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Manhattan DA has no authority 'to enforce federal campaign finance crimes': ex-FEC commissioner

What Trump prosecutor Alvin Bragg is "counting on," legal expert Hans von Spakovsky suspects, is that "he can get a liberal jury to convict Trump, no matter what the facts are and no matter what the law is."

Published: April 22, 2023 11:17pm

Updated: April 23, 2023 1:31pm

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg's case against former President Donald Trump is legally "dubious" and motivated by political ambition, alleges legal expert Hans von Spakovsky. 

"It's an extremely dubious prosecution, and I say that as a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission," he told Just The News.

Von Spakovsky, the manager of the conservative Heritage Foundation's Election Law Reform Initiative, said Bragg is going after Trump for alleged federal election crimes that are not within his jurisdiction. 

"No local state prosecutor has the authority to enforce federal campaign finance crimes in the first place," he explained. "There's just nothing from a factual and legal standpoint to this case. But I don't think this prosecutor cares about that. What he's counting on is that he's in Manhattan. Manhattan is one of the most liberal jurisdictions in the country. I think he believes that he can get a liberal jury to convict Trump, no matter what the facts are and no matter what the law is." 

Von Spakovsky predicted that if politics prevails and Trump is found guilty on any of the 34 counts he faces, his only option would be to ask an appellate judge to reverse the decision based on Bragg's handling of the case. 

"He can appeal and try to convince an appellate court that this was everything from a malicious prosecution to the fact that it wasn't actually a violation of the law," von Spakovsky explained. "A lot of this is going to depend on the judges and the tenure of the judges in the state court system. And I think that's what Bragg is counting on, because his case is so weak, so nonexistent, that even folks on the left side of the political aisle — including prosecutors — have all basically said there's just nothing to this case." 

Von Spakovsky believes the prosecution is motivated by political ambition not the pursuit of justice. 

"I think this is very personal to Alvin Bragg," he said. "In other words, I think he is a politically ambitious local DA, and he thinks that this will make him a hero with the Democratic Party and liberal organizations all over the country and that it will enhance his future political career." 

Von Spakovsky rejects the case against Trump in toto — from the underlying conduct involving an alleged Trump hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels to the stacking of charges.

"It's perfectly legitimate to pay a settlement," he noted. "It's perfectly legitimate to have a nondisclosure agreement. And Bragg's multiplying that into 34 accounts, that in itself shows a lack of credibility. When prosecutors take a single incident, or two incidents and turn it into three dozen supposed violations of the law, that's a sure sign that the prosecutor doesn't have a case and is trying to overwhelm the jury." 

The prosecution of the former Republican president by a local left-wing prosecutor in a lopsidedly Democratic jurisdiction represents a dangerous weaponization of the law, rejection of which should transcend partisanship, von Spakovsky argues.

"This is a really serious matter," he concluded. "Anyone looking at the Trump case needs to divorce what their political opinion is of Trump, because whether you like him or hate him, you need to look at the facts and evidence of what this prosecutor is doing. And I think anyone that does that, will realize this is a political persecution. It's not a real prosecution." 

Just The News reached out to DA Bragg's office for a rebuttal to von Spakovsky's comments but did not receive a reply. 

You can follow Nick on Twitter @NGivasDC

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