STEPHEN COHEN: The legal system will reveal Trump’s true nature


Donald Trump speaking with supporters at a campaign rally at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas, Nev. Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore via Flickr.

While the ongoing saga of Trump’s legal problems has been a boon to news outlets and various legal pundits and commentators, it is best to remember that the legal system is designed to come to resolutions of criminal and civil cases and not to provide political solutions for a democracy. The details of the daily Trump-related decisions and back-and-forth between opposing counsel and judges are mesmerizing for many, especially those who are hoping that something will cause all those Trump supporters and undecided voters to abandon him. This may come about as the details of his conduct and untruths are revealed in court proceedings, but they are not the purpose of his various cases.

As any trial lawyer will attest, there are good and bad days in litigation (particularly during the actual trial). I have had clients fall into despair during an adversaries‘ presentation of a case, even after they have been fully briefed on what to expect and how we will deflect the opposing testimony and evidence. This is a normal reaction to someone saying bad things about you, especially when those bad things may result in a criminal conviction or a civil judgment. That said, cases go to trial simply because they can’t be settled with either a negotiated criminal plea or a civil settlement.

Trump is in that position on all of his cases, since he has based his political and personal persona on a self-delusional set of mistruths that he is a brilliant, self-made business man; that he never bribed or had sex with a particular woman; that he did not attempt to set aside an election which he knew he lost after repeatedly being told this by his attorney general and numerous other government officials; that he had every right to surreptitiously keep certain government documents in his bathroom; and that he always has been honest and forthright in his dealings with business partners and the public and is the smartest person in the world and only he can save the nation.

Since the evidence in most of his cases is overwhelmingly clear (from the telephone calls asking a Georgia election official to find him votes, to tens of thousands of pages of testimony and videotapes and the filings of phony electors in numerous states and the photos of classified documents at Mar a Lago, etc., etc. ), his attorneys’ strategy of delay to hope for his reelection and dismissal of the federal cases is one I would certainly attempt. Very simply, he cannot take a plea in any of the cases without destroying his carefully rehearsed, structured, and completely false totemic image that he must project and maintain to keep his cult-like following.

But eventually, for all its lugubrious nature, most often based on giving criminal defendants a right to properly prepare for trial, the criminal justice system requires conclusions, whether through pleas, trials, or dismissals. An April 15 trial date has been set for the New York State false filing case, so at least one criminal trial will take place pre-election, with others to follow.

To many, it seems like a slow-motion train wreck, but as his conduct will be revealed, there is certainly hope that many voters will see the true nature of Donald Trump and realize that the emperor has no clothes. The real question is whether the American people will be foolish enough to reelect a grifter, liar, and the most historically dangerous threat to our democracy.

Constitutional scholars have almost unanimously voted Trump the worst president in our history. They are right. The legal system will help reveal him as he is; now it is time for us to use those facts and findings to convince others not to vote for him.


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