Salvo 05.30.2024 5 minutes

Statement on Trump’s “Conviction”

Jury Finds Former President Donald Trump Guilty On All 34 Counts In Hush Money Trial

It's now up to the American people.

The conviction in a New York court of former President Donald Trump—on vague charges, flabby jury instructions, and based on the testimony of a compulsive liar—is a sad day for America. It is the fruit of the weaponization of our system of justice as a political tool and is a further and precipitous step down the path of banana republicanism.

The case against Trump was explicitly brought on partisan grounds. Prosecutor Alvin Bragg ran for election promising that he would commit the office of the New York District Attorney to prosecuting Trump, for anything he could find. The case that was dumped in his lap, however, was so tendentious and weak—claiming that the notation of internal business records was intentionally falsified, allegedly in the service of campaign finance fraud—that Bragg initially refused to pursue it, just as his predecessor Cy Vance had done.

The regime, however, was keen to assail Trump with lawfare. They brought multiple cases in a variety of jurisdictions to hogtie, threaten, and embarrass the former and possibly future President. A massive state RICO case in Georgia and two federal prosecutions, in D.C. and Florida, along with the New York case, threatened to put Trump in prison for the rest of his life, or at least destroy his political career. The Biden Administration dispatched Matthew Colangelo, a senior official in the Obama Department of Labor and then acting associate attorney general under Biden, to New York to supervise both Letitia James’ and Alvin Bragg’s civil and criminal cases against Trump.

The circus of the trial in lower Manhattan has been attested to elsewhere, and we see no need to rehash the clown show of witnesses, Judge Juan Marchan’s obvious conflicts of interest, his partiality to the prosecution, and his absurd instructions to the jury. The crimes that Trump was accused of were so refracted and recondite that they never would have been brought against anyone else.

Which is really the point. De minimis non curat lex. The law is not concerned with trifles, and proper governments do not go kicking through the weeds in search of crimes to prosecute. And when they choose to do it against political opponents, a system based on democratic values and due process of law quickly passes into something much uglier.

Trump’s enemies may soon discover that the sword of Justice has two edges. The pages of recent history are filled with the names of political prisoners who emerged to lead their nations. Vaclev Havel, Nelson Mandela, Jawaharlal Nehru, Kim Dae-Jung, and Lech Walesa all spent significant time behind bars before assuming the leadership of their respective nations. Brazil’s Lula was president for eight years, was then convicted on corruption charges, spent 18 months in prison, had his sentence overturned, and now is president again.

Regime partisans are thrilled that Trump has finally been convicted of something. But the bald falsity of the charges and process may have stirred his supporters, and even the uncommitted, to fury at the manifest misuse of the American system of justice. When you do unprecedented things, history has a way of behaving unpredictably.

This was a sad and tragic day for republicanism. Many Americans are growing increasingly alarmed at the new normal of American politics. Even if they’re not quite sure what precisely is so alarming, there is a growing mood that the whole thing stinks. We are increasingly governed by rules and regulations promulgated and executed by a class of unelected administrators beholden overwhelmingly to only one of our major political parties. When an outsider candidate and then president ran on a platform of opposition to this new normal and a restoration of sanity, the ruling class threw the book at him, by hook and by crook.

The politics of freedom in America now hang by a thread. The courts have proven to be a rickety bulwark against capricious, arbitrary, and tyrannical tendencies that have been germinating for a century. It now falls to the American people, exercising their sovereign power in the next presidential election, to render their verdict on a system dangerously off course.

The American Mind presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of The Claremont Institute.

The American Mind is a publication of the Claremont Institute, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, dedicated to restoring the principles of the American Founding to their rightful, preeminent authority in our national life. Interested in supporting our work? Gifts to the Claremont Institute are tax-deductible.

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