The Manhattan district attorney’s case against former President Donald Trump has “absolutely no legal basis,” according to one of Trump’s attorneys, Jesse Binnall.
In a March 31 interview with Steve Lance of NTD, The Epoch Times’ sister outlet, Binnall, who is not representing Trump in the New York matter, said that the official charges against Trump remain unknown even to the 45th president himself.
“We only have the reporting to go on right now because the indictment still has not been unsealed,” the attorney said. “But this is—if it’s what is expected—these are trumped up charges that have absolutely no basis in law, no basis in fact, regarding a payment that was made by Michael Cohen.”
Many have speculated that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is pursuing “falsification of business records” charges against Trump relating to a 2016 hush money payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels that was made by the former president’s then-attorney Michael Cohen.
In August 2018, as part of a plea deal, Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, claiming that the Daniels payment was made at Trump’s direction for the purpose of influencing the 2016 presidential election.
The since-disbarred lawyer also pleaded guilty to unrelated tax evasion and making false statements to a federally insured bank; and in November 2018, he additionally pleaded guilty to lying to Congress about the Russia investigation.
Noting that Cohen was a “proven liar,” Binnall said Bragg’s reliance on the convicted felon’s word was likely to be a “big problem” for his case—almost as big of a problem as the argument the case appears to rest on.
A Victimless Crime
“The Supreme Court has very clearly held that for there to be any sort of fraud, there has to be an effort to essentially try to steal from someone,” Binnall said. “There has to be a victim that is being stolen from, and there’s no allegations that anything of the sort happened in this case. In fact, what we have is another example of a prosecutor using his office to target President Trump for political purposes only.”
Trump’s March 30 indictment by the Manhattan grand jury marks the first ever for a former U.S. president.
Bragg’s office has been excoriated by Republicans and even some Democrats—like Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz—for pursuing the case, which many hold to be politically motivated.
“In 60 years of practice, this is the worst case of prosecutorial abuse I have ever seen,” Dershowitz told The Epoch Times on March 30. “What’s really unprecedented is not the indictment of a past president, but the indictment of a potential future president who is running against the head of the party of the man who indicted him.”
Bragg’s office, however, has held such claims to be “baseless” and “meritless” in its back-and-forth correspondence with congressional committee chairs seeking to investigate.
“The charges filed yesterday were brought by citizens of New York, doing their civic duty as members of a grand jury, who found probable cause to accuse Mr. Trump of having committed crimes in New York,” wrote Leslie Dubeck, general counsel for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, in a March 31 letter to the Republican congressmen.
Nonetheless, Binnall noted that Trump had received an “overwhelming” amount of support since the indictment and attributed it to the public’s realization of the dangers of abusing the prosecutorial system for political vengeance.
“In this country, you’re not supposed to have to look over your shoulder if your political opponents are in government office, but that’s exactly what’s happening right now,” he said. “There are laws that prohibit the violation of civil rights under color of law. I believe quite clearly that Alvin Bragg is in violation of that federal statute.”
Calling on Congress to ensure such a situation never happens again, the attorney advocated for pulling federal funding from Bragg’s office.
And while he added that he could not comment on his conversations with the former president in relation to the indictment, he did share his confidence that his client was ready for a fight.
“What I can tell you is that Donald Trump is a fighter,” he said. “Donald Trump is someone who is always going to rise up to the challenge because he knows that the only way to deal with a bully like Alvin Bragg is to go toe-to-toe with him. And I have no doubt that he is up to the challenge on this, that he is going to mount a vigorous defense.
“And even though this case is obviously being brought in a place like Manhattan, where the district attorney is banking on a biased jury, I truly believe that they’re going to put together a great case, and that, ultimately, Donald Trump’s going to be vindicated.”