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A tale of two trials

Over the past couple of weeks, we have witnessed two unique trials. The first was a trial brought by the State of New York against Donald J. Trump for business fraud for trying to hide hush money payments made to a porn star who claimed she had a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump. This case was unique because it involved a former president of the United States.

The second case involved federal charges against Hunter Biden for lying on a form and therefore illegally obtaining a pistol while dependent on opioid medications. This case was unique because it involved the son of a sitting United States president.

In both cases, the jury found the individual guilty as charged and we are waiting for the decision on sentencing for both.

What is different about these cases is how they were defended. Mr. Trump has never admitted any fault in spite of many witnesses and much evidence for the illegal actions. He and his political allies continually argued that this was a witch hunt, that it was the Biden administration that was weaponizing the legal system and basically never offered a true defense of their actions but just that the case should never have been brought. This was a New York state case and not a federal case so that any argument that somehow President Biden was pulling strings doesn’t hold water nor could he have stopped the case from going forward.

In the Hunter Biden case, he originally was willing to plead guilty as part of plea deal that was offered to avoid jail time but has never denied that he bought the gun. His defense team tried to prove that his drug addiction at the time was either under control briefly making his statement technically true but also that his addiction made him unable to make rational decisions and that he was unable to know he was lying on the form. At no time did they claim that the case was a witch hunt or politically motivated even though one of the reasons the plea deal fell through was pressure from the House Republican caucus. Prior to the jury deliberations, President Biden indicated that he would accept the outcome and that he had no intention of pardoning his son even though that was within his power for such a federal case.

The one thing that has surprised me in these two cases is how little outrage the public has been against either decision. While Mr. Trump and many in the Republican caucus have railed against the Trump verdict, there have been remarkably few public demonstrations about it. Of the Biden decision, there has been no talk of political witch hunts and little push back against the verdict yet there has been gloating by the same Republican caucus and Mr. Trump about the guilt of Mr. Biden and vowing even more cases against the “whole Biden Crime Family.”

If either of these cases was politically motivated it appears to be the Biden case. Both defendants were found guilty by a jury of peers, and both will need to suffer the consequences of their actions. What we the public need to do is to look at how the two cases treat our rule of law and our legal system. If there was political pressure or intervention in either case, where is the evidence? Since these cases may have an influence on the upcoming election, which candidate or party has shown respect for the rule of law and acceptance of the verdicts. Which one is vowing vengeance and retribution?

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David G. Welch, MD, lives in Lake Placid.

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