DANIEL VAUGHAN: Anti-Trump Lawfare Is Destroying The Rule Of Law

 March 22, 2024

There's a disturbing thread running through nearly all the cases involving Donald Trump. Every time the case starts getting pulled apart, we learn it's a new or novel reading of the law targeted at Trump. Or some bizarre bias prevents normal legal processes from proceeding in their usual fashion.

Don't take my word for it. Let's go with the New York Times. After examining Alvin Bragg's prosecutorial record, they found 30 cases involving "false business record" charges. "In all but two of the indictments reviewed by The Times, the defendant was charged with an additional crime on top of the false records charge."

That's unusual because that's the only charge so far against Trump in that case. The Times continues, "The decision to charge Mr. Trump with 34 counts of falsifying business records—and no other crimes—highlights the unique nature of the case, the first indictment of a former American president. Mr. Bragg, a Democrat, has drawn criticism from Mr. Trump's allies, who say that he bumped up the charges to a felony for political reasons."

The Times does its best to balance the theories each side presents, but in the end, this is a novel reading of the law by an open Democrat to challenge Trump. The Times wasn't alone in this research.

The Associated Press analyzed 70 years of cases similar to Trump's involving New York's anti-fraud law. "But an Associated Press analysis of nearly 70 years of similar cases showed Trump's case stands apart: It's the only big business found that was threatened with a shutdown without a showing of obvious victims and major losses."

The precedent this case sets will have long-reaching ramifications. "Some legal experts worry that if the New York judge goes ahead with such a penalty in a final ruling expected within the next couple of weeks, it could make it easier for courts to wipe out companies in the future. "This sets a horrible precedent," said Adam Leitman Bailey, a New York real estate lawyer who once sued a Trump condo building."

Then, you drift down to Georgia and get into the Fani Willis case. That bizarre fiasco has been as much about allegations of her misconduct as it has about Trump's case. Her hand-picked special prosecutor was forced to resign. Trump's legal team is appealing the order, saying Willis cannot stay.

If the goal here was to enforce the rule of law, it would seem like we would have a cleaner application of the law. But in each case, there's a novel application of the law that doesn't match the prosecutor or the law itself. And barring that, we're looking at prosecutors as rogue actors raising large ethical issues with how they conduct their cases.

Targeting a president or prominent political figure with a legal lawsuit is to prove no one is above the law. That isn't being established in any of these cases. In some cases, we're watching prosecutors torch their careers and state in the pursuit of going after Donald Trump.

This isn't a defense of Trump's conduct. But it is to state he should be held to the standard everyone else must adhere to. And that's failing. We're not getting that at all in any of these cases. Prosecutors using a big-name defendant to boost their career isn't new. Prosecutors bending the law into new directions solely to do that is.

The methodology seems to be, " We must destroy democratic norms to save democracy." If we were to take these same legal theories and hold Democrats accountable, we'd be met with outrage over abuse of the law. There's a sitting Democratic Senator right now in court under a straightforward application of federal bribery laws and calls on removing him get a collective yawn from Democratic leadership.

Hilary Clinton complained that the FBI and James Comey mistreated her during the 2016 election. But she ran an illegal email server to hide her communications. Joe Biden keeps decades of records in his offices and can't be prosecuted because everyone agrees he has the mental capacity of a tapioca cup.

The rule of law is about consistency of application. We're not even remotely close to that right now. However, you can find a partisan application of law and new novel ways of reading statutes that, if you squint real hard, you can see how they apply. However, the simplistic application of law that brings everyone to the same level is not found.

This new form of "Trump Law" is more "justice for me, but not for thee." What Democrats don't seem to realize is that a partisan application of law can take place in the reverse. Sinking Democratic real estate developers is easy enough with the new Trump Laws. And if you don't need victims in a crime, it's even easier to prove.

These things always have a reverse application. It may not be quick, but it always happens. That is an unhealthy development for democracy and the rule of law.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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