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I WITNESS: The right to a speedy trial

Let’s talk turkey. Donald Trump is running for the presidency, again, for one reason only: to avoid judgement and consequences for his outrageous behavior.

Although it is not the most scintillating introduction to an opinion column, it will be brief—the text of the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution:

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.

I am decidedly not a scholar of the Constitution, but it seems to me that the guarantee of a “speedy and public trial” is designed for the benefit of criminal defendants. A speedy trial means that American citizens, unlike the citizens of Russia, are not forced to fester in prison, year in and year out, while they await their day in court.

I can say unequivocally that if I were charged with a crime that I had not committed, I would want to go to trial immediately so that I could clear my name, and if I were running for elected office, this would be doubly true, because I would not want false accusations dogging me while an election hung in the balance.

Yet Donald Trump and a number of his co-defendants are resisting, with every fiber of their being, a speedy trial. This is somewhat perplexing, because Mr. Trump has spent the better part of a year proclaiming his innocence, insisting that the four state and federal cases in which he is a named defendant are a “witch hunt,” and asserting that every action taken before, during, and after his presidency was “perfect.”

Perfect was the payment of $130,000 to a porn star to secure her silence in the run-up to the 2016 election; perfect was the call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensberger demanding that he fabricate 11,780 nonexistent votes for Trump; perfect was the assembling of fake slates of electors; perfect was the summoning of white nationalists to Washington, D.C. to storm the Capitol, kill the vice president, and stop the counting of electoral votes; and perfect was the deliberate theft and retention of top-secret government documents.

If someone had accused me of committing those treasonous acts, I would be anxious to refute the allegations in a court of law. I would want to set the record straight as quickly as possible. I would want to go to trial NOW.

But Trump and a number of his cronies do not appear to be in any great hurry to have their day in court. They do not want speedy trials because they, along with anyone who has eyes to see and ears to hear, are completely aware that the Trump presidency was nothing more than a scam, a grift, and a subversion of democracy. This assessment is not based on what some partisan hack has whispered in our ears. We watched it all unfold in real time, right in front of us.

We watched him engage in sedition on live television and listened to the recordings of him strong-arming state officials to subvert the 2020 election, over and over again. We saw the photographs of towers of classified government documents haphazardly piled in bathrooms and ballrooms at his Palm Beach resort. We heard the recordings of him bragging about the classified documents, confirming that the files had never been declassified, and showing them to a campaign aide who had absolutely no security clearance. What he did is not a matter of conjecture; it is a matter of fact.

Let’s talk turkey. Donald Trump is running for the presidency, again, for one reason only: to avoid judgement and consequences for his outrageous behavior. The minute he became aware of the indictments stacking up against him, he announced his candidacy from a Mar-a-Lago ballroom where his gathered supporters were held captive until the conclusion of his lackluster speech. He is running for president again not because he cares about you, or me, or democracy. He is running again because he knows that he intentionally committed every one of the 88 felonies with which he has been charged. His calculus was that the Department of Justice wouldn’t dare bring those charges in the run-up to an election if he was a declared candidate.

That calculus backfired. Trump has been indicted and charged. When it became clear that Trump was being indicted regardless of his candidacy, his early tutelage from the completely amoral Mafia lawyer, Roy Cohn, kicked into high gear.

Roy Cohn was a duplicitous sheister who had no compunction whatsoever about ruining the reputations and livelihoods of the innocent, telling baldfaced lies in and out of court to help his mob clients, and obstructing justice to shield those clients from accountability. He did the same for Donald Trump during the 1970s. Mr. Cohn was eventually disbarred and met an ignominious end.

Roy Cohn was, in short, an ethics-free reptile. Donald Trump adored him—that is, he adored him until he heard that Cohn was dying of AIDS. Upon learning that information, Trump immediately and unceremoniously kicked him to the curb.

Nevertheless, Trump learned the art of obstruction directly from Roy Cohn, and he learned it well. Watching the legal and extra-legal maneuverings of the multiply indicted defendant and his team of D-list lawyers is nothing short of dizzying. They have muddied the waters by smearing not just prosecutors, judges, jurors, and witnesses, but their families as well. They have filed specious motion after specious motion, ridiculous appeal after ridiculous appeal, and meritless countersuit after meritless countersuit. They have tried to bargain away or forestall the payment of monetary judgements and created a media spectacle in every courtroom they have entered.

In exchange, the judicial system continues to provide preferential treatment and undue deference to Mr. Trump. I can’t imagine any other defendant on Earth repeatedly disrupting courtroom proceedings, then walking out of the courtroom in the middle of closing arguments, without being held, immediately, in contempt.

Not the Donald.

I can’t imagine arguing to a Court of Appeals that it is completely permissible for a sitting president to employ the United States military to assassinate a political rival.

Not the Donald.

I can’t imagine deliberately violating a gag order within hours of it being issued and not being thrown in jail for flouting the court’s directives.

Not the Donald.

I can’t imagine the Supreme Court agreeing to hear bogus arguments about someone’s perceived right to have total and permanent immunity from prosecution, for any reason, ever.

Not the Donald.

Sam Bankman Fried, bitcoin king, is on his way to prison for 25 years because he committed business fraud.

Not the Donald.

The pampered Mr. Trump—proclamations of his own unassailable perfection aside—has every reason to delay the speedy administration of justice: He knows that he committed the many crimes with which he has been charged, and he is scared to death of going to prison.

It appears, however, that Mr. Trump has run out of delay tactics in at least one of the cases against him. He is now officially on trial in the Stormy Daniels-hush-money case, despite his attempts to stall, stonewall, and delay the inevitable.

Now that he has exhausted every loophole, every objection, every motion, every counter-suit, and every appeal, the not-so-speedy administration of justice has at last begun for Donald John Trump.


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