WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, 2022
When our tribe's only tool is a hammer: In the course of his crackpot attempts to challenge the outcome of the 2020 election, did former president Donald J. Trump commit any serious crimes?
If he did, should he be indicted for those crimes? Yesterday, Neal Katyal examined that question in this guest essay for the New York Times.
At age 52, Katyal has had a very distinguished and very impressive legal career. That said, we offer our standard warning:
Almost surely, you can't solve a political problem through use of the criminal law. And from the liberal / progressive / Democratic perspective, the political problem is this:
Good God! In the 2020 White House election, 74.2 million people voted for Donald J. Trump! And they did so within a political system which currently gives disproportionate power to votes from the smaller red states.
President Biden got 81.3 million votes—but thanks to the oddities of the electoral college, Trump came within an eyelash of winning re-election.
Meanwhile, under the oddities of our Senate system, this same disproportionate power is currently held by Republican voters in red states. It's increasingly hard for liberal / progressive / Democratic voters to win either the White House or a Senate majority.
Let's return to our floundering tribe's basic political problem. In the 2020 election, more than 74 million people voted for Donald J. Trump!
But alas! Rather than focusing on political ways to address that political problem, tribunes of our flailing tribe are increasingly devoted to the task of trying to get Trump locked up.
We want to see the fellow indicted; we want to see him sued. We want him forced to testify under oath. Our legal beagles crawl all over our "cable news" programs, describing increasingly arcane ways to get Trump charged with a crime.
Has Donald J. Trump committed such crimes? Not being legal specialists ourselves, we can't exactly tell you. But we can tell you this, just as it was said in the Bible:
If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. And our tribe is currently dominated by roving bands of former prosecutors:
They have little political wisdom at all. But they seem to know roughly a million ways to get despised targets locked up.
Having said that, we can tell you this:
If Trump is ever charged with a crime, the crime with which the fellow is charged will have to be extremely clearcut, and the evidence will have to be overpowering.
An attorney general from our blue tribe better be able to explain the nature of Trump's alleged crime in a way red state voters can understand. Even in a case like that, any such indictment would be extremely dangerous.
(On the brighter side, it would make us feel really good.)
On Saturday night, Professor Tribe went a thousand miles out of his way to stress the danger of any such indictment in an appearance on MSNBC. Last night—a mere 72 hours later—he was back on the One True Channel, this time displaying no such care in the world.
For whatever reason, Tribe had completely abandoned his previous WrongThink. He had agreed to align with our tribe's one desire—the longing to see Trump locked up.
Donald J. Trump has engaged in an endless array of lunatic claims and behaviors in the past dozen years. But has he committed any definable crimes—and if so, what are they?
Katyal's guest essay for the New York Times was designed to answer that question. Tomorrow, we'll look at what Katyal said.
We were unimpressed by what we read. It seemed to us that Katyal's only tool is a highly arcane criminal justice hammer.
You can attempt to judge the matter yourself simply by clicking here. That said, do you understand what Katyal has said? Or have we liberals and progressives simply decided to place our faith in authority?