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Legal analyst on Trump New York trial: “Influencing an election is not a crime”

The trial involving former President Donald Trump, centered on hush money payments, is paused this Monday but will resume Tuesday morning. Normally, court sessions start on Monday mornings, however, Judge Juan Merchan declared last week that the court would not meet today. Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records in order to cover up payments made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, which are claimed to have illegally influenced his campaign.

Trial amid presidential campaign

This trial poses significant challenges for Trump as it coincides with his presidential campaign efforts. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate, is ahead of Biden in polls, especially in six out of seven crucial swing states. However, Trump’s campaign activities might be hampered as he is required to attend the trial daily, which is expected to last six weeks.

David Pecker’s testimony

Last week, David Pecker, the former head of the National Enquirer, testified that he helped Trump during the 2016 campaign by publishing false stories about Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, both of them presidential candidates. Speaking at Trump’s New York trial regarding the hush money, Pecker disclosed that he coordinated with Trump to circulate these misleading stories about Cruz to improve Trump’s electoral prospects. According to a legal analyst, Pecker’s testimony might actually work in Trump’s favor.

The Harvey Weinstein case in the focus

Fox News analyst Gregg Jarrett criticized the methods used by prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s office, linking them to the approach that resulted in Harvey Weinstein’s 2020 ra*e conviction being overturned. On Thursday, the New York Court of Appeals, in a close 4-3 decision, determined that the judge in Weinstein’s trial had erred by allowing testimonies from women who were not directly involved in the charges of the 2020 case, necessitating a new trial due to these serious mistakes. Jarrett also pointed out that during the first week of former President Donald Trump’s trial, the testimonies presented did not address the specific charges against him.

Fox News analyst Gregg Jarrett criticized the methods used by prosecutors from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's office
Trump in court. Credit: Fox News screenshot

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“Nothing in the courtroom last week dealt with the actual charges, none of the witnesses actually testified about any relevant crime recognized by law,” Jarrett told “Fox and Friends” co-host Steve Doocy. “Instead, it was sort of this weird kabuki theater or theater of the absurd, Steve. I mean, David Pecker who ran the National Enquirer, was on the witness stand most of the week, and told us what we already knew. The tabloid was sleazy, promoting and killing stories.”

“But, Steve, that’s not a crime. Paying people for their silence is not a crime. Influencing an election is not a crime, either. That’s what campaigns are designed to do,” Jarrett continued. “Yet, Alvin Bragg’s legal minions in court keep using the words ‘conspiracy’ and ‘fraud.’ Well, Trump hasn’t been charged with that, so this hair brain prosecution is exactly what Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch warned about during the immunity hearing last week.”

Trump faces a total of 34 counts of falsifying business records in March 2023

In March 2023, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted former President Donald Trump on 34 counts of falsifying business records, focusing on a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in 2016 as part of a confidentiality agreement. Fox News analyst Gregg Jarrett argued that the mention of Trump’s alleged relationship with former Playboy model Karen McDougal was “irrelevant” to this particular case.

Read also: Huge blow for Biden, Dems in Texas: Trump has double-digit lead among Hispanic voters

“It was the introduction of similar bad acts, which is exactly what led to the reversal of Harvey Weinstein’s s*x crime cases, and yet this judge is allowing that sort of evidence,” Jarrett told Doocy. “The goofiest part of this prosecution is that Bragg claims Trump falsified private business records to influence an election.”

“But look at the indictment: All of the alleged bookkeeping offenses happened in 2017, after the 2016 election. It’s a pretty neat trick to unlawfully influence an election after it occurred,” Jarrett concluded.

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