The political and legal world is bracing for the possible arrest of former President Donald Trump. Considering this would be an unprecedented event in US history, many legal questions abound. Who is behind this legal action? What are the likely charges? Will the 45th president and current candidate for the presidency in 2024 face a classic “perp walk,” complete with handcuffs? For these questions and more, we turn to Liberty Nation’s Legal Affairs Editor Scott D. Cosenza, Esq.
Leesa K. Donner: Scott, what charge is Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg likely to file against Trump? And can we assume it will be a felony? In other words, what are the specific crimes that Trump is alleged to have committed?
Scott D. Cosenza: Reports indicate charges, if filed, will be regarding Trump’s payment of $130,000 to Stormy Daniels to stifle her discussing their physical interlude. It’s been suggested Trump is open to criminal liability for not reporting the payment as a campaign contribution, which the DA claims should have been done. There may be other regulatory disclosures and filings required, too, including tax consequences for the payment, that Bragg thinks he can pin on Trump.
LKD: It appears that former Trump attorney Michael Cohen is at the epicenter of this controversial action. Considering there is all manner of animosity between Trump and Cohen, will Cohen’s testimony be strong enough for the DA to pursue a rational case against the former president?
SDC: I won’t pretend any of this makes sense, given what we know. Crimes regarding illegal campaign contributions are generally handled at the federal level by the Department of Justice and filed in federal court. Or, perhaps, by state-level agents, like New York’s own rabidly anti-Trump Attorney General Letitia James, for instance. Unless and until they’re revealed, charges by the Manhattan DA seem out of place. I can’t seem to find any calls from Republicans, for instance, to have New Castle County District Attorney Wilson B. Davis file charges against President Biden – even though many of Biden’s alleged actions encompassing corruption occurred in Wilmington, DE.
LKD: Assuming Bragg goes ahead with an arrest warrant for President Trump, how do things play out legally? Will he be extradited to New York? Will he face mug shots, fingerprinting, and the classic “perp walk”?
SDC: The decision to charge Trump is a political one, not a criminal justice or public safety charge. So, if Bragg goes ahead, I suspect he will want the full Monty of pomp and circumstance surrounding an arrest, with a perp walk and all. None of that is required, though. Trump’s arrest could be accomplished discreetly if Bragg wanted it that way, and Trump, too. Reports suggest that doing a virtual arraignment is not an option presently on the table.
LKD: In posting the possibility of arrest on Truth Social, President Trump called for his supporters to protest. Without taking a breath, those who oppose the former president are calling his comments an “incitement to unlawful violence” that is not protected speech under the First Amendment. Is that true?
SDC: No, it is not true. Trump’s announcement was in no way criminal, if we apply the law of the land, rather than the wants and wishes of NeverTrumpers. The Supreme Court ruled on this issue in the 1969 landmark case Brandenburg v. Ohio. For speech to be punishable as an incitement, it must be “directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” If you read the text carefully you will likely conclude that standard is, by design, exceedingly difficult to meet. Perhaps that’s why incitement cases are rare generally, and no prosecutor, not even the most progressive George Soros-installed ones, have tried to charge Trump with the crime.
Stay tuned to Liberty Nation as this story continues to develop.
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