I am not a lawyer but even I can see that any chance Trump has of beating the rap on the false business charges in Manhattan will rely on a weird potential loophole. The facts are indisputable. He paid off a porn star and tried to cover it up by falsifying how the money exchanged hands. But is this a campaign finance violation? It’s a misdemeanor, but is it a felony?

Trump benefits from the fact that he committed this crime in a federal election, so he might be able to argue that Alvin Bragg has no jurisdiction. Bragg may also struggle to enforce federal tax violations. Trump might also argue that his tax violations (both federal and state) weren’t the point and were really part and parcel of the main crime, not an addendum to it which can be used as booster to turn his misdemeanor into a felony.

In his press conference, Bragg refused to be locked into any one theory of the case, which left many unsatisfied or skeptical that he can make this case work. But I actually love this.

Trump doesn’t have to be back in court to answer these charges for almost eight months, during which he can’t really do shit. His lawyers may succeed in winning pretrial motions but it’s unlikely they’ll get the whole case thrown out. What happened yesterday is that the seal was broken on indicting Trump. That’s really it. Now people will slowly get used to that idea, and they won’t be shocked at all when more indictments arrive from Atlanta (likely at the end of the month) and from the Justice Department (perhaps sometime in late spring or early summer). The people will also be better mentally prepared to see Trump in court to answer civil rape charges beginning in late April. And then there’s New York Attorney General Letitia James’s civil case that has to fit in here somewhere. By the time Bragg’s case goes on trial, people will see Trump as more of a permanent defendant than an ex-president or presidential contender.

I’ll have more to say about what this all means for the country, but I actually am enjoying the ambiguity in Bragg’s case because it just leaves Trump twisting in the wind. The eight-month hiatus before the trial even keeps him from making it an issue, since people will move onto other things and other trials.

He should be on trial for high treason and facing the death penalty for his coup attempt, and he has no right to complain about anything less. In the meantime, let’s just watch him get taken apart limb by limb.

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