By Rajan Laad
The reaction to the unprecedented indictment of President Trump was predictable.
Most of Trump adversaries responded with unrestrained jubilation.
The former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey reacted to the news with delight.
Yes, this is the former head of the foremost law enforcement agency in the U.S.
What a fall in standards.
Now that a fall in standards has been mentioned, we examine a tweet from Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi claimed that the Grand Jury has acted upon the facts and the law.
So let’s look at the facts first.
President Trump has denied the affair with Stormy Daniel. In a 2018 letter that surfaced recently, Daniel also denied that the affair ever occurred, despite claiming otherwise in public.
Another 2018 letter proves that neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction. Also, Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen was not reimbursed for the payment by any organizations affiliated to Trump.
Since the transaction didn’t occur at Trump’s behest, the case has no basis.
Even if Trump had directed Cohen to make hush payments and the Trump Organization had reimbursed him for the payment to Daniels but billed them as legal expenses, it would constitute a misdemeanor for which the statute of limitations has run out.
Back to Pelosi’s tweet. Pelosi wrote:
“No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence.”
This is nothing short of a shocking statement, especially from a lawmaker with many decades of experience. The presumption of innocence is the standard in any civilized democracy — anyone accused of any crime is considered innocent until proven guilty. The legal burden of proof lies on the prosecution, which must present compelling face-based evidence to before a judge or a jury. The prosecution must prove that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If reasonable doubt remains, the accused must be acquitted.
The presumption of innocence is also an international human right under the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 11.
This is the legal standard in the U.S.
Let’s look at what the law specifically states:
“It is a cardinal principle of our system of justice that every person accused of a crime is presumed to be innocent unless and until his or her guilt is established beyond a reasonable doubt. The presumption is not a mere formality. It is a matter of the most important substance.
The presumption of innocence alone may be sufficient to raise a reasonable doubt and to require the acquittal of a defendant. The defendant before you, [__________], has the benefit of that presumption throughout the trial, and you are not to convict [him/her] of a particular charge unless you are persuaded of [his/her] guilt of that charge beyond a reasonable doubt.
The presumption of innocence until proven guilty means that the burden of proof is always on the government to satisfy you that [defendant] is guilty of the crime with which [he/she] is charged beyond a reasonable doubt. The law does not require that the government prove guilt beyond all possible doubt; proof beyond a reasonable doubt is sufficient to convict. This burden never shifts to [defendant]. It is always the government’s burden to prove each of the elements of the crime[s] charged beyond a reasonable doubt by the evidence and the reasonable inferences to be drawn from that evidence. [Defendant] has the right to rely upon the failure or inability of the government to establish beyond a reasonable doubt any essential element of a crime charged against [him/her].
If, after fair and impartial consideration of all the evidence, you have a reasonable doubt as to [defendant]’s guilt of a particular crime, it is your duty to acquit [him/her] of that crime. On the other hand, if, after fair and impartial consideration of all the evidence, you are satisfied beyond a reasonable doubt of [defendant]’s guilt of a particular crime, you should vote to convict [him/her].”
It is unlikely that Pelosi isn’t aware of the legal standards in the U.S. Perhaps her feeling of schadenfreude got the better of her, or maybe this is a warning for others who support the MAGA agenda. Pelosi know that such claims will receive no condemnation in D.C. because the target is President Trump.
Thankfully Elon Musk’s Twitter flagged Pelosi’s Tweet and presented context to it in the community notes feature.
So are there any countries where the accused is guilty until proven innocent?
They are mostly third-world countries or theocratic or military dictatorships where the might of the law is used to target opponents and dissidents. Irrespective of what their constitution says, dissidents were presumed guilty until proven innocent.
This is how the law operated in Stalin’s Russia, Nazi Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Franco’s Spain etc.
It is not just President Trump who has been the recipient of this treatment. The January 6th protestors held in the District of Columbia jail have complained of being subjected to inhumane conditions. The constant delays in hearings and postponements dragged out for over a year caused so much trauma to one of the accused that he committed suicide.
This remains the goal behind the exercise, to make the process the punishment.
To drag the trial along, and to drain all their resources and spirits of the accused. To sully reputations permanently. To make the accused feel worse than the worst of criminals in the U.S.
They know that these stories spread like wildfire and most people seeking a life of peace for themselves and their families choose to refrain from challenging the Democrats merely to avoid hardships.
Doubtlessly many citizens must have refrained from showing any overt support to the MAGA cause for fear of being persecuted by the Democrats.
This is a win for the likes of Pelosi who want to turn the U.S. into a third-world dictatorship where government agencies such as law enforcement and the judiciary are used to target opponents and outlaw political opposition.
Their goal is to have a single-party state.
Yes, there will be Republicans and Democrats who disagree in minor issues, but on all the major issues of consequence there is a total consensus.
The ball is now in the court of the Republicans and the citizens all over the nation.
In perilous times, there is no greater sin than inaction.