing in' on Trump

AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool

It would appear that there was a bit of news yesterday, and there is something of a divide in the legal pundit community as to whether or not Alvin Bragg is able to pull off his grand caper – stealing a conviction through an Ocean’s 11-style legal plot.


Most legal pundits on the right are arguing that the case is anything but solid. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find even the most Trump-skeptical of center-right pundits arguing that this case is on solid ground. At National Review, you have Dan McLaughlin, Jeff Blehar, and Andrew McCarthy (among others) having their previous analyses of the case pretty much proven by the unsealed indictment and statement of facts. McCarthy’s write-up in the aftermath of the arraignment is just brutal.

The indictment brought by Manhattan’s elected Democratic district attorney Alvin Bragg against Donald Trump is even worse than I’d imagined.

Bragg’s indictment fails to state a crime. Not once . . . but 34 times. On that ground alone, the case should be dismissed — before one ever gets to the facts that the statute of limitations has lapsed and that Bragg has no jurisdiction to enforce federal law (if that’s what he’s trying to do, which remains murky).

Bragg’s indictment charges 34 counts, just as we said it would, based on media reporting that clearly came from illegal leaks of grand-jury information — a crime, you can be sure, that goes in the overflowing bucket of serious offenses that Bragg refuses to prosecute.

The 34 counts are arrived at by taking what is a single course of conduct and absurdly slicing it into parts, each one of which is charged as a separate felony carrying its own potential four-year prison term.


Over at The Dispatch, you have Sarah Isgur and David French arguing in the run-up to Tuesday that this case is incredibly problematic.

Even on the left, you have legal analysts like Ian Millhiser at Vox saying the case is weak (Editor’s Note: This might be the best-case scenario for Bragg, as Millhiser is never, ever correct).

Trump Indictment
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

But the press, after its initial disappointment, is slowly getting back on board the “Walls Are Closing In” narrative as Trump prepares not just for this legal battle, but the multitude of others he faces. POLITICO’s Morning Playbook is a stellar example of this, starting with the headline “Trump’s criminal reckoning begins” and working from there.

THE BIG PICTURE — At the end of DONALD TRUMP’s second impeachment trial, MITCH McCONNELL, who voted to acquit Trump, explained his reasoning:

“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office, as an ordinary citizen, unless the statute of limitations has run, still liable for everything he did while in office, didn’t get away with anything yet — yet.

“We have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being held accountable by either one.”

That accountability process began in earnest yesterday with Manhattan DA ALVIN BRAGG’s indictment, and it will accelerate in the coming months as civil and criminal cases in New York, Georgia and Washington, D.C., move forward. This is precisely what the top Senate Republican argued should happen back in early 2021.


Now, to be completely honest with you, having talked to some legal analysts off the record, the Georgia investigation and the DOJ’s investigations are far more problematic for Trump and will likely lead to very tough legal challenges for Trump in the midst of his campaign to take back the White House (I think the investigation in Georgia is probably the far more serious of the two). But what Bragg has done is exactly what the Washington Post editorial board said he would do last week: Undermine all the other investigations into Trump.

If the near-uniform consensus on Bragg’s case is to be believed (and I have no reason to believe that consensus is wrong, save this breakdown from before the indictment became unsealed), then what Bragg has done here is confirmed to Trump’s base and Republicans in general that, yes, the left will stop at nothing to try and jail its enemies, facts be damned.

But those other investigations are where the press will go next, using Bragg’s indictment of Trump as the launchpad to say that all of Trump’s legal issues are really going to start rolling in. And while, on a technical level, that is not an incorrect assessment, it’s still done to craft a narrative that the walls are, indeed, closing in on Trump, despite the fact that we are still a long way away from the walls even budging. That narrative-crafting undermines the reality of the situation as much as Bragg has because those same journalists are creating an expectation that, any moment now, the Feds will haul Trump off and he’ll never be a threat to any of us ever again.


That’s simply not going to be the case, regardless of whether or not Trump is guilty of everything he’s been accused of and more. Even Bragg was trying to push the trial until primary season despite the fact that he claims to have enough evidence to charge him with 34 misdemeanor offenses (whose statutes of limitations have expired) that he has to do a lot of acrobatics to turn into felonies he can still charge Trump with. The justice system moves slowly, especially in high-profile cases, it seems, so the idea that suddenly Trump is in the biggest legal peril of his life is questionable at best.

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