An Analysis of Trump’s Indictment

A former president has now been indicted for tax evasion and so much more…but now what?


Ted Potters from Roermond, PDM-owner, via Wikimedia Commons

After Trump’s call for protests and riots when he became indicted, protesters showed up in droves outside Trump Tower in response to his social media post on his platform, Truth Social.

On Thursday, April, 4th 2023, you were probably in a classroom, looking at the clock, counting down the moments until the bell. All of the sudden chatter spreads that once again Former President Donald Trump was caught in a mousetrap. This isn’t the only sticky mousetrap that he’s been thrown into but rather, one of many. 

On April 4th, Trump was arraigned by Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan District Attorney, for 34 felony charges. Mr. Bragg will be the prosecuting attorney on this case. “He is the DA and this is a high profile case, so once he won the role, it was more or less a given he’d be the one to prosecute Trump for any purported Manhattan-based misdeeds,” said Mr. Andrew Leahey, a tax attorney specializing in tax and technology law. Mr. Leahey has been following this case since it started. But how does all of this affect the average, everyday person and furthermore, how does this set a precedent?

First off, who even is Alvin Bragg?

Alvin Bragg is the Manhattan District Attorney. He was born in Harlem and went on to attend Harvard University and join Harvard’s Black Students Association, where he began to first gain recognition.  There he announced that he didn’t have intentions to run for office or get involved in anything governmental. He has kept true to his word and never served in any political position.  After graduating, he served as the Assistant to the Attorney General and  became the Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York which includes Manhattan, Bronx, and Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester counties.  During his term, he fought against crime, representing the state of New York in assault, gun possession, witness tampering, narcotics, public corruption, money laundering, and antitrust violation cases. 

After that he served as the Chief Deputy Attorney General where he handled health care fraud, public corruption, narcotics, and securities fraud. In that position he also oversaw the legal proceedings against the Trump foundation in which it would bar Trump’s foundation, Trump, and his children from nonprofit boards due to them illegally misusing funds that were for charity. 

Bragg was sworn in as the D.A., beating out eight other candidates by campaigning for equality amongst the rich and the poor by law. He worked to create the Special Victims Division for domestic violence, sex crimes, human trafficking, and child abuse. He also expanded the Hate Crimes Unit to build trust and encourage reporting from minorities. 

However, his lenient policies have led to heavy criticism on both parts. When he was sworn in on January 1st, 2022, he asked prosecutors to only ask for jail or prison in cases regarding murder, assault, or even more extreme crimes. Lesser criminals were allowed to roam free on probation where they wreaked havoc, leading to backlash from conservatives. But what about the other side? Left-wing advocates that support the expansion of government power used Mr. Bragg’s lack of confidence in dealing with the Trump Foundations indictment to criticize his plans. Though opinions on him are divided, he has remained an attorney for the people. 

How does Former President Trump play into this and what led up to this?

Mr. Trump has appeared in countless news articles and chances are,  he was under investigation. Around a year ago, his Mar-a-Lago retreat in Florida was raided and many former presidential and classified documents were found. Two-and-a-half years ago, he was investigated for inciting the January 6th attack against the Capitol, an investigation that is still ongoing. Just recently, he was indicted by Mr. Bragg for 34 counts of felony charges and unsurprisingly, they were all tax violation charges. Let’s start from the beginning.

When we think of 2018, either the royal wedding or the Parkland School massacre comes to mind. While those events attracted attention, a less publicized event was gripping Michael Cohen, Trump’s former “fixer” and attorney. Whatever mess Mr. Trump got involved in financially, it fell on Mr. Cohen to fix them whether that be deterring the IRS or sending money payments.

 On August 21st, Mr. Cohen confessed that he arranged hush money payments from Mr. Trump. If he hadn’t revealed it then, it would have stayed hidden for a few more years until the treasury subpoenaed the Trump Organization’s tax documents in August 2019. The Manhattan District Attorney at that time, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., subpoenaed and demanded Trump’s tax documents for the past eight years. Mr. Vance made a compelling case that just because he was a sitting president, he wasn’t subject to special conditions and accommodations such as blocking his tax releases. Knowing that this would eventually lead Trump to be discovered, his lawyers sued for a delay, citing that sitting presidents couldn’t be directly tried or made to hand over his records.

This is the first page of thirty-two pages accusing Mr. Trump and the Trump Foundation of falsifying business records and this is the case Mr. Bragg is currently trying. (Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Later in the fall of 2020, before his presidency ended, he was issued more tax subpoenas for tax fraud. As Trump continued to object to these investigations following his fall from presidency, these objections continued to be blocked by the district court. On February 21st, 2021,  mere hours after the Supreme Court blocked his last objection, eight years of tax documents were released into the District Attorney’s hands. 

When the case shifted to the Trump Organization on March 1st, 2021, they focused more on executives that Trump would have had interactions with, especially Mr. Allen H. Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s long-serving chief financial officer.

Before Mr. Bragg’s was elected into office, Mr. Vance charged the organization for running a 15-year tax scheme. 

However, after his election, Bragg shifted the focus because  he assumed he didn’t have enough evidence to prosecute. We have to remember that when he first started trying this case, he was left with two former associates, Mark F. Pomerantz, an experienced former federal prosecutor and white-collar defense lawyer, and Carey Dunne, Mr. Vance’s general counsel. After Mr. Bragg’s rushed decision, they left the office. 

Remember Mr. Weisselberg? Well he didn’t rat out the Trump Corporation, but after a year of requests, he finally agreed. That was the nail that shut down this case, but the initial case still remained: the allegations made by Ms. Daniels to the D.A. and the one that Mr. Cohen initially revealed. 

In March Mr. Trump learned of this indictment, he was given a chance to testify in his own favor, a chance that he denied. That has led us to this point, and in the extended almost 5 year trial, we are finally seeing a light in sight. 

How has this situation played out so far and how might it play out when the legal system starts?

We have to remember that this wasn’t  a rushed case. In fact this is a culmination of three cases, and the only thing that seemingly makes it special is that the accusation from Ms. Daniels came just days before the 2016 election. 

We already know that on April 4th, 2023, Trump went into his first court appearance for this case. He spoke very little, murmuring no more than 12 words in the whole trial, but that was a different story from what happened in Mar-a-Lago. When he returned to Florida, he publicly outcried against what he considered to be an injustice. In fact, he still does. 

Though this case seems to be going slowly so far, Mr. Trump wants to stall it as long as possible. He has intimidated witnesses multiple times to the point that he has been barred from gaining access to witness files. He’s not only blamed them for making him look like the bad guy but also for exasperating the situation. In fact, he went so far that Mr. Cohen, his former fixer, asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit from Mr. Trump to Ms. Daniels as even he believed that Mr. Trump was engaging in witness intimidation. As such, a judge in NYC ruled that he is only allowed to see witness statements in presence of his attorney and only if the D.A. allowed it. This came with a special precaution that he was allowed to view cell phone evidence but was warned against posting anything as that could potentially insight a riot and a mistrial. 

Though rules have been set in place, it seems like Mr. Trump wants to continue to push the trial back. He has accused Ms. Daniels of extortion as she asked for money before the presidency, and Trump’s legal team is spinning the narrative that she planned to use this to prevent him  from becoming president. “If he falsified, or had someone else falsify, business records for purposes of bamboozling the tax authority, the fact that he was being extorted isn’t a direct defense. Just an explanation,” said Mr. Leahey.

The next court date is December 4th, 2023, but that doesn’t mean that Mr. Trump’s legal team won’t take action before that. To what extent though, we don’t know until it happens. 

What will be the precedent set by this trial?

This case is groundbreaking as a former or sitting U.S. president was never indicted for anything to this degree before. Though there is no impact on the general law, it does paint the United States in a bad light. I mean, think of it. If an elected official was indicted for a rather distasteful crime, people of other countries won’t look too favorably on the character of the voters. There is also an impact on the actions of other prosecutors. Given that Mr. Bragg’s has already opened the floodgates by investigating Mr. Trump, other smaller prosecutors may also go after former presidents to make a name for themselves.

And while this may impact his plan for reelection in 2024, there seems to be no impediment. Against contenders like Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, Trump is still polling ahead leading up to the Republican primary election. He’s built up endorsements and if the CNN town-hall is anything to go off of, his lies still don’t deter Republicans. 

Regardless of the outcome, this case is certainly one for the books and will be remembered in American history. 

And the other cases?

Mr. Trump has been involved in numerous cases so far, and for the last few months he’s been adding to his collection. One such big example is with E. Jean Carroll. Last November, Mrs. Carroll first filed a case against Mr. Trump for rape, but that case wasn’t tried due to the statue of limitations expiring. However, New York’s new state law highlights that cases that might not have been able to be tried due to the normal statute of limitations are able to be tried in a lesser degree as sexual assault cases. She also accused Mr. Trump of defamation. Mr. Trump continued to deny this claim. Carroll replayed the moments to the judges including what Mr. Trump said to her. 

On May 9th, 2023, Carroll won the case for sexual assault, battery, and the defamation that followed Mr. Trump’s accusation that she used her story to get publicity for her book. The jury awarded her the amount of five-million dollars. Though she won that case, Ms. Carroll is considering filing another lawsuit against Mr. Trump. On that day, Trump continued to defame Carroll calling her “a wack job” and in Trump fashion, he called this trial rigged. As a result of these insults and taunts, Carroll is considering filing another lawsuit against Trump where it’ll be mainly focused on defamation. 

Trump is shown here on a Chinese news segment recap applauding the efforts of the January 6th, 2021 riot and saying that the rioters idolized his words. (VOA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

While these two major cases are going on, Trump has to simultaneously deal with a criminal case in Fulton County, Georgia, where he is accused of election tampering. He is being tried by Fulton County district attorney, Fani Willis. There are two other major criminal cases currently being held over Trump: one from the discovery of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and the other being that Trump incited the January 6th, 2021 capital insurrection. Both of those cases are being investigated by Jack Smith, the Department of Justice special council.

As we watch his troubles unfold, we’ll get a front seat look at how this also affects his presidential race. Needless to say the next few months will be bumpy for him, his legal team, and the rest of America. 

He is the DA and this is a high profile case, so once he won the role it was more or less a given he’d be the one to prosecute Trump for any purported Manhattan-based misdeeds,” said Mr. Andrew Leahey, a tax attorney specializing in tax and technology law.