New York Magazine Suggests Trump Could Be Imprisoned Sooner Than We Expect
We ought to start with the caveat. As we’ve said before many times before, the single least healthy thing for democracy is the urge on both sides to imprison the leader for the other party. Having said that, we’re also well aware of the fact that it was never a real worry until Trump and the MAGAs got on the scene and this is certainly not a “both sides” thing. It just means that it’s not necessarily healthy for the Intelligencer to be writing a preview on what they call the possible criminal trial of Donald Trump.
To be sure, Donald Trump earned a criminal trial long ago. And if evidence of a crime arises, beyond what we already know, he most definitely needs to face justice of some kind. It is just hard and everyone knows it.
To that end, the Intelligencer’s article addresses some of the difficulties if this country shakes itself out from under Trump’s dictatorial thumb and justice is allowed to run its course.
Here in the United States, we have never yet witnessed such an event. No commander-in-chief has been charged with a criminal offense, let alone faced prison time. But if Donald Trump loses the election in November, he will forfeit not only a sitting president’s presumptive immunity from prosecution but also the levers of power he has aggressively co-opted for his own protection. Considering the number of crimes he has committed, the time span over which he has committed them, and the range of jurisdictions in which his crimes have taken place, his potential legal exposure is breathtaking.
Yes, his exposure is breathtaking but so is the danger that we face knowing that he knows that his single best hope to avoid all that exposure is to commit more crimes in attempting to hang onto the office. He cares about himself and his money, both of which are in serious jeopardy if he loses.
The article says that it may seem unlikely that Trump ever ends up in criminal court but Trump never engaged in the type of criminality like he’s done over the last seven years. Some of that will be tough to ever establish because there will be some presidential immunities. His biggest exposure, in our opinion, will always be money laundering, fraud, and – if he’s ever given-up by Putin, possible heinous stuff against the nation.
The article notes all the problems with federal charges. The main problem is Trump will pardon himself – he might even step down after the election to have Pence pardon him – and that pardon will be litigated all the way to the Supreme Court. Trump will also claim presidential immunity and privilege, trying to bar people from testifying against him. Whether any of this works or not is almost beside the point. It would likely take anywhere from 3-5 years, by which time the article says that Trump may well be dead or senile.
State court is an entirely different matter, although a state is unlikely to charge anything relating to crimes against the United States generally. But that’s not true of financial crimes.
Crucially, all of these alleged crimes occurred before Trump took office. That means no claims of executive privilege would apply to any charges Vance might bring, and no presidential pardon could make them go away. A whole slew of potential objections and delays would be ruled out right off the bat. What’s more, the alleged offenses took place less than six years ago, within the statute of limitation for fraud in New York. Vance, in other words, is free to go after Trump not as a crooked president but as a common crook who happened to get elected president. And the fact that he has been pursuing these cases while Trump is president is a sign that he won’t be intimidated by the stature of the office after Trump leaves it.
Yes, that is crucial.
Still, it is going to be a brawl of the type that we’ve never seen. New York City will have to be on near lockdown because the MAGAs will be yelling conspiracy the entire time.
Despite the fact that Trump has gotten away with sexual assaults, financial crimes, and possibly treasonous behavior against this nation for most of his life and despite the fact that Trump deserves prison as much as anyone short of murder, there may come a time when it is in the nation’s best interests to wipe its hands of him, ignore him, and move on, leaving him the punishment that comes with a legacy of the worst president in history, a name that will live in infamy and be worthless as a “brand.” No, it won’t be justice, but far even bigger stakes would be on the line. There would be a nation to heal and rebuild, one that doesn’t have time for his worthless self. Besides, putting Trump in near isolation, ignoring him, and allowing him to live the rest of his days worrying about a new revelation, might inflict some degree of punishment anyway.
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