Sat, Jun

Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty Guilty


BOB GELFAND’S WORLD - In a verdict reached by 12 of his peers, Donald J. Trump was found to have criminally attempted to steal the 2016 presidential election. He did it through buying the silence of a prostitute or, to use the more politically correct term, a porn star.  There are many observations and corollaries, each worthy of a column of its own. Instead of doing those columns on this momentous day in American history, let's simply list a few of them. 

It's now established fact.

In the American system, the trial is determining. In a jury trial, it is the jury who get to decide which witnesses to believe and whom to disbelieve. Once the jury verdict is spoken, their verdict is considered to be established fact. People are free to speak of the result without fear of being sued for slander or libel: Donald Trump is a felon. Donald Trump is technically guilty of falsifying business records, with the felony upgrade due to the fact that the falsification was in service of another crime. 

Donald Trump went all Manson Family after the verdict. 

A few moments after the verdict was read, Trump stood in front of the press and gave a speech that was worthy of the ravings of Charlie Manson's clan. He blamed everyone but himself, ranging from Joe Biden and the Biden administration to the judge and the prosecutor. He kept repeating himself, but was in essence reciting the pretrial babel that his defenders and his lawyers kept trying to sell in preceding weeks. The judge is accused of being "conflicted," presumably meaning that the judge had a conflict of interest. I think this argument goes to the judge's daughter, but that argument never carried a lot of weight. 

Donald Trump is saying exactly what every other criminal says. 

They framed me. The judge didn't like me. It was rigged. (Actually, Trump seems to like using that word "rigged," although the argument doesn't pass the sniff test.) 

The prosecutor was out to get him. 

I'll agree to that statement. But that's what prosecutors are supposed to be about: They are out to get criminals and to get them indicted, convicted, and sentenced. Those of a certain age will remember the remark that Richard Nixon was "hounded" from office. That's also true, and it was, like this trial, totally merited. 

Trump is surprised because they never pinned a crime on him before. 

Trump is a guy who did a lot of dirty and lowdown things in his career (refusing to pay the people who helped build and furnish his lavish buildings was most notable) but he managed to keep most of the fallout at the level of civil litigation. He had the money to keep lawyers busy, and he used that advantage to bleed his victims dry. The failure of the justice system to indict him on criminal charges many years ago is a stark lesson that our justice system is incomplete. 

This has to have an effect on the other criminal trials. 

At one level, a lot of people never believed that Trump could ever be convicted on even one charge. We've been hearing the fashionable cynicism that there are two systems of criminal justice, one for the poor and one for the rich. We've been hearing that the Supreme Court will ride in to the rescue. We've been hearing about that mysterious Trump supporter who will somehow get himself put on the jury and then hang it. Of course all of them are true, or partially true, or at least (in the case of that Maga juror) possible. But at least in New York City courtrooms, the system has been working pretty much as it should, starting with the E. Jean Caroll cases and now this much more important case. This is a powerful and important lesson, because if the system can work in NYC, then it can work in Atlanta and Washington, D.C. 

There are good judges and terrible judges. 

The job of the judge isn't to be perfect (whatever that might mean) but to be adequate. There were no questions so difficult that these NYC judges couldn't handle them. On the other hand, we have the federal judge in Miami who has been single handedly holding up the secret documents trial. And there are the radical-right members of the U.S. Supreme Court who have managed to delay the slam-dunk decision that presidents are not kings and do not have infinite immunity from their own crimes. It is painfully obvious that the Supreme Court needs reform. 

The media have done a terrible job in their desire to balance. 

Even today, in the aftermath of the verdict -- as Trump repeated his old lies to the television cameras in his first efforts as a felon -- the media treated Trump's statement as if it were somehow equal in magnitude to the real story, which was the verdict. 

It's time to do something about right wing terrorism. 

Even this morning, we were hearing about death threats made against the New York judicial system and the judge. It's long since time that our police and the FBI start tracking down and arresting the people who revel in such crimes. If the technology is not completely in existence, it should be invented. If it already exists, it should be used. 

It is a moment of both happiness and sadness. 

It's tragic that the American experiment has been tested in such a tawdry way. We have been enduring the Trump problem for 8 years, and it will continue. But we should be happy that sociopathic criminality is not always safe from the law. So far, the system has been working. 

(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at [email protected].)