A sigh of relief swept over America Thursday when the first of what are expected to be multiple indictments for the criminal activity of former president Donald J. Trump hit the news.
Indictments for financial crimes and other infractions of the law came from a Manhattan grand jury under the guidance of District Attorney Altin Bragg. Other indictments, including ones for sedition, conspiracy to overthrow the democratic government of this nation, incitement to riot, and inciting violence led to the trashing of the U.S. Capital and murders of several, including police officers and violations of the Espionage Act are expected in the coming weeks and months from state prosecutors in Georgia and the Justice Department special counsel who honed his craft at the World Court, successfully prosecuting war and terrorism criminals.
Appropriately, the first indictment came from New York, the lair of Trump’s illegal real estate activities, including federal citations for racism, evasion of taxes, and outright fraud.
Writes Jennifer Rubin of The Washington Post:
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg made history on Thursday, indicting a former U.S. president for the first time. The indictment is under seal. From all indications, however, former president Donald Trump was indicted for falsification of business records (a crime regularly prosecuted under New York law), beginning before the 2016 election. (The hush-money payments continued during his presidency.) If news reports are correct that Trump was indicted for a felony,
Bragg will have cited another crime that Trump allegedly furthered through bookkeeping shenanigans.
Former prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, part of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of Trump, told me, “This is the first step in true legal accountability. But it will be important to remember that the rule of law requires us to presume him innocent now that he is a criminal defendant.”
No felony is inconsequential, nor is the likely charge incidental to Trump’s sustained attack on our democracy. The scheme Trump allegedly set up to keep adult-film star Stormy Daniels quiet about an affair was intended to pull the wool over voters’ eyes, the first of other attempts to defraud them, and the coverup scheme extended into his presidency when he lied in denying the affair. Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen pleaded guilty and served jail time for attempting to conceal these very payments. (Rather than ponder why Bragg prosecuted Trump for the same facts, it’s fair to wonder why the Justice Department did not prosecute Trump immediately after he left office.)
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland has come under heavy criticism for the slow, plodding way he was approached investigating the many crimes of Trump but he is also the one who brought in prosecutor Jack Smith, formerly deployed to the World Court to handle the prosecution of war criminals and turned the prosecutions over to him. Smith’s work shows a determination to pursue a former president like any other criminal and is not registered as a member of either political party.
Smith is closing in on Trump for his role in incising the violence and deaths tired of the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Investigators close to the case have reportedly documented Trump’s role as the ringleader of actions that have already sent others to prison as part of a “seditious conspiracy” to overthrow the government which along with the concealment of classified documents, shows a pattern of outright violations of the Espionage Act.
Of course, the rabid right-wing cabal of MAGA cultists are screaming and bitching about what a travesty it is to indict the most corrupt, criminal president in modern history and charge him for only some of his many crimes, frauds, and lies. By the way, MAGA should stand for “Malignant Assholes Getting Away. Let’s hope future indictments include many of his co-conspirators and enablers like the pathetic Kevin McCarthy and his bubbleheaded “top aide,” Marjorie Taylor Greene, the woman he said he “can’t live without out.” Maybe they can be exiled together in a maximum security prison.
And let’s not forget Rudy Giuliani, with his black hair dye cascaded down his sullen face and brain-dead eyes.
Notes The New York Times Editorial Board:
Mr. Smith is investigating the former president’s efforts to prevent the peaceful transfer of power on Jan. 6, 2021, when Mr. Trump roused an armed mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol, threatening lawmakers who were gathered to certify the results of the presidential election. A bipartisan Senate report last year found that seven deaths were related to the attack.
Mr. Smith’s team is also investigating the former president over his mishandling of classified documents that were removed from the White House and taken to Mar-a-Lago, his private residence in Florida. Some 300 classified documents have been recovered in the case. Prosecutors are also examining whether Mr. Trump, his attorneys or staff members misled government officials seeking the return of the documents.
Prosecuting the former president will no doubt widen the existing political divisions that have so damaged the country in recent years. Mr. Trump has already stoked that divisiveness, calling prosecutors behind the probes — several of whom are Black — “racist.” He claimed in a social media post that he would be arrested and called on his supporters to “PROTEST, TAKE OUR NATION BACK!” The language echoed his rallying cry that preceded the Capitol riot. Officials in New York City, taking no chances on a repeat performance by Mr. Trump’s supporters, have been preparing for unrest.
Those accusations are clearly aimed at undermining the allegations against him, inoculating himself from the consequences of his misconduct and using the cases to his political advantage. The two district attorneys in these cases are elected Democrats, but their race and political affiliations are not relevant to the legal proceedings. (Mr. Smith is not registered with either party.) Nevertheless, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy immediately demonstrated his party’s intent to politicize the indictment by calling Mr. Bragg “a radical DA” pursuing “political vengeance” against Mr. Trump. Mr. McCarthy has no jurisdiction over the Manhattan district attorney and no business interfering in a criminal prosecution, and yet he vowed to have the House of Representatives determine whether Mr. Bragg’s office is receiving federal funds.
The decision to prosecute a former president is a solemn task, particularly given the deep national fissures that Mr. Trump will inevitably exacerbate as the 2024 campaign grows closer. But the cost of failing to seek justice against a leader who may have committed these crimes would be higher still.
The first indictment of Trump was a long time coming. The next ones will no here soon and they will build a strong, documented set of cases that should convict, imprison and give him the only legacy he deserves.
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