The statute requires intent to defraud - and it's not there
you said that "a series of checks that were recorded in the Trump Organization books as legal fees." Actually, cheques were written from the Donald J Trump Revocable Trust i.e. personal, not from Trump Organization. Is that relevant ?
Admittedly, it's with regard to a different statute (NYPL 175.35), but it appears that "intent to defraud" is not always defined so narrowly.
See People v. Taylor, 865 N.Y.S.2d 266, 268 (N.Y. App. Div. 2d Dept. 2008) ("And, while an intent to defraud is often for the purpose of gaining property or a pecuniary benefit, it need not be. See People v. Kase, 1981, 53 N.Y.2d 989, 441 N.Y.S.2d 671, 424 N.E.2d 558, aff'g for reasons stated at 76 A.D.2d 532, 431 N.Y.S.2d 531. In Kase, a prosecution for the filing of a false instrument, an intent to defraud was found where a person intentionally filed a false statement with a public office for the purpose of frustrating the State's power to fulfill its responsibility to carry out faithfully its own law."), rev'd, 926 N.E.2d 591 (N.Y. 2010) (reversing because "intent to defraud" does not require reliance, as required by appellate division); see also People v. Taylor, 919 N.Y.S.2d 62, 63 (N.Y. App. Div. 2d Dept. 2011) (affirming conviction after reversal by Court of Appeals)
"Frustrating the State's power to fulfill its responsibility to carry out faithfully its own law" appears to be another hook of "intent to defraud." See Kase (citing Hammerschmdit). (Perhaps importantly, Hankin, when it quoted the definition of "intent to defraud" from Saporita, appeared to have omitted the last possibility: depriving someone of a "right").
All of this is to say, I totally agree that such a prosecution of falsifying business records (if that is indeed what it will entail) is by no means a slam dunk and very possibly a reach beyond the meaning and interpretation of "intent to defraud." And even if the State's theory of "intent to defraud" is correct, the unsettled nature of the law may pose notice issues.
Nevertheless, I'm curious how you view this idea of "intent to defraud" including depriving someone/the State of a "right" or preventing the State from fulfilling its responsibility to carry out faithfully its own law.
In 2011 Stormy Daniels sold her story to a media outlet. The outlet chose not to publish it. She was also trying to sell her story to other news outlets, like ABC News. Daniels was then threatened by a strange man in the parking lot as she was removing her infant daughter from the car to go into a fitness class. She was scared and intimidated. She then signed the NDA presented to her by T***'s attorneys. Please see ABC News' reporting here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTpaFYMj5X4
Threatened by a man who accosted her, intimidated, frightened, then immediately presented with an NDA, she chose to sign it. Isn't that thuggish intimidation and coercion, indicative of intent to defraud by T***?
Also, are you saying a victim of fraud must have access to the fraudulent documents that the fraudster is purposely using to defraud, in order for the law to apply?
I have no legal training, that is why I ask for your expertise. I appreciate it.
Plus, Trump knew it was a "thing of value" because he paid her $130,000 for it.
Interesting to me not so much what aspects of the cover up were illegal, but at the time he must have felt that wide publicity of his infidelity with an "adult film" star would potentially harm his electability. Now the fact of this affair seems no longer debated and does not seem to impact his fans opinion about him along with the "grab them by the pussy" comments. Why do ostensibility conservative people admire this blustering dotard?
Isn't the "thing of value" Stormy Daniels's story? Trump had the intent to defraud her out of her story that she wanted to tell, when he falsified his business records. Her story was a thing of value to her because she could have been paid to tell her story to a news outlet.
I have forgotten to mention in my comment, that citations, has been taken from:
Mcnally v. US ( link posted in the post itself)
Important issue indeed.
Yet, the prosecutor, can maybe succeed indeed, by reviving the old theory, very well presented in the dissenting opinion of Justice Stevens (joined by Justice O'Connor):
And it is based on that perspective or legal doctrine, that one can't use postal means or other governmental means for any sort of fraud or deceit or whatever. For, the clear and explicit intent of Congress, was among others, to keep the integrity of such governmental means.
The statute is broad enough in its terms to include any conspiracy for the purpose of impairing, obstructing or defeating the lawful function of any department of Government." Id., at 479. Again, in Hammerschmidt v. United States, 265 U. S. 182 (1924), the Court described the scope of the statute as prohibiting not only conspiracies to "cheat the Government out of property or money, but it also means to interfere with or obstruct one of its lawful governmental functions by deceit, craft or trickery, or at least by means that are dishonest."
The purpose of § 1341 is to protect the integrity of the United States Postal Service, and, as I have explained, it is ludicrous to think that a Congress intent on preserving the integrity of the Postal Service would have used the term "defraud" in a narrow sense so as to allow mailings whose purpose was merely to defraud citizens of rights other than money or property. There is, therefore, no reason to believe that Congress used the term "defraud" in a more limited way in § 1341 than it did in §371.1
End of quotation:
So, the prosecutor, may argue, that as well in that case (again, despite the fact that it is dissenting opinion):
The false entry, even if not made for the purpose of tax evasion, it has in fact injured the integrity of the tax authorities and the US government. Keeping books in accordance with the protocols and regulation, can't be reconciled with such use or practice, of creating such entry for alleged corrupt purposes whatsoever. This is corrupt use of governmental means, and it does injure the integrity of US governance.
For the rest, we won't stay young no more....