Discover more from Civil Discourse with Joyce Vance
This morning, as everyone gears up for what’s on track to be a momentous week for people who love democracy, there’s a small, but positive, sign that the rule of law is finally ready to take on Trump. It might not seem significant, but it’s important. I want to make sure you see it.
After all of the speculation over whether there might be some type of standoff at Mar-a-Lago if charges are filed against Trump, we get this quiet concession from the lawyers. It’s an early acknowledgment that Trump isn’t above the law in these anticipated proceedings. He will have to follow “normal procedures” just like anyone else who is charged with a crime.
Of course, he will be doing it with a Secret Service agent at his side. The agent will presumably go through all the booking procedures with him and accompany him in court. That’s a good reminder that we are in uncharted territory from here on out, but “unprecedented” doesn’t mean the procedural rules don’t apply to Trump. It’s a good sign that his lawyers have been forced to concede that before charges are even filed.
That doesn’t mean Trump won’t continue to be Trump. But he would do well to remember that everything he does publicly can be used as evidence. Like the echo of his call to arms on January 6 that he put out on social media yesterday. The attack on a prosecutor is worthy of a mobster, not a former president. Trump continues to be everything Congressman Adam Schiff admonished senators he was during impeachment: someone who would damage our national security again if not reined in, someone who truth and what’s right doesn’t matter to. But even Trump can’t avoid the normal events that occur when a person is charged by a grand jury. In fact, it may end up being a positive that there will be a federal law enforcement agent at his side in the form of his Secret Service detail. The rule of law is coming for Trump.
There is little likelihood that what’s about to take place will be straightforward or an easy path. Prosecutions require proof beyond a reasonable doubt of all elements of any charged crimes. Conviction requires a unanimous jury. Don’t get discouraged by early skirmishes. This is a marathon, not a sprint. But we are entering the season where the rule of law, in the form of both criminal and civil cases, is coming for Trump.
Trials reveal evidence. One of the core purposes of our criminal justice system is to learn the truth about what happened when someone is harmed. That obviously matters in courtrooms. But it also matters when Americans vote, which we will be doing in short order. While we may be passive participants in the courtroom proceedings that are about to unfold, each of us will have a very real role to play as citizens when the 2024 election cycle gets underway. It will be difficult, like it was in 2016, and again in 2020—when we succeeded at the polls—to help people understand the truth about Trump and about what matters in our government. That means there are important times and important work ahead for all of us. So stay informed. Keep notes if that’s what works for you. Remember the value of civil discourse with friends and family, even when it seems difficult to make any headway.
We’re in this together,