Reflections on Trump's indictment from UNC and Duke law professors

Josh Chapin Image
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
Local reaction to Trump indictment, proceedings
Local reaction to Trump indictment, proceedings

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Ted Shaw can only think of the night Richard Nixon resigned.

That's his parallel to watching President Donald Trump walk into a Manhattan court room Tuesday and the historical significance of the event.

"What I remember is that nobody cheered, nobody celebrated," said Shaw, the Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and Director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights. "There was a somber element how people reacted."

Shaw is also teaching a class this semester on elections.

"I just hope that as a country we put this time with these deep divisions in our rearview mirror but it doesn't appear to be happening any time soon," he said.

What could happen soon is the next step in the court room.

One thing is District Attorney Alvin Bragg facing any motions Trump's legal defense team is going to file.

"I know that DA Bragg would not have brought this case if he didn't think that he had a good chance of winning," said Shane Stansbury, who teaches at Duke Law.

Stansbury spent eight years as an assistant district attorney in the Southern District of New York leading prosecutions on terrorism, cybercrime and espionage.

He's also worked with District Attorney Bragg and Trump's lawyer Todd Blanche.

"Both of them are professionals, both are very good litigators," Stansbury said. "I expect it to be a fight, I expect them to compose themselves like professionals and we'll see how it plays out."

ABC 11 asked Stansbury about the John Edwards case as well.

North Carolina's former Senator was indicted and charged with federal campaign finance violations in 2011 for payments to help a mistress during his own presidential run in 2008.

"There may be a theory under which the crime that is being covered up or committed is a campaign finance violation so that's why some people are drawing a comparison to the Edwards case," Stansbury said.

In court documents, it's clear the Manhattan DA is tying this to potential campaign finance violations.

Trump campaign brags it raised millions of dollars since indictment announcement.

In the document he said Trump "orchestrated a scheme with others to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Back at UNC, Professor Shaw is reflecting on the day that was.

"He is a former president who has been arrested and charged with a felony violations and whatever people think of the merits, this is a rather somber moment," he said.