Statement by Joanne Kuniansky, Socialist Workers Party candidate for New Jersey state Senate, released April 4.
The indictment of former President Donald Trump on ginned-up felony charges by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, a Democrat, is an assault on constitutional freedoms working people have a vital stake in defending and extending.
Trump is accused of falsifying financial records to hide hush money payments by his then lawyer Michael Cohen to Stephanie Clifford and others. This is a “crime,” the far-fetched indictment says, because it was all aimed at influencing the 2016 presidential election, seven years ago.
It is one of several investigations into Trump and his supporters, all aimed at keeping the Democrats in the White House in 2024. The use of the FBI — Washington’s central political police outfit — and the courts by the Democrats against their opponents sets a dangerous precedent that has been and will be turned even more ferociously against workers, our unions and any union efforts to run independently of the political parties of the capitalist rulers.
Turning back this assault led by the Democrats against constitutional protections and freedoms is at the heart of the class struggle today.
Working people are the vanguard in protecting freedom of speech, worship, the right to a trial by a jury of your peers and much more. All attempts to chip away at these protections should be fought by our unions and all organizations of the oppressed and exploited.
Bragg’s prosecution is driven by a blatant upending of the presumption of innocence. Nancy Pelosi says Trump like “everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence.” But the accused is innocent until they are proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a trial by a jury of their peers. The burden of proof lies with the accuser, not the defendant.
The indictment of Trump is built on Cohen’s conviction in 2018. But he never went to trial.
As part of targeting Trump, special counsel and former FBI czar Robert Mueller ordered a raid of Cohen’s premises and hit him with a raft of charges, mostly unrelated to his payments to Clifford. They threatened prison terms of up to 65 years. The entire operation was designed to force Cohen to cop a plea and finger Trump. That’s what he did, cutting a deal and getting three years in jail. Plea bargaining is a tool prosecutors wield to force “confessions” and avoid having to prove their accusations before a jury. Its systematic use under the capitalist “justice” system is a blow to constitutional rights.
The statute of limitations for the felony Trump is accused of has run out. Bragg is seeking a way around that, undermining another key protection workers have.
Fabricating business records is a misdemeanor, a minor crime, under New York law. To ramp it up to a felony, Bragg says, this was done to cover up a federal “crime.” But Bragg is the Manhattan DA, responsible for applying New York laws. Long ago federal prosecutors decided not to charge Trump with these allegations. By interfering in federal law, Bragg violates the constitutionally set separation of powers between federal and state governments.
Bragg’s goal is to take down his target, regardless of the weakness of his case. His overtly partisan operation is really aimed at the millions of workers who voted for Trump — or didn’t vote for either party in 2016 and 2020 — the ones Hillary Clinton called “deplorables.”
Its most important effect will be felt by the working class as we fight boss attempts to put the capitalist crisis on our backs and use our unions to advance our class interests independently of the two capitalist parties. Under capitalism, “all suppression of political rights and freedom, no matter whom they are directed against in the beginning, in the end inevitably bear down upon the working class, particularly its most advanced elements,” explained Leon Trotsky, a leader of the Bolshevik-led 1917 Russian Revolution. “That is a law of history.”
The charges against Trump should be thrown out.