Wednesday, November 25


Most democratic leaders are wary about prosecuting a predecessor and rightfully so. Such attacks risk appearing politically vindictive and petty as Donald Trump did during the 2016 presidential campaign, when seen beaming as supporters chanted “Lock her up” about his opponent Hilary Clinton. 

Yet some behavior is so egregious and some bad actors are so shameless that prosecution is the only choice for ensuring accountability and discouraging similar behavior among future office holders.  Serving as president should make one “more accountable, not less, to the rule of law,” argues Andrew Weissmann, a member of Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation of Trump, in an essay for the New York Times.

And some criminal activities are so egregious that other countries might consider charging Trump with human-rights violations and even war crimes. And those serving in his administration and in Congress who went along – continuing to cast doubt on the outcome of the 2020 election, maintaining that Trump was cheated of victory without evidence – are complicit. 

The list of scandals for the Trump administration is long, and accusations represent flagrant violations of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, some of the articles of which follow:  

-    Mishandling the Covid-19 crisis by discouraging wearing of masks and promoting the dubious treatments along with the concept of “herd immunity.” Article 3: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.”
-    Separating young children from parents who attempted to cross the border without keeping records to allow for reunification. Article 5: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”
-    Describing Haiti and African countries as “sh--hole countries.” Article 2: “no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs…”
-   Approving of teargas for peaceful protesters. Article 20: “Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.”
-    Firing inspectors general who were investigating activities of his administration. Article 12: “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
-    Interfering in elections by encouraging foreign interference, disrupting postal operations and disparaging mail ballots during a pandemic. Article 21: “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”

Almost half of the US electorate supported Trump and these policies. President-elect Joe Biden may not have to waste precious time and energy on such matters if New York pursues cases against Trump. Also, other countries could find Trump guilty of crimes against humanity. “Universal jurisdiction is an international legal concept that allows a national court to investigate and prosecute certain crimes, including crimes against humanity, torture and genocide, even if those crimes weren’t committed within its national territory. It hasn’t been invoked often, but it’s not an impossibility,” explains attorney Carli Pierson for the Independent.

Other politicians may hope to replicate Trump’s behavior and policies to entice his large and energetic base. Swift prosecution may be the only means to stop the lying, name-calling, belligerence and cruelty along with the treacherous rejection of education, science and common sense.

Source of photo: PBS

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