Whether they’re willing to admit it or not, we all know good and well that one of the Trump team’s main reasons for clinging so tightly to the power of the presidency is the legal ramifications that undoubtedly face so many of them on the other side of inauguration day.
Biden has expressed his desire to handle his impending presidency much like his former boss and predecessor, Barack Obama, in the sense that he doesn’t want to spend his entire time in the White House focusing on the mistakes left behind by the previous administration. However, as the legal issues continue to mount within the Trump circle, it’s beginning to seem as though Biden may literally have no choice.
In an appearance on MSNBC with host Ali Velshi, Andrew Weissmann, a former senior prosecutor for special counsel Robert Mueller, explained that the situation with Donald Trump is entirely unprecedented and unlike any administration to come before.
“We’re going to be, as of January 20th, 2021, in the situation where we no longer are talking about indicting the president but, rather, a former president, somebody who is a civilian,” Weissmann pointed out. “And the question’s going to be: Does the rule of law apply to that person? And it’s very hard to see an argument if it is shown, for instance, that in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office that the president has committed tens of millions of dollars of tax fraud or bank fraud or both. Any other person would normally be prosecuted, then it really shouldn’t be the case that just because he becomes president, that he shouldn’t have the day in court where a jury decides whether or not he committed those crimes prior to becoming president.”
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Weissmann went on to explain that if Trump is not prosecuted for his conduct throughout the Mueller investigation, including at least ten examples of obstruction of justice, it would essentially strip any future special counsel investigations of any legitimacy.
“You have to remember in the Mueller report, there is substantial evidence that the president obstructed justice, in other words, obstructed the special counsel investigation,” he said. “And to me, that’s even more important to vindicate. If you are not going to hold a president accountable for a special counsel investigation obstruction, then there’s no reason to actually have a special counsel in the future. In other words, the precedent that you’re setting in the future is don’t bother appointing a special counsel because there isn’t going to be any accountability to a president who obstructs that investigation.”
Weissmann went on to address a New York Times column suggesting that putting Donald Trump on trial would be perceived as Biden putting the 72 million Americans who voted for Trump on trial.
“You know, I think that’s looking at it the wrong way,” Weissmann explained. “Remember, a jury is going to have to make the decision and is going to have to find proof beyond a reasonable doubt in the same way any other defendant is entitled to all of the due process rights that we have in this country. And Donald Trump, if he were to be indicted, whether federally or by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, would enjoy all of those same rights in the same way, for instance, that Paul Manafort went to trial and a jury made up of citizens from a cross-section of the community made a decision regardless of politics, whether someone’s a Democrat or a Republican, just on the facts and the law. And Donald Trump would face the same kind of jury making that determination.”
Frankly, it seems as though Biden is going to have no choice but to face these Trump indictments head-on when he takes office. The fact of the matter is, we simply cannot just leave them alone. Not only would it allow someone who clearly violated the law to run free and unchecked, it could significantly impact Biden’s chances at a second term if he doesn’t hold the previous administration accountable for their wrongdoings. However, I’m of the firm belief that Biden could enjoy a productive, even calm presidential term should he just bite the bullet, take Trump down, and carry on.
You can watch Weissmann on MSNBC here:
Featured image via Flickr/Gage Skidmore, under Creative Commons license 2.0