House Judiciary says New York prosecutors violated Trump’s constitutional and legal rights

The new report from the committee follows its investigation into Manhattan District Attorney’s prosecution of the former president.

Published: July 9, 2024 11:49am

Updated: July 9, 2024 2:34pm

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s prosecution of former President Donald Trump violated his constitutional and legal rights, according to a report released Tuesday by the GOP-led House Judiciary Committee and its Weaponization Subcommittee.  

The report also targets Judge Juan Merchan, who presided over the so-called Trump hush-money trial. 

The report identifies the “unconstitutional and unprecedented … theory of criminal liability,” the use of state power to prosecute violations of federal law, and Merchan's “egregious legal rulings” before and during the trial as “severe legal and procedural defects” in the case.

Trump was formally charged in April 2023 by Bragg. He was found guilty by a jury in May on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to conceal the hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

“The testimony that the Committee and Select Subcommittee have received makes clear that President Trump’s trial was riddled with constitutional defects – defects that should prompt the New York appellate courts to reverse the verdict. The trial violated basic principles of due process,” the committees conclude in the 35-page report.

You can read the report below:

The report specifically identifies the novel legal theory in the case as cause for concern, arguing that Trump’s defense was hamstrung by the fact that prosecutors never identified the underlying crime that warranted the upgrade of misdemeanor business records charges to felonies.

“Because President Trump had no notice of the specific charges against him, in particular the underlying crime and its essential elements, he did not have a meaningful opportunity to defend himself from those charges,” the report concludes.

On top of this ambiguity, Merchan informed the jurors during trial that they “did not have to agree on a singular unlawful act” to convict Trump, instead providing three options for what the underlying crime could be without requiring a unanimous agreement.

The committees argue that this novel legal theory violated a key tenet of criminal prosecutions defined by the Supreme Court which clarified that due process requires “notice of the specific charge” and opportunity for the accused to defend themselves against that charge.

After Trump was convicted, he vowed to appeal the jury’s decision and called the results a scam. "We're going to be appealing this scam," he said. "The judge was a tyrant. ... We're gonna fight," Trump asserted. "We will continue the fight. We're going to Make American Great Again!"

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