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Trump’s Trial Is a Symptom of a Larger Crisis in American Justice

Naturally, the cataract of commentary on Thursday’s Stalinist guilty, guilty, guilty verdict against Donald Trump has divided itself into two distinct pools. One is gleeful. The other is alarmed. Rather than anatomize the differences between the two, I’d like to start by simply noting the size and fervor of the response.  There are, I believe, two essential points to bear in mind.

The first is that the outpouring is only incidentally about Trump.  You might find this a surprising statement since the news has been full of little besides Trump.

What I mean is that, although Trump is clearly the protagonist in this long-running drama, in the end, this story is about something other or more than the real-estate developer turned hyper-reality-show President.  Trump himself has often put his finger on the key point when he insists that “they’re not after me, they’re after you.  I’m just in the way.”

The astonished reaction to the cynically biased trial and the extraordinary verdict bear witness to this somber observation. “In Memory of Justice,”  the title of Andrew McCarthy’s long column on the process and the verdict, encapsulates the point.  McCarthy is no fan of Donald Trump—quite the contrary.  But he understands that what just happened far transcends the fate of a single individual. Once upon a time, he writes, “Our system embodied the rule of law, the sturdy undercarriage of a free, prosperous, pluralistic society. Now, on its good days, it’s a clown show. On the bad days—there are far too many of those—it’s a political weapon.”

This weapon has two distinct functions. One is to harm enemies of the regime. Hence, the innumerable show trials starring Donald Trump as Defendant-in-Chief and his allies and supporters (here’s looking at you, Peter Navarro).  The second is to protect friends and allies of the regime. Hence the kid-glove treatment thus far accorded to Hunter Biden, Hillary Clinton, deep-state apparatchiks from the DOJ, the FBI, and other coercive actors in the alphabet soup of state supervision.

The vast outpouring of commentary on this astonishing deployment of the law to achieve lawlessness is resolving itself into a hysterical (I do not mean “funny”) rictus of alarm reminiscent of a painting by Edvard Munch. The extremity of the rhetoric registers the seriousness of the situation.  But it also, ironically, may act as a soporific, impeding any effective action. “We’ve said our piece and made our case. Now we can move on.” Unfortunately, we can’t.

And this is the second essential point to keep in mind.  The diagnosis can be as eloquent and dire as you like.  It is difficult at this stage of our societal devolution to think that the damage reports, however thorough, are much more than the “words, words, words” with which Hamlet replied to Polonius.

In fact, I worry that the response to this frontal and deadly assault on the rule of law will end up looking something like what the movie Team America showed when it introduced the feckless U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix to the North Korean dictator. Open up your military installations to my inspection, Blix demanded, or else. “Or else what?” Kim demanded. Or else “We will be very, very angry with you, and we will write you a letter telling you how angry we are.” Moments later, Blix is dropped into a tank and devoured by hungry piranhas.

It’s funny in the movie.  It’s not so funny in real life.  But here we are.

Hans Blix is unavailable, but we have Larry Hogan, Maryland’s governor and 2024 senatorial candidate for the emasculated, formerly Republican, party. Responding to the impending verdict in the Trump case, Hogan issued this emetic little tweet: “Regardless of the result [!], I urge all Americans to respect the verdict [!]and the legal process [!!]. At this dangerously divided moment in our history, all leaders—regardless of party—must not pour fuel on the fire with more toxic partisanship. We must reaffirm what has made this nation great: the rule of law.”

That ship has sailed, Guv. There is no rule of law in the United States. There is only rule of the regime party.  Which is why Mark Steyn, responding to Hogan, described him as an “all too typical wanker Republican senate candidate.”  Steyn continued:

I loathe the likes of Hogan far more than I loathe Alvin Bragg: The latter campaigned for office on a promise to get Trump, and delivered to his voters. The former, in pretending that there is anything “great” about this that should command our “respect,” is making evil and corruption respectable and bipartisan.

Quite right. The commentator Megan Kelly, who seems to have definitively boarded the Trump train, is right that Thursday’s verdict represents “a before and after moment for America.  It is a line we can’t uncross.”  She is also right that what the country needs now are real fighters, people like Steve Bannon, host of the War Room.  Horace Walpole once observed that “No country was ever saved by good men because good men will not go to the length that may be necessary.” I think it is worth bearing that clarifying, if unsentimental, bit of practical wisdom in mind.

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Notable Replies

  1. Avatar for task task says:

    Tell me how a federal law can be used by a state in a clearly partisan attack? This is reverse Federalism. The Feds, themselves, will not do what the new Confederate State of NY has done. Based on such Lawfare we would never had needed the war that was started in 1860, had a Confederate State done something similar. It is, of course, non a substitute for the Constitutional ballot box else a civil war becomes as justifiable as it became in 1860. It was not Trump, whose non disclosure agreement influenced the 2016 election, because that was signed after he won. It is this NY Court that is now doing what Trump was accused of doing.

    Let’s discuss hypocrisy. Bill and Hillary had all of Bill’s Bimbos (not my choice of words) sign non-disclosure agreements. Wait, it gets worse. Hillary created the Russian Golden-Shower narrative to disparage Trump and win an election. And it was American Intel that went along and leaked it to the press knowing it was fabricated. And what about all those Military Democrats, on the advice (suborned perjury) of Biden and Blinken, signed a letter stating that Hunter’s Laptop was a Russian Hoax? They lied to influence the 2020 election. People who voted for Biden said they would have voted otherwise if they had known the truth! If what NY has done, and survives a SCOTUS challenge) then any other state DA is free to do the same thing to Biden and Blinken.

    American Justice and the Election process are in shambles. And those responsible call their efforts virtuous. They, and not Trump, are destroying democracy. And they are destroying the Republic, and its Founding Documents, that gave the American people the First Amendment and the right to choose their president at the ballot box and not by a NY Court whose election interference is exactly what the Federal government is designed to prevent.

  2. In the immortal words of Harry Reid, “Well, it worked, didn’t it?”

  3. The old saw states that it is a recession if your neighbor is out of work, but a depression when you’re the one out of work. Until Americans realize the true danger they are in, all of this is no more than an entertaining tele novella. We watched (and clucked our tongues) when a corrupt judge with zero experience in real estate determined that bank fraud occurred when the banks asserted they had not been defrauded at all, and imposed a penalty of nearly half a trillion dollars against a political enemy. We watched when a one year window was created to re-vivify a sexual misconduct case long past the statute of limitations so that, once again, a punishment of eighty million dollars could be imposed on a political enemy. And now, we watched as a prosecution–working with a political judge—set aside protections of the fourth, fifth, and sixth Amendments to convict a political opponent of a nebulous combination of tax fraud, violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act, or falsification of other business records-----without the establishment of predicate or even presentation of evidence.

    And in regard to ALL of the above, nearly half the country is cheering in affirmation.

    Ben Franklin now has his answer, “Sorry Ben, we couldn’t keep the Republic. We tried. We really tried, but no one was really interested.”

  4. Avatar for task task says:

    I instinctively knew someone would mention that.

    Are not the SCOTUS justices attempting to determine the level of immunity a President has? They might want to look at politicians, prosecutors, judges and themselves before they decide what should be as obvious to them, already, as it was to Harry Reid.

  5. What really frosts my cornflakes, is if the Supreme Court rules on presidential immunity as it properly should, it will, at the same time, shield Joe Biden for all of his conspiracy in coordinating this fiasco with Fani Willis, Jack Smith, and Alvin Bragg.

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