I’m restating here more carefully something I wrote several months ago that was widely misunderstood at the time. Back then I said words to the effect that no one had ever indicted a president of the United States before so I had no sample from which to judge the probability that Trump would be indicted. I most emphatically did NOT offer up the absurdly invalid syllogism that since no former president has been indicted, and since Trump is a former president, Trump will therefore never be indicted.
That is silly on its face. I was born into a world where no human being had set foot on the moon, no president had ever resigned, no foreign entity had ever launched a major terrorist action on US soil, and so on. So obviously I have plenty of experience with things that never happened before happening anyway. But I don’t have the convenience of saying something like, “Since 10 presidents behaved like Trump and six of them were indicted and went to prison, I can conclude that it’s roughly a 60% probability that Trump will go to prison.”
Neither have I ever said that since they haven’t indicted Trump by now they never will. People get indicted all the time years after they commit a crime. I’m thinking just now of the case of Jordan Belfort, more popularly known as “The Wolf of Wall Street.” The movie to the contrary, Belfort retired from his criminal life and got indicted quite unexpectedly (to him anyway) some time after he retired.
What I will say now is that time is running out for an indictment of Trump to do any good. I hasten to add that we still have plenty of time, but time is doing what it always does, getting shorter and shorter with each passing day. And, of course, time is running out for lots of things including global warming, the scary consequences of Putin’s psychopathic reign, the inevitable transition of coronavirus from epidemic to pandemic to endemic, and so on. Time does not wait around.
This puts us in a troubling quandary. When the American government is healthy the US Department of Justice is supposed to proceed with its job irrespective of who is President and what party is in ascendancy. But the American government is not healthy. If the Republicans win the midterms and retake the House and the Senate, there will be no more January 6 Committee or anything like it. This will make it easier for Republicans to pursue legislation that makes it harder for Democrats to be elected to anything. And the minute a Republican is in the White House the DOJ will cease pursuing Trump and become the tool of the president again, just as it was under Trump.
So it’s clear that getting Trump indicted before the midterms would be a big help in delegitimizing Trump and his acolytes, and aid us in avoiding the slippery slope into more Trump-friendly legislation and another evil degenerate like Trump taking office in January of 2025.
This is why time is so vitally important. My fear isn’t that Trump will never be indicted. My fear is he won’t be indicted in time. Getting him indicted, and especially, getting him put in prison, will go a long way toward removing his evil, Machiavellian influence from the political landscape.
I have personal experience to back this expectation up. For several years I was involved in the advocacy for the survivors of Bill Cosby. Prior to his imprisonment, the disgraced comedian had an active and virulent fan base, the vast majority of whom crawled back under their respective rocks the minute Cosby went to prison. Prison has a decidedly chilling effect on fandom.
But I think it’s clear to even the most hopeful anti-Trumper that Trump will not be going to prison before the midterms. Recall that neither seemed true nor even possible a mere 12 months ago! Therefore we must win the midterms on our own merits and we must, as a corollary, win a second term for Joe Biden on his own merits. Justice, whenever and if ever it finally comes our way, will not have come soon enough to help us with the midterms. If it doesn’t come soon enough to help us with the next presidential election then we must help ourselves and stop waiting for the DOJ to do our job for us. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.