Donald Trump has issued more than one desperate statement over the years. The latest doesn’t disappoint. It comes after Trump reportedly was invited to testify to a New York grand jury ahead of his potential indictment in the hush money investigation:
For now, I’ll focus on just two things from this Trump brain dump, starting with his argument that it’s a federal case, not a state one.
As a brief refresher, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg reportedly has focused on the hush money case, in which former Trump lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen paid adult film star Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election, to keep her quiet about an affair she allegedly had with Trump — which he denies. A potential state charge stemming from Trump’s reimbursement to Cohen is one of falsifying business records under New York law.
Now, in terms of Trump’s claim that it’s actually a federal case, he accidentally makes a great point: He should have already been charged in the Southern District of New York, where Cohen pleaded guilty while directly implicating Trump in the scheme. What’s more, there’s no double jeopardy bar to charging people for the same conduct on both the state and federal levels, so it’s arguably beside the point.
Though, in fairness to the man who’s been treated so unfairly, the federal/state distinction may become relevant. That is, to the extent that the basis for making the hush money case a felony hinges on a violation of state — as opposed to federal — election law, a novel legal theory that Trump would likely challenge in court. Of course, New York charges wouldn’t necessarily be limited to the hush money allegations.
The other point I’ll note from Trump’s reaction is his claim that the statute of limitations has expired. Consider, for a moment, the pitiful fact that a former and potential future president thinks he can run out the clock to avoid criminal charges. But legally speaking, Trump’s claim runs into a problem that my MSNBC colleague Lisa Rubin has explained in this great Twitter thread — that the clock might have stopped ticking while Trump has been outside of New York:
That’s all to say, as my MSNBC colleague Steve Benen just noted about Trump’s latest musings: “The anxious tone of the messages was unsubtle.”
With the possibility of looming charges in New York — saying nothing of Georgia and federally — that worry appears to be well earned.
Jordan Rubin is the Deadline: Legal Blog writer. He was a prosecutor for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and is the author of the forthcoming book “Bizarro” about the secret war on synthetic drugs. Before he joined MSNBC, he was a legal reporter for Bloomberg Law.
Source : MSNBC