Former U.S. President Donald Trump's indictment concerning hush money payments has led to an outcry among his supporters, who claim the case is politically motivated. Trump is indicted for payments he made years ago, legal by law but filed wrong in his administration. He is the first former president ever indicted, a sober moment for America and a subversion of the American democracy.
By Arthur Blok
What happened to the most fundamental principle of equality of justice by Aristotle? Over two thousand years ago, Aristotle first defined the principle that everyone should be treated equally. It sure looks like this principle no longer applies to the land of the free.
The cases brought forward against the former president and the daily media rhetoric from opponents surrounding them look more like a modern-day witch-hunt. Trump’s opponents have accused him of almost anything.
Accusations of which most turned out to be false and slander, like his alleged dealings with Russians in the 2016 presidential campaign. A claim fabricated by the campaign team of his opponent Hillary Clinton, who turned out to be dealing with Russians herself. Further investigation found that Clinton committed more severe crimes, like spying on the Trump team, but she has yet to be indicted.
Clinton is on the right side, and Trump is not.
The anti-Trump movement is united in blind hatred. Yesterday’s show in New York was yet another episode of that. All democratically owned tv-channels, by definition, fierce opponents of the Trump-2024 presidential campaign, choose to cover the event live from early morning to late evening. Comparable to the case against OJ Simpson in the 90s.
News outlets were shamelessly sensationalising one of the most embarrassing moments in their nation’s history. He is a criminal, and he is guilty, a mantra that was repeated over and over again by so-called journalists and political analysts.
What happened to the presumption of innocence?
A country that used to get the strength of its unity is now slowly collapsing in political division.
In late March, the Manhattan grand jury indicted the former president in investigating hush money paid to adult film actress Stormy Daniels. The porn actress was paid $130,000 to keep quiet about what she described as an awkward and unexpected sexual encounter with Trump in 2006.
Trump denies it and paid money to silence her. Money paid in the final weeks of Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. There is more.
A former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, said she had a 10-month affair with Trump in the mid-2000s. She was paid $150,000 (£121,000) in 2016 by the parent company of the National Enquirer for the rights to her story about the alleged relationship. The story never ran after the newspaper suppressed it until after the election.
In total, Trump faces 34 minor charges in the indictment. Charges that, even if you add them all up, could not be classified as felonies. Let’s be very clear: there is nothing illegal about paying hush money. It happens all the time when cases are settled outside court.
A fair question would be; why is Trump being indicted?
There are some nuts to be cracked on the motivation of the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who dug up this seven-year-old case. Bragg, a Democrat, pursued a case that the FBI passed on because it questioned its merit.
Why did Bragg reopen a case, past the statue of limitations, during an ongoing presidential campaign? Not because of the severity of its content but because of something else.
In New York, a District Attorney is a political elected office; Brag ran on going after Trump. That was his central election promise. He promised prosecution of Trump to his voters and now is delivering. Because of that promise, Trump now faces multiple charges of falsifying business records.
A new low in the country’s juridical history.
Did Trump have political motivation when he directed his lawyer to pay hush money? Not campaign money, but money from private funds. Legal under New York State and U.S. Federal law.
For Brag, it does not even matter. He is fulfilling an election promise.
What matters more is that the US has reached a point of no return by indicting a former president and a frontrunner in the presidential race. A dangerous precedent: once you go down that road, you can go after every political opponent.
Other grand juries are currently exploring whether Trump tried to overthrow the 2020 election in Georgia or the Capitol attack on Jan. 6, 2021. Another federal inquiry probes hundreds of classified documents found at Trump’s Florida estate, Mar-a-Lago.
In that perspective, the case against Trump could better be seen as yet another attempt to stop someone from running for president. Another sober moment of justice in America that preaches democracy worldwide.
In a democracy, you do not silence someone by arrest but by debate. You do not convince someone not to vote on someone with slander but with solid argumentation. The last thing you do is silence political opponents with the threat of prosecution and arms.
Once you go down that road, what is left of your democracy?