During his time as the 45th President of the United States of America, Donald Trump was (in)famous for controversial statements, questionable conduct and far-right ideology..But who would have known 2 years since leaving the office, Donald Trump is still making headlines.
Why Is Donald Trump Trending Again?
On April 4th of this year Trump was indicted on 34 felony charges, all of which are for falsifying business records in several instances under New York state law. If proved, he could potentially serve for 136 years in prison consecutively.
What Is the Former President Charged With?
To answer this, we have to understand a little about the legal proceedings in the USA and some of the more nuanced viewpoints related to this particular case.
In the American legal system, an indictment is not a verdict, but an acknowledgement of a court, that there is enough evidence present to charge a person and proceed towards trial. Being indicted does not mean you are sentenced to prison.
However, this case is a first for the US, where a former president was indicted on criminal charges.
The New York State District Attorney Alvin Bragg presented evidence of falsification of the record of money transferred to an Adult Movie Star Stormy Daniels, to keep quiet about a long-term affair before the Presidential election of 2016.
Though the jury collectively acknowledged the evidence, the former president pleaded not guilty to all 34 charges.
This opens the door to an open public trial in this case.
But First, Let’s Understand the Exact Nature of Trump’s Crime
According to New York State Law, it is a crime to delete, alter or make a false entry in the business records of an Enterprise with the intent to defraud. According to the Manhattan DA’s indictment and the attendance statement of facts, the DA is alleging the following facts; the records show that the former president ran a catch-and-kill scheme with AMI, the parent company of the “National Enquirer”.
The idea was that the National Enquirer would help Trump win the presidential election by finding negative stories about him and then buying the rights to those stories. The plan was for AMI to then conceal those stories rather than publicize them. According to the New York indictment the scheme went from August 2015 to December 2017, suppressing stories with money and falsifying the purpose of those payments. With the help of the National Enquirer, Trump came to know that Stormy Daniels was ready to sell their long-term affair story to Times Magazine for some undisclosed amount of money. Then Trump with the help of his then-attorney Michel Cohen paid 130,000$ to the former porn star through a real estate shell company registered in the name of Michel. After the 2016 Presidential win, Trump paid 420,000$ in legal fees in several instances to Michel Cohen from the account of the Trump Foundation.
The DA provided several pieces of evidence that proved that these legal payments however are the “Hush-Money” that Cohen paid previously in several instances to suppress several scandalous stories.
So, Is Trump Going to Jail?
Falsifying business records in itself is NOT a ground for harsh jail time in NY state law. However, to push the verdict towards guilt, the prosecutor has to prove the intent of influencing the election behind these payments – which IS A felony.
In future trials, DA Alvin Bragg will be responsible for proving that not only has Trump falsified business transactions but also, he did them to cover up other crimes. Trump’s lawyers on the other hand, will have to provide enough defense to support that the payments were not made to influence the election but to preserve his family’s reputation.
Whether or not Trump is going to jail is entirely upon the jury and the court!
Apart from these cases, there are also three other investigations going on in three different states on the former president alleging; instigating Jan 6 riots on the Capitol, mishandling of classified documents and trying to tamper with vote counting in Georgia.
What is the Biden Government’s Attitude Towards the Case?
Suppressing stories through the means of money and an ironclad NDA contract, is not unheard of in American politics. There is also the question of speeding of case proceedings on this case, making it seem like a political hit job. However, at the moment Donald Trump’s credibility is on the rocks.
Zooming in on this case, one can certainly see the patterns of undermining the concerns and voice of opposition. In the recent years, various accusations of misconduct by several government agencies have surfaced – Be it Trump’s story, multiple subsidies to Pfizer or the story of Hunter Biden’s laptop – all such stories have either been covered up, banned or labeled as misinformation.
Lets not forget the January 6th incident – Unethical political practices by some US leaders in recent years, has made people so resentful of the establishment that they tried to overthrow the government by forcefully entering and raiding the nation’s capital building!
According to the 2023 Edelman Trust Barometer, America is the 3rd largest polarized country in the world. It is believed that the county is very divided and doubtful that the differences can be overcome. And the most ironic of all is that every other day a White House representative comments on another country’s internal politics. When a country struggling with racism and gun violence, stuck in gender and identity politics, battered by canceled culture, presses its skewed view upon others, the rest of the world can only advise America to look within and help itself before preaching to others.