Think About It: All’s fare in legal wars

I am an ardent fan of “Law and Order” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” programs. I am a frequent flyer watcher in that I can easily watch reruns several times. I have no doubt been lulled into the impression that justice is efficient and moves swiftly.

After all, in the original “Law and Order,” the crime is committed, the perpetrator is caught and brought to trial in one hour. No, I am not that lulled — but I am shocked when justice takes months to take the first steps and years to reach conclusion.

Moreover, the kind of tactics that can delay justice have disillusioned me about the effectiveness of the system that intends to treat people as innocent until proven guilty, a system that claims “justice delayed is justice denied” for the innocent and the victims of a crime.

We can thank former President Donald Trump for demonstrating that the system allows money to buy time and avoid accountability.

We can thank Trump for showing us the way to use freedom of speech to accuse and threaten.

We can thank Trump for exposing a view and reality of law and justice that most of us would have gone to our graves not knowing.

I beg your pardon!

Those aware claim that Trump’s primary legal strategy is to delay going to trial; that he wants to become President again so he can pardon himself.

Trump must believe that after all the delays, the process will conclude with a guilty verdict otherwise, he would not be fighting so hard for delays, a pardon and immunity.

No president or governor have ever pardoned themselves for crimes. I am not sure why they did not try. Nixon chose to resign. Governors who committed crimes have gone to jail for federal crimes for which they could not pardon themselves.

Can Trump as president pardon himself for federal crimes he commits? Legal scholars of the Constitution are debating the issue, a debate I will not enter, but I do wonder if Trump would fulfill the pardon requirement of admitting to the crime. He seems constitutionally unable to say he made a mistake or is sorry.

The issue of presidential immunity is before the Supreme Court and set for a hearing in April, yet another delay. Trump and his legal team are claiming a president would be immobilized in making crucial decisions if he or she had to worry about being charged with a crime.

Not that it has ever happened. Someone may have wanted to put President Truman in jail for ordering the dropping of the atomic bomb on Japan, but most people were relieved to have the war ended without any more Pearl Harbors.

Trump claims the impeachment process, if successful is the mechanism to open the president to criminal charges. We all know how well that worked when Trump was impeached twice during his term. Loyal party members or those afraid of retribution voted against impeachment making it an inherently political process instead of one seeking truth.

Besides, a president able to pardon himself should not need presidential immunity. Since, the Department of Justice has a policy of not charging a sitting president, the president could just grant him or herself a pardon for all federal crimes he or she committed while in office on the last day in office.

The Legal Pretzel Strategy

The number of legal actions involving alleged crimes charged against the former president at the same time is astonishing. Some believe the number is evidence of “political persecution” or a “witch hunt.”

I think it is the result of a combination of factors including the former president’s enormous need to draw attention to himself coupled with his chronic habit of telling the story that most fits his image, true or not, legal or not.

Trump has the same repertoire of tactics to manage legal tangles and cover-ups as he has for a campaign, a visit to NATO, or skipping out on paying contract help.

Trump demeans whomever he sees as impeding his will with full knowledge they will be threatened by his loyal followers, perhaps physically injured.

Look no farther than his public accusations of corruption against the judges and prosecutors overseeing his trials with exception of the judge who is overseeing the trial related to his taking classified documents and hiding them from authorities. Her day will come when her decisions are not in his favor.

Trump joined in on the claim that the district attorney in the Georgia state election fraud case had an affair with the lead prosecutor and somehow benefited financially.

A noxious hearing was held to dig into the timing of the affair, which became more unpleasant when no evidence of wrongdoing was found. Yet the judge admonished the DA for her angry response in testimony when she retorted she was not on trial, and no one could put her on trial.

The admonishment gave Trump more excuse to continue an effort to remove her from the case.

Trump and his legal team are putting up appeals in every case and in every instance. It is a strategy that can break the financial capacity of small companies or individuals who have sued Trump.

The cost of tying the legal system in knots is high for the claimant and the defendant. We are learning that even if the claimant wins as in the civil case of the woman Trump sexually assaulted and defamed or the New York civil case that found Trump guilty of major business fraud, Trump again delays with appeals and withholds payment of damages.

In both cases, however, he is running out of time.

We will know at the end of all Trump’s trials the cost of his “freedom of speech” and the cost to the victims and country of “innocent until proven guilty.” I predict it will be high in money and the country’s morale.

Most people do not have the fare to play Trump’s brand of legal hardball or war games. He is the finest example of a two-plus-tiered justice system.

Indeed, that is neither fair nor just.

I hope the end of this legal nightmare will be the truth, that the legal system will prevail, and my faith will be restored.

Bertha Cooper, an award-winning featured columnist with the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation and is the author of the award-winning “Women, We’re Only Old Once.” Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim more than 25 years. Reach her at