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It’s official. Donald Trump faces 34 counts of falsifying business documents.
Let’s leave aside the flaws in the case, as they are currently reported: the issue of selective prosecution; the escalation in crime through the use of federal law over which Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has no jurisdiction; the question of how a 2016 event falls within the statute of limitations of the alleged charges.
Rather, how did a media outlet obtain the information on the “34 counts” before the indictment was released on Tuesday? The leaked information proved to be accurate when the indictment was made public on Tuesday.
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So what’s the problem here? Don’t news outlets receive a lot of leaked information in advance? Well, the problem is that grand jury indictments are — by law — secret. This information is not meant to be public.
According to New York Criminal Procedure Law § 190.25:
4. (a) Grand jury proceedings shall be secret and no grand juror, or other person … shall, except in the lawful exercise of his or her duties or by written order of the court, disclose the nature or substance of any testimony or evidence before a grand jury, or any decision, result, or other matter relating to a proceeding before a grand jury.
It’s the law of the black letter, and it receives great deference every day in New York’s criminal courts.
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So in light of that – and in light of the actions involved in this “historic” case – where is the investigation into the leak in this unlawful disclosure to the grand jury?
Understand: the media is not at fault here – it is just doing its job. They have the First Amendment on their side. The guilt here lies with the lessor.
And in light of the timing – with both sides of the aisle seriously questioning the validity of Bragg’s case – it seems likely that someone in Bragg’s device was the “source” to which John Miller of CNN referenced earlier this week. A source seeks to change the narrative by leaking 34 stacked accounts of the same charge.
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This is far from being an academic question. Aside from the potential misconduct here, a virtual certainty in this case is that the former president’s attorneys will bring a motion for a change of venue. In light of the fact that secret grand jury testimony may have been leaked by someone in the place in questionthis motion should be seriously considered.
But Trump’s lawyers should not only seek a change of venue, as the former president suggested, but they should also refer Bragg’s office to the New York State Bar Discipline Committee for potential violation. of this fundamental principle of the law of criminal procedure if, in fact, a lawyer is the one fleeing.
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They should also refer the case to the New York State Attorney General, as there is potential criminal load here. Under New York criminal law, the charge is unlawful disclosure to the grand jury:
§ 215.70 Unlawful disclosure to grand jury
A person is guilty of unlawful disclosure to the grand jury when, being a grand juror, prosecutor, grand jury stenographer, grand jury interpreter, police officer, or peace officer guarding a witness in a proceeding before the grand jury, or a clerk, attendant, warden, or other official having official duties in or about any room or proceeding before a grand jury, or a public officer or public employee, he intentionally discloses to another the nature or substance of any testimony before a grand jury, or of any decision, result or other matter participating in a proceeding before a grand jury which must be kept secret by law, except in the proper exercise of its functions official or upon written order of the court.
Unlawful disclosure to the grand jury is a class E felony.
That’s right. A real crime.
In fact, Trump or one of his attorneys could simply walk into an NYPD compound and file a complaint, thus initiating an investigation.
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Because we now know that the leaked report is accurate. And that means that this crime law clearly applies here. Someone is leaking, potentially validating a dodgy indictment listing the cumulative charges against the former president and potentially tainting the jury pool.
Doesn’t anyone in our legal system care, just because Trump is the target?
The last time this charge came to public attention was in the notorious Tawana Brawley case in the late 1980s. In that case, the New York State Attorney General launched an investigation. after such a leak to a grand jury.
Don’t the rights of a former US president deserve similar protection?
Another likely “tell” here is that CNN was used. We have seen this behavior before. Without getting into the substance of the case against former Trump campaign aide Roger Stone, the fact that CNN was in place in 2019 with camera crews for a SWAT-level arrest at the home of a 67-year-old man. years… (something, by the way, that CNN says was based on “a hunch”).
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Since it is Bragg’s office that may well be involved, a special prosecutor or the New York Attorney General should open a public investigation into this. authentic crime.
Failure to do so only calls into question the true motivation and relevance of this whole affair.
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