LEFT: What does the Trump indictment mean for the U.S.?

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From the Left
By Lance Simmens

Sucking all the oxygen out of the news cycle air currently is the indictment of former President Donald Trump on 37 counts including willful retention of national defense information; conspiracy to obstruct justice; withholding a document or record; corruptly concealing a document or record; concealing a document in a federal investigation; scheme to conceal; and false statements and representations. In total, conviction of all counts could add up to a maximum term of imprisonment of 100 years, and that is only the tip of the state and federal indictments iceberg yet to come.

The special prosecutor released a speaking indictment that clearly outlines each set of counts that are clearly revealing and need not require a law degree to decipher. Still, however, interviews with Trump supporters and elected officials are replete with confessions they have not read the indictment. Compounding blind support and confounding logic, the defendant’s response can best be characterized as an in-your-face rebuttal that questions whether he broke the law. Putting aside partisan or political bias, Trump is innocent until proven guilty, and attempts to question whether the law prohibits actions that the defendant continues to claim he actually performed will require significant mental gymnastics and linguistic reconstruction. In other words, it looks bad for the Donald.

A substantial part of my professional career, which spanned four decades, was in the policy/political arena. While I make no apology for my partisan leanings, which are liberal and Democratic, at the core of the decision I made to devote my energies towards advancing society towards a more equitable bent, where diversity makes us stronger not weaker, has been a guiding principle where fairness, justice, equality, empathy, opportunity, all represent the fundamental basis for what drives an enlightened society. Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Or, at the very least, it should.

I held a top secret security clearance for 15 years during my employment in Congress and two executive branch presidential administrations and truly felt the weight of responsibility, which accompanied the trust that accompanied that privilege.

The facts found in the 44-page indictment in United States of America v. Donald J. Trump are undeniably reprehensible and threaten to do great damage to our nation. Anyone, and I mean any one individual, political party, organization, or society that seeks to hold our principle democratic policies hostage to seditious violence is ipso facto an enemy of the state and must be held to the highest judicial scrutiny and punishment. This is true regardless of political affiliation. If he were a Democrat, I would hold the same position.

No individuals, ex-presidents included, are above the law, and in this respect the law is relatively straightforward. To date Trump insists that the documents that he had transferred to his residences after Jan. 20, 2021, were his, classified or not. In actuality, that is false — they belong to the United States of America and the National Archives. Of course, his actual defense against the 37 charges he is facing will be developed in preparation for the legal proceedings he will be subjected to in the coming months and a jury and judge will decide his fate. That is how it should be.

The degree to which many of those loyal to the former president have risen to his defense while refusing to even read the indictment, which can readily be printed out and can be read in less than 30 minutes and does not require a law degree to be understood, is both intellectually lazy and inexcusable. Furthermore, Trump has conducted a misinformation/disinformation campaign to further the ignorance of not reading the charges set forth in the indictment. To those who are protective of the Trump brand, it is equally as dangerous to indict the institutional structures within the Department of Justice as it is for those who hate Trump to use the indictment as definitive proof of his guilt.

What should be preeminent in the public’s mind is the process that is operative in deciding guilt or innocence: namely a judge and jury. Ultimately, the populace should make their decisions on whom they want to lead the country at the ballot box. We must not settle this crisis with violence or retribution. If we continue to attack one another based upon which social media outlet we listen to or watch, or upon analyses of what the indictment says rather than reading the document ourselves we run the risk of being beholden to the distorted visions of others rather than using our own intellect and common sense to make decisions.

It is equally imperative that we strive to alleviate the deep divisions that currently grip the nation and the biggest step we can take is to ensure that we select leaders who are dedicated to the rules and laws that govern our democracy. Ultimately the decision is in our hands!