Andy McCarthy: “no one who was not Donald Trump would conceivably be charged with this.”
ANDY MCCARTHY: Well, I think it’s clearly a misdemeanor. It’s one that shouldn’t be brought. And the attack on Bragg here, it shouldn’t be a defense of Trump, because it looks like this is a falsification of records. But the attack on Bragg ought to be that no one who was not Donald Trump would conceivably be charged with this. And then with respect to Bragg, the second part, where he’s being super aggressive, even though he’s incredibly not aggressive when it comes to like real crime in New York. This idea of trying to sort of bootstrap campaign finance violations on this, I mean, it’s first of all, most campaign finance laws are federal, which is not what the New York penal code is talking about, he’s apparently going to try to say, well, it could have been a violation of New York’s election law. Did Trump lose New York by like 30 points?
Michael Cohen was not just charged, but also convicted of substantially similar allegations. From the press release announcing his plea agreement:
The plea was entered followed the filing of an eight-count criminal information, which alleged that COHEN concealed more than $4 million in personal income from the IRS, made false statements to a federally-insured financial institution in connection with a $500,000 home equity loan, and, in 2016, caused $280,000 in payments to be made to silence two women who otherwise planned to speak publicly about their alleged affairs with a presidential candidate, thereby intending to influence the 2016 presidential election. COHEN pled guilty today before U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III.
. . . .
On February 14, 2017, COHEN sent an executive of the Company (“Executive-1”) the first of his monthly invoices, requesting “[p]ursuant to [a] retainer agreement, . . . payment for services rendered for the months of January and February, 2017.” The invoice listed $35,000 for each of those two months. Executive-1 forwarded the invoice to another executive of the Company (“Executive-2”) the same day by email, and it was approved. Executive-1 forwarded that email to another employee at the Company, stating: “Please pay from the Trust. Post to legal expenses. Put ‘retainer for the months of January and February 2017’ in the description.”
Throughout 2017, COHEN sent to one or more representatives of the Company monthly invoices, which stated, “Pursuant to the retainer agreement, kindly remit payment for services rendered for” the relevant month in 2017, and sought $35,000 per month. The Company accounted for these payments as legal expenses. In truth and in fact, there was no such retainer agreement, and the monthly invoices COHEN submitted were not in connection with any legal services he had provided in 2017.
As Andrew Weissman and Ryan Goodman write in the New York Times:
But does that mean the Manhattan criminal case is an example of selective prosecution — in other words, going after a political enemy for a crime that no one else would be charged with? Not by a long shot. To begin with, Mr. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen, who was instrumental in the scheme, has already pleaded guilty to a federal crime emanating from this conduct and served time for it and other crimes. Federal prosecutors told the court that Mr. Cohen “acted in coordination with and at the direction of” Mr. Trump (identified as “Individual 1”). It would be anathema to the rule of law not to prosecute the principal for the crime when a lower-level conspirator has been prosecuted.
This is not a case of selective prosecution but of selective outrage on the part of McCarthy and his ilk.
McCarthy is right that “most” campaign finance laws are federal, and Cohen was convicted in federal court. But New York also has laws against misreporting campaign-related expenditures to influence the campaign. It’s a bit odd for an ostensible conservative to complain that an exercise of police power, typically a local issue, is being handled locally and not by the feds. But you say what you gotta say to get on TV, I guess.