Trump's attorneys accuse DA Bragg in filing of pursuing a 'deluded fantasy' to criminally prosecute former president he dislikes

 March 7, 2024

Near the end of March, former President Donald Trump will face a criminal trial in New York on charges that he feloniously falsified business records in 2017 to cover up reimbursement payments to his then-personal lawyer for an alleged "hush money" payment in 2016 to keep an accuser quiet about an alleged extramarital affair a decade earlier.

In a pre-trial motion filed on Wednesday, Trump's attorneys accused DA Bragg of pursuing a "fantasy" case against Trump that had no basis in reality, CNN reported.

The motion doesn't seek the dismissal of the charges -- presiding Judge Juan Merchan already rejected Trump's prior requests to drop the charges -- but rather served as a reply to a recent brief from Bragg and was largely focused on what should and shouldn't be allowed to be introduced as evidence during the trial.

Bragg's "deluded fantasy" to prosecute Trump

"The People must attempt to try the case they charged, not the case the District Attorney fantasized about when he was on the campaign trial," Trump's attorneys wrote to begin the 33-page motion.

"The case the People charged is a lawless 34-count indictment relating to record entries reflecting monthly retainer payments President Trump made to his personal attorney Michael Cohen in 2017," the filing continued. "The People’s motions in limine, on the other hand, describe a fantasy: an uncharged 'underlying conspiracy' to 'influence the 2016 election' that the District Attorney wishes President Trump had not won."

The attorneys argued, "This deluded fantasy comes complete with a dreamy wish list that includes (1) hiding from the jury the particulars of the regulatory and legal frameworks the People want to argue President Trump and others intended to violate; (2) offering evidence relating to discrete and dissimilar episodes concerning individuals other than Stephanie Clifford to bolster a fanciful and elaborate narrative that does not exist."

They added, "(3) precluding President Trump from cross-examining witnesses with established histories of lying, and worse, asking them about their obvious motivations and biases, which would be a relevant line of inquiry in any trial, much less one where the defendant is a leading presidential candidate; and (4) obscuring the absence of evidence by accusing President Trump of uncharged, alleged, nonexistent misconduct based on fabricated hearsay accounts relating to events that supposedly happened on unspecified days during vague timeframes dating back to the late 1970s."

Arguably the weakest of the criminal cases against Trump

At issue here, per CNN, are the criminal allegations from DA Bragg that then-President Trump in 2017 falsified business records to hide monthly payments to Trump's then-personal attorney and fixer Michael Cohen to reimburse him for an alleged Oct. 2016 "hush money" payment to former porn star Stormy Daniels, real name Stephanie Clifford, to buy her silence about an alleged affair with Trump roughly 10 years earlier.

Those business records falsification charges are typically misdemeanors, for which the statute of limitations expired long ago, but Bragg elevated them to felonies on an untested theory that they were used to conceal a more serious but unspecified election-related crime, presumably federal campaign finance law violations, based on the idea that silencing the affair allegations just weeks before the 2016 election benefited Trump's presidential campaign.

That untested theory, in conjunction with the fact that federal prosecutors and even Bragg's predecessor had declined multiple opportunities to pursue the same case, are just some of the reasons why Bragg's case has been described as the "weakest" and least likely of the criminal prosecutions Trump faces to result in serious punishment, according to the Washington Examiner.

Other elements of the case that render it weak include multiple charges for each monthly payment, which could violate Trump's Sixth Amendment rights, as well as the overt appearance of political motivations for progressive Democrat Bragg and his "selective prosecution" against Republican Trump.

Effort to keep the trial focused to the matter at hand

As for Wednesday's motion from Trump's attorneys, it argued that a campaign finance law expert it contracted, whom DA Bragg has attempted to block from testifying, should be permitted to speak and share his views on electoral laws during the trial.

They also called out the prosecutors for trying to prematurely block them from raising certain defense arguments during the trial, and argued that the prosecution's star witness, the disgruntled former employee Cohen, was unreliable and lacked credibility since he had a documented history of dishonestly perjuring himself in other prior legal matters.

Finally, Trump's attorneys urged the judge to not allow the prosecution to raise as supporting evidence other unrelated and unproven allegations of sexual assault from other women or supposed conspiracies that could be prejudicial and confusing to members of the jury.

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