Dershowitz Says Bragg’s Case Against Trump Will Fail Because It’s Based on Fake Crimes
Dershowitz Says Bragg’s Case Against Trump Will Fail Because It’s Based on Fake Crimes

By Tom Ozimek

Retired Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said on April 28 that he believes that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against former President Donald Trump could fail because prosecutors have charged the former president with fake crimes.

“There is no crime,” Mr. Dershowitz said during an interview on Fox News on April 28, referring to the case in which Mr. Bragg’s office has charged the former president with 34 counts of falsifying business records to hide so-called hush money payments that prosecutors allege amounted to a criminal conspiracy to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Dershowitz argued that making nondisclosure payments is not a crime and that neither is paying for the non-publication of potentially embarrassing stories (the so-called catch-and-kill dimension of the case), both of which prosecutors have alleged were part of a conspiracy to sway voters.

The retired law professor argued that Mr. Bragg’s office is in danger of having the case thrown out on grounds similar to those on which the conviction of Harvey Weinstein was recently overturned, namely that prosecutors prejudiced the case by a number of “egregious” improper rulings, including allowing testimony that was unrelated to what Mr. Weinstein was charged with.

“They ought to be very careful about this because the Supreme Court of the Appellate Court in Albany just reversed Harvey Weinstein’s conviction on the ground that they put in too much information that wasn’t really relevant to the case,” Mr. Dershowitz said, adding that this is “what’s happening” in the trial against President Trump.

“There is no crime in Manhattan. You cannot figure out what the crime is. That’s why they’re putting on all this evidence of non-crimes,” Mr. Dershowitz said.

“Trying to persuade the jury that ‘catch-and-kill’ is a crime—it’s not. Paying hush money is a crime—it’s not. Putting a corporate statement is a misdemeanor barred by the statute of limitations. You can’t suddenly resurrect that and turn that into a crime by invoking a federal statute which the federal government refused to invoke—the Federal Election Commission refused to invoke.”

The former Harvard law professor has repeatedly criticized Mr. Bragg for elevating the charges against President Trump from misdemeanors to felonies on what Mr. Dershowitz has argued was an invalid legal premise because the Manhattan district attorney invoked federal statutes over which New York has no jurisdiction.

Republicans have accused Mr. Bragg of bringing the case against the former president for political reasons.

Mr. Bragg’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

‘Destruction of America’s Rule of Law’

Mr. Bragg indicted President Trump on 34 counts of allegedly falsifying business records in order to conceal $130,000 in payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in exchange for keeping quiet about her allegations of an affair she had with President Trump.

President Trump has maintained his innocence and has denied the affair.

“There is no case here. This is just a political witch hunt,” the former president said before court in brief comments to reporters on April 25.

Under New York state law, falsifying business records is a misdemeanor. However, if the records fraud was used to cover up or commit another crime, the charge could be elevated to a felony, though a number of legal experts—including Mr. Dershowitz—have challenged the way that has been done in this case.

“In order to turn the state statute into a felony, you have to borrow a federal statute,” Mr. Dershowitz told The Epoch Times in March 2023. He said that this combining of laws “seems to raise real serious legal questions.”

“In Bragg’s case, what they’re trying to do is add one and one and come up with 11,” Mr. Dershowitz said. “No rational person would look at these two statutes and say that Trump violated them.”

The prosecution’s first witness in the case was former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker. Prosecutors alleged that he participated in a catch-and-kill scheme to suppress unflattering stories about President Trump and help him get elected.

President Trump’s attorney, Todd Blanche, said in court that the catch-and-kill that the jury heard about from prosecutors was not part of the charges against the former president because it was not illegal and happens regularly.

“The reality is that there is nothing illegal about what happened,” Mr. Blanche argued. He added that testimony would be about things from 2015 to 2017 and asked the jury to “think about whether it rings true and whether what they’re saying is accurate.”

“Use your common sense. We’re New Yorkers; that’s why we’re here. You told the court you would put aside whatever view you have about President Trump, the fact that he’s running,” he said. “If you do that, there will be a very swift non-guilty verdict.”

Mr. Dershowitz has said in the past that he believes that New York prosecutors are violating voters’ rights with the case, alleging that the law is being “abused for partisan political purposes and to constitute election interference.”

The former law professor went further in his remarks on Fox News on April 28, arguing that the case is about whether basic civil liberties are protected or undercut.

“If it’s Donald Trump today, they can go after you tomorrow, and your relatives tomorrow, for something that isn’t a crime,” he said.

“That’s why every American, whether you’re a Democrat or Republican, should be opposed to what’s going on in that Manhattan courtroom.

“It’s a scandal and it’s a destruction of America’s rule of law.”

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