Abdul-Hakim Shabazz: Let’s talk about Trump

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When it comes to former President Donald Trump, two things are true. First, he is now a convicted felon who was found guilty by 12 people who just two months ago did not know one another. And second, talk that Trump did not get a fair trial is either the most misinformed or ridiculous statement I have ever heard.

Now, I get it. In the political universe, which is most different than the parallel legal universe, if you’re an elected official in Trump country, you have to do the standard, “This was a kangaroo court,” “witch hunt,” “communist country,” “election interference,” choose the outrage of your choice. Trump is the head of the Republican Party, and his supporters are willing to do his political bidding. And if you speak out publicly, you might incur their wrath.

However, with that said, if I can paraphrase Barry Goldwater, in your heart, you know I’m right when I say Trump got a fair trial.

Trump got a fair trial, and he is legally entitled to file an appeal.

“But Abdul, What about the Democrat judge and jury?” My response is, what about it? First, when the case was assigned to Judge Juan Merchan, he requested a legal opinion to ensure he could even hear the case. And guess what? The panel that issued the opinion stated that the judge would not violate judicial ethics by hearing the case. And the trial took place in Manhattan, and guess what? In 90% of the cases, the case is tried in the place where the incident took place.

This isn’t hard to figure out.

“But Abdul, What about the fact they didn’t let Trump call witnesses?” OK, let’s walk through this one. Trump was allowed to call witnesses; he only called two, which didn’t help matters much. And his FEC expert, who was “not allowed” to testify, was allowed to testify. He was not allowed to talk about the law; interpreting the law was the job of the judge and the jury.

Speaking of witnesses, let’s talk about Michael Cohen. Yes, he was a liar and not a very nice person. The jury knew that going in, which is why the prosecution had documents to corroborate his story.

And for the record, I would argue that Trump got treated better than most defendants. If you or I had violated a gag order 10 times and made disparaging remarks that could be interpreted as trying to intimidate witnesses, we would have been behind bars after the second time.

Oh, and did I mention that one of the jurors got most of his information from Truth Social, Trump’s media platform? Because that totally shows the system was rigged. Whatever!

Everything in this hearing was above board. Now, do I think Trump has a couple of appealable issues? Sure. One, in particular, is that the falsified business records, which is a state misdemeanor, was bumped up to a felony based on federal finance campaign violations. That’s an issue that, if I were working on the case, I would explore.

But to argue that this case was fixed and election interference is ridiculous. A good friend of mine put it this way: “If I went out to dinner with 11 of my friends to get pizza, I don’t think all 12 of us could agree on what toppings to get. And yet you had 12 strangers who had not met each other six weeks ago come to a unanimous guilty verdict on all 34 counts. That is incredible.”

No, that’s our judicial system. Is it perfect? Not at all, but everyone is entitled to a fair trial and due process. And appeals are part of that process, which Trump has every right to take advantage of. Even though this is the same person who said decades ago that the Central Park Five (five young Black men who were accused of sexually assaulting a white woman in Central Park and who ultimately were cleared) should have all been executed. The irony of that is not lost on me.

Trump got a fair trial and is entitled to appeal his criminal conviction. The system worked.

Abdul-Hakim Shabazz is the editor and publisher of Indy Politics. He is also a licensed attorney in Indiana and Illinois. Last year he was a candidate for the Republican nomination for mayor of Indianapolis. This commentary previously appeared at statehousefile.com.