Political Thoughts with Richard Bleil
Yesterday, as of the writing of this post, Former President Trump became, once again, a first in the history of the US. He was the first president to be impeached twice (and in a single term no less), and no, he was not exonerated. He was not removed from office, and the Senate does have a procedure for formal exoneration of an impeached president, but it requires a super majority vote (two-thirds) to pass. The Republicans did not believe they had the votes for a formal exoneration, so the vote was on removal from office, and, no, Trump was not removed from office. But neither was Clinton or Andrew Jackson. For that matter, Nixon was not removed from office either. He assumed there were enough votes to remove him, but technically he resigned.
And now, for the first time in history, a sitting president faces criminal charges. I’m accelerating the publication of this post, but even at that there may be more news, so I apologize if this is outdated.
Ultimately, I want to call for calm. A lot of liberals and Democrats will feel vindicated that the multitude of investigations actually resulted in some form of legal action, and many conservatives and Republicans will most likely increase the volume of their voices as they scream “political persecution”.
First of all, Trump is not guilty, at least not yet. To be indicted means that there seems to be sufficient evidence to procure a guilty verdict, but that is different from being found guilty. The Trump attorneys are already maneuvering for time claiming that the Secret Service needs additional time to prepare for security during the process. My guess is that it won’t go to trial, but if sufficient evidence exists for his lawyers to have concern, it will probably result in a plea bargain and some form of conclusion to allow him to continue running for president.
This is also a good time to remind everybody that there will be a lot of talk and guessing about the charges with which he will be charged. Remember that the papers of the indictment are sealed. Even I fell for this chatter as I read somewhere that he has been charged with over forty criminal counts. We have no idea. I could be one, or it could be a hundred. Until the charges are publicized, don’t believe anything you hear about the specific charges.
Finally, yes, this is largely politically motivated, but that doesn’t make it more serious or less true. A lot of conservatives are calling the District Attorney’s (DA) actions political, but those blaming the DA clearly do not understand the criminal process. The DA did not do the investigation. A cadre of investigators found the evidence and they, first of all, decided that they had tied up enough loose ends and found sufficient cause for an indictment. Only when the investigators were confident of their results did they take the evidence to the DA. Yes, it was up to the DA to review the evidence and decide if the case was strong enough for criminal charges, but even he didn’t have the authority to indict Trump.
After the DA, the evidence went to a Grand Jury in a setting not unlike that if the courtroom trial that Trump could potentially face. The Grand Jury is made up of citizens, just like you and I, who hear the evidence, and the proposed charges. It is not up to them to decide guilt or innocence (as Trump and his attorneys have not had the opportunity to provide their case yet), but again, the Grand Jury decides if the evidence is sufficient for a charge. To blame the DA alone is simply ignorant.
Now of course, the process begins. Guilty or not, it has been determined, by investigators, the DA and a Grand Jury that Trump seems to have broken standing laws and that there is sufficient evidence to say as much. It could take months or even years before this trial comes to a conclusion. But what did surprise me was that this is going straight to the Supreme Court, which means a couple of things. The bad news for Trump is that there is no higher court, so if he is found guilty (of any of the charges), then there can be no appeal as he could do at lesser courts (and only one needs to find him innocent to be exonerated because of the double-jeopardy law). But, thanks to Mitch McConnel, Trump owns the Supreme Court, and it’s already in his pocket, so that is in Trump’s favor.
Whatever happens, it should be an interesting process to watch.