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HomeCrimeA Closer Look at President Donald Trump’s Conviction of 34 Felonies

A Closer Look at President Donald Trump’s Conviction of 34 Felonies

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Former President and Republican candidate for president Donald Trump was found guilty in a New York trial of 34 felony counts. A jury returned that result after deliberating for nine and a half hours.
The crimes for which President Trump was convicted were related to falsifying business records from 2017. Eleven of the charges were for invoices from Michael Cohen to the Trump Organization. Twelve of the charges were for vouchers, which are documented payments to a vendor for an outstanding payable created by a bookkeeper. The final eleven charges were for the checks that were written to pay the invoices.

The eleven checks were payments to his former attorney, Michael Cohen, which were classified as “legal expenses” in the vouchers. The prosecution felt they should have been listed as reimbursements. Listing the payments as reimbursements would have saved the Trump organization significant money, reducing the amount paid by half since the payments included double the expenses. This was because Michael Cohen would have to pay income tax of close to 50 percent on the payment. The overpayment was so that Mr. Cohen would receive all the money back he expended after income taxes.

In New York, it is a misdemeanor to falsify business records with the intent to defraud. The statute of limitations for these crimes to be prosecuted had expired, but the prosecution extended the statute of limitations by saying that the charges were part of a cover-up of another crime without explicitly stating what the other crime was until their closing arguments when the defense could not respond. This concealing a second crime also increased the charges from misdemeanors to felonies. In their closing argument, prosecutors stated that the secondary crime was a violation of a New York law, which is also a misdemeanor. The law made it illegal “to promote or prevent the election of any person to a public office by unlawful means.”

The root of the “unlawful means” would most likely be the campaign contribution related to the payment to Stormy Daniels, an adult entertainer who claimed to have had an affair with President Trump. Ms. Daniels had previously considered running as a Democrat for Senator in Louisiana in 2010. The problem with labeling this as the secondary crime is that the Federal Election Commission investigated the payment and decided not to charge President Trump. The Department of Justice decided not to charge the former president as well.

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The former Federal Election Commission (FEC) chairman Bradley Smith wanted to testify to this and other related matters, but presiding Judge Juan Merchan banned him from mentioning these facts. Judge Merchan decreed Smith was only allowed to testify about specific parts of his former job at the FEC, so the defense decided not to call him.

Judge Merchan also gave the jury controversial instructions when he stated that they did not have to be unanimous on what “unlawful means” meant. If some jurors thought it was one crime and others thought it was another, he would consider that as a unanimous jury.

President Donald Trump’s teams vowed to appeal the conviction.

Rocco Maglio
Rocco Magliohttps://www.roccomaglio.com
Rocco Maglio is a co-founder of the Hernando Sun. He grew up in Brooksville and graduated from Hernando High. He then worked in technology for starting in the early 1990s. He was fascinated by the potential of the Internet even though at the time there were not graphical browsers. He recently earned a Master of Science in Information Technology with a specialization in Cybersecurity.
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