‘It Was Trump’s Own Justice Department That Called This a Crime’: Katyal Responds to Republican Freakout Over Trump Indictment


Former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal hit back at Republican criticisms of the indictment of Donald Trump that seek to downplay the charges.

Trump was indicted Thursday on 34 counts by a grand jury in Manhattan. While none of the counts have been revealed publicly, reporting in recent weeks indicates at least some of them could relate to the alleged falsification of business records to conceal a $130,000 hush money payment to Stormy Daniels, who said she had an affair with Trump. The payment was made the month before the 2016 election.

However, the sheer number of counts potentially indicates Trump is also being charged with crimes unrelated to the payment.

On Thursday’s edition of The 11th Hour on MSNBC, host Stephanie Ruhle noted that despite not knowing what the charges are, conservatives are up in arms about them.

“Neal, isn’t it also an important reminder that while Republicans are claiming x, y, and z about the charges, we do not know what the charges are for? It is still sealed.”

“A hundred percent,” he replied, before turning to the matter of the payment to Daniels by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former attorney who said he paid her and was reimbursed by Trump. “And the one thing that we do know is that it does stem from these payments.”

Katyal noted that Cohen went to prison after pleading guilty to federal crimes in 2018 – during the Trump administration – to tax evasion and campaign violations stemming from the payment to Daniels and another woman:

Now, the important thing about that – because Trump and all these people are accusing the indictment tonight of being political. The U.S. Justice Department looked at precisely this set of circumstances: the payoffs to this person, the hush money, the like. And it concluded it was a federal crime, such a severe crime that it sent a person to jail, Michael Cohen, who was Trump’s lawyer.

And when the U.S. Justice Department sent Michael Cohen to jail, it said Cohen acted not on his own. It’s not like he came up with his plot on his own. It said that Cohen acted at the direction of Donald Trump, that Trump ordered him to do it.

Now, that was what they called a crime. The U.S. Justice Department then – and Cohen went to jail for – that was not the Merrick Garland Justice Department. It was not the Barack Obama Justice Department. It was the Donald Trump Justice Department that made that filing. So, every time you hear this thing about, “Oh, this hush money thing is political” and the like, remember it was Trump’s own Justice Department that called this crime back in 2018.

Watch above via MSNBC.

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Mike is a Mediaite senior editor who covers the news in primetime.