Former FBI director James Comey said yesterday that he believed Joe Biden should consider granting mercy to President Donald Trump “as part of the healing of the country”. Just as I have long spoken out against self-pardon as an abuse of the president’s power, I have long spoken out against such pardons by their successors to the president. Comey repeats Ford’s justification for the Nixon pardon, which I continue to view as a wrong decision. Impeachments pass to the status of president as a public official. Accusations move on to their status as individuals. Indeed, I have long believed presidents in office could be indicted, including President Bill Clinton and President Donald Trump.Comey stated, “I obviously think he belongs in jail, but I don’t think it’s in the best interests of the entire nation to pursue this.”
I don’t understand the logic of the Ford position. To use Comey’s words, if he belongs in jail, he should go to jail. The idea that our country cannot cope with prosecuting a former president borders on defamation. If a president is a criminal, he belongs in jail. In Nixon’s case, he declined the need for a pardon. However, Ford is preventing a trial of Nixon’s guilt for the Watergate crimes – crimes that sent various people to jail. This was not a victory for the rule of law or the country.
I do not believe the President’s speech constituted criminal incitement unless there is more evidence of the President’s intent or knowledge. Many legal experts claim that the speech, particularly in the context of his election challenge, is sufficient to condemn. The DC attorney general has said he can blame Trump. So be it. I believe such a prosecution would collapse in court or on appeal. The legal system should be allowed to run its course.
The more threatening cases relate to allegations of bank and tax fraud, including cases from New York. There is also the issue of election violation, which was raised in Michael Cohen’s plea. In his plea, Cohen referred to election funding violations related to the payment of Stormy Daniels. If Cohen was guilty of election violations on the Stormy Daniels matter, there is an obvious implication that the president was to blame.
I never understood why bringing a former president to justice is so annoying or destructive. We are a country under the rule of law. The persecution of a former president shows nobody is above the law. That doesn’t mean Trump will be convicted or that these cases are valid. However, like every citizen, he must answer for such criminal allegations.