BREAKING: The jury in the New York criminal trial has found disgraced ex-president Donald Trump guilty for falsifying business records related to hush-money payments he made to buy the silence of Stormy Daniels, with whom he had an extra-marital affair, during the 2016 election campaign. 

This should never have been left to the Manhattan District Attorney. But the Manhattan DA stepped up where the US Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission failed.

Under the Federal Election Campaign Act, Trump’s hush-money payments to both Daniels and Karen McDougal constituted campaign spending that remained unreported, and Trump further incriminated himself by taking further steps to conceal the payments. Free Speech For People filed a formal complaint with the Federal Election Commission over the McDougal payments in 2018.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York also took interest. In 2018, prosecutors charged Michael Cohen, Trump’s private lawyer, with federal campaign finance crimes carried out to benefit “Individual-1,” who by January 2017 “had become the President of the United States.” 

But while Cohen went to federal prison for his role in this criminal conspiracy, federal authorities failed to hold Trump accountable by enforcing campaign finance law – even after Trump left office, leaving it to the Manhattan district attorney to seek justice. The Federal Election Commission failed to act on the findings of their professional staff and voted along partisan lines not to enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act. Federal prosecutors originally refused to take action because Trump was the sitting president. But even after Trump left office, they failed to take action to hold him accountable. Then, Attorney General Merrick Garland, in a 2022 move that few noticed at the time, officially abandoned even the pretense of ever holding Trump accountable for multiple crimes that the Department of Justice already found Trump had committed, including these campaign finance crimes.

However, the Manhattan District Attorney succeeded in upholding the law, where federal officials had failed. 

Today’s ruling is a victory for democracy. If the rule of law is to remain meaningful, no one—not even a former president—should be above the law.