Lawyers for the Manhattan Attorney’s Office feared that Stormy Daniels’s case against Trump was too weak to proceed without further charges, the report said

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  • Attorneys for the Manhattan Attorney’s Office worried about charging Trump with “hush money” payments to Stormy Daniels.

  • Three attorneys, according to the Daily Beast, thought the case wouldn’t work as a standalone indictment.

  • According to experts, the expected charges have numerous weaknesses.

Three attorneys working on the Manhattan District Attorney’s criminal investigation into Donald Trump believed that the anticipated indictment against the former president for hush money payments to Stormy Daniels was too weak to advance as a standalone case. according to the Daily Beast.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg The grand jurors are expected to ask for it accuse Trump of forging business records over payments to Michael Cohen, his former fixer, who in turn paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about an affair she allegedly had with Trump ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

In order to convict Trump of a crime, prosecutors would need to show that Trump intended to commit a separate crime or concealed the payments.

That’s a significant hurdle brings with it several challenges. Prosecutors could argue that Trump attempted to cover up violations of federal campaign finance laws — something Cohen pled guilty to in 2018. However, a judge might believe that the Manhattan Attorney’s Office is going too far in enforcing federal laws. If the case goes before a jury, jurors may wonder why federal prosecutors have not filed charges against Trump, or they may not believe Cohen’s testimony.

“The Stormy case was the simplest, most straightforward, but carries the risk of being nothing more than a misdemeanor.” A source told the Daily Beast.

According to the lawyers who worked on the matter, the “hush money” allegations were intended to be part of a broader business fraud case against Trump.

The investigation into Trump began in 2017 under Bragg’s predecessor Cyrus Vance Jr., sparked by Cohen’s testimony before Congress about the payments to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

It grew to encompass the finances of the Trump Organization. Prosecutors eventually filed tax fraud charges against the company and CEO Allen Weisselberg — and won in court — but did not accuse Trump of the plan.

Bragg’s resistance to charging Trump with financial crimes frustrated former Attorney General Mark Pomerantz and prompted him to retire in early 2022. (Bragg’s office has claimed that the evidence collected by Pomerantz wasn’t strong enough to bring a winnable case.) Since then the investigation has taken place switched back to hush money payments.

A representative for the Manhattan Attorney’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Experts say the case is anything but a hit

Mark Bederow, a criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor with the Manhattan Attorney’s Office, said a trial against Trump solely for the hush money payments was “likely to fail.”

The relatively low stakes and the convoluted nature of the expected indictment could give jurors hearing the case “reasonable doubts,” Bederow said.

“You have to show that his intent was to cheat and also that his intent was to cover up another crime,” Bederow told Insider.

Stormy Daniels Stephanie Clifford

Stormy Daniels.Phillip Faraone/Getty Images

There are a number of possible reasons Trump might want to hide the payments to Daniels, aside from covering up a campaign finance breach, Bederow said.

“What if he did it to protect his own reputation, to protect his wife from humiliation, or for personal reasons?” said Bedrow. “This is not intentional fraud.”

Trump has already laid the groundwork for that defense, calling the payments to Daniels part of a “blackmail scheme.” in a video posted to social media on Monday. Trump has claimed he did nothing wrong and has derided Bragg’s investigation as illegitimate. Joe Tacopina, an attorney for Trump, has said he expects all possible charges against his client “to be thrown aside at some point.”

Another hurdle, according to former prosecutors, is that the case is largely based on testimony from Cohen, who pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about Trump’s business plans. Cohen has since tried to change his image as someone who set Trump straight, but jurors may see him as someone with an ax to sharpen.

“The more the case relies on documents rather than Michael Cohen’s testimony, the stronger it will be,” Barbara McQuade, the former US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, previously said Insider’s Sonam Sheth said.

Bederow was more outspoken about relying on Cohen’s testimony given his previous guilty plea.

“It’s a disaster as a prosecutor,” he said. “You wouldn’t rely on Michael Cohen to tell you the time of day unless you confirmed it with a watch. Such a terrible witness he is.”

Continue reading the original article Business Insider

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