It’s not a First Amendment issue

Anybody who tells you that the two indictments of Donald Trump (one Federal and one in Georgia, see below for links) concerning his unsuccessful attempt to defraud the American people by overturning the results of a free and fair election are in any way, shape, or form First Amendment issues is lying to you. They’re either ignorant of what’s actually in the indictments or they know but they don’t want you to know.

Neither indictment is about punishing the Bumbling Buffoon for his well-documented tendency to lie through his teeth. Nobody’s saying that spouting bullshit is against the law, even if you know what you’re saying is false. What the indictments are saying is that the sitting President of the United States entered into a criminal conspiracy to illegally change the results of an election.

“But he really believed that the election was corrupt.”

I don’t believe that. But let’s say it’s true: that Donald Trump at the time really was (and, what the hell, still is) dumb enough or stubborn enough to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that there was, as the Federal indictment puts it, “outcome determinative fraud.”

That doesn’t justify entering into a criminal conspiracy to violate the law. It doesn’t excuse filing official documents that contain false statements or opinions asserted as fact, especially when those statements are not backed up by anything approaching solid evidence. It doesn’t excuse the use of intimidation to influence witnesses. It doesn’t exonerate the attempts to convince officials to violate their oaths of office. It doesn’t excuse the President of the United States for suggesting to his subordinates that they violate the law. Those actions are crimes–felonies–regardless of whether one believes that in committing them he is somehow “righting a wrong.”

This isn’t new territory. We don’t let somebody off the hook for murder because they thought the victim deserved it: “The court found him not guilty, but I know he did it.” We call that vigilantism and as far as I know it’s illegal everywhere in the country.

Trump and his defenders will have you believe that he’s being persecuted because he’s a threat to Democrats in the 2024 election. They want you to believe that these criminal indictments are products of a handful of overzealous anti-Trump prosecutors who’ll use any excuse to prevent him from being on the 2024 ballot. They want you to conveniently forget that both indictments are brought, not by the prosecutors, but rather by ordinary citizens–a grand jury that’s selected from qualified citizens in the jurisdictions that the indictments are brought. The prosecutors present evidence to the grand jury and the citizens vote to determine whether the evidence presented is sufficient to charge the persons in question with crimes. They’ve decided that, yes, there is sufficient evidence to accuse Donald Trump and his cabal of co-conspirators with crimes: that there should be a trial.

The Trump apologists, the “what about” crowd, and those who seek to minimize the gravity of the alleged offenses are not being honest with you. These indictments have nothing to do with First Amendment rights. The Federal indictment explicitly asserts the defendant’s rights to say what they please, regardless of the veracity of their statements.

Do yourself a favor: read the indictments yourself.

Federal Indictment

Georgia Indictment

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