Donald Trump really is going to prison

It’s an odd but not altogether alien feeling, watching a man speaking on television who I know instinctively will soon be in prison. The last time I had that feeling was when I watched a video clip of Bill Cosby laughing and joking around with restaurant patrons in Philadelphia. “A lot of people were saying” — sounds like a Trump quote, doesn’t it? But it was true, a lot of people were saying Cosby would never go to jail. And guess what? Cosby went to jail. He’s still there.

“A lot of people are saying” that Trump isn’t going to jail either. What I find myself wondering is, how on earth is he going to stay out of jail? If you can’t imagine what it’s going to feel like to be a member of the next apotheosis of lawyers, law enforcement officers and civil servants restocking the new and improved Department of Justice this coming January, then you haven’t much of an imagination. Or if you can’t imagine the hobbled frustration of prosecutors attached to the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, free at last to pursue a man who’s paraded his criminal enterprises around in broad daylight for four years, immune because of an idiotic Watergate-era memo suggesting you cannot prosecute a sitting president, then you don’t understand human nature. Trump’s will be the ultimate prosecutorial pelt, the Dillinger of political prizes. Jurisdictions will be crawling all over each other to file criminal complaints.

Some of the objections to Trump going to prison boil down to the fact that Trump, as an ex-president, will be assigned a Secret Service detail and therefore, since they can’t possibly guard him in a jail cell, he can’t possibly go to jail. No, really, I’ve actually seen this objection before. The absurdity of the point is contained in the fact that a Secret Service detail doesn’t follow former presidents into the bathroom or other places where they consider him to be residing in a secure location. Nothing is going to be more secure than a Supermax prison. No secret service detail will be needed where Trump is going.

Others claim he wouldn’t survive in an open prison population. So what? The answer is he will probably be kept in solitary confinement. And for those who claim that’s cruel and unusual punishment and therefore unconstitutional, go talk to Reality Winner, or any of hundreds of people who are jailed and placed in solitary “for their own good.”

Besides, the idea of a Trump lawyer arguing against a form of punishment for Donald Trump on the grounds that it’s unconstitutional has got to be one of the world’s most ironic jokes. No man in American history has shown more contempt for the United States Constitution than Donald Trump.

It’s human nature to think that because something hasn’t happened before it never can. I’m old enough to recall a time when people thought Nixon wouldn’t resign for the simple reason that no president ever had. The idea that Donald Trump could be sent to prison strikes me as not merely inevitable but necessary. America cannot continue to promote itself as a place where the rule of law is equal for all Americans and simultaneously allow Donald J. Trump to remain a free man. Above all, the presidency should be perceived as a dangerous and unprofitable place for evil people. Putting Trump in prison will broadcast that message loud and clear. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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