Regardless of how you see the several criminal indictments naming Donald Trump as a defendant, who would think that three grand juries made of everyday citizens would be compelled to issue criminal indictments on a person who held the highest office in the land?
Trump and his defense team are making arguments that ostensibly forgive the former president’s alleged criminal conduct.
Whether or not you concur with these Trump excuses for his alleged criminal behavior, it is quite revealing if we were to agree with Trump’s representations and assertions.
In July Trump boasted his accumulated 78-plus felony charges from three separate indictments (so far) are only because they are going after him since he is “leading in the polls” and because he is running for president.
If we agree with Trump, anyone leading in the polls or running for office should not be prosecuted. This logic also implies that if Trump is no longer leading polls or drops out of the presidential race, the government can then proceed with taking actions against him.
One of Trump’s attorneys, John Lauro, in early-August interviews voiced that Trump never told Vice President Mike Pence or the fake electors to do anything wrong — that he only made recommendations. Lauro states that Trump was simply exercising “his protected right to free speech.”
Lauro implies that the highly coordinated plan to install fake electors in all of the seven 2020 battleground states and telling Pence not to certify the election on Jan. 6, 2020, were not criminal, since they were “simply suggestions.”
Trump was charged with 18 U.S. Code § 371 – Conspiracy to commit an offense or to defraud United States. Criminal conspiracy under this statute states, “If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose …”
Lauro’s argument is that conspiring, planning and directing others to stop the certification count of electoral college votes or to commit fraud with false electors should not be prosecuted, since all Trump speech to others is protected.
If we agree with Trump and Lauro, conspiracy to commit a crime should be stricken from the penal code and hate speech, making criminal threats and instigating terrorist acts are protected speech.
What about Hillary Clinton sending classified docs using her encrypted private server?
Trump’s Attorney General William Barr found no evidence to prosecute Clinton. Trump still alleges this is a criminal act. Yet Ivanka Trump in 2018, while on federal payroll, “sent hundreds of emails to government officials through a personal email account,” according to The Washington Post. Regarding Ivanka, Trump said Ivanka’s conduct was not criminal.
If we believe Trump, his political rivals can be prosecuted, but for the same acts by his family members, Trump’s family cannot be held accountable.
What about Hunter Biden speaking with his father over speaker phone with others listening about 20 times over an eight-year timespan? Trump says this proves the Bidens are “a crime family.”
If we agree with Trump, father-son conversations heard by others indicates criminal conduct, yet we should ignore the seventeen felony fraud convictions already accrued by the Trump Organization, a family business personally managed by Trump and his children.
If we go along with Trump, he and his family are immune, can ignore criminal convictions, but others are guilty even without any charges being filed.
Lauro said Trump was being “told by people” after the 2020 presidential election “that there were problems” with the election.
Trump admits to ignoring paid presidential advisors and staff lawyer opinions and rather that he relied upon unofficial advice. If we are to agree with Trump, criminal conduct should be dismissed if it was based on following bad advice, even if ignoring professional and expert opinions.
The New York Times and CNBC calculate that in the 80 banker boxes of documents confiscated by the FBI at Mar-a-Lago, over 200,000 pages of presidential records and over 300 government classified records were located. Trump stated in an interview with Fox’s Hannity last June, “I have the right to keep these documents” because “they are mine.”
If we agree with Trump, this means either any president can ignore the Presidential Records Act and the Espionage Act or that only Trump may ignore these laws.
Bottom line: If we agree with Trump, he and his family are always immune from all misconduct and his political opponents are always guilty, even if never charged.
Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations agency, is the CEO of a private security firm, is the CFO of an accredited acting conservatory, is a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations.