Ross: Will prosecuting Trump endanger domestic peace and tranquility?

Aug 9, 2023, 8:38 AM | Updated: 8:45 am

prosecuting Trump peace...

FILE - Former President Donald Trump arrives to board his plane at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, Aug. 3, 2023, in Arlington, Va., after facing a judge on federal conspiracy charges that allege he conspired to subvert the 2020 election. Trump and his legal team face long odds in their bid to move his 2020 election conspiracy trial out of Washington. They argue the Republican former president can’t possibly get a fair trial in the overwhelmingly Democratic nation’s capital. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

This morning I’m just going to refer you to an opinion piece in the NYT written by Jack Goldsmith. I’d never heard of him, but according to his bio, he served for nine months as an assistant attorney general in the George W. Bush administration, finally resigning because of the Bush administration’s attempts to justify the waterboarding of terror suspects.

He then became a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a professor at Harvard Law. Yes, he is a conservative law professor at Harvard!

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Another interesting note in his bio is that his stepfather was suspected of playing a role in the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa, which I mention not to fault him since we don’t get to choose our parents, but just so no one accuses me of covering it up.

So now let’s get to what he said in the New York Times.

He says it is flirting with disaster to put Donald Trump on trial.

He says as satisfying as it may be to Trump’s opponents to see Jack Smith’s indictments, to have it all come to a climax during the campaign season, which is what’s going to happen, would be a national disaster.

A disaster for American politics and a disaster for the reputation of the Justice Department, which could ultimately degrade the rule of law.

Professor Goldsmith does not appear to be a Trump apologist.

He says the Senate should have removed Trump after his impeachment in February 2021. He holds Trump entirely responsible for what he calls this “mammoth mess.”

But the Senate did not convict, and that cannot be changed. And so, Professor Goldsmith seems to be saying that the Justice Department should suspend further prosecution to avoid the appearance of a former president being prosecuted by a current president.

Does he have a valid point?

I admit that I value domestic peace and tranquility more than the (dubious) deterrent effect of the immediate trial and imprisonment of this one man.

And there is another way for justice to be served: We still have free elections. Even if prosecution is suspended, the indictments are public; voters can read them and deliver a verdict at the polls.

An outrageous idea, I know, to give special treatment to a politician for the sole reason that he’s running for office.

And yes, it could well mean that future ballots will be packed with scoundrels who declare their candidacy for the sole purpose of avoiding prosecution. But as a lot of you might say, how’s that any different from what we have now?

And if a majority of voters, for whatever reason, decide to elect them anyway? That’s how democracy is supposed to work.

For better or worse, a Democracy gets what it votes for.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here

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Ross: Will prosecuting Trump endanger domestic peace and tranquility?