- Legal experts called former President Donald Trump’s Thursday indictment “deeply flawed” and “patently political.”
- Clark Neily, senior vice president for Legal Studies at the Cato Institute, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that the indictment is a “shocking affront to the Constitution’s plan for limited government and the rule of law” that could “end up being an indictment of America’s criminal justice system as well.”
- Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, one of multiple red state attorneys general to slam the indictment, tweeted that the “radical left has consistently weaponized our courts to silence conservative voices.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include comment from Clark Neily, senior vice president for Legal Studies at the Cato Institute.
Legal experts reacted Thursday to the news of former President Donald Trump’s indictment, calling it a “legal disaster” and “deeply flawed.”
A Manhattan grand jury voted to indict the former president on Thursday after Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s investigation into his alleged payment of hush money to former porn star Stormy Daniels. The indictment is “patently political prosecution,” according to Jonathan Turley, Shapiro Chair of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. (RELATED: Manhattan Grand Jury Votes To Indict Donald Trump)
“[Bragg] has made history, but it is an inglorious moment where even some on the left have criticized the effort,” Turley wrote on Twitter. “This is a patently political prosecution. Bragg and NY AG James ran on bagging Trump. This has fulfilled that pledge but, if the indictment follows the course described in coverage, it is deeply flawed theory. We will have to wait to see the indictment.”
Clark Neily, senior vice president for Legal Studies at the Cato Institute, told the Daily Caller News Foundation that it is “difficult to imagine a more shocking affront to the Constitution’s plan for limited government and the rule of law” than the indictment, which may “end up being an indictment of America’s criminal justice system as well.”
“The Founders were acutely aware of the many ways in which criminal law can be abused by those in positions of power—from being wielded as tool of political payback and oppression, as many see the various criminal investigations against Trump, to our wildly over criminalized society in which most adults have committed crimes for which they could in theory be prosecuted,” he said. “Unlike Donald Trump, however, most Americans lack the resource to vigorously defend themselves in court and thus end up being induced — and in some cases nakedly coerced — by prosecutors into waving their right to trial and pleading guilt instead, as more than 90 percent of criminal defendants in our system do today.”
“[I]f America’s criminal justice system goes on trial along with Donald Trump, then perhaps there may be a silver lining to what many see as an inherently politicized prosecution by the Manhattan DA,” he said.
Legal scholar and Harvard Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz called the decision “foolish” on Newsmax.
“They’ve made a foolish, foolish decision which will cause the case to be thrown out, I think, on statute of limitations grounds,” he said. Dershowitz added that Trump’s lawyers should make a motion to dismiss on statute of limitations grounds and on the grounds that the “alleged crime doesn’t fit.”
Former Senior Legal Adviser to President Trump Jenna Ellis said that the prosecution is only “incentivizing donors and the MAGA base to rally support against Trump because no one deserves to be politically prosecuted.”
“The case against Donald Trump is a legal disaster and weaponizing the justice system against a political opponent,” Ellis wrote on Twitter. “The only reason DA Alvin Bragg is bringing charges is because Trump is running for the GOP 2024 presidential nomination.”
The case against Donald Trump is a legal disaster and weaponizing the justice system against a political opponent.
The only reason DA Alvin Bragg is bringing charges is because Trump is running for the GOP 2024 presidential nomination.
The DNC and RNC want a post-Trump…
— Jenna Ellis 🇺🇸 (@JennaEllisEsq) March 30, 2023
A handful of state attorneys general have also reacted to the indictment.
“The radical left has consistently weaponized our courts to silence conservative voices,” tweeted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. “The actions by the Soros-backed Democrat DA in NYC is the latest example of this abuse of power. I stand with President Trump!”
Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey also noted that the Manhattan DA is “Soros-funded” and said he should be “protecting the people of NYC from violent crime” instead of bringing “specious charges against our former President.”
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said she is “heartbroken by the damage this targeted prosecution will do to the integrity of our justice system.”
“It is a sad day in the story of the United States,” Moody said.
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