The leading newspaper for the nation’s capitol has frowned at the prospect of prosecuting former President Donald Trump over “shaky” campaign finance charges, calling it a “poor test case.”
The Washington Post’s editorial board opined Thursday evening following the sudden indictment of Trump by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, questioning whether the charges will stick in the first criminal prosecution of an ex-president in the country’s history. The case involves a hush-money payment made to an adult film star to cover up an alleged affair just days before the 2016 presidential election.
Bragg’s case against Trump is often compared to the charges brought in 2012 against former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards who avoided convictions on eerily similar charges of using campaign funds to cover up an affair. Edwards argued his payments were disguised to hide unfaithfulness to his wife, not to break the law.
The Post writes:
Breaches of campaign finance law undermine democracy and deserve to be taken seriously. Yet the potential downsides of indicting Mr. Trump ought to be taken seriously, too. This prosecution is now bound to be the test case for any future former president, as well as, of course, proceedings against this former president in particular — of which there are plenty. Other investigations underway include Justice Department examinations of the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection and classified documents discovered at Mar-a-Lago, where the possibility of obstruction of justice is particularly grave. These are straightforward cases compared with the one proceeding in Manhattan. A failed prosecution over the hush-money payment could put them all in jeopardy, as well as provide Mr. Trump ammunition for his accusations of “witch hunt” — in light of which House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was right to urge supporters to refrain from protesting.
Republicans including presidential campaign rivals have rallied in support of the president and decried the DA’s prosecution as a politically motivated attack by Democrats seeking to damage the party’s frontrunner in the race to knock Joe Biden from the White House. On Thursday President Trump’s leading potential opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, rebuffed all requests that his administration comply with extraditing Trump from his Florida residence at Mar-a-Lago.