April 1, 2023 at 12:50 JST
Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference, CPAC 2023, on March 4 at National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP file photo)
A fair criminal justice system is a foundation of democracy. If the United States is to remain true to its self-appointed role as the leader of the democratic world, it needs to ensure that due process of law will be followed in dealing with the criminal case against former President Donald Trump and not allow it to be influenced by partisan politics.
A special grand jury in New York indicted Trump over payments he allegedly made during the 2016 presidential campaign to silence claims of an extramarital sexual encounter.
The case marks the first time in U.S. history that a current or former president has faced criminal charges. The indictment is undoubtedly shocking to American voters, but the decision was made by a grand jury composed of selected citizens after careful deliberations.
Trump has criticized the allegations as unfair and urged his supporters to protest with a call of “Take back our country.”
He made similar calls before the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Given the grave implications of the unprecedented attack against the heart of American democracy, Trump is acting in an irresponsible manner by inciting people again with his divisive and combative rhetoric. This must stop.
Some members of the opposition Republican Party have echoed Trump’s criticism against prosecutors. In doing so, these lawmakers risk undermining public trust in the judiciary.
The district attorney who led the criminal probe into the Trump case has received death threats. There are legitimate concerns that the indictment could lead to a new wave of violence. What cannot be overlooked is the fact that Trump is still refusing to accept defeat in the 2020 presidential election, alleging widespread voter fraud and promoting conspiracy theories about the poll. There are no signs of change in Trump’s self-righteous arguments and his tendency to make light of the rules of democratic governance, which were hallmarks of his presidency.
Trump has announced his plan to run for the 2024 presidential election. He is expected to step up his presidential campaign while standing trial. The process of selecting the Republican presidential candidate will be fraught with uncertainty.
The results of the mid-term elections last year, which were not favorable for the Republicans, seemed to indicate Trump’s popularity has waned. Some Republicans are moving to find a new leader of the party. It’s time for the GOP to say goodby to Trump’s divisive style of politics.
Elsewhere, many countries are facing profound and far-reaching effects of the war in Ukraine as well as the increasingly acrimonious confrontation between the United States and China. There are growing concerns that the world order is sinking into a state of flux. A return by Washington to embracing an “America First” foreign policy agenda amid the current circumstances would rattle many countries.
Some Trump supporters in the U.S. Congress are already started criticizing the Biden administration’s massive support to Ukraine. If the United States takes any action that weakens international unity against Russia’s aggression, which tramples on international law, the consequences would be huge and dire.
During the second Summit for Democracy, held this week under the auspice of the United States, President Joe Biden pledged afresh to promote international cooperation for democracy and human rights. The United States should remain firmly committed to this promise.
No matter how heated and divisive the debate on Trump’s trial and the presidential election may become, the United States should not relinquish its heavy responsibility for protecting the world order.
--The Asahi Shimbun, April 1
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