Trump the escape-artist keeps avoiding legal and political accountability

In pro wrestling, the bad guys are set up to lose. But what about in politics? 

Millions of Americans are watching a political wrestling match in which the referee is always looking the other way when it comes to Donald Trump.

Hundreds of ordinary citizens involved in storming the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, have gone to trial, paid fines and gone to jail. But not Trump.

Lawyers Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis have pleaded guilty over their efforts to overturn the 2020 election based on lies pushed by Trump. But not Trump.

And last week, Ronna McDaniel, a Trump ally as head of the Republican National Committee (RNC), was fired days into her new job at NBC because so many journalists at the network complained she told lies to support Trump. But Trump is on TV.

Some networks offer live coverage of him spouting lies about President Biden using prosecutors to punish him. But the refs in congress, in corporations, on right-wing talk shows and inside the Republican Party all look the other way when it comes to Trump. They all fear offending the majority of Republicans who tell pollsters they are with Trump’s lie that the election was stolen.

Now it is a job interview question for anyone who wants to work at the RNC: Do you agree with Trump that the election was stolen?

The U.S. Supreme Court recently twisted its neck to look the other way to allow Trump another amazing escape. It unanimously rejected efforts by several states to deny Trump a place on the 2024 ballot due to his role in encouraging the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on Congress.

The justices, seemingly ignoring the riot, ruled that national elections should not turn on potentially political decisions by state officials. So, Trump walks away, again.

Then there is the blindness afflicting corporate America. Major corporations and trade associations promised to withhold campaign contributions from the 147 congressional Republicans who voted against certifying a Biden win in 2020.

Less than one year later, almost all of those big businesses have decided they had to lobby Republicans in Congress. They started giving to these anti-democratic politicians again, as if nothing happened.

Last year, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon, whom Trump pardoned for federal crimes, made a prediction. “Remember, money has no courage,” Bannon said. “These wealthy guys will just do what they got to do to continue to be wealthy.”

He predicted that if Trump gets “hot” again, “they are going to back Trump” after they were “absolutely 1,000 percent anti-Trump.”

Bannon was right. 

In Congress, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the top Republican in the Senate, once explained that his caucus’s refusal to convict Trump after impeachment by the House for his role in the Jan. 6 attack did not mean that Trump got “away with anything yet — yet.”

“We have a criminal justice system in this country,” McConnell said. “We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being accountable by either one.”

But the nation’s judges continue to give Trump a pass. And McConnell himself recently endorsed Trump for a second term in the White House.

In Trump’s most recent escape from the justice system, a New York State appeals court significantly reduced the bond Trump must pay while appealing a finding that he engaged in fraud by overvaluing his properties. The appeals court also gave Trump more time to come up with the money and avoid having his properties seized by the government.

Trump has always claimed to be super rich. If that is true, why can’t he pay his fines?

Trump’s escape-artistry extends to delaying trial on charges of retaining classified documents.

Trump has likely succeeded in slowing the trial date until after the November election, with the help of a series of unconventional rulings by a Trump-appointed judge — rulings widely panned by legal experts — that serve to postpone any trial. 

In another case, Trump’s trial on charges of misusing campaign money to conceal an affair with an pornographic film actress was delayed when his lawyers loaded down the court with a rush of new documents.

When political reporters and analysts express amazement at Trump’s repeated death-defying avoidance of legal consequences, they are attacked as biased.

It is impossible to avoid the conclusion that our institutions are failing to hold Trump accountable, transforming him into a man operating outside of democratic norms. Former NPR host David Green put it well earlier this month. 

“I believe in a free press,” Green said. “I believe in democracy. I believe that Donald Trump is very transparently and pretty brazenly, um, acting anti-democratic in a lot of ways right now — when he talks about his plans to dismantle institutions, to pack the federal bureaucracy with people who support him.”

“I mean, he has praised authoritarian leaders around the world,” he added. “So, I think the bind that a lot of journalists are in is, how can we be passionate believers in democracy and not be biased in a presidential election?”

Green is right. Democracy is on the ballot. Let’s hope the refs at the ballot box will keep their eyes open.

Juan Williams is an author and a political analyst for Fox News Channel.

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