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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/29/22

Scoundrel !!

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Donald Trump - Caricature
Donald Trump - Caricature
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There is always a reluctance in the United States to sentence ex-presidents to prison after having been convicted of crimes. However, the nation is rarely faced with that dilemma. President Gerald Ford's pardon of his predecessor, Richard Nixon, came with a "get out of jail free" card. In retrospect, Donald Trump's multiple crimes against the Constitution and people of the United States vastly exceed the impeachable offenses of Nixon. Ford may have been correct in deciding that it would set a bad precedent for the nation if Nixon went to prison. Nixon did redeem himself during his post-presidency and even served as Bill Clinton's special envoy to Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Trump, on the other hand, has moved the goalpost of presidential crimes against the nation so far, it will set a bad precedent if Trump is not sentenced to prison after his conviction on counts of fraud, criminal conspiracy, communicating the threat of assassination to the vice president, misprision of justice, and a host of other charges under the U.S. criminal code.

The United States is not a monarchy and the president is not a king. The creation of a regal aura around the presidency is found nowhere in the Constitution, Federalist Papers, or other founding documents of the United States. Trump drastically lowered the bar on what constitutes impeachable offenses for the president and for that reason the traditional bar against sending a criminal president to prison should also be lowered. Theodore Roosevelt once said, "No man should be above the law." Similarly, no person should be above going to prison for their crimes. There are problems with America's prison system, but that should not prevent a jury from deciding that Trump's crimes against America are worthy of a prison term. Trump's status as an ex-president would assuredly result in his being sentenced to a minimum security prison, which are referred to as "club feds." Since Trump could never be rehabilitated by a stint in prison, as has been the case with countless convicts who have rejoined society as model citizens, he would be paying a penance to the nation for his many crimes.

Since the federal government has had no problem sending state governors to prison there should be no qualms about sending an ex-president to prison. State governors enjoy many of the powers afforded to the president at a state level. These include the power to pardon and commute prison sentences, command of troops in their National Guards, declare official observances, and representation of their states at official events at the state, national, and even international levels.

Several governors have served prison terms, including four from Illinois and two from Louisiana. Others have been indicted and impeached without going to prison. Yet others have resigned after being indicted at the federal and state levels, including current U.S. Senate candidate and former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. Others, including two governors of Arizona, were acquitted or had their convictions overturned on appeal after resigning from office. In other words, governors have always been fair game for federal prosecutors. So why aren't ex-presidents?

Other democracies have criminally indicted ex-presidents and heads of government. They include two recent French presidents, Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy; two Israeli prime ministers, Ehud Olmert and Binyamin Netanyahu, as well as ex-President Moshe Katsav; three South Korean presidents, Roh Moo-hyun (who later committed suicide), Lee Myung-bak; and Park Geun-hye (the daughter of assassinated ex-president Park Chung-hee); Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian; Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi; and several others.

Trump doesn't know the words redemption or rehabilitation. Therefore, he should receive the same treatment as any Mafia boss, common street thug, or swindling businessman. In other words, he should have the book thrown at him and he should do the time for the crime.

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