Editors at National Review Online make the case for a ruling favoring the former president in his latest courtroom battle.

Manhattan district attorney Alvin Bragg should never have indicted the so-called hush-money case against former president Donald Trump. And now Judge Juan Merchan should throw the case out, or the jury should acquit Trump, for the simple reason that Bragg has failed to prove the charges.

In 2022, the DA rejected the push for an indictment by some of his subordinates. He revived the prosecution in 2023 only after another ambitious Democrat, Attorney General Letitia James, was lauded by New York progressives for bringing a sprawling, victimless civil-fraud case Bragg had declined to charge criminally — and when it was clear that Trump would run for president in 2024.

Bragg’s indictment failed to perform its basic constitutional function of putting the defendant on notice of the charges. The false-business-records charge against Trump requires proof that he aimed to conceal another crime. The prosecution waited until its closing argument — after the defense had rested its case and could not respond — to disclose definitively and emphatically that the other crime was violating federal campaign-finance law.

Bragg’s overarching theory is that Trump defrauded the voters of information about an affair he is alleged to have had in 2006 with porn star Stormy Daniels. But concealing bad things during an election isn’t a crime, and none of the business records at issue were created until after the election.

Bragg, notorious for pleading felonies down to misdemeanors, has, in the case of Trump, taken a trifling case of dodgy accounting that may not even be a misdemeanor and inflated it into 34 felony counts of business-records falsification — for a combined statutory penalty of up to 136 years’ imprisonment. This legerdemain enabled Bragg to circumvent the two-year misdemeanor statute of limitations — in other words, the time to charge this stale case, which is based on seven-year-old bookkeeping entries, lapsed in 2019.