The Boston Globe’s editorial board argued that former President Donald Trump should be criminally prosecuted for obstruction of justice, inciting the Capitol riot and his attempts to overturn his election loss in Georgia.
“There is only one way left to restore deterrence and convey to future presidents that the rule of law applies to them,” the editorial board argued. “The Justice Department must abandon two centuries of tradition by indicting and prosecuting Donald Trump for his conduct in office.”
The board argued that Mr Trump's actions were so malevolent while he served that it is worth breaking tradition in order to hold him accountable and hopefully deter future leaders like him.
"A commander in chief tried his very best to subvert democracy," the board wrote. "He attacked his own country. Five people died. Allowing him to go unpunished would set a far more dangerous precedent than having Trump stand trial. To reform the presidency so that the last four years are never repeated, the country must go beyond passing laws: It must make clear through its actions that no person, not even the president, is above them."
The editorial is part of a larger project by the board called “Future-Proofing the Presidency”. The project attempts to lay out the case for Mr Trump as a wanna-be tyrant and discusses how to prevent future authoritarians.
“But imposing stricter rules on future presidents, by itself, is clearly insufficient. Those presidents also need a clear message, one that will echo through history, that breaking the law in the Oval Office will actually be punished — that ethics policies and legal requirements, both the existing ones and those Congress will hopefully enact in the future, are more than just words on paper,” the board wrote.
The authors of the piece acknowledged that such a move would be an enormous, precedent-setting undertaking, but pointed to other democracies that had successfully prosecuted their leaders as a proof of concept.
South Korea, Italy and France have all managed to try their former leaders without setting off a domino effect effectively ending their democracies.
“Filing charges against former leaders is not a radical step,” the paper argued.
Two French leaders, Nicolas Sarkozy and Jacques Chirac, were convicted of crimes they committed during their presidencies. Sarkozy was convicted of bribery and Chirac of corruption.
In South Korea, former President Park Geun-hye was impeached and convicted on charges relating to corruption.
Italian prosecutors have long sought to make charges stick to their Trump harbinger, former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. While Mr Berlusconi has yet to be convicted for a crime he committed while in office - and have the conviction stick - he has faced numerous trials over alleged criminal activity.
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