After months — years? — of anticipation, Donald Trump has reportedly been indicted (free link) by the Manhattan district attorney’s office on criminal charges that he paid off a porn star he’d had sex with in order to buy her silence ahead of the 2016 election. Hey, it could happen to anyone, right?
I don’t really have anything to add to the mountains of commentary that’s going to come our way. But I do want to recommend this recent edition of “The Ezra Klein Show.” The guest was Times columnist David French, an anti-Trump conservative of long standing who also happens to be a pretty sharp lawyer.
As French explained it, Trump faces criminal exposure on three fronts. The Stormy Daniels case is actually the weakest because it rests on some rather esoteric and unproven legal theories. I’m not going to get into it, but French’s explanation was clear and compelling.
The strongest of the three cases is that Trump corruptly tried to interfere with the 2020 vote count in Georgia, not just pushing Republican officials to overturn the results but threatening them if they refused. French is of the view that this one is close to a slam-dunk, as Trump was caught breaking the law on audio recordings.
Finally, there are whatever federal charges may come out of Trump’s actions during and before the attempted insurrection of Jan. 6 — seeking to overturn the election, putting Mike Pence’s life in danger and inciting a mob to violence. French seems to think that the case is reasonably strong but may prove too complicated when it’s put before a jury.
Also, I like to joke with my students about my Unified Richard Nixon Theory of Everything. Well, the Times is observing that Trump would be the first former president to face criminal charges. True — but that’s only because Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon before he could be indicted.