Does the guilty verdict destroy Trump or make him even stronger?

The verdict heard round the world will throw a lightning bolt into our politics as those on the left cheer and those on the right rally and coalesce even more around former President Donald Trump. 

The question now is this: does the verdict weaken Trump or make him even stronger? The early returns seem to indicate that rather than reveal Trump as a scoundrel, the verdict instead suggests to many that the rule of law is in jeopardy, if a leading political candidate can be indicted by opposition prosecutors and convicted of crimes invented for the purpose. Thirty-four felonies over a seven-year-old $130,000 payment hardly looks reasonable. 

I opposed the Republican attempt to use the personal life of Bill Clinton to impeach him, and this attempt to use the personal life of Donald Trump to jail him is no different but has even more far-reaching consequences. Clinton gained seats in the midterms after the impeachment and, at least in the immediate aftermath, Trump is gaining more energized, angry voters. 


The prosecutors brought out a steamy and seamy cast of characters and sold the story that somehow the election was stolen by the failure to disclose a payment to former adult film star Stormy Daniels as though there is some right or urgency to know about the personal lives of candidates and this is what the voters make their decisions on. 

Yet the jury did not learn that even if the payment were a campaign contribution it would not have been disclosed until AFTER the election, so there could not have been a conspiracy to affect an election that was already past. Hillary Clinton did violate the campaign laws by paying for the Steele dossier (which was a campaign expense) and concealing it under legal payments; she and the DNC were fined $113,000 for that offense, compared to 34 felonies for Donald Trump.

And this is ultimately what angers the voters – the idea that there is one system of justice for some and another for their choice if it’s Donald Trump. 


The statutes of limitations were over-ridden; misdemeanors were raised to felonies; jurors were given a menu of potential crimes rather than a specific crime; and witnesses were restricted in their testimony. 

And the trial was held in New York, and what juror with a family could possibly have been the one who stood for the acquittal of Donald Trump. Once the press or some blogger revealed who they were, they would have had to move to Iceland.

We asked the voters in last week’s Harvard CAPS/Harris poll what they would do if Trump were convicted, and they said that a conviction in this case would make no difference. We will see if that prediction is true in the next few weeks. The best that the Democrats can do right now in this case is to say “the jury has spoken.” 

Partisan statements will only increase anger and cause the boomerang to increase. Many Democrats believe Donald Trump is a criminal, but those voters were already in the Democratic camp. The voters in the middle seem focused not on trials but on issues like inflation and immigration. Ironically, the president’s son is scheduled to go on trial next week. 

Our justice system simply can’t operate this way in which pie-in-the-sky piled on charges can be hurled by political advocates to blunt the opposing presidential candidate. 

I think January 6th was a stain on democracy, but this is also blot – we need to let the voters make the decisions and respect them when they do.


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