Home » Opinion | ‘It’s a Very Winnable Case’: Three Writers Dissect the Trump Trial

Opinion | ‘It’s a Very Winnable Case’: Three Writers Dissect the Trump Trial


David French, a Times columnist, hosted a written online conversation with the former federal prosecutors Mary McCord and Ken White to discuss and debate the Trump criminal trial in Manhattan and how, or if, the outcome will matter to voters.

David French: Before we start, just a quick refresher on the case. Donald Trump is charged with falsifying business records to conceal hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels, a porn film actress, to cover up a sexual relationship that Daniels said she had with Trump in 2006.

Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan district attorney, claims that Trump falsely recorded the hush money payments as “legal expenses.” Falsifying business records is ordinarily only a misdemeanor, but the D.A. is claiming that Trump falsified records with the intent to commit other crimes or conceal other crimes, including state and federal campaign finance violations, state tax crimes and the falsification of other business records. If he falsified business records to aid in the commission of these other crimes, then Trump could be guilty of a felony.

When the case was filed, legal analysts from across the political spectrum voiced concern about the case, mainly on legal grounds. I have expressed my own doubts about the case. Now that the trial is underway, what’s your assessment of the case today?

Ken White: We know a lot more now about the D.A.’s theory of the case than we did before. There was a lot of speculation about whether the predicate crime — the one Trump was promoting by falsifying records — was going to be federal or state, and whether it was going to be campaign-finance related or election-interference related. Now the prosecutors have shown their hand, and their lead theory is going to be that Trump meant to interfere unlawfully with an election by concealing information that the voters might have considered. A case tends to look stronger after the prosecution picks a theory and commits to it. The evidence of deliberate falsification of records is going to be very strong.

Mary McCord: I agree, the falsification of business records seems rock-solid based on the documentary evidence.

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