To Trump, the mere suggestion of a crime has always been enough to condemn and destroy, whether the alleged offender is Hillary Clinton or innocent kids accused of crimes.
One thing that has long riled me about President Trump’s “fake news” Russian scandal is his insistence on the presumption of innocence. While “innocent until proven guilty” is a time-honored and revered American principle, Trump has rarely given that presumption to others.
After Donald Trump Jr. was caught red-handed cheering on a hostile foreign power, the president endorsed his son as a “wonderful young man.” In Trump’s view, soliciting help against America from Russian agents is a normal part of a 39-year-old’s growing up process. Wouldn’t any red-blooded American behave the same way? The answer is “no”; but that is beside this particular point, which is about Trump’s double standard.
This is the same Trump, after all, who was ready to lynch the so-called Central Park Five before their trial on charges of raping a jogger. (“They should be forced to suffer … They must serve as examples,” he screamed in a full-page newspaper ad.)
And when DNA evidence and the real culprit’s confession exonerated them after more than a decade behind bars, Trump demanded that the men be locked up again since he still believed them to be guilty. Long after their innocence had been irrefutably established, Trump grumbled, “These young men do not exactly have the pasts of angels.”
To Trump, the mere suggestion of a crime has always been enough to condemn and destroy, whether the alleged offender is Hillary Clinton (remember his “lock her up” crusade?) or innocent kids accused of crimes. Since 1989, some 350 people have been exonerated by DNA evidence — many of them sentenced to die (and over 10% of whom pleaded guilty to crimes they did not commit). Still, Trump believes the benefit of the doubt is owed only to people like himself.
I don’t expect Junior’s troubles to change that, or to remind Trump that poor black and brown boys are as likely to be “wonderful young men” as is someone carrying his pedigree. But despite Trump’s own insistent obtuseness, it is worth taking this occasion to note that the presumption he insists on for himself and his son is also owed those without…