Ross: My best attempt to explain why Trump now faces 34 felonies

Apr 5, 2023, 7:46 AM | Updated: 11:32 am


Former President Donald Trump appears in court for his arraignment, Tuesday, April 4, 2023, in New York. Trump surrendered to authorities ahead of his arraignment on criminal charges stemming from a hush money payment to a porn actor during his 2016 campaign. (Timothy A. Clary/Pool Photo via AP)

(Timothy A. Clary/Pool Photo via AP)

So what exactly is Donald Trump being charged with? I’ll do my best to explain why Trump now faces 34 felonies.

Just before the 2016 election, he arranged for his fixer, Michael Cohen, to pay off two women and a doorman to bury stories about two alleged sleepovers with those women and a third alleged scandal that was proven to be untrue.

More from Dave Ross: Trump wants Biblical levels of fame with indictment surrender

And to reimburse Mr. Cohen for making those payoffs – he used money from the Trump Organization.

But he recorded the payoffs as “legal fees,” which they were not.

Under New York law, falsifying financial records is a misdemeanor.

However – because Trump also conspired with the head of the National Enquirer to bury these stories, and because it was all for the purpose of saving his campaign, the payments should have been reported as campaign expenditures, and they should have been accurately described in the public campaign spending records.

Which I assume would mean entering them in the records as “hush money paid to cover up alleged scandals.”

And since he did not do that, under New York law, each of the 34 falsified payments then becomes a felony.

Now I can’t be absolutely sure I have this right because you had a former prosecutor on MSNBC, Andrew Weissman, saying one thing.

“It’s all about lies, but remember what it’s in furtherance of is this big scheme to win the election without telling you what the truth is,” Weissman said.

And you had a former Assistant U.S. Attorney Andy McCarthy on FOX saying another.

“The indictment fails to state a crime. I mean, in order to conceal a crime in an indictment, you have to tell the defendant what crime he was trying to conceal. What he’s essentially saying is Trump took a bunch of actions in 2017 in an attempt to defraud the voters four months earlier,” McCarthy said.

Did you get all that?

And this is the genius of Donald Trump. It was much easier to understand his response than the charges that prompted it.

“And this is where we are right now. I have a Trump-hating judge, with a Trump-hating wife, and family whose daughter worked for Kamala Harris and now receives money from the Biden-Harris campaign and a lot of it,” Trump said.

And yes, Politico reported that the judge’s daughter does work for a consulting firm that handles Democratic campaigns.

Bottom line – for those of you hoping this would be the slam dunk case that stops Trump from running, I don’t see that happening.

But I do have some advice for any candidate in New York trying to cover up a secret affair with a weekend lover. Make sure your payoff is properly itemized as “secret payoff to weekend lover.” And save yourself an unnecessary court appearance.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: My best attempt to explain why Trump now faces 34 felonies