Prosecuting Trump — a caveat
Infidel753, Prosecuting Trump — a caveat, Infidel753 Blog.
Just two weeks early . . .
It’s starting to look as if Trump may be indicted fairly soon, an event much of the left has been impatient to see for some time (what I myself most wanted was to simply never hear another word about him, but it’s clear that the reality we live in is not going to grant that wish for the foreseeable future). The case coming to a head is the Stormy Daniels hush payment, but indictments on other matters will likely follow eventually.
There may, however, be a downside. Don’t get me wrong — come what may, Trump must be held accountable for his crimes, most especially for his role in inciting the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Failure to do so would discredit American justice, showing that the wealthy and powerful are exempt from the laws that apply to everyone else. The problem is the possible effect on the 2024 election.
At the moment, the only two serious contenders for the Republican presidential nomination are Trump and DeSantis. That could change, of course; the 2024 primaries are a year away and some other major candidate could emerge. But so far there’s no sign of that.
Assuming Trump remains a viable contender, Republican hopes of winning the presidency seem doomed. If Trump is the nominee, he’ll almost certainly lose. 2020 showed that he was sufficiently hated by a large enough part of the electorate to inspire record-breaking turnout to get rid of him. There’s no reason to think that that’s changed. If he’s the nominee in 2024, the general election result will resemble 2020. If DeSantis (or anyone else) gets the nomination, Trump is likely to turn against him out of spite and resentment, or at least to ostentatiously withhold support. A substantial part of the Republican base are still die-hard Trump loyalists. If he persuades even a significant fraction of those to refrain from voting for DeSantis, then DeSantis can’t win.
But if Trump is out of the picture because he’s in prison by then, it will be far easier for Republicans to unify around DeSantis, who might win over Trump’s loyalists by promising a presidential pardon for Trump (presidential pardons don’t apply to state convictions, only to federal ones, but the average Trumpanzee may well not be aware of that). And DeSantis has shown that he has no respect for our most fundamental rights. No blogger, journalist, publisher, artist, or anyone else who depends on freedom of expression being protected, can afford the risk of this man acquiring the vast powers of the presidency. A president Youngkin or Haley or even Pence would be bad, but not really outside the norms of modern American politics. DeSantis is too dangerous.
However, Trump himself may be offering a resolution to the dilemma. He’s already preparing an all-out effort to destroy DeSantis by digging up dirt on him and publicizing it, and researching the most effective messaging to attack him. Rather than wait for the primaries, he wants to crush his most prominent rival in advance. Of course, that will take some time.
Trump must, as I said, be held accountable for his actions. But I won’t be unhappy at all if some further delay gives him time to neutralize this rising threat.
Update (Saturday AM): Trump is now predicting his own imminent arrest and calling for protests.
Donald Trump’s Time-Tested Legal Strategy: Attack and Delay
NY Times – April 1
Across many court cases over the decades, Mr. Trump has regularly leaned on those tactics. Now facing criminal charges in Manhattan, he has already lashed out at the judge.
Attack. Attack. Attack.
Delay. Delay. Delay.
Those two tactics have been at the center of Donald J. Trump’s favored strategy in court cases for much of his adult life, and will likely be the former president’s approach to fighting the criminal charges now leveled against him if he sticks to his well-worn legal playbook. In fact, his attacks against both the prosecutor and the judge in the case have already begun.
Over more than four decades, Mr. Trump has sued and been sued in civil court again and again. In recent years, he has faced federal criminal investigations, congressional inquiries and two impeachments. He has neither a law degree nor formal legal training, but over the course of that long history, he has become notorious in legal circles for thinking he knows better than the lawyers he hires — and then, very often, fires — and frequently is slow to pay if he does at all.
The former president now faces an indictment stemming from a hush-money payment made to a porn star in the final days of the 2016 presidential campaign. Mr. Trump, who has steadfastly contended he committed no crime and almost certainly will decline any plea deal, will fight the case in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. The battle there will play out in front of the same judge who last year presided over the tax fraud trial of Mr. Trump’s family real estate company — a trial that ended in a conviction on 17 felonies.
The details of Mr. Trump’s defense strategy are still unclear because the specific charges in the indictment against him will stay under seal until his arraignment Tuesday. …
… The judge, Juan M. Merchan, who in more than 16 years on the bench has earned a reputation for being thoughtful and measured, keeps to a tight schedule in court and seeks to maintain a certain level of decorum there, despite the sometimes rough-and-tumble atmosphere in state criminal proceedings. He likely will have little patience for the former president’s attack-and-delay strategy.
Justice Merchan did not have to wait long to see Mr. Trump’s tactics in full flower. On Friday morning, less than 24 hours after the former president had been indicted, he lashed out at the judge. …
Referring to his upcoming arraignment before Justice Merchan scheduled for Tuesday, he wrote, “The Judge ‘assigned’ to my Witch Hunt Case, a ‘Case’ that has NEVER BEEN CHARGED BEFORE, HATES ME.” …
Mr. Trump’s intensely litigious nature has made his strategy more visible over the years than it might otherwise be. He has long used delay tactics in legal matters that emerged from business disputes, and since becoming a politician he has repeatedly tried to throw sand in the gears of the legal system, using the resulting slow pace of litigation to run out the clock until seismic events shifted the playing field. …
Fox News: TRUMP TO BE ARRAIGNED TUESDAY WITHOUT HANDCUFFS, SOURCES SAY
Law enforcement agencies, including the U.S. Secret Service, New York Police Department, FBI, New York State court officers and the DA’s office met Friday afternoon to finalize details about the logistics and security of Trump’s arrest. The Secret Service will determine how Trump is brought in.
The moves defuse a potential situation in which prosecutors need to request Trump’s extradition from his home at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida. …
John Yoo, legal advisor to the Geo Bush Jr administration, author of the Unitary Executive theory (perhaps inspired by clerical work for Clarence Thomas), that a president may do as he likes and can only be punished by impeachment or failure to be re-elected, writes in the Boston Globe…
A New York grand jury is poised to indict former president Donald Trump for lying about paying off a porn star. Trump’s critics, who have pinned their hopes on criminal probes going back to alleged Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, may welcome the unprecedented prosecution of a former president. But the prosecution may prove to be a mistake. It faces severe legal problems and may distract from more important investigations into the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
The indictment breaks one of the oldest norms in American politics. No sitting or former president has ever undergone criminal prosecution. Not only have former presidents usually faded away into the background, our legal system has generally refused to punish them for any criminal acts. Presidents enjoy “absolute immunity” from any private damages suits, for example, so that they can make difficult decisions without fear of future liability. Presidents must have “the maximum ability to deal fearlessly and impartially with the duties of [their] office,” the Supreme Court observed in 1982 because the president “must make the most sensitive and far-reaching decisions entrusted to any official under our constitutional system.”
To be sure, former presidents return to civilian life subject to the rule of law as any other American. Indeed, the Framers limited impeachment solely to removal from office because they expected that prosecutors could hold presidents accountable for any criminal acts. Nevertheless, every federal, state, and local prosecutor in American history had agreed that the public interest was best served by not exercising this power. Prosecutors also have never indicted a serious major party candidate for the presidency. Instead, they were content to let the American people, through elections and history itself, render judgment on chief executives.
Trump’s opponents clearly believe that his unique threat to democracy may justify breaking traditional norms. But before popping the champagne corks, liberals should ask themselves whether they can live in this new world. …
Prosecuting Trump for hush money undermines more serious investigations
The prosecution’s case faces severe legal problems that impede what should be the main focus — whether Trump was responsible for the Jan. 6 insurrection or other efforts to block the electoral vote count.
Boston Globe – John Yoo – March 21
Note: Trump’s alleged offenses involving payments to Stormy Daniels occurred before he was President, and mishandling of classified documents occurred mostly as he was leaving office and after.
The January 6 matters are essentially seditious in nature, and his most serious offences. Does he get a pass for those?
In that he was impeached after the events of Jan 6 and the GOP did indeed give him a pass, then he gets off scot free for the ‘extreme show of support’ he was given back then.
Wikipedia: Donald Trump, the 45th president of the United States, was impeached for the second time on January 13, 2021, one week before his term expired.
Boston Globe editorial – March 31
… Of all the outrages of Trump’s business and political careers, it’s almost amusing that it’s the sordid Daniels payments — hardly the worst of his manifold sins — that have caught up with him first. But other charges may follow in other jurisdictions. And by pursuing the indictment of Trump, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has put life into the principle that no one is above the law. Any law.
That is true whether it involves the willful retention of classified materials, interfering in an election and attempting to bully state officials to do the same, or, as may have occurred in the Daniels case, illegally cooking corporate books in an effort to conceal a hush money payment in violation of campaign finance laws. There must be accountability regardless of who the defendant is, even if it is a former president. His prosecution is not a political act. Quite the contrary: Failing to prosecute him because of his former position would be a dangerous affront to the rule of law, regardless of the spin he or those in his corner put on it.
It is particularly important, given Trump’s oft-stated belief that laws don’t apply to him, for the legal system to demonstrate otherwise. Whether bragging he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue or sexually assaulting women and getting away with it, Trump has made it clear he thinks he can use money, celebrity, and political pressure to defeat the rule of law. And for decades, long before he ever entered politics, that’s just what Trump has done. To many Americans, the former president’s seeming immunity has made a mockery of the idea of equality before the law; for millions of Americans, finally making Trump face justice should help restore at least a modicum of faith in our system. …
… Trump and those giving him cover will continue to claim that the prosecution of a former president based on alleged payments he made to cover up an alleged affair is, somehow, unimportant or trivial. It is neither.
But we know the motives of those who claim otherwise. They fear the political fallout if they don’t fall in line with the candidate who, despite his penchant for authoritarianism, spreading disinformation, and calling for public unrest, still garnered upward of 74 million votes in 2020.
Even former vice president Mike Pence, whose very life was put in peril Jan. 6, 2021, when Donald Trump directed a mob, including some who he knew to be armed, to go to the Capitol where Pence was presiding over the count of electoral votes, came to Trump’s defense.
… there is every reason for Americans to put greater trust in the legal system than political punditry.
Let Bragg’s office; the office of Fulton County, Ga., District Attorney Fani Willis; and Special Counsel Jack Smith do their work. Let Trump’s lawyers defend him. And let a jury of his peers have the final say when all the facts and evidence are in.
If the case is strong it will be accepted as a legitimate exercise in justice. If it fails badly then it will not be. Not certain how important the idea that Trump violated campaign finance laws and this the false business record charge is more serious is to this process. Cohen pled guilty, yet many campaign finance experts think he would not have been convicted if it had been tried. It’ll be interesting.
Might be a good idea to wait and see what the charges actually are before weighing in.
DoJ said to have more evidence of possible Trump obstruction at Mar-a-Lago
Washington Post – April 2, 2023
Justice Department and FBI investigators have amassed fresh evidence pointing to possible obstruction by former president Donald Trump in the investigation into top-secret documents found at his Mar-a-Lago home, according to people familiar with the matter.
The additional evidence comes as investigators have used emails and text messages from a former Trump aide to help understand key moments last year, said the people, who like others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing criminal investigation.
The new details highlight the degree to which special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into the potential mishandling of hundreds of classified national security papers at Trump’s Florida home and private club has come to focus on the obstruction elements of the case – whether the former president took or directed actions to impede government efforts to collect all the sensitive records. …
… In the classified documents case, federal investigators have gathered new and significant evidence that after the subpoena was delivered, Trump looked through the contents of some of the boxes of documents in his home, apparently out of a desire to keep certain things in his possession, the people familiar with the investigation said.
Investigators now suspect, based on witness statements, security camera footage, and other documentary evidence, that boxes including classified material were moved from a Mar-a-Lago storage area after the subpoena was served, and that Trump personally examined at least some of those boxes, these people said. While Trump’s team returned some documents with classified markings in response to the subpoena, a later FBI search found more than 100 additional classified items that had not been turned over. …
Could the GOP continue to exist without Trump?
Trumpism Without Trump
The Atlantic – February 7
… For years, pundits have discussed the possibility of a Trumpism without Trump, and largely concluded that it was a chimera. … David Frum wrote in 2020, after Trump lost his reelection bid, “It’s not at all clear that such a thing as Trumpism exists, apart from Donald Trump’s own personality and grudges. Subtract Trump’s resentments and the myth of Trump the business genius and what’s left?” As a result, the odds that another candidate could effectively run on this platform—much less that it could create the organizing basis for an entire political party—seemed very slim.
Candidates who had tried to run as Trumpists in competitive elections have largely struggled. The 2018 midterms were a disaster for the GOP, which lost the House and the Senate. Establishment Republicans who tried to emulate Trump, such as Ed Gillespie of Virginia in his 2017 governor’s race, flopped. Trump lost in 2020, and Democrats improbably held on to the Senate after two country-club senators from Georgia tried and failed to don the MAGA mantle. …
… The case against Trumpism without Trump was compelling: It barely existed, it had been tried and had failed, and his grip on the GOP made a challenge quixotic. All of this logic was sound, and yet it now appears to have been wrong.
First, these would-be nominees are constructing a Trumpism without Trump. It’s not, for the most part, based in policy—or at least, policy is a second thought, serving the cause of exploiting cultural resentment. DeSantis has shown that he can stoke anger at LGBTQ people and about loosely defined bogeymen such as “wokeness,” but he’s more effective than Trump at actually marshaling a policy response behind it. (As I’ve noted before, this is easier at the state level than nationally.) My colleague Adam Serwer wrote that the cruelty was the point of many Trump policies. Some Republicans have taken that more as a blueprint than a critique.
Second, those who doubted the possibility of a Trumpism without Trump, including me, seem to have overestimated how much of Trump’s popularity was a product of his fame and personality versus his shtick. The shtick has proved enduring even as Trump’s own popularity sinks. As the journalist Nate Cohn explains, the polling picture is a bit obscure, but high-quality polls point to the former president’s grip on Republican voters loosening. Many factors could explain this, including fatigue, backlash to January 6, and a sense that Trump is a repeat loser, but whatever the reason, it has allowed other people to make a grab for his voters without having to construct a new political message from the ground up. During the race for RNC chair, even the incumbent Ronna McDaniel, his handpicked leader, emphasized party neutrality in a primary. …
what a mess.
may be too late to untangle it. but i would not want “even mike pence…” who clearly is a conspirator in the plot (yes, plot) to take over America by a faction of people who think they have a good chance of getting away with it. the Jan 6 riot may have been an “accident”..a result ot Trump’s personality … that made him useful to the conspirators…not planned for by those conspirators.
lots going wrong in this country…even Biden’s sell-out to big oil may turn out to be the worst…we the people, if we are sentient…need to find a way around the current situation behind and beyond the current residents in power…if we are going to survive. as far as i know that has never succeeded…turning into a mindless blood-letting that brought the same-as-the-old bosses back, or worse.
American Revolution possible exception to this. though it did not turn out exactly as the soldiers at valley forge expected, Washington was not King George and the Congress was not the House of Lords , so we had something like freedom and democracy for a while..with all the usual abuses of power by those in a position to not feel our pain…but only gradually seriously affected by the consolidation of power among a few very rich, and the usual parasites that take a while to learn the weaknesses in the system that they can exploit.