Baltimore attorney weighs in on what indictment means for Donald Trump

BALTIMORE – A Baltimore attorney weighed in on the indictment of former President Donald Trump, who is expected to surrender to authorities in New York on Tuesday.

A New York grand jury investigating the circumstances surrounding a “hush money” payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels in 2016, has voted to indict Trump, making him the first former president in US history to face criminal charges. The charge or charges have not yet been unsealed.

That payment was supposed to keep her quiet about the alleged affair between the two of them. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.

Trump is “upset” and “angry” by news of his indictment, but “not worried at all,” his attorney, Joe Tacopina, told “CBS Mornings” on Friday.

Adam Ruther, a Baltimore attorney with Rosenberg Martin Greenberg, LLP, told WJZ on Friday that there are more questions than answers about Trump’s future.

“Obviously, the indictment at the moment is sealed, and that is normal, until the arrangement,” Ruther said. “But what we are hearing based on information that was sort of leaked out is, it seems, to be surrounding the idea that Michael Cohen the nondisclosure agreement in order to keep her from going public with the fact that she and Donald Trump had an affair .”

That, by itself, is probably not illegal, Ruther said. It’s the timing of that payment, which was made right before the 2016 election that has attracted attention.

“That by itself is probably not illegal,” Ruther said. “But he paid that money right before the 2016 election, there’s an argument that it’s a campaign contribution, and so in order to avoid that, the allegations seem to be that Donald Trump then had Michael Cohen pay it and paid him back, and by doing that that, he created a false business record.”

Ruther said if that crime could be considered a felony if he did it for the purposes of trying to avoid the campaign contribution problem, then he did it for the purposes of continuing or furthering another crime.

“The other charges, we are not quite sure about,” Ruther said. “We’ll find out on Tuesday, but that seems to be the heart of the case.”

The prosecutor in the past decided not to proceed with this case, but the current prosecutor will.

Ruther said the prosecution would face obstacles to win the case.

“So they are eventually going to have to prove this beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury’s satisfaction,” Ruther said. “In the first issue is the political implications. There will be an allegation made that this is a political hit, essentially, and there is nothing really to the criminal charges. But even aside from that, they have to prove the intent to defraud. So in other words, they will have to prove that this was done specifically for the purposes of covering up the campaign contribution problem and not simply because Donald Trump didn’t want this coming out for personal reasons.”

“And then the third problem they’re going to face is their star witness is Michael Cohen who has been guilty of lying to Congress. So, that’s going to be an interesting cross-examination if this ends up seeing the inside of a courtroom. The rumor is that there are two dozen charges inside this indictment.”

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