Two-Tiered Justice, but Perilous All the Same
The indictment of Donald Trump is grossly political and poses a dire legal risk all at once.
Two-tiered justice is not justice. We’ve noted that over and over again in recent years, and most often the subject of unjust personal vendettas in place of true justice is Donald Trump.
Few presidents have done more than Trump to put America First and Make America Great Again. Those aren’t just slogans. He put those things into practice, and we spent his entire four years in office repeatedly detailing and defending those myriad accomplishments.
Trump was elected, as we have also noted, to drop a metaphorical bomb on the DC establishment — to drain The Swamp and rein in the deep state. You don’t do that without angering a lot of powerful people who then try to make you pay.
Our Douglas Andrews covered the indictment of Trump by Joe Biden’s highly politicized and weaponized Justice Department Friday. A sitting president’s attorney general hired a supposedly independent cutout in Special Counsel Jack Smith to indict the president’s chief rival in the upcoming election. Anyone who doubts that’s grossly political hasn’t been paying attention for the last eight years.
“We have one set of laws in this country and they apply to everybody,” Smith proclaimed.
[Gasps for breath]
That this whole fiasco is a historic first belies that cruel joke.
Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Mike Pence, David Petraeus, Sandy Berger, and others have mishandled classified information with little or no consequence. Far more minor players — people without political connections or power — get the entire book thrown at them. So, apparently, does Trump. Nearly everyone professes to hate this double standard and yet it keeps happening.
That’s because no one wants their guy (or lady) to be the first one held to account. We all know it won’t bring a new era of fairness or respect for Rule of Law; it’ll just let the other team claim a scalp.
If one thing is certain about this whole affair with Trump and classified documents, it’s that the details of the case will matter to almost no one. The details are far too “in the weeds” for most short-attention-span Americans, so it’s a contest of narratives. Team Trump will argue that it’s the world’s greatest witch hunt. Team Biden will insist that someone so willfully at odds with the law must be held to account.
Whatever you thought of Donald Trump before the indictment, you likely still think of Donald Trump.
All that said, the indictment and its 37 charges have been unsealed and the case doesn’t look good for the former president. Don’t take our word for it. Ask his own lawyers, two of whom resigned, probably because he was such a terrible client (more on that in a minute). Those were the people trying to help him, not destroy him.
Yes, the indictment itself stands on some questionable footing likely in order to boost the charge count. More than 30 charges depend on the Espionage Act, which is seldom used for anything, and those charges are unlikely to stick. Besides, as the Wall Street Journal’s editors note, “It’s striking, and legally notable, that the indictment never mentions the Presidential Records Act (PRA) that allows a President access to documents, both classified and unclassified, once he leaves office.” That matters, they say, because “if the Espionage Act means Presidents can’t retain any classified documents, then the PRA is all but meaningless.”
However, to illustrate Trump’s legal peril, we’ll focus on just a couple of things.
First was the material he took and the circumstances in which he held it. The indictment says: “The classified documents Trump stored in his boxes included information regarding defense and weapons capabilities of both the United States and foreign countries; United States nuclear programs; potential vulnerabilities of the United States and its allies to military attack; and plans for possible retaliation in response to a foreign attack. The unauthorized disclosure of these classified documents could put at risk the national security of the United States, foreign relations, the safety of the United States military, and human sources and the continued viability of sensitive intelligence collection methods.”
We’ve argued that at least Trump stored physical documents at the Secret Service-secured compound known as Mar-a-Lago as opposed to sending classified emails over an unsecured server, in some cases from hostile foreign soil, the way Clinton did.
Yet the indictment notes, “The Mar-a-Lago Club was an active social club, which, between January 2021 and August 2022, hosted events for tens of thousands of members and guests.” On top of that, Trump stored documents “in a ballroom, a bathroom and shower, an office space, his bedroom, and a storage room.” In any event, it was “not an authorized location” for said documents, and it’s reasonable to conclude that it was reckless and irresponsible to maintain such files there.
Likewise for sharing such information with people who didn’t have security clearance, sometimes seemingly for the sole purpose of boasting.
What separates Trump from Biden or Pence is that, when confronted, the latter two men quickly turned over documents. (Whether that was complete compliance is another matter.) As he is wont to do, Trump fought and argued and lied all the way up until that FBI raid of his home. He claims to have declassified whatever he wanted to, but there is no record of him having done so. Posting on Truth Social is not sufficient.
Second and much harder to dismiss is Trump’s arm-twisting of his legal team and others. After receiving a grand jury subpoena to turn over the classified material he had kept, Trump met with his lawyers to discuss how to handle it. As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy cleverly notes, “Not everyone was on the same page about what handle meant.”
Trump wanted his attorneys to essentially get rid of the evidence and obstruct justice the way Hillary Clinton’s attorney did. He told them what he considered to be the model for this:
He was great, he did a great job. You know what? He said, he said that it — that it was him. That he was the one who deleted all of her emails, the 30,000 emails, because they basically dealt with her scheduling and her going to the gym and her having beauty appointments. And he was great. And he, so she didn’t get into any trouble because he said he was the one who deleted them.
Trump exacted the only justice Clinton will ever face by defeating her in 2016. Now he wants to be just like her? He should be able to do whatever she did? That’s his defense?
“The evidence of this soliloquy — wherein it was Trump-splained that a ‘great job’ by a lawyer entails making incriminating evidence disappear and taking the fall for it so the client escapes jeopardy — does not come from Donald Trump’s enemies,” observes McCarthy. “No, the evidence comes from Trump’s lawyers. The people who were trying to minimize his criminal exposure and push back against his destructive tendencies. The people who were trying to help him.”
Trump has a habit of doing that to his people. Pushing them too far to defend his most self-destructive tendencies and then throwing them under the bus when they no longer serve his purposes. Mike Pence, call your office.
Speaking of people sporting tire treads, former Attorney General Bill Barr says of the indictment, “If even half of it is true, then he’s toast.” He called it “a very detailed indictment” and “very damning.” In fact, Barr continued: “This idea of presenting Trump as a victim here — a victim of a witch hunt is ridiculous. Yes, he’s been a victim in the past. Yes, his adversaries have obsessively pursued him with phony claims. And I’ve been by his side defending against them when he is a victim. But this is much different. He’s not a victim here. He was totally wrong that he had the right to have those documents … and he kept them in a way at Mar-a-Lago that anyone who really cares about national security would — their stomach would churn at it.”
Trump dismisses Pence, Barr, and a host of other administration alums as simply traitors who were never very good at their jobs anyway. Well, who picked them for their posts?
Back to the two-tiered justice, McCarthy adds: “It’s not that Trump is owed a pass. It’s that every official who is entrusted with access to the nation’s secrets, and who then betrays that trust by willful law violations and cover-ups, should be prosecuted. Every … single … one. And none of them has any business near power.” He adds, “The fix for a two-tiered justice system is not equal injustice under the law.”
That isn’t to say that the law isn’t in need of review. Undoubtedly too much information is classified and thus kept from the American people. Trump clearly and for good reason didn’t respect the system or the deep state that makes so many things classified, often for the purpose of obfuscation of corruption and abuse of power. He dropped a bomb on that system.
As for Trump’s other legal troubles, the case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg is totally preposterous and ought to be laughed out of court. He’s not out of the woods with tax questions, though. Ultimately, the “far greater legal jeopardy,” argues journalist Julie Kelly, is “Smith’s ongoing investigation into January 6.” She says, “Potential charges include obstruction of an official proceeding, conspiracy to obstruct, and witness tampering,” as well as “a seditious conspiracy count against Trump.”
Finally, a humble word to Republican voters if we may be so bold. As the primaries approach, many folks are motivated to support Trump for the Republican presidential nomination for two reasons: They believe he deserves a chance to finish the job he started and was unfairly and illegally blocked from completing, and Democrats are afraid of him.
The first part is absolutely understandable, even if Trump would be in his 80s by the end of another term. The second part is where voters might want to consider the Left’s strategy. Democrats want nothing more than for Trump to be the Republican nominee — indictments and all — because they think they can beat him a fourth time by stirring up the unmitigated hatred of millions of Americans.
Simply ask this question: Would Democrats rather talk about Dementia Joe’s economy or Trump’s indictments? The latter makes the 2024 election a referendum on Trump instead of Biden.
That’s undeserved and unfair. It’s also just the inconvenient truth.
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