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Remember when the Left used to go ballistic over President Trump’s propensity to lob rhetorical bombs into pending investigations and prosecutions?
Good times, good times.
Well, Trump is gone and, mirabile dictu, and we’re beginning to notice that the Left’s provocateurs are . . . lobbing rhetorical bombs into the most consequential prosecution in the nation — the murder trial of Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd case.
Indeed, it is worse than that. For all the downsides of his unhinged commentary, Trump never took matters to the point of jury intimidation, as the preternaturally unhinged Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters did over the weekend.
The jury may have returned a verdict Tuesday, finding him guilty of all charges. But as the judge noted Monday, Waters’ inflammatory language offered Chauvin grounds for appeal. Because of her, this isn’t over.
Waters checked every box. As a federal representative from a California district, she traveled to another sovereign state, Minnesota, to interfere in its judicial system. Her rabble-rousing was done in violation of a curfew that the elected mayor had imposed to suppress the rioting that followed the tragic accidental killing of Daunte Wright by a police officer. And her remarks can only be interpreted as an incitement to violence — one less ambiguously provocative than the one over which she and other House Democrats impeached Trump.
Waters’ standing as a member of Congress gives her no immunity against Minnesota’s criminal laws against obstruction of justice. She ought to be under investigation.
Remarkably, rather than distance themselves from such egregious conduct, the nation’s leading Democrats are piling on. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi insists that her fellow California congresswoman has nothing to apologize for. For his part, President Biden waited until the jury was deliberating to make the stunning public statement that he is “praying” for Chauvin to be convicted.
The fact that the jury is was sequestered when Biden spouted off is no excuse. He is a lawyer and former Senate Judiciary Committee chairman who well knows that sequestration does not make jurors impervious to prejudicial publicity. And if he’s been following the case as he claims to have been, he knows trial judge Peter Cahill has pleaded that public officials stop commenting on the trial — under circumstances where, even before the Bidens and Waters piped up, there was already substantial reason to doubt that Chauvin could get a fair trial in Minneapolis.
It does not matter how you hoped Chauvin’s trial would end. Our viability as a free, prosperous, rule-of-law society is dependent on the viability of courts as the protection every one of us, equally, can rely on against overbearing government and politicized mobs. In fact, due process is essential if we are to hold the guilty accountable — including police officers who abuse their power. Chauvin’s case is more complicated than much of the coverage suggests on key issues of intent and causation. But his conviction now has a real chance of having the result overturned because public officials, who know better, have recklessly undermined the integrity of the trial.
How is it that the Left grasps the fundamental need for due process and the presumption of innocence when a foreign terrorist is on trial for mass-murdering Americans, but not when an American police officer is in the dock?
Andrew C. McCarthy is a former federal prosecutor and contributing editor at National Review.
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