Trump will attack his indictment on three basic points. Let me rebut them | Robert Reich

You’re going to hear three basic criticisms of Trump’s indictment. Each has some merit, but ultimately fails.

Let me rebut each in turn.

1. It sets a dangerous precedent

Wrong. In order for the justice system to work, there must be trust that the system will not play favorites or ignore the wrongdoing of the powerful.

Donald Trump has done everything possible over the last seven years to destroy that trust for his own political gain.

America never quite recovered from Gerald Ford’s decision to pardon Richard Nixon for all crimes he might have committed.

It is true that no former president has ever been indicted, but no former president has done what Donald Trump has done – repeatedly defied laws and disregarded the US constitution.

“No one is above the law” is only true if we make it so. Holding our leaders accountable is vital to maintaining trust in our legal system, and the survival of our democracy itself.

2. The indictment plays into Trump’s claims that he’s the victim of a witch-hunt, and will further rile his core supporters

Irrelevant. Undoubtedly some Trump supporters will be upset by this. The indictment will confirm for them that Trump is not only being prosecuted but also being persecuted.

But Trump has used every move against him so far – whether by the FBI, the justice department, Congress, or even opponents in the Republican party – to claim he’s a victim of a witch-hunt. This indictment is no different.

His entire campaign is based on variations of this same grievance. But in this case, a grand jury found that he broke the law. It’s hard to cast an independent grand jury composed of ordinary people into part of a witch-hunt.

3. This is the weakest of the cases now being prepared against Trump

Yes, but so what? To be sure, paying hush money to cover up something embarrassing during a presidential campaign is not nearly on the same level as asking Georgia’s secretary of state to “come up” with the exact number of votes needed to reverse the outcome of Georgia’s presidential election, or fomenting an attack on the US Capitol.

And it may be true that an allegation like this is usually treated as a misdemeanor rather than a felony.

None of this alters the fact that a grand jury had enough evidence in this case to decide that Trump broke the law. That’s the critical point.

A federal judge can decide whether the case rises to a felony or is more appropriately treated as a misdemeanor. The overriding issue is that no person is above the law, not even a former president.

Indeed, since the basic issue here is one of accountability, this case could ease the way for the other, more serious ones.

Prosecutors in Georgia and Washington won’t have to bear the burden of justifying an action that had never been taken before. Their more serious charges would come to a public that had already adjusted to the phenomenon of Donald Trump being indicted.

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