Why America is Crying

Today I was listening to my friend tell a story about his Mother-in-law.  She was a Columbian immigrant to the US who entered legally in the early 1970s.  She had been abandoned with her two young children by her husband and arrived in the US with $10.  Some months later she was living with her two children in a single room in which there was a single mattress upon which she and the two children slept.  One night she had not been able to feed her children before they went to bed; they were sleeping head to feet so that they could all fit on the mattress.  Her daughter’s feet were next to her head, and she kept hearing the sounds of hunger from her daughter’s stomach.  She “loved Jesus” but made a decision to do something which she had thought she would never do; she was going to steal some food so that her children need not go to bed hungry.

She went to the local late-night grocery store and put some meat in her coat.  As she came to the checkout she panicked, and the storeowner saw what was happening.  He made her put the meat back but could tell she was distressed and asked what was up.  She told him and he offered her work in the store.  She was then able to raise her two children well through hard work and discipline, she loved being in a country where her work made a difference to her life and the life of her children.  As she told her son-in-law this story for the first time, she was telling him through her tears of gratitude.

Some 40 years later, her daughter, who is now married to my friend who now has one of the largest followings on a video sharing platform as a public figure, was invited to Mar-a-Lago (the Trump residence in Florida).  Her and her husband had become first professional and then personal friends to President Trump and had their picture taken with him at an event.  Her daughter showed her Mum the pictures of her “with the President” and she once again broke down in tears of appreciation that she lived in such a country where merit was recognised, and hard work rewarded; that the children of an immigrant could be honoured guests in the Presidential residence.

Last night (30th May 2024), my friend said his mother-in-law, now aged and having health issues, was crying and was deeply distressed.  She was weeping over the conviction of President Trump; to her this was the death of the United States that she had come as an immigrant.  This prosecution of a political opponent on made-up charges in front of a partisan, corrupted judge, convicted by an intimidated and politically motivated jury, was like what she had left her home for almost half a century earlier.

Now President Trump is not the issue.  He is a divisive figure that provokes praise and derision, love and hate in equal measures.  However, he is the first ex-President in 250 years to be convicted of a crime.  That, in itself, is not necessarily objectionable.  We all believe that no one is “above the law” and that the standard of justice is that all are equal and accountable before the law.  If a crime is committed and can be proved beyond reasonable doubt (the standard of proof in most legal jurisdictions for criminal, as opposed to civil, prosecutions) then justice demands a guilty verdict and the appropriate punishment.

However, that is not the issue with Trump’s conviction.  The issue is that Trump’s conviction will absolutely, without any doubt whatsoever, eventually be quashed on appeal.  The simple aim of the prosecution was to be able to label Trump a “convicted felon” as a campaign tool – any appeals will take months to proceed by which time the election is over.  The calculation was that the conviction would “swing” possible Trump voters away from him in crucial demographics and districts.  This was not about justice but politics, Trump was denied even a semblance of due process at every stage in his prosecution.  The case was brought by a District Attorney that ran on a platform that he would “get Trump”, despite the case having been rejected both at a federal level, previously at the State level and even by the same New York office by the previous DA and even more remarkably by the very same DA years previously.  President Biden’s no.3 advocate left his position in the Whitehouse to work with this DA to bring this charge to trial.

This was a case from 2016 and a novel untested legal theory was used to resurrect a case that had expired because of the statute of limitations; it was brought with the sole aim of disrupting a presidential candidate’s ability to campaign – it was blatant election interference.  Relocation of the trial to a New York district that had a more balanced jury pool was rejected.  The Judge’s daughter was a political activist who was raising money (in the millions) through the trial proceedings.  The Judge himself had committed an ethics violation and had been reported for making a political donation (illegal in New York) which was to a radical group “dedicated to destroying Trump and his right-wing legacy.”  In any other jurisdiction he would have been required to recuse himself.

One legal scholar described how 150 years of legal precedent had been ignored by the prosecutor and judge who collaborated in a most blatant manner to skew the process within the court.  The Judge created a “menu” of charges that the jurors could pick from and specified that they did not even have to agree unanimously what the underlying crime that the misdemeanour of fabricating business records was meant to conceal, just that they believed there was some scheme.  It was only at the closing arguments stage of the proceedings, after the defence had presented their closing arguments (New York is unique in that the defence presents before the prosecution at closing arguments) that the prosecution indicated the underlying crime was a Federal Election Finance violation.  However, the judge had blocked the former head of the Federal Election Commission who had written the rules Trump was accused of breaking. giving testimony on behalf of Trump on the grounds it was “not relevant” – yet, if the underlying crime was an FEC violation his testimony was supremely relevant.

It was also the first time that a State had claimed jurisdiction when the underlying violation was a federal statute – precedent dictates that the State court has no jurisdiction regarding federal statutes.  The Judge had also permitted irrelevant and salacious testimony from Stormy Daniels, despite the New York Supreme Court heavily censoring a Judge for doing just that in the recent quashing of Harvey Weinstein’s conviction; that Judge is no longer on the bench.  The prosecution’s “star witness” was Michael Cohen, who admitted purgatory on the stand and admitted stealing from the Trump organisation.  His evidence was so bad that even those sympathetic to the Prosecution called his performance a “disaster”.  The Jury should have been directed to disregard his testimony as an untrustworthy witness and convicted felon who had served jailtime.  There was also the issue that a key corroborating witness (Trump’s former CFO) named by Cohen as present in the key meetings integral to the prosecution was not called because the State would not offer immunity because there was a risk that he would not incriminate Trump but rather vindicate him.  That item alone is grounds for reversal of the conviction, it is called the “absent” or “missing witness” violation, where a known key witness that would serve the cause of justice is obstructed from testimony.

Both the District Attorney’s office and the Biden campaign turned up at Court as the Jury began its deliberations.  This was to make very clear to the Jury that they had a “moral” obligation to find Trump guilty to “save democracy”.  The Biden campaign had just changed their messaging during the week after their catastrophic failure to build traction with the voters, to Trump is the danger to democracy and should not be allowed to be President. The pressure exerted on this Jury was extreme – if the verdict was a “hung jury” then they would be held responsible for allowing Trump to escape “justice” and to be elected president.  Their details would “leak” and everyone in true Blue Manhattan (who voted 85% for Biden) would know precisely who had allowed Trump to destroy the Republic.  As ex-Harvard Professor Dershowitz discovered in defending Trump during impeachment as a matter of principle (he was a lifelong liberal), they would be ostracized in their community and publicly humiliated in the media.  Dershowitz was “cancelled” despite his prestige as probably the most famous appellate lawyer and his 50 years at Harvard just for defending Trump in what he saw as an unprincipled impeachment for purely political purposes.

Despite all this intrigue, Trump’s response to the conviction was muscular and lengthy.  He spoke 45-minutes at a press conference and did so fluently and cogently.  One liberal talking head responded by saying that if Trump’s accusations during this conference of the election system being “rigged” and that the justice system were “rigged” were true, then nothing remains of America.  This was supremely ironic as it was totally correct.  This was what my friend’s mother-in-law had concluded and was the cause of her tears, there really was nothing left of the American republic.  All that remains is the hope that power can be reclaimed in November and a more experienced and politically savvy Trump who now knows his enemies, Red as well as Blue, can rebuild the Republic.  Many with experience in that arena are arguing that the new precedent of persecuting your chief political opponents to prevent them from standing has now been set, and that some reciprocal prosecutions will be necessary to make the point that this new precedent must be set aside.  Things will get much uglier before they get better.

It is characteristic of totalitarian regimes that they project their own practise as an accusation against those they seek to destroy by those very means.  They destroy democracy, weaponize the justice system and pursue their political opponents to guard against their opponent coming to power to do that to them.  There are already many indications that the American people are not buying this slide into totalitarianism by the Democratic incumbents.  Trump has received $52million in individual donations and has received a 6-point bump in a snap poll.  People are seeing the legal lawfare for what it is – he is more popular since the legal litigation (now numbering over 100 cases) began, most notably amongst the non-White demographics who themselves identify with his victimisation at the hand of a privileged elite in government.  Even more remarkably, after the conviction, some big money donors in the tech space known for their support of the Democrats have made 6 figure donations.

So, whereas many in the mainstream media are celebrating with glee and as one commentator described it “giggling like schoolgirls at a pool party”, the smarter and more objective ones realise this could go sour very quickly and propel Trump as a martyr into a second term.  Perhaps the tears of sorrow will quickly be wiped, and anger will rise in the hearts of ordinary people who love their country and want to reclaim it.

One of the best overall comments on the outcome and a synopsis of the issues was by Ben Shapiro here.

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