Commentary: Joe Biden should seek a pardon in Trump verdict and prevent disunity, martyrdom

Gun Rights

Donald Trump has been destined to become the first president convicted of a felony since the day he came down the escalator at Trump Tower and announced he was running for president. The man had no respect for convention, for law or for the Constitution , and now he has been branded a criminal with the prospect of jail time for the 34 counts on which he was convicted.

Friday was a moment to celebrate that even for Teflon Don, eventually our criminal justice system could gather itself and deliver consequences. But that celebration should be short.

Trump, speaking outside the courtroom, has already doubled down on his dishonest attacks on our justice system, alleging a presidential conspiracy to steer state officials over which Joe Biden has no authority into indicting an innocent Trump on politically motivated charges.

Already his minions are spreading the word that a Democratic prosecutor before a Democratic judge aided by a jury pulled from an overwhelmingly Democratic city can’t be trusted. Even Republicans who have resisted boarding the Trump train are rallying to the message because it is true.

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Trump’s presidential donations site, built to capitalize on the rage of the right, is so flooded with money that it has

shut down

— unable to choke down the wads of cash true believers are sending the felonious former president’s way. A legion of right-leaning journalists — some ethical, some not — are desperately seeking to expose the jurors’ personal information so that the nation will know their political pasts and every sin in an effort to discredit the verdict.


After a night of celebration, Biden should react with caution, not just because the forces unleashed by this conviction are unpredictable, but also because while he is the Democrats’ president, he is also the nation’s president. In this unprecedented moment, he should bring the nation together by being both modest and merciful.

Modest because it is reasonable for many in the rightward half of the American electorate to doubt the justice system of New York . There was another historic unanimous decision today, this one by the Supreme Court of the United States — which ruled that New York’s Democratic regulators must face a National Rifle Association lawsuit that they targeted the group in violation of its First Amendment rights. The decision rebuking New York was written by liberal lion Justice Sonia Sotomayor .

Just as a unanimous jury said that Donald Trump is corrupt, a 9-0 Supreme Court ruled that the Democrats of New York are not to be trusted.

The smart move for Biden is to ask the Democratic governor of New York, Kathy Hochul , to use her clemency power to pardon Trump.

First, because as much as Trump has trashed the norms of our Democratic system, we do not want to go down the road of the party of an incumbent president prosecuting his chief political opponent for paperwork infractions. Presidential campaigns produce a lot of paper, pushed by a lot of people. An ambitious prosecutor with a partisan lens can always find an indictable offense if not deliver a conviction in open court.

Second, because it most likely ends Trump’s ability to appeal the verdict against him. Courts will rule any appeal moot if Trump has been pardoned and does not face jail or fines for his crimes. Democrats should not be so confident that such a complicated case will withstand appellate scrutiny at both the state and the federal level. After a pardon, the stain of conviction will be permanent.

Third, because it strips Trump of the martyrdom mantle he could well ride into the White House . Moreover, it builds up Democrats and Biden as the adults who, when offered partisan advantage against a wounded opponent, chose to put the nation first.

Biden won in 2020 because an exhausted nation turned to him for a chance at peace. This is his opportunity to deliver.


David Mastio wrote this for the Charlotte (N.C.) Observer. ©2024 The Charlotte Observer. Distributed by

Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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