A simple question for a Tuesday morning. I’m not talking about theoretical crimes here, like monsters that may be lurking in the tax returns that Cyrus Vance will be getting his grubby partisan hands on. I’m talking about a crime for which someone else has already been prosecuted — for following Trump’s orders.
You might recall that Michael Cohen is serving a prison sentence — albeit at his home — for felonies which included campaign finance violations for payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.
But Trump ordered those payments. How does Cohen get prosecuted and Trump doesn’t?
A scenario where Trump gets prosecuted after a Biden inauguration seems unlikely. Prosecutors declared the case closed in July 2019, agreeing to release investigation documents that they had previously objected to disclosing. That appears to be a strong indication that they don’t plan to charge Trump. I think.
Or is it just an acknowledgment of the fact that under Department of Justice dogma, they weren’t allowed to indict a sitting president while he was president?
There are differences between Trump and Cohen; prosecutors might have deemed it more difficult to prove that a non-lawyer was aware the payments were against the law. But honestly, the main difference seems to be that Trump was president when Cohen was indicted, and Cohen was not.
In a country hellbent on “moving on,” where the unforgivable pardon of Richard Nixon has come to be seen (quite wrongly, in my view) as a courageous act in furtherance of national healing, there would probably be little appetite in a Biden administration to reopen this case.
But to me, as a fan of the rule of law, this means one thing and one thing only: Donald Trump got away with felonies simply because he was the president when the felonies were being investigated and prosecuted.
That’s just fine with his fans, who see him as the Blameless Victim in every interaction he has with law enforcement. But it doesn’t sit right with me.