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FEC Commissioner: Bragg ‘Usurped’ Federal Law In Trump Case

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg speaks at a press conference after the arraignment of former president Donald Trump in New York on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

A member of the Federal Election Commission testified to Congress on Thursday that the Manhattan district attorney who led the prosecution of former President Donald Trump overstepped his authority.

Trey Trainor, a Trump-appointed commissioner who once served as FEC chairman, said during a hearing that District Attorney Alvin Bragg, an elected Democrat, inappropriately incorporated a federal election campaign law into his charges against Trump.

“Bragg has effectively usurped the jurisdiction that this Congress has explicitly reserved for federal authorities,” Trainor said during a House Judiciary Committee hearing. “This overreach sets a troubling precedent for politicization of legal proceedings at the state level.”

Trump was convicted of falsifying business records in the first degree, a charge that requires the defendant to have violated another law in addition to the falsification of records.

In Trump’s case, Bragg argued Trump also violated New York election law’s section 17-152. The statute states that it is against the law to conspire to influence an election “by unlawful means.”

Bragg gave the jury three options for what those unlawful means could have been. One of the options was that Trump violated the Federal Election Campaign Act. The other two options were additional falsifications of records or tax violations.

The jury did not have to agree on what unlawful means Trump used to violate section 17-152, only that he violated the overarching state law. In other words, some jurors could have decided Trump breached FECA to reach their guilty conclusion. The jurors did not have to document which of the three unlawful means options they chose to arrive at their guilty verdict, so there is no way to know if any of them used FECA.

Bragg alleged that Trump violated FECA because the $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, which was at the center of Trump’s charges, exceeded the legal campaign donation limit.

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