Trump could seek misdemeanor charges from jury in ‘hush money’ trial

The sordid trial of former President Donald J. Trump on “hush money” payments to porn queen Stormy Daniels is coming to a close this week with one option being that the jury could consider misdemeanor charges.

With the prosecution expected to wrap up its highly dubious felony case against the presumptive GOP nominee, Trump’s legal team faces a question on whether it would ask the New York City jurors to request what’s known as a “lesser included offense (LIO)” which is an option under state law, the New York Post reported.

Before the closing arguments, a charge conference will be held during which the former president’s team could ask that the jury be allowed to consider 34 misdemeanor counts for the falsification of business records instead of the much more serious 34 felonies brought against Trump by rabidly partisan Soros-backed District Attorney Alvin Bragg.

“The misdemeanor charges are what are known in legal parlance as a lesser included offense, or LIO. An LIO is a less serious crime that carries lower penalties and is included within the definition of a more serious crime of which a defendant is accused,” wrote former judge Ethan Greenberg in a Sunday op-ed for the Wall Street Journal.

“In Mr. Trump’s trial, the misdemeanor charges require proof that he deliberately falsified business records, while the felony charges in addition require that he did so with the intent to conceal another crime. The trial judge must submit the LIO to the jury if either prosecution or defense requests it. If neither asks for it, the judge may do so at his discretion,” according to the op-ed.

The main enticement for the LIO would be the lesser sentencing guidelines. With Bragg’s felonies, each could bring up to four years behind bars, meaning that Trump could spend the rest of his life locked up in prison.

“Probably, the actual sentence would be much more lenient because this is Mr. Trump’s first conviction, he’s elderly and the crime is nonviolent,” Greenberg wrote. “Still, it would be less risky to ask the jury to consider misdemeanor charges, which because of New York merger rules would at most sentence the former president to two years in jail.”

Last week, the prosecution was dealt a body blow when Bragg’s decision to put shady ex-lawyer, convicted felon, and noted liar Michael Cohen on the stand as his star witness, then watch as Trump attorney Todd Blanche tripped up the media favorite in a lie, and not an insignificant one either.

(Video: CNN)

Having Cohen exposed as a fibber comes after Daniel’s lurid testimony, a sleazy foray into graphic details with no relevance to the charges and only likely meant to embarrass Trump.

“Although it may seem a dry legal question, whether Judge Merchan submits the lesser included offense will likely have a powerful influence on the outcome of the Trump trial. Will the defendant, prosecutor, or judge play it safe by submitting misdemeanor charges to the jury? Stay tuned,” Greenberg wrote in the WSJ.

At this point, the trial has been a spectacular embarrassment for all but the most diehard of leftists, and while the lesser penalty would be an out for Bragg and company, it would be a major disappointment for those who have been clamoring for Trump to be sent to Riker’s Island.

Chris Donaldson

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