In the day following the arraignment of Donald J. Trump in a Manhattan courtroom, a key fact has become apparent that no one can ignore. Which is: this indictment of Donald Trump is too week to do anything but make a fool of the prosecutor. When even some of Trump’s harshest critics admit that this indictment cannot stop him, one can be sure it’s weak.
Trump returns to Mar-a-Lago
Judge Juan Merchan did not order any detention of Trump. Neither did he forbid the former President to talk about the case – he admonished him to refrain from “incitement to violence,” whatever that can mean. So Trump, as he had planned, returned to his Mar-a-Lago home and addressed well-wishers there.
MSNBC, political hacks that they are, refused to cover it – but CNBC did cover it, as did CBS and ABC. CNN chose to dispute most of what Trump said. For instance, they denied flatly any association, financial or otherwise, between George Soros and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin L. Bragg. Technically, Bragg took money from the Color of Change PAC, and Color of Change PAC takes money from Soros. To deny any connection between the two, on no basis other than Soros never having written a memo or spoken personally or by telephone to anyone at Color of Change about Alvin Bragg’s candidacy, is to quibble. Color of Change exists to fund prosecuting attorneys that won’t prosecute common street crime. Alvin L. Bragg fits that mold. And George Soros surely gets something for the money he spends on Color of Change PAC.
That is only a sample of CNN’s quibbles, and their own assertions of facts not in evidence, or denial of facts in evidence. So no further discussion of CNN’s attitude would serve any useful purpose.
About that indictment
Trump seems to have two kinds of critics: hacks and realists. The hacks will trumpet any legal accusation against the former President and hope it sticks. But the realists will look hard at what will happen, and what will not. And the realists seem to be very – very – disappointed in this indictment.
Technically, the indictment has thirty-four counts. But those counts all refer to the exact same act. Such redundancy normally does not translate into cumulative or consecutive sentences, but concurrent ones. Even so, statutes of limitations seem to have expired long since, whether this act is a misdemeanor or a felony.
Independent Journal Review carried an incisive commentary about the indictment. They noticed that Alvin Bragg has no federal jurisdiction; therefore he cannot charge a federal campaign finance violation. The only thing that turns these alleged falsifications of business records from misdemeanor to felony is an attempt to conceal another crime. But if that other crime is a federal offense, why is the New York County District Attorney handling it? Why not the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York?
Greg Price has this commentary on the matter:
Andrew McCabe, former Deputy Director of the FBI, had to scoff at this legal theory.
Trump and McCabe hate each other. Still, McCabe professed disappointment. He knows this indictment cannot succeed.
Not the only one
McCabe isn’t the only one. Ambassador John Bolton, “neocon” and, frankly, warmonger, professed “extraordinary distress” at the Trump indictment. Stephen Neukam of The Hill covered his reaction. In an interview on CNN, Bolton said:
Speaking as someone who very strongly does not want Donald Trump to get the Republican presidential nomination, I’m extraordinarily distressed by this document. I think this is even weaker than I feared it would be… I think it’s easily subject to being dismissed or a quick acquittal for Trump.
Andrew Prokop, writing at Vox, also cast doubt on the indictment.
I’m not particularly inclined to defend Donald Trump as a sterling adherent to the rule of law… And yet the Manhattan DA office’s long investigation, culminating in last week’s 34-count indictment of Trump for falsifying business records, has not inspired confidence in me that this was an apolitical process and a fair-minded effort to assess whether laws were broken — rather than an attempt to “get Trump” for to-be-determined crimes.
Mr. Prokop went on to list seven criteria for a politicized case. He then admitted that the Trump indictment meets some of the seven outright, and the rest “arguably” or partially. He also expressed a fear that the prosecution of Trump would
backfire, spurring Republican voters to rally around him and easing his path to the GOP nomination, making our country’s divisions even worse — setting us off on a cycle of retribution.
Trump and the cycle of retribution
That cycle of retribution might already have started. Republicans in Tennessee have already moved to expel three of their Democratic colleagues for disruptive behavior. True enough, those three did disrupt proceedings by using bullhorns to incite visitors in the gallery to shout loud chants during a legislative session. Not a legislative chamber in the world would permit a member to carry parliamentary invective that far. But one of the three has behaved in a disorderly manner before. Why didn’t the legislature expel him then? Why wait? Because this is his second offense? But then, why move to expel all three?
Dr. Steve Turley thinks he knows why. This is part of a cycle of retribution that, he says, the Democrats started with the Trump indictment. Furthermore, he urges other Republican supermajority legislative chambers to do likewise.
As for Trump himself, he has suffered no damage to his reputation. Time was when a mere accusation would be a crippling scandal. But that was when prosecuting attorneys exercised due care in the kinds of cases they brought. It was also in an era in which prosecuting attorneys ran on only one thing: maintaining law and order. Robert Morgenthau understood this. So did Vincent T. Bugliosi, who famously prosecuted Charles Manson and his “family.” Alvin L. Bragg never could see this, and Color of Change PAC didn’t want someone who could see this. That’s why only those who hate Trump anyway – and not all of them – judge him by this indictment.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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