Process Is The Punishment: Why Endless Trump Probes Never Require Convictions

Process Is The Punishment: Why Endless Trump Probes Never Require Convictions

The Manhattan district attorney is reopening an investigation into former President Trump’s hush-money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels, and you may be thinking, “When will they ever learn?”

From Russiagate, a pair of impeachments, the Justice Department’s raid on Mar-a-Lago, to yet another special counsel, it seems like Trump’s tormentors are an army of Charlie Browns trying to kick the football out of Lucy’s elusive hold.

But that’s not what’s really happening. Prosecutors usually only like to take on cases they know they can win, but it’s different when it comes to dirtying up Trump. Law professor Malcolm Feeley said it best: The process is the punishment.

Dragging Trump through one dubious probe after another, only to see him slip through their fingers, may elevate the 45th president in the eyes of his supporters. It’s Teflon Don playing rope-a-dope with hopelessly hapless and palpably partisan prosecutors. But his detractors know that those dramatic news conferences wherein resolute lawmen vow to pursue justice against Trump leave a stench that lingers long after the case falls apart. It’s the legal equivalent of those bombshell news stories citing anonymous sources that later merit an unobtrusive correction.

Manhattan DA probing Trump’s role in hush money payment to Stormy Daniels

— New York Post (@nypost) November 21, 2022

To be sure, Trump makes plenty of trouble for himself. He did pay Stormy Daniels $130,000 through his turncoat fixer Michael Cohen to keep quiet about their tawdry tryst just before the 2016 election. Trump’s critics saw it as a campaign violation masked by fraud. The problem with the case was always that high-profile citizen Trump had as much reason as candidate Trump to want to keep the story out of the news. It was never clear that paying Daniels to agree to keep mum was only because he was running for president.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is out to get Trump, too. When she ran four years ago, she vowed to “use every area of the law to investigate President Trump and his business transactions and that of his family as well,” and she appears to be that rare politician who keeps her campaign promises.

She might never harpoon her white whale, but at least James managed to roll up the company’s longtime chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, who pleaded guilty to taking $1.7 million off the books for things like his grandchild’s school tuition even as he refused to implicate Trump. No matter, James moved on with a $250 million civil suit against Trump’s business empire based on alleged tax fraud.

Last week, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed a special counsel to determine if the Department of Justice’s January 6 and Mar-a-Lago probes warrant criminal charges. Both cases could be severely undermined by recent events. Trump just got reinstated to Twitter, which directed attention to some of his final tweets before the pre-Elon Musk regime banned him. In them, he called twice for protesters to be peaceful and respectful of the police. As for the Mar-a-Lago Raid, after months of breathless reporting that Trump may have purloined top-secret documents, The Washington Post rather sheepishly reported just after the midterm elections that a “review by agents and prosecutors” found no “nefarious effort by Trump to leverage, sell or use the government secrets,” the paper reported.

And with that, the absurd notion that Trump took classified nuclear weapons information from the White House in order to sell it to our nation’s enemies and could thus face execution(!), a theory pushed by MSNBC and its fellow travelers, fell apart.

New Special Counsel Jack Smith is the next man up in the never-ending battle to slime Trump. It allows the Justice Department to pretend the investigations are non-partisan. But Smith has an interesting history. As chief of the DOJ public integrity section during the Obama administration, he helped the IRS target Tea Party groups, according to a House Oversight Committee investigation. Oh, and his wife helped make a fawning documentary about Michelle Obama and is a Biden campaign donor.

Smith won a 2014 conviction of Bob McDonnell, a former Republican governor of Virginia who once had presidential aspirations, for taking improper gifts from a businessman looking to influence Old Dominion policy. The conviction was reversed by a unanimous U.S. Supreme Court that found McDonnell never wielded his influence in exchange for the gifts he took, but the damage was done.

Trump and McDonnell aren’t saints, but no one’s proven either is a criminal, either. They’ve just both been punished by the process.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.