Just Look at the #%!@ Evidence!

[This piece will be running as a newspaper op/ed the week after the Guilty verdict — on all 34 counts in the indictment — was delivered in the so-called “Hush-Money” trial, and Republicans rallied in defense of the convicted felon and in an attack on the American system of Justice.


A Disgraceful Attack on the Rule of Law

It should be obvious to every American — who gives the evidence the least bit of thought — that the response of many Republican leaders to Trump’s conviction amounts to an outright attack on the Rule of Law.
“Sham”? “Witch hunt”? “Weaponization” of our legal system?

All the evidence points the other way!

I’d be less disturbed if they’d honestly declared they support the criminal against the proper workings of the American system of justice.

But no one should believe their lies, so obviously contrary to the facts.

A jury of 12 average Americans listened to weeks of testimony and concluded – unanimously — that beyond a reasonable doubt Trump was guilty as charged.

It makes no sense to regard these verdicts as some travesty. Especially as it fits into a sprawling pattern – emerging from diverse legitimate legal processes — of Trump’s criminality:

• A court in Colorado determined that Trump was indeed an insurrectionist;
• A grand jury in Georgia found that Trump and others were guilty of a criminal conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia;
• A jury of average Americans in a civil case in New York found that Trump was guilty of sexually assaulting and then defaming a woman (E. Jean Carroll);
• A legal proceeding found that Trump’s organization had been guilty of widespread financial fraud;
• A judge in California said that it was more probable than not that Trump was guilty of crimes related to the attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

Add to all that how the “speaking indictments” for Trump’s other trials present such powerful evidence of Trump’s guilt in those cases as well. (Especially the case in Florida – widely considered a “slam dunk” for conviction — regarding Trump’s crimes endangering national security with his theft and mishandling of classified documents.)

Add also the virtual confession represented by Trump’s all-out attempts to delay all his trials past the election. If he were innocent, would he not be eager to demonstrate his innocence to voters before the election?
Anyone paying attention would see absolutely no reason to think juries in the other cases would be less likely to convict than the jury in Manhattan just did.

(And for that “weaponization” charge, the evidence of recent history reveals “Biden’s” Department of Justice – far from targeting Trump for political purposes — bent over backwards, even excessively, to avoid having to confront Donald Trump.)

No evidence supports the Republican leaders’ scandalous pretense that Trump was the victim of Injustice. All the evidence supports the supposition that Trump’s conviction last week – for crimes that sent Trump’s “Fixer” to jail – was American Justice functioning as it is supposed to.

Honest Republicans should be asking: How should an American feel about a Party – from its chosen Speaker of the House on down — that sides with the criminal in the war he’s waging against the Rule of Law?

The “Nixon has suffered enough” mistake

When Trump comes up for sentencing, what sentence would be appropriate?

That question reminds me of how wrong-headed I thought President Ford was when he declared, while pardoning his predecessor, Richard Nixon: “Nixon has suffered enough.”

The idea was that the humiliation and loss Nixon had experienced by being exposed as a criminal and driven from office was sufficient, and he should be spared any further ordeal.

I found offensive the idea that a President should be treated more gently than other criminals.

I don’t know how much “suffering” society should inflict on criminals in general as punishment for their crimes. (Our country tends to be more punitive of criminals than other decent nations.)

But whatever the level or kinds of suffering appropriate for punishing crimes, the idea that we should go easier on a President that commits crimes than on other criminals has it backwards.

What sense does it make to punish more harshly those criminals born into disadvantageous circumstances (like some guy who holds up a 7-Eleven) than someone who has enjoyed the greatest privileges the nation can bestow? Why should those whose lives were more afflicted with suffering all along have to suffer prison time while a President who commits crimes is judged to have “suffered enough” simply by having his special status revoked?

And there’s another thing: while society has a real interest in discouraging crimes like armed robbery, hugely greater is the national interest in deterring Presidents from using their enormous powers in criminal ways.
I don’t know what sentence Trump should be given. But, as I see it, his “exalted” place in America – like Nixon’s, a half century ago — is a reason to be tougher on him than if he were just some random, average citizen.

Presidential crimes can inflict damage orders of magnitude greater, and correspondingly more important to deter—which is one of the legitimate reasons for inflicting “suffering.”

Some fear the anger of Trump’s supporters. Unfortunately, the defenders of the Rule of Law apparently cannot escape the battle that’s been forced on them. The choice is not whether to fight, but on what ground. And I think that Trump’s criminality, and the Republicans’ attack on the basic American value that “No one is above the Law,” constitute as good a battlefield as any for preserving the system of government our founders gave us.

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