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Tipsheet

Would It Shock You to Know the Charges Trump Faces Are Rarely Pursued by DAs?

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Former President Donald Trump had been arraigned, indicted on charges soaked in political partisanship, whose statutes have long expired, though through some fugazi edict by then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, has opted to charge the former president on the hush money scheme he had with ex-porn star Stormy Daniels. DA Alvin Bragg said the COVID pandemic stopped the clock on the statute of limitations, which adds more to the narrative that this is a total legal clown show, with a group of leftist staffers who make the rules up as they go along. Also, the notion that Trump’s porn payments to keep Daniels quiet tilted the balance of the 2016 election is beyond laughable. 

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Peel away the 2016 election backdrop, do prosecuting attorneys ever pursue these charges? No. They don’t. They rarely go after people accused of these crimes, and often it’s a plea deal and a slap on the wrist. These aren’t crimes of the century, certainly not Enron-level. But the accused is Donald Trump, so a parking ticket would be reclassified as a capital offense. That’s the other thing: Trump faces misdemeanor charges that have been elevated to felonies through shoddy legalese and fantasy writing (via Times Union): 

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg on Tuesday said his office routinely prosecutes cases like the one filed against former President Donald J. Trump, but data from the state Office of Court Administration indicates those specific charges are rarely pursued as the top count against defendants in New York and almost never result in a felony conviction. 

[…] 

Still, state data show that it’s rare that individuals are charged only with the alleged crimes facing the former president — first-degree falsifying business records with the “intent to commit another crime or to aid or conceal the commission thereof.” 

Records show there have been roughly eight times in the past few years when the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office prosecuted the felony charge of falsifying business records as the top or only charge. Albany County, home of the state Capitol and its numerous agencies, prosecuted 20 cases with that charge listed as the top count during the same period — which was the highest of any county in New York. 

But Bragg's office on Wednesday noted that they routinely prosecute felony charges of falsifying business records in cases involving myriad other offenses. Officials there said in the 15 months that he has been district attorney, their office has filed "117 counts of felony falsifying business records against 29 different individuals and companies." They added that from 2019 to 2021, that office filed 168 felony counts of falsifying business records "against 34 different individuals and companies." 

Still, in the past three and a half years, there were fewer than 300 instances statewide of an individual facing a top-level charge of falsifying business records in the first degree. Even more rare: a conviction, let alone a felony conviction, for the offenses filed against Trump, which requires proving the intent to commit or aid in another crime. 

[…] 

The majority of cases led to a guilty plea, although it is rare to net a conviction for the crime alleged. Typically, the plea in those cases is to a violation or misdemeanor. 

In the past two and a half years, 11 of the 148 cases led to a guilty plea for the charge of first-degree falsifying business records, a felony.

[…] 

The most common result after someone is charged with first-degree falsifying business records is a guilty plea to disorderly conduct, a violation. 

Sometimes a less severe version of the “white collar” crime is agreed to on guilty plea, versions which may not require prosecutors to prove a certain intent and do not amount to a felony. 

Most often, the penalty from the guilty plea is either a “conditional discharge” or a fine. Individuals served time in jail in 10 instances, but only in one case was that sentence longer than a month. 

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So, in case you needed some solid numbers about how things play out in the legal system regarding the charges Mr. Trump faces, this is what the data shows. It hardly rises to the criminality alleged during Watergate, Iran-Contra, or even the enhanced interrogation program under Bush. This isn’t a bank robbery or embezzlement. It’s the Left running out of ideas and desperately trying to stop Trump from winning the presidency. They know the former president won't be hauled off to jail, but if this gets his base ginned up and he re-clinches the nomination, then their job is done. This is the guy Democrats want to face, and there are red flags everywhere that a Trump 2024 run isn’t a close contest. Still, it’s a heinous act of prosecutorial overreach.

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