The Criminal Charges against Trump Are the Wrong Ones

The allegations that he made hush money payments are weak. The former president should be indicted because he attempted to to manipulate the election.

He tried to manipulate the 2020 presidential election, incited the January 2021 storming of the Capitol, and endangered national security by taking countless classified documents. But Donald Trump is now going to court because he allegedly concealed hush money payments to an ex-lover.

This is not just absurd but dangerous. Trump may have indeed broken the law by paying $130,000 to porn star Stormy Daniels. But when a former president is indicted for the first time in history, that indictment should be filed for more serious reasons. Otherwise, the charges appear to be exactly what his supporters have loudly claimed for months, namely, a politically motivated move to stifle an unwanted candidate.

The indictment may also stand on judicially shaky ground because it is making an innovative attempt to connect federal criminal process with state criminal process in New York. That may turn out well, but it could also easily fail. And that would strengthen Trump politically once again.

So, it would be all the more important to bring charges against the former president based on the strongest allegations he faces, in other words, his attempt, documented in a recorded telephone call, to pressure the state of Georgia to overturn the 2020 election results there. The speed at which the Manhattan District Attorney’s office acted compared to progress by the Georgia district attorney is likely related to the prosecutors’ respective political leanings. That’s understandable but problematic. We can just hope that Trump does not find it as easy to play the victim during the upcoming 2024 presidential race.

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