A Special Prosecutor has been appointed to conduct a special investigation as a special grand jury considers charges. Meanwhile, a Special Master was requested to look into the special circumstances of the findings of the aforementioned special investigation by the special prosecutor. And now Donald Trump’s lawyers are asking for special treatment in regard to the special prosecutor’s special investigation.
Well, isn’t that special?
Republicans are calling this special investigation unprecedented. And they’re right. It’s true no former president has been indicted. It’s true that no candidate for president has ever faced prosecution while also running for the office they lost four years earlier. It’s unprecedented that the same former president had a search warrant executed on his residence.
What’s also true, and Republicans want you to ignore, is that it’s also unprecedented for a former president to refuse to commit to a peaceful transition of power. It’s unprecedented that the same former president sought to incite a mob to prevent the certification of an election he lost. It’s unprecedented that he tried to intimidate government officials to overturn election results and that he sought to put forth a slate of fake electors who would falsely claim him to be the victor.
Yeah, there are those pesky facts again.
Speaking of unprecedented, a former president in possession of highly classified documents which he may or may not have shared with those who lacked the necessary security clearance to view them. Not to mention the fact that being in possession of said documents is equally unprecedented, not to mention illegal.
And now Trump’s legal team wants special treatment in the form of delaying his trial on the documents issue indefinitely. They claim that, since he is the likely Republican nominee for president in 2024, the distraction of an ongoing trial would give his likely opponent, President Biden, an unfair advantage.
Two things: If he truly believes in his innocence, why wouldn’t he want this proven prior to the election? Also, he could use information presented at a trial as a campaign tool highlighting the unfairness of the charges in the first place.
If he was innocent…
But the facts don’t tend to show that, so the reason for requesting the indefinite delay is obvious. Trump knows the only way he can avoid the consequences of his illegal actions is to win the election. That way, he can shut down the multiple investigations and put a halt to at least the federal charges. He can even issue a self-pardon making his actions both at Mar-a-Lago and on January 6th disappear.
Following a tradition that began after Watergate, the Justice Department has a policy of not pursuing criminal charges against a sitting president. While this has been a long-standing policy, it is not one that has been codified into law. An independent Justice Department could, in theory, abandon the policy in favor of protecting national interests.
However, should Trump win, he has already demonstrated that he will utilize the Attorney General as his personal attorney, and not someone who is supposed to defend the Constitution. As head of the Justice Department, the attorney general could fall back on the policy of not convicting a sitting president, possibly allowing the statute of limitations to expire prior to the end of his term.
He will have several other options should he regain the presidency. He could take the untested path of issuing a self-pardon setting up a Supreme Court battle over its constitutionality. Undoubtedly Trump will rely on the loyalty of the three justices he appointed to back him in this matter. Trump has always regarded loyalty to him, and not the office, as the reason he has avoided the consequences of his actions in the past. Congressional Republicans have re-enforced this by repeatedly refusing to hold him accountable.
He could use the 25th Amendment where his chosen vice president agrees to issue him a pardon after he resigns. While this will make the documents case and possible election interference charges go away because they are on the federal level, it won’t stop the NY trial or potential indictment in Georgia, which are state level offense, from going away.
No matter what, Trump can depend on the loyalty of Republicans to support him. They are claiming the cases against Trump are nothing more than political persecution of President Biden’s potential 2024 opponent. They cry about them being illegal Witch Hunts that are only out to smear Trump with baseless accusations. If this all sounds familiar, it’s exactly what Trump did with his “perfect phone call” to the Ukrainian president as he tried to dig up dirt on his 2020 rival, Joe Biden.
So, projecting much?
Special treatment isn’t only limited to Congressional Republicans. In a recent interview with CNN’s Chris Wallace, RNC Chairperson Ronna McDaniel suggested that we should “Let the voters decide” whether or not Trump deserves to be punished for his actions. Apparently, she was absent the day they taught law in law school because that is definitely not how the legal process works.
The “Let the voters decide” strategy has been successful for Republicans in the past. Mitch McConnell used it as he invoked a then unheard of “Biden Rule” which he claimed prevented a Supreme Court nomination during a president’s last year in office. Using this excuse, he was able to prevent President Obama from nominating Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia. It’s a rule he conveniently ignored when he allowed Trump to appoint a third justice following the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg even as votes were being cast in the 2020 election.
Republican senators used the same excuse when, despite agreeing that Donald Trump’s “perfect phone call” met the standards for high crimes and misdemeanors that would necessitate his removal from office. Yet after Trump lost, several of these same senators took up the cry of a stolen election and some even proposed a do-over special election.
Will Trump evade punishment once again?
Will the judge in the case cite special circumstances in allowing him to possess classified documents? Will he be allowed to escape prosecution for inciting the January 6th insurrection under special provisions of the First Amendment as his defenders are claiming?
If he does, it’s entirely appropriate to quote Dana Carvey’s Saturday Night Live character The Church Lady who, when someone is caught in a lie will sarcastically ask, “Well, isn’t that special?”