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Opinion: I’ve been a criminal attorney for decades. Here’s what I think about the case against Trump

It was a little more than a year ago, on April 3, 2023, that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg announced a 34-count criminal indictment against former President Donald J. Trump. Now the trial against Trump is set to begin, with opening statements scheduled to get underway Monday at 9:30 a.m.

Trump stands accused of falsifying invoices and business ledgers and sending reimbursement checks to his then-attorney Michael Cohen under the pretext that they were payments for legal services rendered.

Prosecutors say they were no such thing, but were rather reimbursement to Cohen for a $130,000 payment he made on Trump’s behalf to former adult actress Stormy Daniels. Daniels was paid, they say, to keep her from outing Trump ahead of the election in order to conceal their liaison and thereby enhance his election prospects.

In New York state, falsifying business records is a misdemeanor carrying a penalty of up to a year in jail. However, if it can be demonstrated that the reason for the falsification was to commit some other crime, as prosecutors say is the case here, it becomes a felony punishable by up to four years in jail.

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