LEWALLEN: Trump’s Trial Has Torn Off Lady Justice’s Blindfold

Leslie Lewallen Contributor
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The spectacle playing out in a New York City courtroom has taken over the front page of every news outlet and TV station in the country. Mainstream media breathlessly recount every sordid detail, hoping that this circus will be enough to convince a trial-weary public that President Trump is unfit to hold office again. 

As an attorney, I’ve been asked on numerous occasions what I think of the Trump trial. I have three answers — as an American, as a lawyer and as a former prosecutor and state Supreme Court clerk.

This trial has crossed a line, and all Americans should be concerned. It is the first time a former president and a current candidate for the presidency has been subjected to a trial in the middle of a campaign. It is a politically motivated witch hunt akin to something you’d expect to see in Soviet Russia.

This case was brought by a Democratic New York district attorney before a judge whose broad gag orders and questionable rulings create serious doubts about his impartiality. These dubious rulings are further undermined by the fact that the judge is a Joe Biden donor with a daughter in political fundraising who has raised millions off this trial for Democratic political candidates.

And who will be deciding the president’s fate? An unbiased jury of his peers? No. A jury selected from a tainted jury pool that votes for Democrats 95 percent of the time. 

For our criminal justice system to work, Lady Justice must be blind; but unfortunately for President Trump, the blindfold has slipped and pure justice has been corrupted by political avarice. If Americans do not stand up and denounce this judicial malfeasance, then a line will be crossed that risks reducing the judicial system to nothing more than a weapon with which to punish one’s political enemies.

As a lawyer, I am very disturbed by the low bar set for this case — it is old and weak. The “crime” charged is making payments to an attorney that were labeled “legal fees.” That is at most a minor misdemeanor, and the entries were so old that the statute of limitations on them had expired. The New York DA is trying to suggest that the entries are also a Federal Elections Commission violation and should have been reported as a campaign contribution and not just as legal fees. However, there are two issues with that assertion. First, the Southern District of New York looked into those allegations years ago and rejected that argument. Secondly, an FEC violation falls under the federal government’s jurisdiction, and a New York State District Attorney has no authority to enforce federal campaign law. 

Unfortunately, the liberal DA’s likely game plan in this case is to confuse an already prejudiced jury and play off their animosity towards the former president to secure a “guilty” verdict. His attempts to confuse are likely to be bolstered when the judge issues jury instructions designed to be confusing.

At the end of all of this, what is the most probable outcome? Thanks to the experience I gained as a law clerk in both the Washington and Wisconsin Supreme Courts, I am very familiar with the basis for reversal on appeal. Because of the numerous mistakes made by this judge over the course of the trial — letting in irrelevant and prejudicial material, and allowing the jury to be confused by an old misdemeanor matter — this case is primed to be overturned. In fact, it should never have been allowed to get to this point in the first place.

Finally, had this case been given to me during my time as a prosecuting attorney, I would never have allowed an old accounting misdemeanor to interfere with an election of any type, much less the election of a president. Furthermore, I would never have built my case upon the testimony of two flawed witnesses. The first, a porn actress who claims her job now is to write and direct fiction; and the second, a disbarred convicted liar—both of whom have a direct financial interest in the outcome of this trial. Unfortunately, that is exactly what the prosecution in this case has done.

As an attorney and, more importantly, as an American, I am watching the events unfolding in New York and fear that we may be witnessing the corrupting of our judicial system as we know it. Americans must demand that Lady Justice be blindfolded once more, or these trials may become a permanent fixture in American politics. If we succeed in reestablishing impartial justice, all Americans win.