By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

The Trump indictment is gratifying, yet it underscores some sickening truths

As gratified as I am that Donald Trump is being held to account for his reprehensible behavior, I find that Friday’s developments have left me sad as well. There are three reasons for this.

First, the alleged crimes documented by special prosecutor Jack Smith are so much worse than we had been expecting. Nuclear secrets? Plans for invading an unnamed country, probably Iran? If Trump wasn’t actively sharing these documents with our enemies, he was nevertheless storing them with shocking disregard for who might go looking for them. We have to assume that Mar-a-Lago was crawling with spies.

Then there is his massive hubris and stupidity. All of the charges, without exception, stem from documents he held onto after he was given a chance to return them. One commentator — I forget who — referred to this as a “get out of jail” gift that he nevertheless spurned. Just incredible.

Second, there is the dispiriting fact that there is literally no bottom for Republican elected officials in defending Trump. The top two elected officials in the House, Speaker Kevin McCarthy and Majority Leader Steve Scalise, have both attacked law enforcement and stood by Trump, denouncing the “weaponization” of the Department of Justice and the FBI. So, too, has Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is so far the only plausible Trump rival for the 2024 presidential nomination. A pardon looms if a Republican — maybe even Trump — defeats President Biden.

Third, there is the reality (or Reality, if you prefer) that the crimes with which Trump has been charged would land any ordinary person in prison for a very long time if they were convicted — and yet the prospect of Trump’s ending up behind bars in the event of a guilty verdict seems unlikely in the extreme.

If Trump is convicted of what he’s been charged with, he should spend the rest of his life in federal custody. Does anyone really expect to see that? No, of course not. And thus our two-track system of justice — one for the rich and powerful, one for everyone else — will continue unchallenged.

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  1. Paul Hutch

    🙁 but thanks for writing that.

    If I think too much about how far away from accepting the rule of law a large portion of Republican voters have gotten, I fall into depression.

    It was the last good thing I could count on from the vast majority of Republicans. They long ago gave up fiscal responsibility, sure they talk about it but beginning with Reagan they spend on credit like drunken sailors once in power. Then too many gave up there honor and respect for civil rights and now they are abandoning the legal system.

    I hope the last remaining honorable Republicans can bring the party back from the brink. If not then I hope the old school republicans, independents and democrats will vote them out and keep them out until they step back from the brink of authoritarianism. I don’t want to have to be marching on Washington in protest now that I’m well into my 60s.

  2. You wrote this whole thing without referencing the Presidential Records Act. How much latitude the PRA allows will be up to the courts, not the FBI, not Dan Kennedy. Second, “he held onto after he was given a chance to return them.”….Is government the lone decider of what he gets to keep? Who decides what he gets to keep. Each side has their theory, and again, courts will decide. Third, no mention of Biden as a VPO storing document carelessly, noting he never had any authroity to declassify. Fourth, as stated in #3, Trump will claim he has the right to declassify them….and there is not “process of declassifying”….i.e..library of congress, cia review, notifcation of leaders in the Congress…none of that exists, he can declassify them by scribbling or crossing out the classification marking. Everyone is stating their side and understanding of this issue, as if their perspective is the only one acceptable. That’s understandable for those involved in the case, but for Dan Kennedy, myself or anyone else to proclaim who is in the right/wrong is foolhardy. The court will decide, and as we know, the court have been known to surprise us…..and that will be law.

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