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Bragg Case Against Trump 'A Historic Mistake'

April 29, 2024 (EIRNS)—In an opinion piece published in the New York Times, Boston University law professor Jed Handelsman Shugerman has updated his appraisal of Alvin Bragg’s case against Donald Trump: he used to consider it “an embarrassment” and now thinks it is “a historic mistake.”

Trump stands accused of falsifying business records, which is a misdemeanor charge. In order to elevate it to a felony, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has linked it to other alleged crimes—violations of election law and state tax fraud.

But the legal theories are novel, to put it kindly. The business records charges require “intent to defraud.” But the records were internal. “A year ago, I wondered how entirely internal business records (the daily ledger, pay stubs, and invoices) could be the basis of any fraud if they are not shared with anyone outside the business.” Was Donald Trump defrauding Donald Trump?

In his opening arguments for the case, prosecutor Matthew Colangelo said of Trump’s conduct in allegedly mischaracterizing payments made for a nondisclosure agreement, that “It was election fraud, pure and simple.” But violations of federal election law would be prosecuted by federal, not state, officials.

“In stretching jurisdiction and trying a federal crime in state court, the Manhattan DA is now pushing untested legal interpretations and applications.”

“This case is still an embarrassment of prosecutorial ethics and apparent selective prosecution,” concludes Shugerman.