Commentary: Trump indictment should bring us together, not drive us apart

Lisa Gilbert, InsideSources.com on

Published in Op Eds

After many years of litigating Donald Trump’s alleged crimes in the press, we now have the first indictment of a former president in U.S. history. If you look past the partisan rancor surrounding the charges, there is overwhelming evidence that Trump has committed various crimes in New York and elsewhere.

The fact that no one is above the law — not even a former president — should bring the country together, not drive it apart. The belief that our system of justice can work and that democracy still functions as intended should be a unifying principle at a time of doubt.

According to news reports, a grand jury of everyday Americans has charged Donald Trump for his role in concealing hush-money payments to Stormy Daniels to cover up his extramarital affair from voters just weeks before the 2016 election.

Trump’s alleged criminality doesn’t begin and end in New York. He’s under investigation by the Department of Justice for the classified documents found sitting in Mar-a-Lago and for his role in cheerleading the mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 to overturn an election that he lost. He’s also under investigation in Georgia for attempts to subvert the 2020 election, where he is on record pressuring former Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes.

Unfortunately, we currently have partisan actors in Congress trying to distract from the crimes under investigation and this week’s justified indictment in New York. They have supported Trump at every step and will continue to do so.

Now, extremist Trump allies, including House committee chairs Jim Jordan, James Comer and Bryan Steil, are busy targeting the New York prosecutor, Alvin Bragg, with threats of a bogus counter-investigation of Bragg’s indictment, a politicization and inappropriate federal interference in a state criminal case that is unprecedented.

Their actions are a page from the same tired playbook that has included a recently launched “investigative” attack into the work of the Jan. 6 committee and Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s inappropriate sharing of security footage from the insurrection with Fox News’ Tucker Carlson. Carlson has been widely discredited for promoting Trump’s stolen election fraud while privately voicing skepticism (saying in one text to his colleague that Trump “could easily destroy us if we play it wrong”). Carlson’s rosy portrayal of the footage as peaceful was widely panned by the Capitol Police and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

As Rep. Jerrold Nadler has tweeted, the real weaponization of the federal government is the GOP chairs’ interference in a state district attorney’s criminal case.


Why did the regular Americans sitting on the grand jury indict Trump? District Attorney Bragg presented the case to them. This cross-section of Americans determined that the evidence was substantial and sufficient to indict. What’s more, Trump’s attorney Michael Cohen has already gone to jail for his participation in this crime. Now it’s time for Trump to face legal consequences as well: The rules of the road must be fairly applied to all Americans — including the most powerful ones.

In light of Trump’s earlier remarks calling investigators into his alleged crimes “thugs and criminals,” Trump’s political allies —who have every right to criticize the indictment — should call for calm and affirmatively reject political violence as a response.

This moment should unify Americans under one idea: No one is above the law. Don’t let the partisan sideshow in Congress distract from this bedrock principle behind our system of government.



Lisa Gilbert is the executive vice president of Public Citizen. She wrote this for InsideSources.com.


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