Why the Indictment Matters… and Why It Does Not
Published at 08:45 on 31 March 2023
It matters because it breaks the precedent that presidents and ex-presidents are above the law.
It does not matter because of the seriousness of the charges. The particular charges of the indictment are still not known, but all sources claim they have to do with a fraudulent payment of hush money to keep Stormy Daniels silent about an affair she had five or more years ago now. An affair is really not a major political scandal (despite how much Republicans wish it was when Clinton was caught having one).
But the precedent is now broken. That having been done so, it becomes more likely that indictments might be filed over inciting the January 6th putsch and/or the attempted corrupting of the vote tabulating process in Georgia. Both of those, by contrast, are truly serious charges; they relate to acts that are direct attacks on democracy.
If other, more serious charges are not fired, it will be as Judge Luttig has said: a great disservice to democracy and to the rule of law.
And there is still a lot of moral rot in the system. I may have been wrong about Trump not being indicted for anything, but I am not wrong about that general observation. That there still is, is evidenced by a more serious indictment being a sufficiently unsure thing that Luttig is openly worrying that it might not happen. Luttig is a lifelong conservative. It is not personally convenient for him to come to the conclusions he has. It is much more convenient for a conservative to conclude that our existing institutions, representing the wisdom of tested experience, are functioning relatively well.
And Luttig is hardly the only conservative running around saying how alarming Trumpism is. There are enough of them, in fact, that a special term has arisen to refer to such individuals: never-Trump conservatives. It has long been a key insight of mine that when there is a significant group of individuals asserting something they are ideologically inconvenienced by, that something is almost certainly a relevant political fact that should be paid serious attention to.