Prof: Prosecuting Trump May Have 'Terrible Consequences'

Harvard's Jack Goldsmith warns that the move just isn't worth it in a 'NYT' essay
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 9, 2023 11:41 AM CDT
Harvard Prof: Prosecuting Trump Just Isn't Worth It
Former President Donald Trump speaks at a fundraiser event for the Alabama GOP, Friday, Aug. 4, 2023, in Montgomery, Ala.   (AP Photo/Butch Dill, File)

The Justice Department and special counsel Jack Smith made a "tragic choice" in deciding to go after former President Trump, argues Harvard Law professor Jack Goldsmith in a New York Times essay. To be clear, it's not a defense of Trump—Goldsmith calls the former president's efforts to overturn the 2020 election "reprehensible." But even if Smith is able to get a conviction, it won't be worth it, because "the costs to the legal and political systems will be large," warns Goldsmith, and they will only "compound the harms to the nation from Mr. Trump's many transgressions." Goldsmith lays out the context, including the "deeply unfortunate timing" of the indictment coming amid the 2024 race. The Justice Department's motivations might be "pure," but the perception of unfairness is real for Trump supporters, writes Goldsmith.

This comes after similar gripes about the FBI investigation of Trump's ties to Russia and complaints that Democrats such as Hunter Biden have gotten preferential treatment. And it is within this context that a large part of the nation will "fairly judge" the legitimacy of this case. Thus, the "prosecution may well have terrible consequences ... for our politics and the rule of law," Goldsmith warns. For one thing, expect more "tit-for-tat investigations of presidential actions in office by future Congresses." Not that these concerns should absolve Trump, he adds. "The difficult question is whether redressing his shameful acts through criminal law is worth the enormous costs to the country. The bitter pill is that the nation must absorb these costs to figure out the answer to that question." Read the full essay. (Read more Donald Trump stories.)

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