Port: New York prosecuting Donald Trump is worse than a bad idea. It's unjust.
"It disgusts me that our proud republic is obliged to litigate, as a matter of national discourse, a pathetic sexual transaction between a licentious old man and a porn star, but here we are."
MINOT, N.D. — As anyone familiar with my body of work knows, I detest Donald Trump, and his political movement, but even I can see that prosecutors in New York are making a terrible mistake by attempting to prosecute the disgraced former president for actions around his pay-off to porn star Stormy Daniels.
I've heard some argue that Trump ought not to be prosecuted because he's a former president and has demonstrated a willingness to incite his political movement to violence. Just last week, Trump asserted that he'd be arrested today (that seems, as I write this, unlikely to happen) and called on his followers to protest .
That sort of thing shouldn't matter to those tasked with enforcing the law.
Nobody should be above the law. Especially powerful political figures.
But also, those enforcing the law shouldn't be motivated by politics, and that's clearly what's happening in New York.
This case is old and cold. It dates to 2016 — the better part of a decade ago — and is only now being resurrected as Trump begins a third campaign for the presidency. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who is bringing the charges, had previously declined to do so, as did his predecessor Cyrus Vance. He is moving forward now under intense political pressure ignited by a former underling .
The crime itself is a blatant example of overcharging, predicated as it is on a dubious legal stratagem that boosts a misdemeanor to a felony, a necessary part of the case because the statute of limitations has already run out for a misdemeanor charge. Those in favor of pursuing this case are talking a lot about campaign finance violations, but even that is flimsy, given that the violations alleged would have occurred during a federal campaign. Since when does the state of New York enforce federal election law?
One of the star witnesses, in this case, is Michael Cohen, a disbarred attorney with a demonstrable track record of lying. The other is Daniels herself, who has already lost a civil case related to this matter and was forced to pay Trump's legal fees.
Everyone should be equal under the law, yes, but while that means even powerful political figures should face the consequences for their actions, it also means that we should all be protected from overcharging and politically motivated prosecution. Even powerful political figures.
It disgusts me that our proud republic is obliged to litigate, as a matter of national discourse, a pathetic sexual transaction between a licentious old man (one who, bewilderingly, enjoys a great deal of support among evangelical Christians) and a porn star.
But here we are.
Yet in the galaxy of Trump's legal troubles, this ignominious bit of sexual commerce, described by Daniels as the "worst 90 seconds" of her life, is a nothing burger.
If we want accountability for Trump, look to Georgia, where Trump may soon face charges related to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Or look to federal charges related to Trump's mishandling of sensitive documents, though that case is made difficult by the fact that many national political figures, from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to current President Joe Biden, have also mishandled state secrets with little in the way of repercussions.
Bringing a weak-tea case against Trump in this matter would be a travesty. It's not a good case, and it seems clear to observers capable of achieving a degree of objectivity that were the target for this case not Trump, the prosecution would probably be letting it go.
One consistent criticism I have made of those who have aligned themselves under the banners of the Trump movement is that, by defining their cause as opposing whatever "the left" is for, they've become what the left accuses them of being.
Trump's enemies are in danger of doing the same thing.
Trump and his followers promote the idea that America is in the grips of a "deep state" cabal intent on, among other things, using the awesome power of government to punish their enemies. A politically driven prosecution of Trump would give them ample fodder to claim they're right.
Trump has no business in any elected office, let alone the White House. I mean, look at these posts. Does this look like the product of mind that's fit to lead the free world?
No reasonable person believes that Trump is fit for another term in office. But that's a matter to be settled through the political process, not through political prosecutions.