Lady Justice and Trump's Mugshot

Trump Indictments, Part 6: Conclusions

Lady Justice and Trump's Mugshot

In this series, I have provided a detailed written analysis of all the criminal charges currently faced by former President Donald Trump (R). These include thirty-four counts in the New York business records case, forty in the federal documents case, four in the federal election case, and thirteen in the Georgia election case—a grand total of ninety-one criminal charges.

As I explained in the brief overview at the beginning of the series, my goal was to “explain the facts as I understand them, then add some informed conjecture and my conclusions.” I have tried to be fair. I have my biases, but I strive to apply my principles, and the law, without favor. I will not hold politicians on “my side” to a lesser standard than those on the “other side.”

I (reluctantly) endorsed Trump in 2016 and again in 2020, and I generally tend more to the Republican side of the American political duopoly than the Democratic one. I am convinced that at least some of the legal mortars that have been fired at Trump during and after his presidency were launched by partisan figures for less-than-honorable reasons. “Russiagate” and the impeachments were mostly nonsense, and the overwhelming majority of charges in these four indictments are irreparably flawed—some are obviously unconstitutional, some are impermissibly vague, and some cannot be proved beyond a reasonable doubt without resorting to mind-reading.

And yet, buried in the fluff, there are accusations with merit . . . and it turns out that some of them warrant conviction. As is often the case, reality lies somewhere between the insistent pronouncements of the right-wing and the left. You cannot yell, “partisan hit job!” and throw everything out because you like Trump. Nor can you convict him on all counts, law and principles be damned, because you don’t like him. Justice, when practiced properly, is a search for the truth . . . and the truth is often complicated.

This post is a [relatively] brief summary of what I found when I did my “deep dive” analyses of every charge Trump is facing. If even this is too much, you can skip to the “Summary of Conclusions” near the end. And of course, for details about my reasoning you’ll have to follow the links to the more detailed article about each indictment.

Business Records (New York)

Full Analysis

Trump was indicted by a New York grand jury on March 30, 2023, on thirty-four charges of “Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.”

According to prosecutors, Trump arranged for his lawyer, Michael Cohen, to pay the adult film actress known as Stormy Daniels in return for her silence about an alleged affair with Trump. They agreed that Trump would repay Cohen in twelve monthly payments. Cohen submitted eleven invoices for reimbursement (one covered a two-month period) that falsely stated they were for a legal retainer.

Eleven charges are for entering the false invoices into Trump Organization business records, twelve are for business ledger entries marked as “legal expenses,” and eleven are for checks and check stubs that were also labeled as being for a legal retainer.

Based on the facts of the case and New York law, the proper conclusions are:

  • Counts 1, 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, and 32, “Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree” – Not guilty (Trump) (See ed. note).
    • Business records (i.e., the invoices) were falsified, and Trump was aware of it.
    • There was no legally actionable “intent to defraud,” so the conditions of the crime are not met.
    • There is no evidence of further criminal intent, so charging in the first degree is improper.
  • Counts 2, 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30, and 33, “Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree” – Not guilty (Trump) (See ed. note).
    • Categorizing the ledger entries as legal expenses was not even clearly wrong.
    • Thus, the very first condition of the crime is not met . . . and certainly not beyond a reasonable doubt. These charges are completely improper.
  • Counts 4, 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28, 31, and 34, “Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree” – Not guilty (Trump) (See ed. note).
    • The checks and stubs were falsified, and Trump was aware of it.
    • It is improper to treat the checks and stubs as separate records from the invoices; these counts should have been merged into the invoice counts.
    • Regardless, there was no actionable “intent to defraud,” nor was there evidence of further criminal intent.

Documents (Federal)

Full Analysis

Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 8, 2023, with a superseding indictment adding more charges on July 27.

The indictment lists forty charges against Trump—thirty-two counts of “Willful Retention of National Defense Information,” and one count each for “Withholding a Document or Record,” “Corruptly Concealing a Document or Record,” “Concealing a Document in a Federal Investigation,” “Scheme to Conceal,” “False Statements and Representations,” “Altering, Destroying, Mutilating, or Concealing an Object,” “Corruptly Altering, Destroying, Mutilating or Concealing a Document, Record, or Other Object,” and “Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice.”

According to prosecutors, Trump illegally transferred government-owned presidential records, including classified material, to his Mar-a-Lago resort, illegally retained those records after the end of his presidency, withheld documents that had been subpoenaed by a federal grand jury, and attempted to destroy evidence.

Based on the facts of the case and federal law, the proper conclusions are:

  • Counts 1-32, “Willful Retention of National Defense Information” – Not guilty (Trump).
    • The documents in question were de facto declassified by Trump while he was still president.
  • Count 33, “Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice” – Not guilty (Trump, Nauta, and De Oliveira).
    • The charge is morally and constitutionally invalid.
  • Count 34, “Withholding a Record” – Guilty (Trump and Nauta).
    • This charge is more accurately described as “Corrupt Persuasion and Misleading Conduct.”
    • The defendants misled Corcoran for the purpose of concealing subpoenaed documents from the grand jury.
    • The defendants could be imprisoned for up to twenty years or fined up to $250,000.
  • Count 35, “Corruptly Concealing a Record” – Guilty (Trump and Nauta).
    • The defendants hid documents from Corcoran for the purpose of impairing their availability to the grand jury.
    • The defendants could be imprisoned for up to twenty years or fined up to $250,000.
  • Count 36, “Concealing a Document in a Federal Investigation” – Not guilty (Trump and Nauta).
    • The defendants impeded the grand jury investigation (see counts 34 and 35), but none of the alleged acts were intended to impede the FBI investigation.
  • Count 37, “Scheme to Conceal” – Not guilty (Trump and Nauta).
    • Defendants’ efforts to impede the grand jury are covered by the “judicial function exception” and cannot be prosecuted under section 1001.
    • None of the alleged acts were intended to impede the FBI investigation.
  • Count 38, “False Statements and Representations” – Not guilty (Trump).
    • The defendant’s efforts to impede the grand jury are covered by the “judicial function exception” and cannot be prosecuted under section 1001.
    • None of the alleged acts were intended to impede the FBI investigation.
  • Count 40, “Altering, Destroying, Mutilating, or Concealing an Object” – Guilty (Trump and Nauta); undetermined (De Oliveira).
    • Defendants pressured a Mar-a-Lago staffer to delete subpoenaed security camera footage.
    • It is unclear if De Oliveira knew about the subpoena; if he did, he should also be found guilty.
    • The defendants could be imprisoned for up to twenty years or fined up to $250,000.
  • Count 41, “Corruptly Altering, Destroying, Mutilating or Concealing a Document, Record, or Other Object” – Not guilty (Trump, Nauta, and De Oliveira).
    • Defendants pressured a Mar-a-Lago staffer to delete subpoenaed security camera footage, but they took no further action.

Election (Federal)

Full Analysis

Trump was indicted by a federal grand jury on August 1, 2023, on four counts—one each for “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States,” “Conspiracy to Obstruct an Official Proceeding,” “Obstruction of, and Attempt to Obstruct, an Official Proceeding,” and “Conspiracy Against Rights.”

According to prosecutors, Trump engaged in three separate conspiracies to subvert the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election: One to defraud the United States and impede the lawful functions of the federal government, another to impede Congress’s counting of presidential electors, and a third to impede citizens’ rights to vote and have their votes counted.

In connection with the second alleged conspiracy, prosecutors also accuse Trump of attempting to impede the counting of presidential electors.

Based on the facts of the case and federal law, the proper conclusions are:

  • Count 1, “Conspiracy to Defraud the United States” – Not guilty.
    • The charge is morally and constitutionally invalid.
    • Even if the charge had been valid, prosecutors have not described anything that would constitute “fraud” under the statute, or any criminal offense the conspiracy intended to commit, so acquittal would still be appropriate.
  • Count 2, “Conspiracy to Obstruct an Official Proceeding” – Not guilty.
    • The charge is morally and constitutionally invalid.
    • Even if the charge had been valid, Trump’s attempts to influence an official proceeding—the counting of the electoral votes—were not obstructive acts, and corrupt intent has not been proved, so acquittal would still be appropriate.
  • Count 3, “Obstruction of, and Attempt to Obstruct, an Official Proceeding” – Not guilty.
    • An attempt to influence an official proceeding is not an attempt to obstruct it, and prosecutors have not proved corrupt intent.
    • Trump badly mismanaged the events of January 6, 2021, including the Capitol riot, but he did not incite anything, nor can he be held legally responsible for the effects the riot had on proceedings in Congress.
  • Count 4, “Conspiracy Against Rights” – Not guilty.
    • The charge is morally and constitutionally invalid.
    • Even if the charge had been valid, there is no evidence that Trump had a criminal intent to “injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate” anybody, so acquittal would still be appropriate.

Election (Georgia)

Full Analysis

Trump was indicted by a Georgia grand jury on August 14, 2023, on thirteen charges.

These include three counts of “Solicitation of Violation of Oath by Public Officer;” two each of “Conspiracy to Commit Forgery in the First Degree,” “Conspiracy to Commit False Statements and Writings,” and “False Statements and Writings;” and one each of “Violation of the Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act,” “Conspiracy to Commit Impersonating a Public Officer,” “Conspiracy to Commit Filing False Documents,” and “Filing False Documents.”

According to prosecutors, Trump and other defendants conspired to commit various crimes in an effort to subvert the results of the 2020 U.S. presidential election in Georgia. The charges include racketeering (i.e., RICO violations); conspiracies to impersonate, commit forgery, make false statements, and file false documents; filing a false document; and making false statements.

Based on the facts of the case and Georgia law, the proper conclusions are:

  • Count 1, “Violation of the Georgia RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) Act” – Not Guilty (Trump, Cheeley, Chesebro, Clark, Eastman, Ellis, Floyd, Giuliani, Hall, Hampton, Kutti, Latham, Lee, Meadows, Powell, Roman, Shafer, Smith, and Still).
    • The statute requires that a criminal enterprise’s racketeering activity is motivated by monetary gain, economic threat or injury, or physical threat or injury.
    • The motivations in this case (power, or, if we’re being charitable, the correction of perceived electoral fraud) do not fall into any of those categories.
  • Count 5, “Solicitation of Violation of Oath by Public Officer”Dismissed (Trump).
  • Count 9, “Conspiracy to Commit Impersonating a Public Officer” – Guilty (Trump, Cheeley, Chesebro, Eastman, Giuliani, Roman, and Smith).
    • Trump and his co-defendants participated in a conspiracy in which other conspirators falsely claimed to be duly appointed Georgia presidential electors.
    • That constitutes impersonation of the true electors, who are public officers.
    • The defendants could be imprisoned for up to 2.5 years or fined up to $500.
  • Count 11, “Conspiracy to Commit Forgery in the First Degree” – Guilty (Trump, Cheeley, Chesebro, Eastman, Giuliani, Roman, and Smith).
    • Trump and his co-defendants participated in a conspiracy in which other conspirators created and delivered a forged electoral certificate.
    • The certificate included a statement that it was authorized by Georgia’s duly appointed electors, but it was not, so it was a forgery.
    • The defendants could be imprisoned for up to 7.5 years.
  • Count 13, “Conspiracy to Commit False Statements and Writings” – Guilty (Trump, Cheeley, Chesebro, Eastman, Giuliani, Roman, and Smith).
    • Trump and his co-defendants participated in a conspiracy in which other conspirators created and delivered a false electoral certificate containing a false statement.
    • The certificate included a statement that it was authorized by Georgia’s duly appointed electors, but it was not. The false certificate was submitted to Georgia officials.
    • The defendants could be imprisoned for up to 2.5 years or fined up to $500.
  • Count 15, “Conspiracy to Commit Filing False Documents” – Guilty (Trump, Cheeley, Chesebro, Eastman, Giuliani, Roman, and Smith).
    • Trump and his co-defendants participated in a conspiracy in which other conspirators created and delivered a false electoral certificate.
    • The certificate included a materially false statement that it was authorized by Georgia’s duly appointed electors, but it was not. The false certificate was submitted to a federal court.
    • The defendants could be imprisoned for up to 5 years or fined up to $5,000.
  • Count 17, “Conspiracy to Commit Forgery in the First Degree” – Guilty (Trump, Cheeley, Chesebro, Eastman, Giuliani, Roman, and Smith).
    • Trump and his co-defendants participated in a conspiracy in which other conspirators created and delivered a forged electoral document.
    • The document purported to be authorized by Georgia’s duly appointed electors, but it was not, so it was a forgery.
    • The defendants could be imprisoned for up to 7.5 years.
  • Count 19, “Conspiracy to Commit False Statements and Writings” – Guilty (Trump, Cheeley, Chesebro, Eastman, Giuliani, Roman, and Smith).
    • Trump and his co-defendants participated in a conspiracy in which other conspirators created and delivered an electoral document containing a false statement.
    • The document purported to be authorized by Georgia’s duly appointed electors, but it was not. The false document was submitted to various public officials.
    • The defendants could be imprisoned for up to 2.5 years or fined up to $500.
  • Count 27, “Filing False Documents” – Not Guilty (Trump and Eastman).
    • The document in question, a federal court filing, contained materially false statements.
    • It has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump and Eastman knew the statements were materially false at the time, or that they intended to deceive the court.
  • Count 28, “Solicitation of Violation of Oath by Public Officer”Dismissed (Trump and Meadows).
  • Count 29, “False Statements and Writings” – Not Guilty (Trump).
    • During the meeting in question, Trump made false statements to Raffensperger, Fuchs, and Germany.
    • It has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Trump knew the statements were false at the time, or that he intended to deceive Georgia officials.
  • Count 38, “Solicitation of Violation of Oath by Public Officer”Dismissed (Trump).
  • Count 39, “False Statements and Writings” – Not Guilty (Trump).
    • In his letter to Raffensperger, Trump made a claim that is very likely false.
    • However, it has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt that the statement was false, or that Trump knew it was false, or that he intended to deceive Raffensperger.

Summary of Conclusions

The above conclusions can be summarized as follows:

  • New York Business Records
    • Not guilty on thirty-four counts (1-34) (see ed. note)
  • Federal Documents
    • Guilty on 3 counts (34, 35, 40) – up to 60 years imprisonment or $750,000 fine
    • Not guilty on 37 counts (1-33, 36-38, 41)
  • Federal Election
    • Not guilty on four counts (1-4)
  • Georgia Election
    • Guilty on 6 counts (9, 11, 13, 15, 17, and 19) – up to 27.5 years imprisonment or $6,500 fine
    • Not guilty on 4 counts (1, 27, 29, and 39)
    • 3 counts (5, 28, and 38) dismissed before trial

Described another way, Trump has been accused of committing 91 crimes. Of these, 44 are federal crimes, 34 are New York state crimes, and 13 are Georgia state crimes. After analyzing all the applicable indictments, allegations, laws, and precedents, I have determined that:

  • 9 charges, or about 10%, should result in Trump being found guilty. If convicted of these crimes, he could face a combined total of up to 87.5 years in prison and fines up to $756,500.
  • 79 charges, or about 87%, should result in Trump being found not guilty, either because no crime was committed, or the crime has not been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • (The remaining 3 charges, or about 3%, were dismissed before going to trial.)

Ed. Note: In the New York business records case, Trump was found guilty on all thirty-four counts by a New York jury on May 30, 2024. The jury’s conclusion was wrong, likely because their instructions were based in part on bad case law. The conviction is likely to be overturned on appeal. My analysis stands.


Ed. Note, July 15, 2024: In the federal documents case, all charges were dismissed by a U.S. district court judge who argued that the special council appointment was improper. The dismissal was inappropriate and inconsistent with precedent; even if the appointment had been improper, the charges themselves can simply be refiled by other officials. My analysis stands.


Notes

The feature graphic at the top of this article incorporates the photo listed below:

Series Links

Scott Bradford is a writer and technologist who has been putting his opinions online since 1995. He believes in three inviolable human rights: life, liberty, and property. He is a Catholic Christian who worships the trinitarian God described in the Nicene Creed. Scott is a husband, nerd, pet lover, and AMC/Jeep enthusiast with a B.S. degree in public administration from George Mason University.