Donald Trump's Political Prosecutions

            Most people, even most lawyers, don't understand the American System of government. What made the United States revolutionary was the abolition of royalty. Throughout human history, every society had a king, emperor, chief, or some kind of strongman who embodied the sovereignty of the state. Sovereignty means " The position, rank, or power of a supreme ruler or monarch; royal authority or dominion." Pardoning is one of the prerogatives of the sovereign.

            Thanks to George Washington's refusal to become King of the United States after the successful end of the War for Independence, the framers of the Constitution had to find a new site for national sovereignty. The War for Independence proved that the states under the Articles of Confederation were an unreliable source of sovereignty, which is why Congress had to create a Continental Army to fight the British. They settled on "We the People" in the Constitution. It is the placing of sovereign power in the hands of the people that made the United States revolutionary, not its independence from Britain. When Canada and Australia, among others, became independent, they retained the British monarch as the sovereign.

            All the checks and balances of the federal and state governments are designed to achieve a single, simple task ‒ keeping the sovereign power of the nation in the hands of the people and out of the hands of the president, Congress, the courts, and the states.

            For argument's sake, I'll accept that Trump falsified business records to pay Stormy Daniels, although I won't accept that every cent spent by a candidate for federal office is a campaign contribution. Following the prosecution's absurd argument to its logical conclusion, if a candidate spends as much as a dime to keep derogatory information about himself from the public, that's election interference. So, I guess Kennedy interfered with the 1960 election by keeping secret his paying off of the West Virginia sheriffs and his affair with Judith Exner. According to the prosecution logic, candidates are required to reveal everything about themselves, even the bad stuff.

            But even if everything the prosecution alleges is true, Trump still should not have been prosecuted and convicted. The charges against Trump are all misdemeanors. It is only the tenuous attempt to link them together that makes them a felony. Plus, anyone who knows anything about the Federal Election Campaign Act knows it's a worthless, biased document. The Federal Election Campaign Act doles out tens of millions of public dollars, but only to party candidates. The rules are written to, in effect, make only Republicans and Democrats eligible for public funds upfront. Independents get nothing. The Supreme Court agreed that the Act was unfair but upheld it anyway, arguing that the stability provided by the two-party system justified the legal bias against independent candidates. Trump's was a show trial in the best Stalinist tradition.

            Trump has received 185,798,253 votes so far, compared to 279,406 for Alvin Bragg and none for Judge Juan Merchan. And Alvin Bragg is no fool. He was reluctant to prosecute Trump, as his predecessor had declined to do so, but he was forced into it by his staff. I hate to sound like a racist, which I'm not, but Merchan was born in Colombia, a nation that has had two low-level left and right-wing insurgencies continuously since 1960. Merchan's father was in Colombia's military intelligence.

            The US State Department has four travel advisory categories for foreign travelers: 1. Exercise normal precautions, 2. Exercise increased caution, 3. Reconsider travel, and 4. Do Not Travel. Colombia is Level 3: Reconsider travel due to crime and terrorism. Exercise increased caution due to civil unrest and kidnapping.

            Now, I'm sure Judge Merchan is a well-qualified, competent jurist. But, the President of the United States is the only office where the holder is required to be a natural-born citizen. I just don't think someone who started life living abroad for the first six years of his life in an unstable society can understand the American system of government, and Merchan should have recused himself when assigned Trump's trial, if not dismissed the charge linking the falsified records to campaign contributions. Ever since the Supreme Court found the Federal Election Campaign Act to be Constitutional (1976), handed down Forbes v. Arkansas Educational Television Commission (which allowed the exclusion of independent candidates from publicly funded forums) (1998), stole the 2000 presidential election for George W. Bush, and opened political campaigns to unlimited corporate cash with Citizen's United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), the legal system has run off the rails when it comes to elections. Indicting Trump is just another step down the road of the courts disenfranchising "the people." The people dealt with the allegations against Trump by defeating him in 2020, and that should have satisfied everyone. After Trump won in 2016, and his followers were pressuring him to follow up on his threats to jail Hillary, he said, "She's suffered enough."

            As a personal disclaimer, I must say that I did not vote for Donald Trump and have no intention of doing so this November. However, in politics, there's an old saying that you can't beat someone with no one, and it was clear to anyone with an ounce of independent thought that the prosecutions of Trump are more of a threat to democratic governance than his fraudulent bookkeeping and violations of the Federal Election Campaign Act. The indictments rejuvenated his campaign and are monopolizing the public airwaves when they are urgently needed to consult the people when hammering out government policy for the next administration. We are at war in the Middle East and Eastern Europe. The Supreme Court's overturning Roe has sowed chaos and fear among women (the idea that a woman's Constitutional rights are subject to state law is absurd because states have no sovereignty other than that explicitly given to them by the Constitution). The economy is in dangerously bad shape with surging prices and soaring deficits. Now, are Trump's transgressions really so important in comparison? Manhattan only had a 42% clearance rate for Murders, Rape, Robbery, Felony Assault and Burglary in the first quarter of 2024. Were Trump's crimes commensurate with the six weeks of court time and millions of tax dollars devoted to prosecuting them? If no one is above the law, I think everyone would agree that bringing justice to the victims of murder, rape, and robbery deserves at least as much time and effort as prosecuting Trump's misdemeanors. It is this obvious disproportionality that proves the indictments are political. It's a textbook SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) suit.


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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf