Ruddy: A Dangerous Moment With Trump Indictments
I can’t help but feel that we as a nation are in a dangerous moment.
Last week New York District Attorney Cyrus Vance and New York State Attorney General Letitia James announced the indictment of the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg.
Former President Donald Trump was not charged, but his eponymous company and his CFO were.
They were indicted on state charges that allege a scheme going back 15 years — the Trump Organization for tax fraud and falsifying business records, and Weisselberg for grand larceny and tax fraud.
Many in the liberal press seemed to be gloating and gleeful. Trump is finally being held accountable, they say!
The establishment angst over the iconoclastic Trump has been palpable for some time, even before he took the oath of office in 2017.
Almost from Day One, liberal New York prosecutors have been determined to “get Trump.”
It is highly unusual – unprecedented, actually – for a former U.S. president or his business to be charged for alleged crimes before he became president, largely as a result of politically motivated investigations.
Any fair-minded person has to admit the investigations into Trump and his businesses are political.
For example, the state claimed Trump Organization violated federal law, but the feds are not prosecuting. And Letitia James ran her successful 2018 campaign for attorney general on a single issue: “Get Trump.”
She claimed “that man in the White House ... can’t go a day without threatening our fundamental rights,” referring to Trump as an “illegitimate president.”
James’ prosecution of Trump is a flagrant violation of Standard 3-4.4 of the American Bar Association’s Model Standards for Prosecution Function.
This standard deals with Discretion in Filing, Declining, Maintaining, and Dismissing Criminal Charges and says this:
(b) In exercising discretion to file and maintain charges, the prosecutor should not consider:
(i) partisan or other improper political or personal considerations;
(ii) hostility or personal animus towards a potential subject, or any other improper motive of the prosecutor
The other proof of the political motivation of these indictments is the fact that the alleged “crimes” — helping employees avoid taxes by giving them perks like cars, housing, and tuition — are almost never prosecuted by New York state. These are typically handled with civil fines and penalties.
Indeed, the New York Department of Taxation and Finance standard on prosecution is “whether there are other non-criminal sanctions available that are sufficient to punish the offender and to insure future compliance with the law.”
In this case, such penalties are available, which would not be subject to the statute-of-limitation restrictions that bind criminal charges.
Even if one were to assume all the allegations about Trump Organization or Weisselberg are true (Trump Organization and Weisselberg deny all charges), the punishment just does not fit.
This past week I was in New York and I spoke to two well-connected Democrats.
One told me New York prosecutors “just hate Trump so much” they are blind to the implications of what they are doing.
Another, a business leader, said that the biggest loser in the indictments was, in fact, President Joe Biden.
“The precedent has now been set, you can criminally prosecute a president and his associates,” the person said, pointing out the legal vulnerabilities of the president's son, Hunter Biden.
I personally do not believe Hunter Biden should be prosecuted as a result of his father becoming president.
But a number of pundits have said that the flimsy New York state prosecutions represent clear evidence that our nation has become a banana republic and that anyone will be fair game under the new standard, including Hunter, future presidents and their families.
Democrats are pinning their hopes on this prosecution turning up some smoking-gun evidence against Trump if they get Weisselberg or another associate to “flip.”
But such a plan is just more evidence that this matter is an allegation in search of a crime, with Trump himself is the real target.
Our country was not supposed to be like this. We have had no history of this with our presidents, until now.
The biggest loser of these indictments is not Joe Biden or Donald Trump. It’s our nation.