Arraigned in Manhattan: Don’t Believe Your Lying Eyes

It’s time to Break It Down!

An arraignment is usually the first court hearing in a criminal case, following an arrest. Now that we have dispensed with the definitional part of this discussion, on to the particulars. Yesterday, Don Trump, the Elder, was arraigned in a Manhattan court room. He faced 34 felony counts and pled not guilty to all charges. This is where I stipulate, that Mr. Trump, as any other defendant, is presumed, not just, not guilty, but innocent (there is a difference), until proved guilty.

Mr. Trump claims, and his real supporters swear, he is innocent, and that he is the victim of an evil liberal cabal, executing an overtly politicized agenda against him…and more importantly, the millions of conservatives he represents.

Though the front door of this case makes it appear to be about paying off a porn star, an allegation with copious and detailed supporting evidence, the 34 counts he is charged with relate to falsifying business records under Article 175 of the New York Penal Law. There is a lot of minutiae beneath all the legalese undergirding the charges against Trump. I won’t even attempt to explain it all, but a modicum of clarification is apropos. First, this does not imply Trump committed 34 different crimes. Rather, the indictment lists 34 felony counts under one New York statute. Each count signifies a separate instance of alleged misconduct, but not a different type of crime.

That is not by any means meant to suggest this bundle of counts is one big distinction without a difference. For example, just to tease out one instance, were Mr. Trump to be convicted of the felony bookkeeping fraud charge, he would face up to four years in prison for each count. Surely, we can agree, there is nothing insignificant about such an outcome. It is in the judge’s discretion to impose consecutive sentences, which would mean, Mr. Trump, if found guilty, would have to the counts, one after another.

Conversely, the charge does not carry a mandatory prison sentence. Even if convicted on all counts, Trump would not necessarily face jail time. As a first-time offender (technically, anyway), with no criminal record, legal experts say, it is uncertain whether the former president and 2024 White House candidate would be sentenced to prison if convicted.

If you are pro-Trump, you will probably want to read that again. If you are anti-Trump, you won’t want to, but you probably should read that again. It would behoove you to get accustomed to the possibility of that outcome, even if Trump is convicted.

That brings me to my next point. There is a segment of the geo-political sphere who fully embraces the notion that Trump is innocent. Full stop. He has used the flaming populist rhetoric that has served him so well since the 2015 onset of his initial quest to gain the presidency, to fan the flames of vitriol aimed at Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg, his investigators, and anyone even remotely associated with prosecuting the case against him. On the prosecutorial side, despite the contention of Trumpers to the contrary, the D.A., the Grand Jury, and everyone involved have proceeded slowly, cautiously, and with great rectitude, in an effort to ensure that Trump’s rights, real and imagined, are not trampled.

In theory, this is a good thing. Because in theory, we are all equal under the law, and as such, none of us would want to be consumed whole and spit out by the all-encompassing “system.” But hold on, wait a minute. That’s just not the way it is. In fact, it’s not even close. The reality is, no president, or former president has ever been imprisoned. In fact, Trump, just being arraigned was precedent-setting. Moreover, consider how long it has taken to get this far. I don’t want to suggest this matter is full of sound and fury, signifying nothing, but color me hella surprised, if this dude is convicted of anything stemming from this case, and flat stunned, if he goes to anyone’s jail, not even Club Fed.

It is important to note, while this case is currently front and center, there are others in the wings: 

In January, the Trump Organization was fined $1.6m for tax fraud

A Georgia grand jury has left potential charging decisions in the hands of local prosecutors

The Legal Defense Fund is suing Mr. Trump and the RNC for attempting to overturn a duly executed and certified election

A federal judge has allowed 3 lawsuits from members of the US Capitol and DC Metropolitan police forces to move forward

Mr. Trump also faces an ongoing suit related to sexual harassment charges

New York AG Letitia James has filed a $250m lawsuit against Trump and 3 of his children 

There are others, but perhaps the most threatening case is a DOJ, special counsel-led investigation into Trump’s handling of classified documents and materials

Familiar as he is with legal proceedings, Mr. Trump saw many, if not most of these cases coming, a mile away. He had the prescience to become an early declared candidate for president, no doubt anticipating using his candidacy as a shield against potential legal action, much as he used the Oval Office during his presidency. We’ll see how that works out for him. In all fairness, it’s served him well so far. “Arraigned in Manhattan: Don’t Believe Your Lying Eyes!”

I’m done; holla back!

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