Well, here we are: the arraignment of Individual One for a 34-felony indictment, has happened, and by tomorrow, many questions and explainers will be swirling around, so I gathered a few of the basics in this post (I would say I curated them for you, but I’m fed up with everyone saying “especially curated” as if compiling any list of thingamajigs were an artistic accomplishment comparable to putting together an exhibit at the Louvre. Thank you for listening to my TED talk.) If you’d like to take another look at the original materials, here’s the indictment and here’s the statement of facts. The NYT has provided an annotated version. For more, click here for a KPFA interview in which I discussed the indictment and next steps with veteran journalist Mitch Jeserich. Things to watch out for:
1) Why aren’t they listing the crime Trump was trying to commit by paying the hush money? This article suggests it’s a strategic choice (but wouldn’t they have to prove that, as an element of the felony? the NYT seems to think they don’t have to prove that, only the intent. I’m not 100% sure this is true.) And there’s also a jurisdictional question: Can that crime be a federal crime? Here’s coverage on Vox explaining this problem and how the rule of lenity plays into this.
2) Why no conspiracy charges? I haven’t seen this covered anywhere and, honestly, I’m perplexed. Under NY law, here are the various permutations of conspiracy. If they can prove what’s in the statement of facts beyond reasonable doubt, they have conspiracy in the bag. Odd.
3) Is everyone rejoicing? Look at this Gallup poll. Big shocker: opinions vary across the political spectrum. 60% of people approve of the decision to indict, and 76% think the decision was politically motivated (this obv. includes a big chunk of those who approve of the indictment.)
4) Is there going to be a mug shot? Not unless it’s photoshopped (I know fake ones are already in wide circulation.) He did get fingerprinted, but here are the prosaic reasons for the lack of a mugshot.
5) What is the defense going to do in terms of pretrial motions? If I were the defense here, I would try to move to dismiss on the basis of general due process concerns (political targeting, the vagueness in the indictment.) If I were unsuccessful, I would move to change venue out of New York, where it will be difficult to find a sympathetic jury, but this maneuver is likely to fail (exposure to the upcoming media circus will be a factor anywhere in the country.)
6) What did Trump say at his press conference at Mar-a-Lago? As expected, he denounced Bragg as politically motivated. Here’s the coverage on Fox News (!).