Donald Trump vs. the U.S. Justice System

This is what President Donald Trump said yesterday in response to the terrorist attack that killed eight people in New York.

As Marshall notes, he just called our justice system a joke and a laughing stock. I’m not one to suggest that our system is perfect, but to let that kind of thing pass as simply another Trumpism is to normalize one of the most outrageous statements uttered by this man who now occupies the White House. The idea that he is a “law and order president” is beyond the pale.

I’ll also note that he called the alleged perpetrator of this crime an “animal.” His whole demeanor and language yesterday were in stark contrast to his response to the shooting in Las Vegas. During his remarks about that incident he called the actions of the shooter “pure evil.” But he never dehumanized that white man by calling him an animal.

Here is what our president is calling for:

We also have to come up with punishment that’s far quicker and far greater than the punishment these animals are getting right now. They’ll go through court for years. And at the end, they’ll be — who knows what happens. We need quick justice and we need strong justice — much quicker and much stronger than we have right now. Because what we have right now is a joke and it’s a laughingstock.

Those words echo the ad Trump placed calling for the death penalty for the Central Park Five before they were even tried in a court of law (and eventually found to be innocent).

I want to hate these muggers and murderers. They should be forced to suffer, and, when they kill, they should be executed for their crimes…

How can our great society tolerate the continued brutalization of its citizens by crazed misfits? Criminals must be told that their CIVIL LIBERTIES END WHEN AN ATTACK ON OUR SAFETY BEGINS!

In case you had any doubts about the similarities between Trump’s remarks yesterday and that ad, he cleared that up with a tweet last night.

People can disagree whether someone who killed eight people by running them down with a truck should get the death penalty. But we should all agree on one thing: the President of the United States should not be calling for a sentence before a defendant has stepped foot inside a court room.

When Trump calls for quick and strong justice or an end to civil liberties, he is basically challenging several cornerstones in the Bill of Rights.

Amendment V

No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI

In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense.

Amendment VIII

Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.

But it’s worth noting that Trump only calls for those things when the perpetrator is a person of color or a Muslim. That is the essence of fascism.

Right now, these are just words. I have to trust that our justice system is strong enough to withstand Trump’s brand of vigilante justice. But once again he demonstrates that he knows nothing about our Constitution and is unfit to serve.

Nancy LeTourneau

Nancy LeTourneau is a contributing writer for the Washington Monthly.