The prosecutions of Donald Trump are something to celebrate, not lament

The prosecutions of Donald Trump are something to celebrate, not lament

Donald Ayer writes:

Several distinguished individuals have recently expressed grave reservations about the prosecutions of former President Donald Trump. Notably, they appear to have no dispute about the seriousness of his wrongdoing. Rather, their main concern is that “terrible consequences” may result, because the prosecutions “may come to be seen as political trials … and play directly into the hands of Trump and his allies.” Although many Trump supporters will view the situation in just this way, any suggestion that prosecution is therefore unwise misconceives what is at stake here and, sadly, is evidence of America’s diminished national spirit.

For a free society wishing to preserve its governmental system, the prosecutions of Donald Trump for trying to overturn our democracy and willfully mishandling national secrets is not optional. They are the essential step that must be taken if America’s rule of law is going to survive, and be worthy of the trust that is essential to that survival. More hopefully, they offer the nation its single best chance of escaping from the appalling thrall of Trump’s lies and insults since he came down that escalator eight years ago.

One cannot imagine a more serious set of offenses by a sitting president against the nation than working deliberately to overturn the result of a democratic election—one that he clearly knew from his closest advisers he had lost—or illegally squirreling away and refusing to return some of the country’s most sensitive secrets. The seriousness is greatly magnified in the first instance by the extent and persistence of the conduct at issue, spanning many months and transcending multiple states and means used to change the electoral outcome. In the documents case, again, the amount of classified material and the persistence of evasive efforts to avoid returning the materials is breathtaking.

The extent and quality of the evidence of wrongdoing in both cases, including audio and video tapes, is also extraordinary, and reveals in countless ways that Trump was the primary driving force behind virtually all of the key misdeeds in both cases. In any situation where so much evidence exists, there will be complexities associated with prosecuting. And yes, a jury could nevertheless acquit or hang. But that risk is present in every criminal case, and is no reason to decline to prosecute.

To do so in these cases—featuring truly egregious wrongs personally committed by someone in a position of the highest trust—would be a failure of our vaunted system of equal justice at the most fundamental level. The planners and perpetrators of the January 6 events that Trump inspired and refused to stop are now receiving sentences of roughly 20 years; giving a pass to the person who unquestionably caused it all by violating his most sacred obligations to the nation would be unthinkable. [Continue reading…]

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