Former President Donald Trump urged a New York judge to dismiss criminal charges relating to hush money payments in sweeping arguments that included claims Trump was indicted to interfere in his 2024 presidential campaign.
Trump’s lawyers argued that the Manhattan district attorney’s office waited five years after the investigation was initially launched and then only seated the grand jury that handed up the indictment weeks after Trump announced last fall that he was running for president again.
“The indictment was filed six years after the conduct at issue, more than four-and-a-half years after DANY began to investigate it, and more than three years after DANY started presenting evidence to a grand jury,” his attorneys wrote.
“The delay has prejudiced President Trump, interfered with his ongoing presidential campaign, and violated his due process rights,” they wrote.
The long-shot legal argument mirrors many of the public statements Trump, who has pleaded not guilty to the charges in this case and all others against him, has made in social media posts and elsewhere in response to the four criminal indictments he is facing – for his handling of classified documents and interference in the 2020 election. He often targets the prosecutors to claim that the cases are aimed to stop him from returning to the White House.
Trump’s attorneys are also seeking a hearing before Judge Juan Merchan to inquire about grand jury leaks and to obtain more specific information about the prosecution’s evidence relating to Trump’s intent to defraud.
“There was no evidence before the grand jury that President Trump intended to cheat anyone out of money or property through the allegedly falsified entries,” Trump’s attorneys added.
Trump was indicted in March on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. The charges relate to how he reimbursed his former attorney Michael Cohen, who made a $130,000 payment to stop adult film actress Stormy Daniels from going public days before the 2016 election about a previous alleged affair with Trump, which the former president denies. The allegations are that Trump falsified business records through invoices, how the payments to Cohen were recorded, and the checks that were issued to him.
His lawyers say that the records Trump is charged with falsifying are personal records, not business records, and the payments came out of his own pocket, not corporate accounts.
They also claim that the district attorney’s office didn’t present evidence to the grand jury that Trump was aware of the falsity of the entries, the memo says.
In their legal papers, Trump’s attorneys lean on descriptions of the inner workings of the district attorney’s office that were revealed in a book by Mark Pomerantz, a former special assistant district attorney who was brought in by then-District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and resigned when Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg did not authorize him to seek an indictment of Trump related to an investigation into the accuracy of his financial records.
“New York’s business records statute has never been applied in this fashion, and even the most ardent and publicly supportive former prosecutor, Mark Pomerantz, to have worked on the case doubted that DANY’s legal theory is viable,” they wrote.
In his book, Pomerantz questioned whether a falsified business records felony charge could hold up in court since a felony charge requires that the statements are falsified to commit or conceal another crime. He questioned whether that second state crime could relate to a federal election.
Trump’s lawyers say the Manhattan DA’s office has shown their “unequal hand” in prosecuting Trump but declining to investigate allegations that Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign improperly booked campaign expenses as legal payments in connection with the hiring of a research firm to prepare the so-called “Steele Dossier.”