President-Elect Joe Biden has reportedly expressed concerns about the many possible criminal prosecutions of Trump distracting from his presidential mission. Just as Barack Obama declined to pursue prosecution against the Bush-Cheney regime for its outright lies about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, leading us into a prolonged and unnecessary war with Iraq, costing thousands of American lives and billions of dollars that could have supported Americans at home, so to has Biden expressed an interest in moving forward and not prosecuting the past.
This concern has legitimacy. Every political agenda has a key public relations and communications agenda. Ambitious political agendas, such as passing major healthcare legislation, require the support of public opinion, of the American people. Garnering this popular support will depend on the Biden administrations ability to communicate with and persuade Americans, and making a case to the American people in this way requires air time, media coverage.
One thing Trump knows how to do is eat up air time. Up until recently when major networks refused to cover his lying rants about election fraud, Trump had been exceedingly effective in keeping U.S. ness coverage focused on him. No publicity was bad publicity for Trump.
So, one can understand Biden’s reluctance to have Trump’s criminal trials dominate the headlines. Indeed, a long list of charges potentially awaits him.
Trump’s trials would fuel his persecution complex for sure, and he would play the martyr to his seemingly unwavering base, crying how the world is foul and unfair to him.
All this is true.
But, you know what? He’s not going away anyway. He will still cry that the world has been foul and unfair to him, that he’s been cheated. He’ll continue to play to his base, tweet endlessly, and lie voluminously and unceasingly.
And without consequence. He’ll do so freely. He might even have his own cable network or show.
What will it look like if Trump faces no prosecution for the acts of sexual misconduct with which he’s been charged, for tax fraud for which he’s being investigated, for campaign finance violations, for countless acts of corruption, and more?
Not pursuing prosecution of Trump for his many crimes sends a message to all of our political leaders.
If Individual-1 can walk away scot-free, then they can expect to get away with corruption as well.
It will become clear there are no deterrents to abusing the powers of one’s political office, only enticements.
And Trump himself will simply keep tooting that same trumpet, that he is again the victim of baseless accusations by his political enemies, evidenced by the fact that he has never been touched, never faced consequences.
For the sake of saving American politics, or at least of having any chance at reducing corruption and restoring some sense of dignity to high political offices, Trump needs to be given the negative publicity of his day, his many days, in court, just as Paul Manafort, Michael Flynn, and several other of his political cronies endured.
Maybe he can turn that coverage to his advantage; but given the way Rudy Giuliani and his cast of legal clowns have handled his election fraud cases, I look forward to the courtroom drama of having charge after charge evidenced and elaborated with parades of witnesses, with extended narratives of his untoward and criminal conduct.
He has not had to be accountable for his misdeeds these past four years and has strutted in his bully pulpit peddling lie and after lie. Let him do it under oath; let him face the fire.
Let all the documents that have been subpoenaed come out into the open now that he has no presidential privilege.
Gerald Ford pardoned Richard Nixon, believing it would help the nation heal.
Letting Trump off the hook for his felonious and corrupt behavior won’t heal America because he won’t go away. Nixon resigned in disgrace. Trump will flaunt his freedom in our faces.
The rumors are that he is flirting with a presidential run in 2024 and that his family will dominate Republican party politics.
The only way to get rid of him is for him to be disgraced. He will never feel this disgrace himself. He must be disgraced in the eyes of the American voters.
Even if we don’t get to see him clothed in the garb most suitable for him, that orange jumpsuit, at least the truth might come out in a court of law for all to see.
If not, Trump’s lies will continue as will his work of destroying American democracy.
Tim Libretti is a professor of U.S. literature and culture at a state university in Chicago. A long-time progressive voice, he has published many academic and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender, and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, the National Federation of Press Women, and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.