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Donald Trump is a Criminal Defendant
A few thoughts on this historic day
Greetings. I wanted to share a few thoughts from this historic day (rather than wait until my usual publishing on Friday).
On this day, April 4, 2023, Donald J. Trump was arrested and arraigned for 34 felony charges for falsifying business records with the intent to defraud and cover up other crimes. On this day, Donald J. Trump has become a criminal defendant.
While I’m inclined to say how sad it is for America that a former president has been criminally charged, the real sadness is that he was voted into office in 2016 despite his history of criminality—and that we spent the following four years watching his shameless degradation of American justice, the rule of law and the presidency itself. While I am not in the mood to celebrate, I am nourished by this assertion of justice in which this man—no matter his station in life or the office he held—has been criminally indicted and now must attempt to defend his plea of innocence.
Note what it says on the upper facade of the Manhattan Criminal Courthouse, above where Trump entered the courthouse today, flanked by Secret Service agents: “Equal and exact justice to all men of whatever state or persuasion.”
Note what Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said after the unsealing of the indictment: “These are felony crimes in New York state, no matter who you are. We cannot and will not normalize serious criminal conduct. The defendant repeatedly made false statements on New York business records. He also caused others to make false statements.”
Bragg also made it clear that Trump is being treated no differently than any of the many white-collar criminals his office has charged and successfully prosecuted—who lie “again and again to protect their interests and evade the law to which we all are held accountable.”
Bragg concluded his opening statement of less than seven minutes with these refreshing words, words so many of us have yearned to hear for years: “As this office has done time and time again, we today uphold the solemn responsibility to ensure that everyone stands equal before the law. No amount of money and no amount of power changes that enduring American principle.”
One other note: I woke up today reminded of what else happened on this day. Fifty-five years ago, in 1968, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis. He was only 39 years old. The country lost a great leader and a man who had so much more to contribute to the fate of the nation. That tragedy, that loss, still stings.
His words from 1963 are on my mind: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
May today’s event be the beginning of accountability, not just in New York, but in Georgia, Florida and Washington, D.C. Only through finally holding this felonious man accountable do we have a chance to reassert the rule of law, discourage criminal-minded authoritarians bent on grabbing power and repair our democracy.