Trump verdict has started ‘war of weaponization of the criminal justice system,’ legal experts warn

The unprecedented criminal conviction of former President Trump has opened a dark chapter in the history of America’s criminal justice system, according to several legal experts.A New York jury on Thursday pronounced Trump guilty of 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in what prosecutors called a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 election. Trump is now the first former president to ever be convicted of a crime. He is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11 and may be sent to prison. Harvard Law professor emeritus Alan Dershowitz is among those who have called the facts of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case against Trump an “absolute joke.” He warned on Friday that if Trump can’t get justice in New York through the appeal process, it’ll be open season for Republican prosecutors to target Democrats in deep-red districts.”This is the beginning of a war of weaponization of the criminal justice system,” Dershowtz said on “Mornings with Maria” on FOX Business. “The legal system failed. Our system of checks and balances, which is the great contribution that the American Constitution made, failed yesterday.” TRUMP NY SENTENCING TO BE 4 DAYS BEFORE REPUBLICAN CONVENTIONTrump’s critics would call that dire warning hyperbole, at best, or at worst, dangerous. They argue that Trump’s historic conviction, however irregular the charges, was delivered by a jury of his peers in a court of law where Trump was presumed innocent until proven guilty. “This was a conviction by a jury of Americans who listened to the evidence and made their decision,” said Rachel Kleinfeld, a senior fellow in the Democracy, Conflict, and Governance Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in comments to the New York Times. “When you undermine courts the way that elections have already been undermined, there is no peaceful way to settle differences.”Trump and many of his supporters say otherwise: That this was the product of a blatantly political prosecution brought by Bragg, a Democrat who campaigned on a pledge to “get Trump,” presided over by Judge Juan Merchan — who previously donated $35 to an anti-Trump political committee — and located in a county where only 12% of residents eligible to be jurors voted for Trump in 2020. “The whole thing was rigged from day one — from the venue to the judge,” Trump told Fox News Digital’s Brooke Singman in an exclusive interview after the verdict came down. He maintains his innocence and has accused President Biden and the Democratic Party of attempting to harm his presidential campaign through the legal system. TRUMP GUILTY ON ALL COUNTS IN NEW YORK CRIMINAL TRIAL”We couldn’t get a fair trial,” he said. “It’s a sad day for New York and a sad day for the country.” Bragg has denied any political motives in his successful prosecution of Trump and said his office “did our job,” which was “to follow the facts and the law without fear or favor.” “The only voice that matters is the voice of the jury. And the jury has spoken,” Bragg said Thursday evening. But Staten Island criminal defense attorney Louis Gelmorino said Bragg and other Democratic officials who made campaign promises to prosecute Trump should never have been allowed to move their cases forward. “Letitia James, Fani Willis and Alvin Bragg all campaigned on the fact that they were going to get Trump. They all got elected and they all went right after Trump. And they all should’ve been recused, everyone in their offices, should’ve been recused because of the statements they made on the campaign trail,” said Gelormino, referencing New York Attorney General Letitia James and Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis in Atlanta. I WAS INSIDE THE COURT WHEN THE JUDGE CLOSED THE TRUMP TRIAL, WHAT I SAW SHOCKED ME: ALAN DERSHOWITZJames had called Trump a “con man” and “carnival barker” and promised to shine a “bright light into every dark corner of his real estate dealings” before she was elected in 2018. She led a successful prosecution of the Trump Organization for fraud by falsely inflating the value of its assets. Trump and his lawyers argued that he never told anyone to inflate the value of his assets and that, if there were discrepancies, no one was harmed. Willis brought charges against Trump and 14 co-defendants in an alleged conspiracy to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia. After winning the Democratic primary for her office in March, she said “the train is coming” for Trump and his co-defendants.”It’s quite obvious they are using the law to prevent Trump from running for office,” said Gelormino. He criticized Bragg’s prosecutorial decisions in New York, noting the district attorney has taken a soft approach towards violent crime while ferociously pursuing Trump.”In Manhattan, you can deal a house full of drugs, and they’ll try, at best, not to prosecute or put you in a program. You can get arrested for all kinds of crimes in Manhattan, and they’ll try to reduce the sentence. But Bragg is really cracking down on white collar crime, and we see it every day while street crime, violent crime and drugs are let go. And he’s doing it because that’s not his constituency,” he said.BIDEN URGES RESPECT FOR LEGAL SYSTEM AFTER TRUMP CONVICTION WHILE PUBLICLY FLOUTING SCOTUS RULINGSDavid Gelman, a New Jersey-based a criminal defense attorney and a former deputy district attorney, said anyone who looks at how the Trump case was handled in New York and doesn’t think it was “weaponized” against Trump is “lying to themselves.” “This is the first time in New York an individual has ever been tried for this type of crime. Is it a coincidence that it happened to President Trump smack-dab in the middle of a presidential campaign where he is the front-runner?” he asked. “I think not.”CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APPHe noted that the Federal Elections Commission, Department of Justice, Southern District of New York and Bragg’s predecessor each declined to prosecute Trump previously because they thought there was not enough evidence of a crime. “The problem now is that this could be common where we prosecute our opponents to stop them from being elected,” he warned. “This makes us no better than countries like Russia or China.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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