OPINION: What are we to make in the case of the Trump indictments and trials?

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Three years ago, many political observers, especially Democratic leaders, were certain that if Donald Trump did not win the 2020 presidential election he would soon be convicted and in jail. Now, as we approach the 2024 presidential election, it appears more likely Trump may still be around, arguing he won that election. 

This is scary. Given the criminally-intimidating nature of many of Trump’s followers, and that some members of the federal judiciary reportedly are in the hands of “Trumpers,” the election could end with Trump being awarded the presidency in 2025.

Things are so screwed-up today it is difficult for one to know, with any degree of certainty, what to make of America’s partisan political position. It is not possible to accurately predict what will happen come the 2024 presidential election and its ultimate outcome.

Many political scholars and other observers had thought that the Department of Justice and attorneys in several states would have wrapped-up their prosecutorial work long ago. They thought that, with Trump becoming an ordinary citizen, there would have been nothing to prevent him being treated as other ordinary citizens – having a speedy trial and being speedily punished if convicted.

Last year, the Select January Sixth Committee of Congress provided tons of data that could serve as evidence. The Mueller Report had done the same. Additionally, data from Trump’s two impeachments has long been available. From that point to now, Trump has added to the alleged criminal activities by allegedly illegally retaining classified government documents. Upon conviction, this would land an ordinary citizen in prison.

Aside from the alleged federal crimes, there are the two state cases in New York, the state case in Georgia, and the group of suits initiated by private citizens. The private suits would not land Trump in jail, as would a conviction in the federal and state criminal matters. However, the private suits, if successful, would help establish a pattern of alleged criminal behavior and would ordinarily deter voters from embracing him as a political leader.

Again, many people felt that facing this mountain of alleged criminal activities Trump would soon be in jail. They were ready to say, “thank God” and turn the page.

Now all of a sudden, the public realizes that the Trump trials may be pushed back beyond the 2024 elections. This would enable the Republicans to not only nominate him for president, but to get him elected. 

If elected, Trump reportedly would likely try to get the cases dismissed or pardon himself, creating a political crisis. If Trump loses the election, he would and some of his supporters would likely create more of a ruckus than they did after the 2020 election. Furthermore, this time, Trump may have support from the courts in his bid to seize power. The scenario would create a constitutional crisis like no other since the Civil War.

The public can and will be informed of the technicalities involved that could cause the trials, in each case wherein Trump has been indicted, to have to line-up and wait for the conclusion of each case. The public can understand how difficult it may turn out to be to get convictions despite the reported mountains of evidence. Fierce Trump supporters could be included in the jury pools. The public can even understand the friendly role that could be played by some judges and justices appointed by and friendly toward Trump.

On the other hand, what disgusts many ordinary citizens is that Trump and his associates often easily flaunt the law with impunity. There often appears to be a reluctance to allow the criminal justice system to be fully loosed on Trump, as has been done on so many Black and other suspects of less status. What puzzles many ordinary citizens is the seemly snail’s pace of movement toward justice in most of the Trump investigations, indictments, and trials. 

Many citizens feel that these approaches embolden Trump and some of his supporters. There are concerns that some of Trump’s supporters will become more violent and disrespectful of the law in their attempts to support him and overthrow America’s weakened democratic system.

What is at stake is a last-ditch effort by hard-core white nationalists to assure that America becomes an unquestionably racial autocracy into the foreseeable future. They have on their side a slight majority of the population whom they hope to convince to follow their worst instincts to garner more wealth and power at all cost. 

Citizens, however, should not become frustrated or overwhelmed. It is time for them to move to forestall the fascists. The surest way to get around or overcome the Trump juggernaut is through massive political efforts. Nothing can be taken for granted. 

Those who are on the democratic side of the struggle must be willing to educate and organize to promote the ideas of democracy and human rights. They must unceasingly assist, encourage, beg, and otherwise convince people to vote the racist rascals out of office and prevent others from gaining offices in the first place. 

There must be coordinated strategies involving electoral politics, the politics of protest, and the continued effort of those who advocate independent, self-government for African and Native American people. The goal in each case is to defeat Trumpism; to protect and advance democracy and human rights for us all.

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OPINION: What are we to make in the case of the Trump indictments and trials?

By Dr. Ivory Phillips
August 7, 2023