Trump doesn’t deserve ‘special treatment’ in New York hush money case: Prosecutors

Written by on November 16, 2023

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(NEW YORK) — Former President Donald Trump is seeking “special treatment” that he does not deserve, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said in a court filing Thursday opposing Trump’s attempt to dismiss the criminal indictment related to the hush payment made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels.

Trump is charged with nearly three dozen felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with what the Manhattan district attorney’s office called “an expansive and corrupt criminal scheme” to conceal damaging information from the public ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Trump, who has pleaded not guilty and denied all wrongdoing, is seeking to have the case dismissed, calling it a “discombobulated package of politically motivated charges” that violates his due process rights and interferes with his current campaign to retake the White House.

In their new filing, prosecutors argued the existence of a political campaign should have no bearing on the criminal prosecution.

“Defendant repeatedly suggests that because he is a current presidential candidate, the ordinary rules for criminal law and procedure should be applied differently here. This argument is essentially an attempt to evade criminal responsibility because defendant is politically powerful,” prosecutors said.

“Courts have repeatedly rejected defendant’s demands for special treatment and instead have adhered to the core principle that the rule of law applies equally to the powerful as to the powerless,” they wrote.

The charges of falsifying business records stem from monthly reimbursement payments to Trump’s former attorney, Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels $130,000 to keep quiet about a long-denied affair she said she had with Trump. Cohen pleaded guilty to making an illegal campaign contribution and served time in prison.

“Pursuant to his reimbursement agreement with defendant, Cohen submitted invoices to executives of the Trump Organization each month from February 2017 to December 2017 requesting ‘payment for services rendered’ pursuant to a ‘retainer agreement,’ although there wasno such retainer agreement and Cohen was not being paid for services rendered in any month of 2017,” prosecutors said.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office disputed the defense contention Trump had no intent to defraud, arguing Trump “knew that the business records at issue here contained false statements: there was no retainer; Cohen was not paid for services rendered in 2017; and defendant made and authorized the payments knowing that they were a reimbursement.”

Prosecutors also argued the whole arrangement was meant to “suppress information that could have affected his presidential campaign, and made false entries in the relevant business records in order to prevent public disclosure of both the scheme and the underlying information.”

The case is set for trial on March 25, though the judge has said he could be open to moving it to avoid a conflict with U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., where Trump is scheduled to stand trial the same month over his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election, culminating in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

Also Thursday, the DA’s office moved to quash a defense subpoena to Cohen demanding extensive records, emails, texts and contracts over a decade-long period.

Prosecutors in their filing called the subpoena “extraordinarily broad” and cast it as a fishing expedition for material Trump could use in his civil lawsuit against Cohen, which Trump recently dropped but also signaled could be revived.

“Rather than seek specific documents tailored to the determination of defendant’s guilt or innocence, the subpoena is a scattershot request for years and years of records that appears designed to ascertain the existence of evidence, fish for impeaching material, circumvent limits on discovery in this criminal case, and serve as discovery for the $500 million civil damages lawsuit defendant has promised to re-file against Cohen,” prosecutors said in their filing.

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