For weeks now, former President Donald Trump and legal experts on the right predicted that the prosecution Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg brought against Trump was pathetic and partisan.
Not long after Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records during his arraignment on Tuesday, some of his most outspoken political enemies also began casting doubt on Bragg’s attempts to send the former president to jail.
Here are the notorious anti-Trumpers who willingly admitted that Bragg’s case against the leader of the Republican Party is a weak attempt to keep him from winning the White House in 2024.
Former Deputy Director of the FBI Andrew McCabe expressed disappointment on CNN on Tuesday after he realized that Bragg’s justification for elevating Trump’s charges to felonies “simply isn’t there.”
“I think everyone was hoping we would see more,” McCabe said.
He later added that “It’s hard to imagine convincing a jury that they should get there.”
Jonathan Chait, a political columnist at New York Magazine, wrote in the Intelligencer that Bragg’s case against Trump is littered with “legal deficiencies” and kicks off “the criminalization of politics.”
“Trump is being prosecuted charged because he paid hush money to a mistress, something it’s inconcievable he would have been charged over if he were never a candidate for office,” Chait tweeted.
Attorney Alan Dershowitz called Bragg’s case against Trump a “politicization of the criminal justice system” and “very, very dangerous for America.”
“This is a scandalous misuse of the criminal justice system,” Dershowitz told Sky News Australia. “It will create a terrible precedent in which other prosecutors will go after people of the opposing party.”
CNN legal analyst Carrie Cordero said she expected Bragg’s charges against Trump to be connected to the payments Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen made to Stormy Daniels but said the case itself is “a little underwhelming.”
“There’s not more to it. There’s not more violations, tax violations. There’s not an incredible new set of facts that we didn’t know about publicly. It’s really the facts of this case, as they have existed for basically almost seven years,” Cordero said.
Sen. Mitt Romney
Republican Sen. Mitt Romney’s distaste for the former president is no secret but even his strong anti-Trump bias didn’t stop him from calling out the Manhattan D.A. for having “stretched to reach felony criminal charges in order to fit a political agenda.”
Trump-era National Security Adviser John Bolton says Bragg is “wrong on the applicability of the New York statute” that he charged Trump under.
“Speaking as someone who very strongly does not Donald Trump to get the Republican presidential nomination, I’m extraordinarily distressed by this document. I think this is even weaker than I feared it would be and I think it’s easily subject to being dismissed or a quick acquittal for Trump,” Bolton explained on a CNN panel on Tuesday.
Bolton warned that “there is no basis in the statutory language to say that Trump’s behavior forms either a [campaign] contribution or an expenditure under federal law” which effectively renders Bragg’s case vulnerable to challenge.
“If you can construe the statute to cover this behavior then I think it violates the First Amendment,” Bolton said.
Ian Millhiser, a senior correspondent at Vox, called Bragg’s case against Trump “painfully anticlimactic” and said it was built on an “uncertain legal theory.”
In the second paragraph of the Vox analysis he penned on Tuesday, Millhiser acknowledges that “there’s a very real risk that this indictment will end in an even bigger anticlimax” because “it is unclear that the felony statute that Trump is accused of violating actually applies to him.”
“Bragg, in other words, has built one of the most controversial and high-profile criminal cases in American history upon the most uncertain of foundations. And that foundation could crumble into dust if the courts reject his legal arguments on a genuinely ambiguous question of law,” Millhiser reaffirms later in the article.
Bloomberg opinion columnist and Harvard law professor Noah Feldman wrote in The Washington Post on Tuesday that indicting Trump is a “Risky Bet for New York and the Nation.”
Feldman opens by invoking Democrats’ favorite Trump talking point — “no one is above the law”– but quickly criticized Bragg’s case against the former president as “poorly timed,” “legally weak,” and one that could easily result in a mistrial or acquittal.
“And not only may Trump potentially beat the charges, at trial or on appeal,” Feldman wrote. “He may be able to use those charges to create the impression among his supporters that he is a victim of politically motivated vendetta. In turn, that may make it harder for Georgia or federal prosecutors to bring and sustain much more serious charges against him.”
Mark Joseph Stern
“The Trump Indictment Is Not the Slam-Dunk Case Democrats Wanted,” Slate senior writer Mark Joseph Stern’s latest headline blared.
According to Stern, Bragg fails to disclose the specific election law that he believes Trump violated even though the “entire prosecution hinges on that question.”
“These charges will be difficult to prove,” Stern warned. “There can be no doubt that the district attorney faces an uphill climb.”
“They tell the story of a complex conspiracy to illicitly alter the course of the 2016 election—potentially, a powerful tale of corruption that persuades both the jury and the public of this prosecution’s necessity,” he continued. “But Bragg’s legal theory is, if not convoluted, a fairly confusing effort to patch together disparate offenses into one alleged crime, carried out over 34 illegal payments. This is not at all the slam-dunk case that so many Democrats wanted.”
Even the lawyer who previously represented on-screen prostitute Stormy Daniels apparently cast doubt on Bragg’s ability to bring a successful case against Trump based on testimony from his former client.
“You can’t build a case on the testimony of Cohen and Daniels,” Michael Avenatti reportedly said.
Jonathan Lemire’s Democrat Sources
MSNBC host Jonathan Lemire told his fellow “Morning Joe” panelists last week that he and other Democrats are concerned Bragg’s case isn’t strong.
“Democrats I’ve spoken to, including some senior members of the White House, who do fear that because this case is weakest, that if it is brought first, that it will be potential — allow Trump to then paint this one as illegitimate, that it’s weak, and suggest that all of the other cases against him are as well. And that is something they’re worried about,” he warned.
Harvard law grad and senior editor of the anti-Trump publication The Dispatch Sarah Isgur admitted on Twitter shortly after Trump’s arraignment that Bragg’s charges don’t make sense.
“He’s tying felony falsification of business records to another state crime that requires unlawful means…so now we need a third crime in order for this ‘felony turtles all the way down’ charge to work. The two state crimes can’t point back to each other!” she wrote.