GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A legal expert at Western Michigan University’s Cooley Law school explained what charges former President Donald Trump is facing in New York and what may follow.
“Under New York state law for it to be falsifying business records in the first degree, of which we noted there are 34 counts … it has to be falsifying a business record to conceal or in furtherance of another crime,” said WMU Cooley Law School professor Michael McDaniel.
McDaniel said new documents revealed Tuesday brought a clearer picture of the case that the Manhattan District Attorney is trying to make against the former president.
“It’s pretty clear from reading the statement of facts that you have five main witnesses we are going to hear from in the trial. The two women we’ll hear from plus Cohen the lawyer, David Pecker from the National Enquirer and then Allen Weisselberg from The Trump Organization are all necessary witnesses. Weisselberg, his former CFO (Chief Financial Officer), is currently in prison and I’m sure looking to avoid state criminal charges,” said McDaniel.
The indictment zeroes in on alleged “hush money payments” and what the Manhattan District Attorney says was a conspiracy to find, buy and suppress negative information about Trump before the 2016 presidential election.
“It’s not illegal to pay hush money, but when you conceal that and you conceal that in furtherance of the 2016 presidential election, then it can become both falsifying a business record and to do so is part of a larger criminal scheme,” said McDaniel.
McDaniel says now, they have to build a case that the former president was falsifying those payments and doing so to cover up another crime.
“There is clearly evidence of falsification of business records. For it to be a first degree falsification of business records we need a little more detail on what that underlying felony was, whether it was campaign violations, whether it was conspiracy to violate the campaign laws, or there was some other sort of fraud,” said McDaniel.
In the upcoming months, Trump’s legal team is expected to make motions and file for discovery.
Trump is expected back in court for this case in December.