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Editorial

The Proper Functioning of the Justice System in the U.S.

September 16, 2023

A few weeks ago, former President Donald Trump traveled from Florida to Atlanta on his personal plane and appeared at a local jail, where, like any ordinary American citizen, he went through the usual process for those charged with criminal offenses, including having his mugshot taken.

That was a historic photograph – at the time, I described it as a photograph for the ages – as it is the first time a former president has been photographed in jail. Law enforcement took his mugshot as if he were a  common criminal facing charges.

A couple of days ago, Hunter Biden, the son of President Joe Biden, was charged by the federal Department of Justice, which is, of course, under the oversight of the White House and the Attorney General appointed by the President himself. He was charged with knowingly lying when he assured authorities that he was not using narcotics when he purchased a firearm, making it illegal to possess a weapon.

If convicted, the sentence amounts to 25 years, although it is not expected that he will be incarcerated for such a long period.
Thus, as the country enters the election season, a former President who is once again a candidate for the presidency, as well as the son of the current President, face serious charges from authorities that could potentially send them to prison for an extended period of time.

Republicans had long used the absence of charges against the President’s son as evidence of bias in the way the law is being applied due to the influence the President exerts over the Department of Justice.

After the charges brought against Hunter, this argument is obviously invalidated.

This may not stop Trump from claiming that more serious offenses were overlooked in the case of the President’s son, such as tax evasion.

Thus, the political campaign will, to some extent, focus on the legal problems faced by a former President and the son of the current President.

Of course, the two cases are not the same, since in Trump’s case, he is the defendant himself, while in the case of Joe Biden, it is his son. Unless it is proven that the President was also involved in illegal activities.

In any case, this is not a pleasant or beneficial situation for the country, as both its interests and its image abroad are affected – see the recent statement by Putin.

However, there is another dimension. The charges against a former President and the son of the current President demonstrate in a brilliant way that the American justice system is functioning. That despite the erosion the government has suffered in recent years, institutions are working. And they work because there are public officials who insist on resisting political pressure, who insist on doing their job, and who thus protect the institutions of government.

So, these unfortunate events simultaneously provide optimism for the functioning of our system of government and for its future.

In which other country in the world, for example, China or Russia, would something like this happen?

Once again, the aphorism is proven: “There is no evil without some good.”

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