Editorial Nassau officials join attack on rule of law

Editorial Nassau officials join attack on rule of law

Two Nassau County Republicans condemned former President Donald Trump’s conviction last week on all 34 counts of falsifying records as part of a scheme to cover up a sexual encounter with a porn star that threatened to derail his 2016 presidential campaign.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman and Rep. Anthony D’Esposito were not alone. They joined a solid block of national Republican leaders who rushed to defend the GOP’s 2024 standard bearer.

That was not surprising, but it was disappointing. And dangerous.

The Republicans, who have traditionally run as protectors of law and order, joined Trump in attacking without merit the verdict and, by inference, New York’s legal system – from Justice Juan Merchan and his family, to Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg and to even the jurors.

The attack on the verdict and those who participated in it threaten the rule of law, a major pillar of our democracy.

Blakeman had criticized Bragg in April 2023 for indicting Trump on the felony charges – five days before the sealed indictment was opened and him not knowing the contents.

The county executive, who served as the Nassau County Republican Party’s liaison to the 2020 Trump presidential campaign, called the expected indictment a “political and malicious prosecution.”

Blakeman’s opinion did not change last week after a Manhattan jury of Trump’s peers that his legal team helped select found the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee guilty of all 34 felony charges.

“I think this is the biggest miscarriage of justice that I have witnessed in my life,” said Blakeman, who campaigned for county executive as a protector of law and order. “As a lawyer, I can’t see any basis for a conviction.”

D’Esposito (R-Island Park) sidestepped Trump’s expected indictment in 2023.

“While our office continues to monitor the situation, Congressman D’Esposito’s focus remains on delivering meaningful tax relief to New Yorkers and fighting for safe streets,” spokesman Matt Capp said at the time.

But D’Esposito, who is running for re-election against former Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen, was far more critical of the verdict last week than Blakeman.

“The corrupt district attorney of Manhattan, Alvin Bragg, and his left-wing allies have completed their shameful witch hunt against President Trump by railroading a conviction through a partisan New York court in an attempt to help Joe Biden’s failing campaign,” D’Esposito said.

“I have testified in court against countless convicts during my time as an NYPD Detective, and it is clear to me that Democrats are so afraid of engaging in a fair fight against President Trump that they continue to weaponize the justice system in an attempt to stop him,” he went on to say.

This statement should be of great concern to voters for a candidate whose seat could determine which party controls the House of Representatives.

D’Esposito is making serious allegations with no proof and little regard for the truth while standing the truth on its head. The Manhattan jury found Trump guilty of interfering with the outcome of the 2016 election.

Where is the evidence that Bragg is “corrupt?”  The former detective doesn’t say.

Who are Bragg’s “left-wing allies?” Same answer.

The investigation into the hush-money payments began in 2018 under Bragg’s predecessor, Cyrus Vance, and was conducted by New York City police, the FBI, and Trump’s own Justice Department.

Trump was then indicted by a grand jury, and a jury of 12 New Yorkers found Trump guilty of 34 felony counts of a crime commonly prosecuted in New York.

How is this a “witch hunt?”

How was the conviction railroaded “through a partisan New York court” to help the Democratic presidential campaign after a five-week trial conducted in public in which Trump was granted more leniency than perhaps any other defendant?

And exactly how are Democrats weaponizing the justice system?

This week a federal trial began against President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter. And Robert Menendez, a Democratic U.S. senator from New Jersey, is also in federal court facing bribery charges.

D’Esposito’s fact-free attack on New York’s legal system – from the DA to the judge to the jurors – and his defense of a convicted felon should raise large red flags about his qualifications to serve in the House as well as his time as a New York City policeman.

Like those of his Republican colleagues, they also raise questions about D’Esposito’s motivation.

The Republican congressman endorsed Trump in February. In a social media post, Trump returned the favor, endorsing D’Esposito last week. This is no small thing for Republican candidates across the country.

In his endorsement, Trump said, “Anthony is working hard to Uphold the Rule of Law.” We beg to differ.

D’Esposito’s comments, like those of other Republicans in the House and Senate, echo those made by Trump during the trial and following the verdict last week.

In his comments after the verdict, Trump falsely claimed the trial was “rigged,” the judge was “conflicted” and “corrupt” and called the DA “Soros backed.”

This is a reference to George Soros, a Jewish philanthropist who backs liberal causes and has been the whipping boy of right-wing extremists and antisemites.

Trump went on to claim “We didn’t do anything wrong” despite a unanimous verdict from the 12 jurors on all 34 counts of the indictment.

He also claimed the verdict was “done by the Biden administration,” even though it took place in state court where President Joe Biden has no authority.

Biden slammed Trump’s comments.

“It’s reckless, it’s dangerous, and it’s irresponsible for anyone to say this was rigged just because they don’t like the verdict,” he said.

“The American principle that no one is above the law was reaffirmed. Donald Trump was given every opportunity to defend himself,” he said. “After five weeks, the jury reached a unanimous verdict. They found Trump guilty on all 34 felony counts.”

Biden is right

Republican officials, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, echoed Trump’s words.

“The weaponization of our justice system has been a hallmark of the Biden administration, and the decision today is further evidence that Democrats will stop at nothing to silence dissent and crush their political opponents,” Johnson said in a statement.

Johnson went on to call for the U.S. Supreme Court to “step in,” adding “I know many of them personally.” These are not comforting words to anyone who believes no one is above the law.

The House speaker had been among a contingent of Republican legislators and vice presidential hopefuls who made a pilgrimage to the courthouse in Manhattan during the trial to express their outrage with the trial.

D’Esposito and Blakeman are now marching in lockstep with Trump.

The hush-money conviction did not happen in a vacuum. Trump was found liable for sexual assault in a civil suit in May 2023 brought by writer E. Jean Carroll and ordered to pay an $83 million judgment for slandering Carroll in March.

The slander verdict came after a New York judge ordered Trump to pay more than $450 million for fraud committed by his businesses. 

And then there are the 54 remaining felony charges in a state case and two federal cases in which he is accused of trying to overturn the 2020 election and unlawfully taking classified secrets.

Trump said three days before the 2016 presidential election that his then-Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, should be disqualified because she was under FBI investigation.

“We could very well have a sitting president under felony indictment and ultimately a criminal trial,” Trump said at the 2016 rally. “It would grind government to a halt.” He also called for Clinton to be locked up, apparently skipping the part of her being charged and convicted.

This weekend, Trump denied ever calling for Clinton to be locked up in 2016. Multiple videos showed that he did. Several times. In public.

By the logic Trump applied to Clinton back in 2016 – not to mention every other candidate who has run for office –  he should withdraw from the 2024 presidential election.

And if he refuses, Republicans like Blakeman and D’Esposito should show respect for the law and demand Trump resign.


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