As news of former President Donald Trump's indictment spread across the media landscape early on Thursday evening, a swarm of legal analysis began buzzing steadily on every available social media platforms. Though Trump has reportedly been indicted on felony charges by a Manhattan grand jury over his payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels, the charges remain under seal by prosecutors from the office of Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg, and we may not learn their exact nature for several days.
With so many questions at play, the scholars, analysts and attorneys who haunt #LegalTwitter jumped into action nearly as quickly as the press. As Law Dork's Chris Geidner summed it up:
Bragg's investigation is one of many into Trump activities, of course. And in his legal analysis of this one for The Nation, Elie Mystal advises prudence.
"This isn't getting Al Capone for tax evasion; this is getting Al Capone for illegally serving alcohol at his underground poker game. It's minor, but it's also obvious," Mystal writes. He cautions that "Bragg appears to be arguing that the statute of limitations paused while Trump was president and living out of state. That's… a theory, but not necessarily a good one, and certainly not one that has been tested enough to know how it's going to hold up in the courts."
A.G. Hamilton, a pseudonymous attorney who writes for National Review, echoed Mystal's caution, adding that a relatively weak charge with no certainty of conviction may end up helping Trump politically.
"The NY case is by far the weakest one that Trump faces. An indictment for something minor and that he is likely to beat is obviously a gift to Trump. It will help fundraising, rally support, and make people more skeptical of the other cases," Hamilton wrote in a Thursday tweet.
In an appearance on MSNBC, Former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance hinted at likely strategies to emerge from Trump's camp.
"We are all so familiar with Donald Trump's tactics — with his belief that he's above the law, with his admonition to people that they should not respect the law when it's his own personal fortunes that are at stake," Vance said.
As several legal experts pointed out, Trump's defense team will likely seek drag the process out for months before any potential trial begins, and will of course pursue any possible avenues to get the charges dismissed.
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In the meantime, as pointed out by NBC News legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Glenn Kirschner, "what we do know is that never again can anybody say 'there's no precedent to indict a former president of the United States for his crimes,' because now there is. And that, my friends, is a good thing."
In his column for MSNBC on Thursday, Kirschner predicted more indictments to come.
"Trump's legal team undoubtedly will wage a scorched-earth defense. And outside the court of law, we can expect Trump loyalists to wage battles in the court of public opinion, most likely deploying both facts and alternative facts. America cannot yet breathe easy, as justice is still well off on the horizon," he wrote.
"Another likely consequence of this precedent-setting indictment is that it increases the odds that additional indictments will follow."
from Salon on Indictment Day