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Exclusive Interview: Susan Necheles Speaks on Representing Trump in High-Profile Case

On April 4, Manhattan District Attorney (DA) Alvin Bragg announced the indictment of Donald Trump for falsifying New York business records in order to conceal a $130,000 hush-money payment by Michael Cohen, Trump’s former personal attorney, to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels. According to Bragg, Trump employed a “catch and kill” tactic to bury negative information about himself, including allegations of an affair with Daniels in 2007, which Trump then sought to hide through false entries in business records. The former president now faces thirty-four felony counts in a highly scrutinized case.

While hush-money payments are not by themselves illegal, the prosecutor claims that failing to report funds used to aid a presidential campaign violates federal campaign finance law. In 2018, Cohen, who did not disclose his payment to Daniels, pleaded guilty to violating campaign finance law. Since Trump reimbursed Cohen for that payment, Bragg alleged that Trump is tied to that criminal act, effectively moving his falsification of business records from a lesser misdemeanor to a more serious offense. Trump’s defenders argue that Bragg’s, which marks the first-ever criminal indictment of a former president, is a politically-motivated prosecution. 

Serving as one of Trump’s primary attorneys in the case is Susan Necheles, mother of junior Thomas Skoler. Necheles is a graduate of Yale Law School, worked as a prosecutor at the Brooklyn DA’s Office, and has since opened her own law firm. Helios had the opportunity to interview Necheles, gaining insight into her perspective on the trial and its implications, as well as her experience as a criminal defense lawyer representing former President Donald J. Trump. 

Naturally, there are political implications in representing Trump. However, said Necheles, in every case she is committed to “both [her] clients’ innocence and recognizing their humanity– the spark of God in them.” As a criminal defense lawyer, Necheles does not pay heed to any of her clients’ personal beliefs. She said, “I try to tell my client’s story, to protect my client against government overreaching, and to acknowledge the importance of each person I represent.”

When Bragg ran for DA, he promised that he would prosecute Trump. Once he became DA, Bragg faced much political pressure to prosecute the former president, leading Trump himself to call the case a “witch hunt.” Necheles agreed that the case was politically motivated. “Bragg succumbed to that pressure,” said Necheles. “Never before has a person been prosecuted in state court for supposedly violating federal election law,” she said. “DA Bragg is impermissibly biased, and this is a political prosecution. We will be moving to dismiss on these grounds.”

If, in fact, former President Trump was only charged because of the DA’s office’s political agenda, it would potentially set a new precedent of “prosecuting political enemies in order to try to prevent them from being able to run again,” said Necheles. “Should we continue down this path, our democracy is imperiled,” she said. “That is why a robust defense is so necessary.”

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