The Universal Notebook: The criminal who would be president

advertisementSmiley face

Having Donald Trump out of office, off social media and missing from the nightly news cycle these past few years has been so very refreshing. I guess we should have known it couldn’t last.

Now that Trump has become the first American president to be indicted for a felony, we will likely get 24-7 Trump for the foreseeable future. And make no mistake about it, Donald J. Trump is a criminal.

Edgar Allen BeemThe Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), a nonpartisan government ethics and legal watchdog group, lists more than 50 uncharged crimes Trump has been getting away with. 

The CREW list includes campaign finance violations and cover-ups, obstruction of justice in the Russian and special counsel probes, attempts to steal the 2020 election, pressuring state and federal officials to help him overturn election results, false financial disclosures, attempts to get Ukraine to interfere in the 2020 election and unlawful possession of government records. And that doesn’t even count his violations of the emoluments clauses as he turned the U.S. presidency into a branch of his floundering business empire.

Trump has gotten away with these crimes because until now no one has been willing to hold him to account. The main reason for that is the Republican Party, which has aided and abetted Trump’s criminal presidency every step of the way. Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller  laid out multiple cases in which Trump obstructed justice, but no one brought charges, allowing the GOP to dismiss the Russia probe as a witch hunt that came up empty.

What Mueller actually said, however, was “[I]f we had confidence after a thorough investigation of the facts that the President clearly did not commit obstruction of justice, we would so state. Based on the facts and the applicable legal standards, we are unable to reach that judgment.”

Mueller made the mistake of assuming the Justice Department or Congress would bring Trump to justice. They failed to do so. And Trump also managed to slither out of two impeachment proceedings, the first for obstruction of justice and abuse of power, the second for inciting the January 6 insurrection. 

As much as Trump deserves to be punished, I suspect we all know what will happen if he is tried and convicted for paying off a porn star to keep her from spoiling his election bid. His mob will unleash the “death and destruction” he has threatened

As much as I’d love to see Trump marched off to prison in an orange jumpsuit with his head shaved, I have a feeling the New York indictment will be thrown out for lack of jurisdiction and that jailing the man will only make things worse. He’s already making money from his indictment, suckering in the rubes who continue to support him.

Trump is a liar, a cheat, a thief and the greatest existential threat American democracy has ever faced. If enough of his followers realized what a treasonous cad and self-serving bounder he is, they could solve America’s Trump problem all by themselves.

America’s best hope is probably that Trump will be charged and convicted for his role in inciting the January 6 insurrection, but even being a convicted felon won’t prevent him from running for election again. He just continues to inflict pain and suffering on the American people. 

Edgar Allen Beem has been writing The Universal Notebook weekly since 2003, first for The Forecaster and now for the Phoenix. He also writes the Art Seen review column.

Smiley face