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Revived ‘Zombie Case’ Brings Trump Hush Money Trial to Light

Manhattan prosecutors have navigated a tumultuous journey with what has become known as the “zombie case,” resurfacing multiple times like the mythical character that refuses to remain buried. This legal saga, which has seen starts and stops, is now leading to the unprecedented trial of former U.S. President Donald Trump, scheduled to commence on April 15.

At the core of the trial lies allegations against Trump for concealing reimbursements made to his former attorney, Michael Cohen, involving a $130,000 payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels just before the 2016 presidential election. The payment was purportedly in exchange for Daniels’ silence regarding an alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Trump, however, has entered a plea of not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records and vehemently denies any involvement with Daniels.

The genesis of the investigation traces back to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who took up the mantle from his predecessor, Cyrus Vance, after two prior probes yielded no charges. Vance hesitated due to uncertainties surrounding legal strategies and the applicability of state felony charges against a federal office candidate, as documented in Mark Pomerantz’s book, “People vs. Donald Trump.” Pomerantz, a former prosecutor, resigned when Bragg opted not to pursue separate financial crime charges against Trump.

Trump, characterizing the probe as a political vendetta, has labeled it a witch hunt, while Bragg, a Democrat, maintains the pursuit of justice. The case gained momentum with the Trump Organization’s conviction for tax fraud, leading prosecutors to pursue charges against Trump himself.

Bragg’s office contends that Trump’s efforts to conceal federal campaign finance violations and promote his candidacy through unlawful means constitute criminal behavior. Despite Trump’s assertions that the payment aimed to prevent public embarrassment rather than influence the election, prosecutors argue that the falsification of business records warrants charges.

The legal battle saw hurdles, including Trump’s failed attempts to dismiss charges and shift the case to federal court. Judges upheld the state’s jurisdiction over the matter, affirming the prosecution’s theories. Pomerantz’s endeavors to explore alternative avenues, such as examining potential extortion by Daniels or money laundering, faced setbacks and eventual dismissal.

As the trial approaches, the saga of the “zombie case” serves as a testament to the complexities of prosecuting a former president and the persistence required to seek justice.

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