Sep 26, 2023  |  
 | Remer,MN
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Quin Hillyer, Commentary Writer

NextImg:Everybody should stop pre-judging a Trump indictment that hasn’t happened yet

With rumors rampant of an impending arrest of former President Donald Trump, everybody, including Trump, needs to calm down. This includes pundits pre-judging the case before it even has been filed.

As usual, the worst actor in this drama is Trump himself. This is a man who already helped inspire an attack on the U.S. Capitol in which 140 law-enforcement officers were injured. The last thing he should be doing — but, of course, the very thing he already has done — is calling for “protests” if he is arrested.


These are not the words of a statesman. These are not the words of a patriot. This is the sort of incitement one would expect from a caudillo in a banana republic.

A half-decent human being in Trump’s position would call for calm and would express confidence that the American legal system will work as designed, meaning he will have plenty of chance to defend himself and, he presumes, to be found not guilty. “This is the glory of the United States,” a real leader would say. “If one rogue prosecutor gets out of line, we have juries and appeals courts to provide ample opportunity for the accused to be vindicated.”

Speaking of prosecutors, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg really should be careful.

On one hand, it is entirely wrong for blathering commentators to say that a particularly high bar should protect former presidents from indictment. The other glory of our system, after all, is that nobody is above the law. Presidents, no less than prison guards, should be subject to an indictment if the case is solid, without needing a tacit extra layer of protection so that only the most serious crimes should be subject to legal action.

On the other hand, it is certainly the case that former presidents shouldn’t be indicted on lesser grounds than anyone else would be. Tenuous cases and newfangled legal theories shouldn’t be tested on former presidents largely for political effect.

A slew of legal pooh-bahs are saying Bragg’s expected case, on its face, is indeed tenuous. If they are right, Bragg would be way out of line in bringing the case.

Then again, that’s a big “if.”

Cases shouldn’t be pre-judged the way so many are doing here. Rather than spout off about what apparently is coming, why don’t the supposedly great legal minds in the opinion journals and the cable channels exercise the first rule of the law, which is that evidence should come before judgment? Again, especially because of the over-heated public emotions surrounding a possible indictment of a former president, it should behoove these analysts to withhold judgment and tamp down public anger rather than stoke it. Maybe Bragg has some evidence about which these would-be geniuses are unaware.


Finally, no matter how Trump or Bragg or the media or the legal experts behave, the biggest responsibility is that of ordinary citizenship. Nothing whatsoever gives anybody the slightest excuse for radical response, much less violent response, to any indictment.

Meanwhile, if riots do break out and violence does ensue, authorities should use all force necessary and appropriate to stop the violence. Arrest, charge, and prosecute. All in an orderly fashion. It’s time we remind the world that we live in a bastion of ordered liberty, undergirded by the constitutional rule of law. The criminal justice system in the United States actually is a good one. Let it work.

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