By Zachary Stieber
If former President Donald Trump is indicted, he’ll probably be convicted but an appeal would likely lead to the conviction being thrown out, legal expert Alan Dershowitz said on March 18.
“I don’t think there will be a motion to dismiss that succeeds. This is New York justice. In New York, of course you can indict a ham sandwich. But in New York, you can also convict a ham sandwich because the jury pool will be very much against Trump and the judges will be very much against Trump,” Dershowitz, professor emeritus at Harvard Law School, said during an appearance on Fox News.
“So, if I were him, I would be worried today. He’ll probably ultimately win on appeal, but do judges today have the courage … to do something favorable to Trump in a city which overwhelmingly despises Trump? That’s what’s wrong with this justice system.”
Trump is reportedly set to face an indictment for a payment made to Stormy Daniels, an adult actress who has made the contested claim that he had an affair with her. The payment was made by Trump lawyer Michael Cohen, and Trump reimbursed the lawyer. Trump has said the allegations were “debunked.”
Dershowitz, who was part of Trump’s impeachment defense team in 2020, agreed. “There is no crime here,” he said.
‘Used His Own Money’
Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said in a statement that most campaign finance violations involve spending other people’s money illegally or accepting money that you should not.
“Trump did neither. He used his own money to resolve a private dispute, irrespective of any campaign. The impending indictment is based on an untested, tortured legal theory. This is an absurd abuse of the criminal process in our politics. It must be seen for the partisan pathetic ploy it is,” Gaetz, a Trump supporter, said.
“News of a possible indictment against President Trump is just ANOTHER example of the Left’s derangement,” Rep. Ralph Norman (R-S.C.) added.
“This is a TOTAL SHAM involving a weak case… from years ago… with questionable witnesses,” he said on Twitter.
Rudy Giuliani, another former Trump lawyer, said on Newsmax that the case would be a violation of due process and would eventually be dismissed if brought.
“Prosecutors have come out against this, and said, ‘Hey, don’t do this: This will get him elected president,’” Giuliani said. “This is such a miscarriage of justice, it’ll get him elected president.”
Sen. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) said an indictment wouldn’t change his support of Trump.
“Hell no,” Vance said on Twitter. “A politically motivated prosecution makes the argument for Trump stronger. We simply don’t have a real country if justice depends on politics.”
An indictment would be “outrageous if true,” Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) said. “The leftist Manhattan DA resembles Stalin’s secret police attacking only Republicans and letting crime explode. Harassing President Trump to distract from their own failures is the left’s plan.”
But while many Republicans defended Trump and cast the potential looming charge as an abuse of power, Democrats said they would support an indictment.
“Proving a misdemeanor here, not that hard. Falsifying business records, the evidence there is probably pretty strong. The trickier case is going to be proving the felony. In order to prove the felony, you have to prove intent to conceal,” Rep. Jeff Jackson (D-N.C.), a former prosecutor, said on Fox.
“One of the key aspects of the DA’s case is not only do we have evidence that Michael Cohen was reimbursed for that, but that the reimbursement happened in phases. Speaks to intent,” he added.
“I applaud the Manhattan DA if he is actually bringing these charges, because we know, number one, the courage that it takes to go after this particular character, and number two, we also know that there will be a heightened level of scrutiny on this kind of case,” Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Texas) said on MSNBC. “And so we know that if you decide to actually indict a former president, you actually are coming with a pretty strong case.”
Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said on the channel that she’s constantly asked by people when Trump will be arrested.
“I have never seen, most people have never seen or believed, we would have a president who has acted in the way that he has,” she said, adding later: “This president conducted himself in a way that he does not deserve not to be arrested. He should be arrested. He should be indicted.”
Discussing Within White House
While neither the White House nor President Joe Biden has commented on the reported indictment, former White House press secretary Jen Psaki said they’re talking about it.
“I’m sure they’re discussing in the White House among the president’s political advisers right now … ‘how do you campaign, and keep this campaign about the American people and the Biden presidency and his accomplishments and not about Donald Trump,’” Psaki said on NBC.
Biden has not launched a reelection bid but had repeatedly suggested he’s going to run.
“It’s not about the president going out and explaining Trump’s legal woes and whether he’s guilty or not guilty or should be convicted,” Psaki, who now works for NBC, said. “It is about President Biden staying on the track of communicating what he’s doing for the public.”