This week appears to be the one where Donald Trump gets indicted and I don’t know how I feel about it. One side wants him in handcuffs no matter what. The other would, as Trump said, support him if he stood “in the middle of Fifth Avenue and [shot] somebody.” That’s not how justice is supposed to work.
Trump’s indictment will be for paying hush money to a porn star to cover up his affair before an election. If he did it for purposes of protecting his campaign, then it seems like a campaign violation. If he did it to hide the affair from his wife and family, it seems like a personal matter. Seven years after the fact, who cares?
I think it’s a lousy reason to indict him. While I don’t think Trump should be above the law, I think we should look at political realities. In this environment, indicting a former president should be a slam dunk case, I don’t care what the grand jury says about probable cause. Campaign finance violations of this nature rarely result in convictions. Just look at John Edwards.
In this case, the indictment and trial will just further divisions in our country. We’re about to see the country treat the episode like a sporting event. Both sides will further convince themselves of their righteousness. Trump may end up convicted but he’s not going to prison.
I will say, I find it pretty funny that the people defending Trump include evangelicals who consider themselves purveyors of morality. Whether Trump broke the law or not in paying off Stormie Daniels is questionable. That Trump is largely immoral or amoral is beyond dispute. On the other hand, the people who insisted Bill Clinton was railroaded are the ones cheering the indictment. Really, neither cares about the facts. One side wants him in jail and the other wants him in the White House. I think both will be disappointed, but we’ll pay a steep price for their zeal.
If we’re really going to go through a trial with Trump, it should be over something that matters, not him screwing a porn star. What happened on January 6 needs accountability. If the special prosecutor finds enough evidence to indict Trump and/or senior members of his administration, that’s worth the pain of a trial. That indictment and trial may divide the country, but it will show that our democracy matters and protecting it is necessary. Campaign finance violations are not a threat to our country.
I know that presidents shouldn’t be above the law, but I also know that an indictment that looks partisan could do more damage to the country than trying to hold someone accountable for relatively minor crimes he may or may not have committed. The guy is innocent until proven guilty. And he’s never going to admit his guilt and his followers will always believe it’s political. Prosecuting campaign finance violations that happened seven years ago aren’t really in the best of interest of our politics or our country. Let’s wait for something that really matters.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Mills spent 20 years as a political and public affairs consultant. Republished from PoliticsNC.com.