August 8, 2023

Trump Indictment

Donald Trump pleaded not guilty [last] Thursday to charges he orchestrated a plot to try to overturn his 2020 election loss… In a 45-page indictment [last] Tuesday, [Special Counsel Jack] Smith accused Trump and his allies of promoting false claims the election was rigged, pressuring state and federal officials to alter the results and assembling fake slates of electors to try to wrest electoral votes from Biden.” Reuters

Donald Trump's lawyers urged a federal judge on Monday to reject a protective order sought by prosecutors ahead of the former U.S. president's 2020 election trial, saying it would violate his free speech rights under the Constitution. Prosecutors, in asking for the protective order, argued that Trump could otherwise improperly disclose confidential evidence before trial.” Reuters

Here’s our previous coverage of the indictment. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left supports the charges, arguing that Trump attempted to overturn the election.

“Trump’s prospective defense raises the possibility that any future politician could create an alternative reality that bears no relation to the facts of an election outcome, and then take actions designed to retain power…

“[Former Attorney General William] Barr sought to clear up what he said was confusion about the case. ‘This involved a situation where the states had already made the official and authoritative determination as to who won in those states, and they sent the votes and certified them to Congress,’ Barr said on ‘Face the Nation.’ ‘The allegation, essentially, by the government is that, at that point, the president conspired, entered into a plan, a scheme that involved a lot of deceit, the object of which was to erase those votes, to nullify those lawful votes.’”

Stephen Collinson, CNN

“The former president has attacked Smith in terms that are strikingly personal, even for him. He has also attacked Tanya Chutkan, the federal judge assigned to hear the case. He delivered angry speeches in Alabama and South Carolina. He jeered the U.S. Women’s National Team, blamed President Joe Biden for its early exit from the World Cup, and unintelligibly ridiculed former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi…

“But what neither he nor his allies have done is offer a coherent account of his actions—one that would suggest that he didn’t conspire to overthrow the duly elected government. This is likely for the simple reason that he conspired to overthrow the duly elected government… Neither [Trump’s defense lawyer], in his five [TV] appearances, nor Trump, going back to his initial response to the indictment, has actually rebutted the charges.”

David A. Graham, The Atlantic

“Live (or near-live) broadcasting lets Americans see for themselves what is happening in the courtroom and would go a long way toward reassuring them that justice is being done. They would be less vulnerable to the distortions and misrepresentations that will inevitably be part of the highly charged, politicized discussion flooding the country as the trial plays out…

“Some fear that televising trials will create a circus atmosphere, undermining the decorum and dignity of the court. That risk exists, but the far greater risk is that if this trial is done out of the public eye, many more people will question the legitimacy of the court and its decisions… This criminal trial is being conducted in the name of the people of the United States. It is our tax dollars at work. We have a right to see it. And we have the right to ensure that rumormongers and conspiracy theorists don’t control the narrative.”

Neal Katyal, Washington Post

From the Right

The right is skeptical of the charges, arguing that they create a dangerous precedent.

The right is skeptical of the charges, arguing that they create a dangerous precedent.

“At a time when the Supreme Court has been engaged in the process of narrowing the definition of fraud for decades and federal fraud prosecutions have been falling apart all over the land, Smith proposes to make the most adventurous, consequential fraud case in American history…

“If Smith prevails, it will be at the cost of creating precedents that will tend to criminalize other political matters… The indictment points to a world where it’s increasingly difficult to disentangle politics from the question of who should go to jail. Trump started us down this path (‘lock her up’), and his adversaries want to take the next step — by literally locking him up.”

Rich Lowry, National Review

“Consider how many politicians might already be doing time had prosecutors applied this standard earlier. Both Al Gore and George W. Bush filed lawsuits in the 2000 election that contained bold if untested legal claims. Surely both candidates had advisers who told them privately that they may have legitimately lost…

“For how long did Stacey Abrams falsely dispute her loss in the 2018 Georgia governor’s race and pressure Georgia lawmakers to alter election procedures in ways that might undermine voting integrity on the basis of untruths?…

“What’s the betting someone told President Biden he didn’t have the power to erase $430 billion in student loan debt. Oh, wait! That’s right. He told himself. ‘I don’t think I have the authority to do it by signing with a pen,’ he said in 2021. The House speaker advised him it was illegal: ‘People think that the president of the United States has the power for debt forgiveness. He does not,’ Nancy Pelosi said. Yet Mr. Biden later adopted the lie that he did, and took action to defraud taxpayers by obstructing the federal function of loan processing—until the Supreme Court made him stop.”

Kimberley A. Strassel, Wall Street Journal

“Again and again, Smith has targeted politicians, stretching and twisting the meaning of the law to bring charges against them and then failing to make the charges stick. He indicted former Democratic presidential aspirant John Edwards in 2011 for taking illegal campaign contributions, but a jury didn’t buy it. Smith prosecuted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) on public corruption charges, but that case ended in 2017 in a mistrial too…

“The overzealous prosecutor also went after former Virginia Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell. Smith won a conviction, but in 2016, it was overturned by a unanimous US Supreme Court, which chastised Smith for the ‘Government’s boundless interpretation of the federal bribery statute.’”

Betsy McCaughey, New York Post

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