Criminal charges filed last week against the Trump Organization and its chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, should be dismissed for a number of reasons.
Famed Harvard Law professor, defense counsel, and civil libertarian Alan Dershowitz observed Saturday that city and state authorities can't prosecute federal crimes, in this case grand larceny against the United States government. And he's right.
But just as importantly, they're the result of a backwards investigation — one in which a person was investigated in search of a crime, rather than the other way around.
The Washington Post recently listed “Seven questions about New York's investigations of Trump,” but neglected to address the most pressing question — is this the smart thing for a public prosecutor to do?
Letitia James largely ran her 2018 campaign for New York attorney general on a single issue of “Get Trump,” and referred to him as an “illegitimate president.”
Last month Dershowitz told Newsmax TV that James' crusade to “get Trump” was both distasteful and essentially unheard of.
"That's how she got elected," he said. “That's not the way prosecutors should operate."
And indeed, shortly after James won her election, even The New York Times asked a question The Washington Post wouldn't: “Will Judges See a ‘Political Vendetta?'”
If they don't, they'll be in total denial.
Her repeated promise to “get Trump” smacks of an infamous boast attributed to Lavrentiy Beria, who served as Josef Stalin's deputy premier and KGB director.
“Show me the man, and I'll show you the crime,” he reportedly said.
That's not the way justice is supposed to operate — not in a free society at any rate. We're supposed to investigate crimes, and on the basis of the investigation, work out who likely committed them.
We don't investigate people. Yet that's been the modus operandi even before Nov. 8, 2016, when the people of the United States elected Trump as their 45th president. Lots of examples exist; here are just a few:
- On April 17, 2016, before the Republican Party had even nominated Trump as its standard-bearer, Politico asked readers, “Could Trump be impeached shortly after he takes office?” Although Politico admitted that “it's highly improbable,” they added that “everyone from law scholars to political junkies are speculating about it.”
- On Dec. 15, 2016, Vanity Fair announced that “Democrats are paving the way to impeach Donald Trump.”
- On Jan. 20, 2017 at 12:19 p.m. — 19 minutes after he took the oath of office — The Washington Post reported, “The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun.”
Dershowitz also told Newsmax TV that it's generally easy for prosecutors to secure grand jury indictments, especially against individuals running complex organizations like the Trump empire.
"If a prosecutor is determined to get somebody, particularly a businessman who has complex business dealings over the years, it's not so difficult to get an indictment," said Dershowitz.
Yet despite the old saying in legal circles that prosecutors can convince a grand jury to “indict a ham sandwich,” after more than two years of trying, the “Teflon Donald” has so far eluded the Empire State's attorney general and New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance, who filed the charges.
After Vance indicted Weisselberg last week, Trump called the action a "disgrace" and "shameful," and told ABC News that Weisselberg is a "tremendous man."
And James' very statement indicated just how “shameful” the indictment was. She admitted that she was investigating the organization in search of a crime. She wasn't investigating a crime in search of a wrongdoer.
“Today is an important marker in the ongoing criminal investigation of the Trump Organization and its CFO, Allen Weisselberg,” she said.
In short, “show me the man, and I'll show you the crime.”
This is bad policy, setting a dangerous precedent that places American jurisprudence on a perilous road.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He is also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. Read Dorstewitz's Reports — More Here.
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