Despite having served for decades at the highest levels of the U.S. government, it would appear that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is unfamiliar with -- or deliberately chooses to ignore -- what is arguably one of the most fundamental basic concepts of the American justice system.
In a clearly celebratory tweet about the indictment of former President Donald Trump, Pelosi said that Trump has the "right to a trial to prove innocence," according to The National Desk.
Except, as the lopsided ratio of fact-checking Twitter users swiftly reminded her, that is completely backward, as it is the obligation of the government to "prove guilt" in a trial and not for the accused to have to prove their innocence.
In reaction to the news on Thursday that former President Trump had been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury, former Speaker Pelosi, like countless other Trump-hating Democrats, took to social media to post triumphantly about the seemingly imminent legal downfall of their political nemesis.
"The Grand Jury has acted upon the facts and the law. No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence," Pelosi tweeted. "Hopefully, the former President will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right."
The Grand Jury has acted upon the facts and the law.
No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence.
Hopefully, the former President will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right.
— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) March 31, 2023
The pushback against Rep. Pelosi's disinformation was immediate, and it wasn't long before a "Community Notes" fact-check was added to the tweet that corrected what was generously described as a "mistake" on the long-serving lawmaker's part.
"Ms. Pelosi mistakenly says that Trump can prove his innocence at trial. Law in the US assumes the innocence of a defendant and the prosecution must prove guilt for a conviction," the appended note read. It also included a link to Cornell Law School's definition of the "presumption of innocence" legal concept.
That definition states: "A presumption of innocence means that any defendant in a criminal trial is assumed to be innocent until they have been proven guilty. As such, a prosecutor is required to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person committed the crime if that person is to be convicted. To do so, proof must be shown for every single element of a crime."
To be sure, the definition acknowledged that the presumption of innocence is not an enumerated constitutional right, but with that said, both Supreme Court precedence and federal statutes have caused the presumption of innocence to have long been "recognized as one of the most basic requirements of a fair trial."
Polls have shown that a majority of Americans believe the criminal indictment of former President Trump is blatantly motivated by politics, and Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton seemingly referenced that when, in response to Pelosi's tweet, he wrote, "Pelosi confirms malicious political prosecution by suggesting Trump is guilty until proven innocent!"
Even non-citizen foreigners, such as former British politician Nigel Farage, called out Pelosi's inaccurate statement, as he tweeted, "Pelosi says Trump must prove his innocence. Wrong! In free countries that’s not how it works. The Dems are now very dangerous indeed."
Also weighing in was former New Hampshire GOP congressional candidate Lily Tang Williams, who escaped Chinese communism, and said in response to Pelosi, "Do you know about China's legal system based on Soviet model: people are guilty until they prove their innocence in court. American legal system: people are innocent until the gov. proves they are guilty. It is terrifying to see my new country is becoming my native country."
Finally, TV celebrity and pundit James Rhine tweeted in reply to Pelosi, "You should be expelled from Congress for this. You've spent so long destroying this country you're saying the fascist parts out loud, it's 'innocent until proven guilty' no matter who the accused is."