TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — The unsealed indictment against former President Donald Trump is raising a lot of questions. Does the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg have a strong case?
DA Bragg says that in 2016, Trump and his team used a “catch and kill” scheme to hide negative stories and ultimately win an election.
Trump was serious and silent as he entered criminal court in downtown Manhattan.
DA Bragg charged the former president with falsifying business records. The indictment listed 34 Class E felonies. It’s the lowest level felony in the state, but there could still be significant consequences.
“These are felony crimes in any state no matter who you are. We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct,” said DA Bragg.
“The Office has charged hundreds with similar crimes over the years.”
Behind courtroom doors, closed to cameras, prosecutors laid out their allegations.
They say, in 2016, Trump ordered hush money payments be made to two women to hide alleged affairs.
Typically, these non-disclosure agreements are common but not if they’re made secretly, in connection to an election.
Trump pleaded not guilty to all counts.
His attorneys were defiant as they addressed the media. Attorney Joe Tacopina criticized the bare bones indictment.
“I will say this to you. Today’s unsealing of this indictment shows that the rule of law died in this country because while everyone is not above the law, no one is below it either. And if this man’s name was not Donald J. Trump, there is no scenario we’d all be here today, please understand that, based on these charges,” said Tacopina.
Michael Bachner is a former prosecutor at the Manhattan DA’s Office.
8 On Your Side asked him for his thoughts on the case.
“I think the case has a fact that a jury can convict on but, we were all thinking there would be more. This is old stuff. there’s a statute of limitations issues. there’s big issues related to the legality of the charges, it’s going to be hotly contested. and then whether or not the jury is going to want to convict a candidate for president based on these types of facts,” said Bachner.
It will all come down to why the hush money payments were made. If they were made for personal reasons, to protect a marriage, that doesn’t violate the law.
But, if the payments were made to win an election, then prosecutors allege the payments would be considered a campaign contribution, and in that case, they must be disclosed.