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Reviews | Donald Trump, criminal

Reviews |  Donald Trump, criminal


In a humble courtroom in Lower Manhattan on Thursday, a former president and current Republican standard-bearer was found guilty of 34 counts of falsifying business records. The jury's decision and the facts presented at trial offer another reminder, perhaps the most stark yet, of the many reasons why Donald Trump is unfit for office.

The guilty verdict in the former president's hush money case was returned by a unanimous jury of 12 randomly selected New Yorkers, who concluded that Mr. Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, was guilty of falsifying business records to prevent voters from learning more. a sexual relationship that he said would have been politically damaging.

Americans might wonder about the significance of this moment. The Constitution does not prohibit those with criminal convictions from being elected or serving as commander in chief, even if they are behind bars. The nation's founders left that decision in the hands of voters. Many experts have also expressed skepticism about the significance of this case and its legal underpinnings, which used unusual legal theory to seek a felony charge for what is more commonly a misdemeanor, and Mr. Trump will do without no doubt appeal.

Yet the greatest good to come from this sordid affair is proof that the rule of law binds everyone, even former presidents. Under extraordinary circumstances, the trial proceeded like any other criminal trial in the city. The fact that 12 Americans can sit to judge the former and potentially future president is a remarkable demonstration of the democratic principles that Americans value in their work.

Judge Juan Merchan, the jury and the New York court system delivered justice quickly, providing Americans with vital information about a presidential candidate before voting began. Several polls have shown that a conviction would affect the decision of many voters.

The verdict itself established that Mr. Trump committed crimes by withholding relevant information about himself from the American people in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election. This revealed even more evidence of what Mr. Trump is willing to do, including breaking the law and causing others to break the law, for political purposes. This chronic impulse to circumvent democratic norms and the law for his own ends is at the heart of two other criminal cases against Mr. Trump, on much more serious charges of spreading falsehoods and participating in a criminal conspiracy to overturn the election of 2020. (He is also accused of mishandling highly classified national security documents after leaving office; on two occasions he showed classified documents to people who were not authorized to view them , according to the indictment.) Mr. Trump's lawyers successfully delayed all three trials.

The former president never demonstrated much moral rectitude, but the facts presented in the New York trial also revealed more information the public should know about the unethical way in which Mr. Trump goes about his life and his business. Prosecutors laid out the details of the payment in detail: Shortly after the release of the Access Hollywood tape and less than two weeks before the 2016 election, Michael Cohen, who was then Mr. Trump paid Stormy Daniels, a pornographic actor. star, $130,000 to stay silent about the 2006 sexual encounter she said she had with Mr. Trump.

Such payment is not illegal in itself. What makes it illegal is the falsification of business records to disguise its true purpose, which prosecutors say was to hide the story from the American people to help Mr. Trump get elected. Prosecutors had to demonstrate that this payment was made at Mr. Trump's request and that Mr. Trump knew that reimbursing Mr. Cohen for this payment was falsely classified as a legal expense to cover it up. The evidence they presented, both direct and circumstantial, showed Mr. Trump's personal involvement in the project and his motivation.

Judge Merchan scrupulously ensured that Mr. Trump received a fair trial. He refused, for example, to allow the jury to hear sensational material, such as audio from the Access Hollywood tape or subsequent allegations of sexual assault against Mr. Trump, that might have infringed on his rights in as accused. And yet, throughout the trial, the judge was forced to confront Mr. Trump's attempts to undermine the justice system. To protect his integrity, Judge Merchan set a limit on what Mr. Trump could say to prevent him from attacking and threatening jurors, witnesses, court staff and even the judges' families. Mr. Trump repeatedly flouted the order and was fined $10,000 for contempt of court. Only the threat of prison time ultimately seemed to keep Mr. Trump in line.

Ultimately, the jury heard the testimony, deliberated for more than nine hours and reached a decision on how the system is designed to work. Likewise, elections allow voters to consider the choices available to them with full information and then vote freely. Mr. Trump attempted to sabotage elections and the criminal justice system, both of which are fundamental to American democracy, when he believed they might not produce the outcome he wanted. So far, they have proven resilient enough to withstand his attacks. The jurors have delivered their verdict, just as voters will in November. If the Republic is to survive, all of us, including Mr. Trump, must respect both, regardless of the outcome.




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