The anti-Trump dream come true

THE ANTI-TRUMP DREAM COME TRUE. Barring some last-second surprise, on Monday a dream will come true for the Democrats, resistance warriors, Never Trumpers, and lawfare specialists who have hoped for years to put former President Donald Trump on trial. It finally happens Monday in a courtroom in Manhattan.

Many legal experts, and not just those on the Right, have said the case against Trump is weak. But that doesn’t really matter. The fact is, Trump will be on trial, charged with 34 dubious felonies, and a jury in deep-blue Manhattan will likely find him guilty of something. That’s the point. After this trial, if things turn out like Trump’s enemies hope, every single Democratic reference to the former president, every single political ad, every party utterance will refer to Trump as convicted felon Donald Trump.

For the man behind the case, the elected Democratic district attorney of Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, the trial is more than a trial. It’s a campaign promise kept. The 2021 race for the Democratic nomination for district attorney of Manhattan was essentially a bidding contest in which candidates pledged to go after Trump more aggressively than their competitors. Bragg boasted that he had already sued Trump or Trump’s companies 100 times. Elect me and I’ll give him hell! It turned out the “100 times” claim wasn’t true — the real number was less than half that, even if you count generously — but Bragg won the Democratic nomination and then, of course, the election in Manhattan. “[Bragg] seemed to double down on Trump as the campaign went on,” the New York Times noted recently.

And then, almost exactly a year ago, Bragg filed the indictment of Trump. Earlier this week, this newsletter noted Bragg’s case is remarkably weak and that there have been many analyses of its various flaws. But it’s always useful to have a short version of the case’s problems, so this is from the earlier newsletter: 1) The core crime alleged, falsifying business records, is a misdemeanor. 2) To turn the misdemeanor into a felony, Bragg had to claim that Trump falsified records in the act of committing another crime — but Bragg has not charged Trump with any other crime. 3) Bragg “stacked” the charges to come up with 34 felony counts against Trump based on what was essentially one payoff. 4) Bragg’s effort to boost the case from misdemeanor to felony depends on a highly debatable reading of campaign finance law. 5) Bragg’s star witness Michael Cohen is, in the New York Times’s words, “a disbarred lawyer who served prison time after pleading guilty to violating campaign finance laws, evading taxes, making false statements to a bank, and lying to Congress.”

Together, those weaknesses should have kept Bragg from even bringing the case. But remember the point here: For the anti-Trump coalition, convicting Trump of something — anything — is the goal. Shortly after Bragg indicted Trump, the liberal columnist E.J. Dionne addressed the widely expressed opinion that the Bragg case was weak and was therefore not the best first case to bring against Trump. “My immediate reaction was not to wonder if this was the ‘best’ case to lead with or what the politics will be,” Dionne noted on March 30, 2023, “but simple relief that Trump was finally being held accountable by the law. He still faces a trial, but that’s the point. He has evaded responsibility for too long.”

Later, other Democrats would file new criminal charges against Trump — a sprawling indictment over the 2020 election from the elected Democratic district attorney of Fulton County, Georgia, Fani Willis, plus two indictments, one concerning the 2020 election and the other about classified documents, from Jack Smith, the special prosecutor chosen by the Biden Justice Department to pursue Trump. But each of those cases has become bogged down in disputes that are both substantive and procedural. What’s left was…Alvin Bragg.

So now the Manhattan trial is about to begin. When Trump’s defenders say the case is weak and politically motivated, they’re right. But for the anti-Trump coalition, it’s what it’s got. Remember the famous quote from Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense when the United States invaded Iraq: “You go to war with the army you have. They’re not the army you might want or wish to have at a later time.” Right now, Bragg is the army the anti-Trump coalition has, and on Monday, they go to war.

For a deeper dive into many of the topics covered in the Daily Memo, please listen to my podcast, The Byron York Show — available on Radio America and the Ricochet Audio Network and everywhere else podcasts can be found.

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