Everybody Knows

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Regardless of how the 2024 presidential election turns out, it will be remembered as the time when the federal executive branch and its institutions of justice, encouraged by the president and abetted by a collaborative establishment media, attempted to eliminate their chief political opponent using the criminal justice system.

In the words of Leonard Cohen and Sharon Robinson’s haunting and iconic song “Everybody Knows,” this assertion is not credibly disputed by almost anyone, be they for or against Donald Trump.

Those who despise the former president know it, usually even admit it, and are glad it is happening. This group includes not just most Democrats, but also certain Republicans and independents who have always opposed Trump.

Some Republicans and independents and even a few Democrats who were not intending to vote for Mr. Trump in 2024 are nevertheless outraged by the unprecedented “weaponization” of the justice system at the highest level of government.

And, of course, Mr. Trump’s loyal base of supporters know this most of all. They consider the indictments and upcoming trials to be an obvious “kangaroo court” with the sole purpose of preventing Trump’s election.

The rationalization by the promulgators of these indictments is a self-congratulating statement of, “No one is above the law!’ While this is a valid and legitimate principle, everybody knows that the people going after Trump do not believe this standard applies to themselves, since the very acts cited by the numerous indictments have arguably also been committed by them.

Democrats repeatedly claimed that President Trump’s election in 2016 was illegal or stolen — and in its aftermath, attempted repeatedly to overturn it and prevent Mr. Trump from taking office. President Biden himself as vice president failed to return classified documents after he left office, and apparently stored them in an improper way. Everybody knows this.

Everybody knows, whether they admit it or not, that members of Mr. Biden’s family received enormous sums of money evidently to buy access to him. There is just no other reasonable explanation. Everybody knows why these family members were retained for their services. Everybody knows that.

Legal scholars and experts are divided about the validity of the indictments, usually by their political affiliation — although some otherwise very prominent liberal Democrat legal figures have denounced the indictments as baseless.

Without judging whether or not Mr. Trump is actually guilty of the crimes he is accused of, everybody knows that the various indictments were deliberately timed to interfere with the presidential election of 2024.

Most of the alleged “facts” of what Mr. Trump is charged to have done were well-known and highly publicized long before the actual indictments were made. Everybody knows these legal actions almost certainly would not have taken place if Mr. Trump were not running for president in 2024 — and was not clearly the frontrunner for his party’s nomination. Everybody knows this.

What everybody does not know — what no one really knows — is what will now take place in the four scheduled trials of Donald Trump.

In addition to questions about the motives of the political party now in power in Washington, D.C., questions have been raised about the prosecutors and some judges in these cases. Scheduled trial dates might be delayed or rescheduled by legal appeals. Trial venues might also be changed. Defense attorneys will need considerable time to review the various prosecutions’ very large quantity of trial documents. Unprejudiced juries will have to be selected, if such a thing is possible.

The issue of whether or not the trials can take place in the midst of a presidential election will also have to be settled — presumably ultimately by the U.S. Supreme Court. Nobody knows what that determination will be. (Even some Democrats have spoken out against the trials interfering with Trump’s campaign schedule.)

Finally, nobody knows what the ultimate judgement of these indictments by the voters will be in this unprecedented circumstance.

Mr. Trump could be found guilty of some of these charges, and still be nominated for president — even elected president. What then? The nation, fully aware of the results, would in effect have rebuked the legal process.

Mr. Trump could be found innocent of the charges against him — he is, after all, presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. What kind of public reaction might that provoke against his prosecutors? Mr. Trump’s partisans would be happy, but a general public reaction against the political party which pursued him could profoundly damage the U.S. two-party system for years, not to mention faith in the institutions of the federal government.

What precedents for public policy will result no matter what the outcome of the trials? Already, the previously very rare occurrence of presidential impeachment threatens to become routine.

The nation and its political and judicial institutions are not sleepwalking into unknown political consequences. They are going full speed ahead. That is what everybody knows.

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