By Jack Phillips
Georgetown University professor Jonathan Turley revealed why Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against former President Donald Trump is now “falling apart” after Trump last week announced he may be indicted amid a flurry of grand jury activity.
“The problem is that Bragg has long been searching for a crime in the criminal code to fulfill his pitch during his campaign that he was the man for voters who wanted to bag Trump,” Turley wrote in an opinion article for the New York Post published late last week. Bragg has been investigating whether Trump violated campaign finance laws in 2016 when a so-called hush money payment to adult performer Stormy Daniels was allegedly misclassified.
The alleged crime “expired as a chargeable misdemeanor after two years—and that was roughly five years ago,” Turley opined. “Second, it was a mere misdemeanor that could be brushed off by Trump even if they succeeded.”
Turley, who was used as an expert witness in Trump’s first impeachment inquiry, claimed in his opinion article that Bragg himself had “scoffed at” the case “and stopped the investigation when he came into power.” But two prosecutors, Carey R. Dunne and Mark F. Pomerantz, resigned from Bragg’s office in protest and Pomerantz later went on to write a book “on the case against Trump—a person who was still under investigation and not charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime,” he added, asserting that Bragg succumbed to a “pressure campaign” to try and build a case against the former president.
But “most significantly,” the “politics may have turned” against Bragg as “even Democrats are hard pressed to defend the reported basis for the indictment.” He noted that when asked last week about Bragg’s case, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) would not express his support and offered a lukewarm response.
“Trump has said for years that Democrats have weaponized the criminal justice system against him and Bragg just gave him proof positive to support that claim,” the law professor argued. “With this raw political prosecution, Bragg fulfilled the narrative of Trump, who is rising in the polls.”
In the past week or so, a Manhattan grand jury that was empaneled in the case heard testimony from former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, who spent several years in a federal prison after pleading guilty to tax fraud and other charges. Cohen arranged the alleged hush money payment to Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, during Trump’s first presidential campaign.
Another witness, attorney Robert Costello, went before the grand jury in a bid to cast Cohen’s testimony as not credible, noting Cohen’s previous convictions, according to statements Costello made to media outlets last week. In comments to the media and through his lawyer, Cohen has denied retaining Costello as a lawyer and cast doubt on his public comments.
On Truth Social last weekend, Trump wrote that he would likely be charged by Bragg last Tuesday, although there has been no indication that the DA’s office will do so. Bragg has issued few public comments on the case, telling House Republicans in a letter that Trump erroneously claimed he would be charged.
Bragg’s general counsel wrote last Thursday that a letter from three House GOP chairmen “only came after Donald Trump created a false expectation that he would be arrested the next day, and his lawyers reportedly urged you to intervene. Neither fact is a legitimate basis for congressional inquiry.” On Saturday, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), House Administration Committee Chair Bryan Steil (R-Wis.), and House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer (R-Ky.) sent a new letter to Bragg requesting more information about the case.
With a possible indictment over his head, Trump has insisted on campaigning for president in 2024. He held a rally in Waco, Texas, to thousands of supporters and sharply criticized Bragg’s investigation, while later he suggested to a reporter that he believes the DA dropped the case.
After the rally Saturday, Trump told reporters on his plane that “I think they’ve already dropped the case … they have absolutely nothing.” Trump did not provide evidence for his claim.