Thursday, July 20, 2023

Building a Legal Wall Around Donald Trump. (David French, NY Times columnist)

Never again.  Americans don't cotton to fascists, and we've defeated their kind repeatedly. Never forget what the Greatest Generation achieved, and what federal courts have guaranteed.  Enough Trumpery, flummery, dupery and nincompoopery.

New York Times column by David French: 

Building a Legal Wall Around Donald Trump

An outline of Donald Trump’s profile filled with a black-and-white image from the Capitol insurrection. A hand lays bricks to form a wall blocking the image.
Credit...Illustration by Sam Whitney/The New York Times; images by Peter Cade/Getty Images, and Jose Luis Magana/Associated Press
An outline of Donald Trump’s profile filled with a black-and-white image from the Capitol insurrection. A hand lays bricks to form a wall blocking the image.

Opinion Columnist

The American legal system is on the cusp of a remarkable historical achievement. In real time and under immense pressure, it has responded to an American insurrection in a manner that is both meting out justice to the participants and establishing a series of legal precedents that will stand as enduring deterrents to a future rebellion. In an era when so many American institutions have failed, the success of our legal institutions in responding to a grave crisis should be a source of genuine hope.

I’m writing this newsletter days after the Michigan attorney general announced the prosecution of 16 Republicans for falsely presenting themselves as the electors qualified to vote in the Electoral College for Donald Trump following the 2020 election. That news came the same day that the former president announced on Truth Social that he’d received a so-called target letter from Jack Smith, the special counsel appointed by Attorney General Merrick Garland to investigate Trump’s efforts to overturn the election. The target letter signals that the grand jury investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol is likely to indict Trump, perhaps any day now.

On Monday, a day before this wave of news, the Georgia Supreme Court rejected a desperate Trump attempt to disqualify the Fulton County district attorney Fani Willis from prosecuting Trump and to quash a special grand jury report about 2020 election misconduct. Trump’s team filed their petition on July 13. The court rejected it a mere four days later. Willis can continue her work, and she’s expected to begin issuing indictments — including potentially her own Trump indictment — in August, if not sooner.

Presuming another Trump indictment (or more than one) is imminent — or even if it is not — the legal response to Jan. 6 will continue. But to truly understand where we are now, it’s important to track where we’ve been. If you rewind the clock to the late evening of Jan. 6, 2021, America’s long history of a peaceful transfer of power was over, broken by a demagogue and his mob. To make matters worse, there was no straight-line path to legal accountability.

Prosecuting acts of violence against police — or acts of vandalism in the Capitol — was certainly easy enough, especially since much of the violence and destruction was caught on video. But prosecuting Trump’s thugs alone was hardly enough to address the sheer scale of MAGA misconduct. What about those who helped plan and set the stage for the insurrection? What about the failed candidate who set it all in motion, Donald Trump himself?

Consider the legal challenges. The stolen election narrative was promulgated by a simply staggering amount of defamation — yet defamation cases are difficult to win in a nation that strongly protects free speech. Trump’s legal campaign was conducted by unethical lawyers raising frivolous arguments — yet attorney discipline, especially stretching across multiple jurisdictions, is notoriously difficult.

The list continues. Trump’s team sought to take advantage of ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act, a 19th-century statute that might be one of the most poorly written statutes in the entire federal code. In addition, Trump’s team advanced a constitutional argument called the independent state legislature doctrine that would empower legislatures to dictate or distort the outcomes of congressional and presidential elections in their states.

There’s more. When we watched insurrectionists storm the Capitol, we were watching the culminating moment of a seditious conspiracy, yet prosecutions for seditious conspiracy are both rare and difficult. And finally, the entire sorry and deadly affair was instigated by an American president — and an American president had never been indicted before, much less for his role in unlawfully attempting to overturn an American election.    Now, consider the response. It’s easy to look at Trump’s persistent popularity with G.O.P. voters and the unrepentant boosterism of parts of right-wing media and despair. Does anything make a difference in the fight against Trump’s lawlessness and lies? The answer is yes, and the record is impressive. Let’s go through it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"I just need you to find more votes than we have, while I go start a deadly riot." - Donald J Election Interference