If the House Jan. 6 committee proceeds to its seemingly predetermined conclusion that President Donald Trump incited the Capitol riot and tried to reverse the results of the 2020 election and if it recommends to the Department of Justice that Trump committed criminal acts and should be prosecuted, President Joe Biden will face a serious choice.
Biden, who promised to unite the country but who most Republicans believe contributed to its division, could either allow the prosecution of the former president to proceed or travel the high road taken by President Gerald Ford when he pardoned President Richard Nixon for acts associated with the Watergate scandal. If Biden chooses the former, the division will likely widen to a chasm not to be repaired for years to come. If he chooses to follow Ford’s example, he would arouse the ire of progressives but might avoid the specter I doubt most rational Americans would wish to see — a former president in court and possibly in prison.
Perhaps a deal could be struck. In exchange for a pardon, Trump would agree not to run for president again.
It would be difficult for any prosecutor to convince a jury (except in heavily Democratic Washington, DC) that Trump caused the riot by his language. In a sound bite played by the committee, it is true that Trump did urge protesters to go down to the Capitol. True, he seemed to agree with the sign brought by one protester that said, “Hang Mike Pence,” but that is different from giving the order.
One can be disgusted by Trump’s behavior and failure even now to accept the results of the 2020 election — I am — and still not want to see a precedent set that leads to the trial, conviction and imprisonment of a former president. Not only would this add fuel to the political forest fire that is already consuming the country, it would encourage some Republicans to do the same to a future Democratic president. Impeachment and indictments would become a norm, not an exception.
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Source: NY Post