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Monday, April; 3rd, 2023

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


 Whenever a major public event takes place in the news, there always seems to be a Louisiana connection. The initial shot that began the Civil War was fired at Ft. Sumpter by a St. Bernard parish confederate General named Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard. The first family of football?  The Mannings of course from New Orleans.  Las Vegas entertainment? A Kentwood girl names Brittney Spears is always the biggest draw.  We might also put in that same category Louisiana rocker Jerry Lee Lewis from my hometown of Ferriday.

Now, former president Donald Trump is facing criminal charges that involve a Baton Rouge gal named Stormy Daniels. For the first time in history, an American president has been indicted. This is a big deal. But let me get this straight.  With all the controversies supposedly involving the ex-president, from his inciting the January 6th riots, interfering with Georgia elections, to withholding classified documents at Mar-a-Largo, he was indicted for paying off a porn star? Come on man!

As former Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan wrote in a recent Wal Street Journal column, “Charging him (Trump) in the Stormy Daniels case is below us ““ not below him, below us. The subject matter is below us. The nature of the charges is below us. The players in the drama aren’t people of import who stand for big things. They are tacky lowlifes doing tacky lowlife things.”

Look, I’m not pro Trump or anti-Trump. I’m a registered independent.  I believe if you commit a crime, you should be held accountable.  But indicting a former president over his paying hush money to a porn star?  As the 1969 Peggy Lee song asks, “Is that all there is?”

Remember that the current charges are not federal crimes. New York state law must be applied.  If Trump is charged with falsifying business records, that’s a misdemeanor.  He might also be accused of shielding a campaign donation so as not to allow the Stormy imbursement to become a campaign issue.  But his former lawyer previously testified that the payment was made through another Trump lawyer to hide it from his wife.  So the ex-president has a compelling defense that the hush ““ money paid out has nothing to do with his campaign, but was done so as not to embarrass his family. And if the payment was made through his lawyer, a solid defense could well be that he was acting under legal advice.

If the New York district attorney tries to prove that the payments were in fact campaign contributions, also remember that Trump was running for president in a federal election, which is not subject to New York campaign laws.  In fact, federal campaign statutes say specifically that federal law “supersedes and pre-empts any provision of state law with respect to election of a federal office.”  So prosecutors will have to explain how they can charge Trump under state law when federal law pre-exempts.

Stormy, our Louisiana gal, said she was involved with Trump back in 2006. That’s seventeen years ago.  The actual hush money payment of $130,000 was made in 2016. Would there not be a statute of limitations on such charges being brought?  In New York, there is a two-year statute of limitations for a misdemeanor and a five-year limit on felonies. And what about the fact that two previous New York district attorneys looked at the evidence and felt there was not enough to bring charges.  Also, Trump’s former lawyer plead guilty to several federal crimes involving Trump’s finances.  If Trump was also involved, why wasn’t he charged by the Feds?

Here’s the bottom line.  Neither Trump nor anyone else should be above the law.  But should this former president, who has not been charged under federal law, be indicted by a local district attorney under a seemly convoluted theory that has not been used against any other defendant?  It seems like common sense to consider any possible offenses against the nation. But charges involving Stormy? That seems more like an offense against his wife. 

I’m not saying all Trump did was legal.  But is justice really being served? Any citizen, whether it be you or me, and yes, even an ex-president, should have better legal protection than this.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownla.com. You can also listen to his regular podcast at www.datelinelouisiana.com.




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