Donald Trump Takes Unusual Legal Action

In his recent filing, Donald Trump informed Judge Juan Merchan that he plans to present an advice-of-counsel defense at his upcoming criminal trial in New York. However, the former president clarifies that this defense is not being presented in a formal manner, indicating that there will be no waiver of attorney-client privilege for any communications.

Attorney Bradley P. Moss, a frequent critic of Trump, expressed his curiosity on X, formerly Twitter, about Trump’s ability to play this unusual game. Moss sought the opinion of lawyers in New York to shed light on whether Trump can effectively utilize this strategy. Moss clarified that Trump is not explicitly invoking the defense, but rather informally attempting to do so.

The trial concerning President Trump revolves around allegations connected to the hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels, also known by her legal name Stephanie Clifford, an adult-film actress.

The Context

In his testimony, Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, admitted to paying $130,000 to Stormy Daniels. This payment was made as part of a nondisclosure agreement to prevent her from publicly discussing the alleged affair between Daniels and Trump. Initially, Cohen stated that he made the payment using his own funds and that he was not reimbursed by Trump or The Trump Organization. However, further investigations and legal proceedings uncovered that Cohen was indeed reimbursed by Trump and his company. This reimbursement included a $35,000 monthly retainer for Cohen’s services.

The payment and its reimbursement have sparked considerable legal concerns, specifically concerning campaign finance law. The main question at hand is whether the $130,000 payment was an undisclosed campaign contribution. Federal law mandates the disclosure of all campaign contributions and imposes limits on individual donations. If the payment to Daniels aimed to influence the election by preventing the release of damaging information, it could be deemed an unlawful campaign contribution.

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In 2018, Cohen admitted guilt to several charges, including campaign finance violations connected to the payments made to Daniels and McDougal. During his court appearance, Cohen acknowledged that he had made the payments “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” suggesting Trump’s involvement in the plan.

What We Know

In an admission, Trump acknowledged that he had reimbursed Cohen for the payment made to Daniels, but he vehemently denied the occurrence of any affair. Interestingly, Trump categorized this payment to Cohen as “legal fees” in his company records.

In 2018, Trump expressed on Twitter that these agreements are quite common among celebrities and wealthy individuals.

Views

According to Trump’s attorneys, they will argue that he did not have the necessary intention to commit the actions outlined in the indictment.

President Trump’s legal team, in a criminal court filing made public on Tuesday, stated their intention to uncover pertinent information from witnesses who they believe will testify about the President’s awareness of his counsel’s involvement in the alleged misconduct. It is important to note that this approach does not amount to a formal advice-of-counsel defense.

According to Moss, the interpretation of Trump’s legal argument is that his intent cannot be considered criminal because he relied on lawyers to ensure everything was done lawfully. It’s like he gave orders and trusted that the lawyers would handle everything in a lawful manner, so now he believes he is covered.

What’s Next?

Trump is currently facing a total of 91 felony charges, which are divided among four separate indictments. Throughout his legal battles, he has consistently maintained his innocence, vehemently denying any wrongdoing. According to Trump, he believes that these charges are simply a result of political motivations.

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The claim made by Trump lawyers that they are unable to file documents in the classified documents case in Florida due to the upcoming hush money trial has been strongly objected to by Department of Justice Special Counsel Jack Smith.

Trump and his legal team have requested a 10-day extension to file documents in Florida. This additional time is needed as they prepare for the upcoming Daniels case, scheduled to commence on March 25.

Judge Aileen Cannon, a Trump appointee, has granted the ex-president’s request for an extension. As a result, the ex-president will now have until March 24 to file his documents, instead of the previous deadline of Thursday.

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