Connecticut legal experts: 'No surprises' in Trump charges

The case against Trump centers around “hush money” he paid, through attorney Michael Cohen, to adult film star Stormy Daniels. A grand jury concluded that the payments were meant to “influence the 2016 presidential election.”

John Craven

Apr 4, 2023, 11:29 PM

Updated 416 days ago

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It may be the first time an ex-president has been arrested, but Connecticut is no stranger to putting politicians on trial. A former prosecutor who sent Gov. John Rowland to prison said he sees no surprises in the charges against Donald Trump.
“It's pretty much as the media had reported it,” said Chris Mattei, now an attorney with Koskoff, Koskoff and Bieder in Bridgeport. “The indictment pretty much sets forth charges related to a series of payments to Michael Cohen and entries in the Trump Organization's business records that that misrepresented the purpose of those payments.”

The case against Trump centers around “hush money” he paid, through attorney Michael Cohen, to adult film star Stormy Daniels. A grand jury concluded that the payments were meant to “influence the 2016 presidential election.”
“Why did Donald Trump repeatedly make these false statements?” said Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg at an afternoon news conference. “The evidence will show that he did so to cover up crimes relating to the 2016 election.”
Also not surprised? John Pavia, a Quinnipiac Law professor and former New York City prosecutor who worked on another high-profile political case – the contested 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore.
Pavia said prosecutors have an uphill battle proving the “hush money” was campaign-related and not simply personal payments.
“All these charges, on a normal day, are misdemeanors,” said Pavia. “And what they were able to do to enhance it to a low-level – the lowest level – felony...is that he did all this in furtherance of his campaign versus to spare him the embarrassment.”
Trump and fellow Republicans have accused Bragg of a politically-motivated “witch hunt.” The former president even posted an image to social media of himself holding a bat to a photo Bragg’s head.
Mattei understands the pressure Bragg is under. In addition to prosecuting Rowland, he recently won a $1.4 billion judgement against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. The “Infowars” host repeatedly ridiculed Mattei and the Sandy Hook families he represents.
Mattei said jurors can tune out the threats and non-stop media noise.
“Ultimately, the question the jury is going to have to answer is, what did Donald Trump intend when he cut these checks to Michael Cohen?”, said Mattei.
Legal experts believe Trump is unlikely to face prison time on the New York charges, but if he was convicted of all 34 counts, he could face 136 years in jail.


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