Trump’s indictment is ‘the epitome of prosecutorial abuse of power’
During an appearance on FBN’s “Kudlow” on Friday, former Attorney General Bill Barr criticized Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecution of former President Donald Trump.
Barr said he was in trouble on several grounds, including abuse of prosecutorial power and misinterpretation of the law.
“Now obviously we don’t have the indictment, so there’s a bit of speculation involved. But, according to the reports, if they’re accurate, it’s an abomination,” said Barr said, “It’s the epitome of abuse of power by prosecutors to bring a case that wouldn’t be brought against someone else. They’re going after the man, not the crime. And legal theory, frankly, is pathetically weak. The case is held together by wire netting and paper clips and rubber bands. It’s a dirty business. It’s — and it’s a shame. It’s a shameful episode in our history. , where this local prosecutor is trying to affect the political process by bringing this case.
“It’s politically motivated, as you suggested. I think we all know that, or at least conservatives all know that,” Kudlow said. “What is this tattered legal theory? I’m still trying to understand that.
“Well, according to the information, the Threshold Crime consists of false business records, apparently reporting payments that were made to reimburse Michael Cohen, who had paid Stormy Daniels, and characterizing those payments as legal payments,” replied Barr. “And the claim is that it is false and therefore violated a first instance tort law against false documents. In fact, I don’t think it’s a valid claim in this case, because the law actually requires it to be done with the intent to defraud. So if you have false business records and you’re committing insurance fraud or some other type of fraud, where some value is taken from someone else, and you falsely obtain value in your own name, then false records would be a crime. But I don’t understand the basis of a fraud claim here. But then they take this misdemeanor, which is also a problem with the statute of limitations, and they try to turn it into a felony by claiming that the reason the document was tampered with, the documents were tampered with, was to cover up a other crime. In this case, they assume the payments were a campaign finance violation because they were actually a contribution to the Trump campaign.
“I can tell you that’s not the law,” he continued. “I don’t think that’s how the Justice Department would view it. This was not brought by the Department of Justice under the Trump administration. But even after the departure of the Trump administration, nothing prevented the Justice Department from bringing this federal claim if it deemed it valid. And it was never brought. So other than that, I think it’s pretty clear under the law that a payment — I’ll call it silent money. I don’t like this term. But payments of secret money to keep business or other things like that secret aren’t inherently illegal. The question posed by the law is: was this a campaign contribution? I think the law is pretty clear. It’s not. And, in fact, I think Merrick Garland, when he was a DC circuit judge, wrote an opinion to that effect regarding Senator Craig, Larry Craig.
“But put that aside,” Barr added. “Under the law it would be a personal payment, the payment of a personal expense, and it is not a violation of the law if it is the type of payment that would have been made even outside the campaign. And I think there’s a compelling argument here that when you’re dealing with a private company that bears the name of its founder, it’s a namesake company, Trump, of course there would be a payment to protect the reputation of the business owner. So I think that’s a weak case altogether. Unfortunately, I think that’s going to accomplish what I think is his political purpose, which is to inject chaos into the Republican process I actually think the government’s intent here is probably to help Trump and focus all the news on this stuff over the next two years and turn the Republican primary into a circus.
Follow Jeff Poor on Twitter @jeff_poor