New York Post, April 6, 2023
by James Bovard
Does Manhattan prosecutor Alvin Bragg believe political campaigns are governed by the Boy Scout oath and every candidate must be honest, trustworthy, clean and maybe reverent, too?
Bragg said he’s charging Donald Trump with 34 felonies because Trump sought to “suppress negative information” to boost his chances in the 2016 election.
Trump allegedly pulled strings and paid off two women who could have embarrassed him.
In his press conference Tuesday, Bragg refused to explain the legal basis for his indictment of a former president.
The district attorney will not make his charges legally intelligible because the entire case is a morality play.
The goal is to portray Bragg as an angel rescuing Americans from the deceit that perpetually permeates politics.
Reading Bragg’s pompous comments, one would presume Trump was a sordid character who ran against someone as pure as Joan of Arc.
In reality, the 2016 presidential campaign was a train wreck, and Americans recognized they had a choice of scoundrels.
A September 2016 Gallup poll found that only 33% of voters believed Hillary Clinton was honest and trustworthy, and only 35% trusted Trump.
Gallup noted, “Americans rate the two candidates lowest on honesty.”
The combined chicanery of Clinton and Trump made “post-truth” the Oxford English Dictionary’s 2016 word of the year.
But according to Bragg, Trump’s alleged payoffs to two women were a greater sin against democracy than Hillary Clinton deleting 30,000 emails from her time as secretary of state that a congressional committee subpoenaed in 2015 and her lying to FBI agents in July 2016.
Bragg’s case relies on a theory of democracy that’s a parody of how government actually works.
If Bragg is going to target candidates for suppressing “negative” information, will he file posthumous charges against presidents?
Lyndon Johnson won in 1964 because he deceived Americans about the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and his plans to plunge into war in Vietnam.
Richard Nixon won in 1972 in part because Americans had not heard his Oval Office tapes exposing the coverup of the Watergate break-in.
President Barack Obama was re-elected in 2012 in part because Americans did not know about the vast illegal National Security Agency spying operation that Edward Snowden exposed the next year.
Does anyone expect President Joe Biden to open federal files to expose his debacles during his re-election campaign?
“Suppressing negative information” is standard operating procedure in Washington.
Federal agencies create trillions of pages of new secrets each year to shroud failures and abuses.
The Freedom of Information Act has become a sham as agencies delay for years responding to routine inquiries.
The Presidential Records Act has degenerated into the Presidential Damn-Near-Perpetual-Secrecy Act that shrouds the documents that reveal how badly Americans have been misgoverned.
“Truth will out” is Washington’s favorite fairy tale.
Bush administration Solicitor General Theodore Olson told the Supreme Court in 2002: “It’s easy to imagine an infinite number of situations where the government might legitimately give out false information.”
Professor Leo Ribuffo observed in 1998, “Presidents have lied so much to us about foreign policy that they’ve established almost a common-law right to do so.”
The Founding Fathers never expected politicians to be honest.
As Thomas Jefferson warned in 1799, “a rottenness begins in his conduct” whenever a man seeks political office.
The Constitution included a Bill of Rights to severely limit the damage that politicians and their tools inflicted upon Americans.
The real problem with our system is not that politicians act like politicians.
It’s that Congress, the courts and most of the media acquiesce to the federal government violating Americans’ constitutional rights.
Presidents have stockpiled vastly more power than the Founders intended and rarely face fundamental challenges to their decrees.
Sovereign immunity ensures commanders in chief will be immune from prosecution regardless of their lawlessness.
But neither Republicans nor Democrats are fighting to roll back political power to its legitimate boundaries.
Bragg’s indictment pretends Donald Trump was an aberration in American politics and smiting him will restore faith in the system.
But Hunter Biden’s laptop could have disclosed far more damning information than any bimbo boinked by Trump.
The same political elite and media that colluded to bury the laptop story in 2020 now claim to be “shocked, shocked” about Trump’s alleged hush money.
Despite Bragg’s pious complaints about Trump’s behavior, Americans knew the grim choice they faced seven years ago.
On Election Day 2016, The Post front page advised: “Vote for the one you dislike least.”
Perpetual political perfidy won’t be remedied by a prosecutor who is more biased than an NFL referee in the Super Bowl.
James Bovard is the author of 10 books and a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors.