Trump’s version of American justice benefits only him

A chronicle of Donald Trump's Crimes or Allegations

Trump’s version of American justice benefits only him

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump expressed dramatically different views of the U.S. justice system Friday, with Biden asking Americans to believe in the system and newly convicted felon Trump angrily denouncing his “rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt.”  

The comments show Biden is dedicated to preserving institutions that have made America great and benefit the American people while Trump is dedicated only to making himself great again by returning to the White House — and staying out of prison. Trump’s 2024 campaign is fueled by rage, grievance, vengeance, self-pity and serial proven lies.  

Trump falsely claims many things he doesn’t like are rigged, in addition to his conviction Thursday by a jury on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payoff to a pornography actress to hide their alleged sexual relationship before the 2016 election.  

The former president has also said civil verdicts that found him liable for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages were rigged. And he claims the 2020 presidential election, in which Biden defeated him, was also rigged.  

Commenting on Trump’s denunciation of our criminal justice system and his trial, Biden said that “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.”

“The justice system should be respected, and we should never allow anyone to tear it down,” he added.  

Biden didn’t opine on the crimes Trump was convicted of committing. And Biden said his predecessor has the right to appeal his conviction, which Trump said Friday he will do. But crucially, Biden said that in Trump’s trial, “The American principle that no one is above the law was reaffirmed.” 

Alarmingly, Trump rejects this foundational principle of our democracy. He doesn’t want equal justice under the law — he wants invulnerability from the law, like foreign dictators he has long admired. His lawyers actually asked the Supreme Court to rule that a former president can’t be prosecuted for any crimes committed in office — even murder — that were deemed official acts unless the Senate convicts him first in an impeachment trial. 

Although he was the first federal official in U.S. history ever impeached twice by the House, Trump wasn’t convicted in trials in the Senate because most GOP senators voted to acquit him. 

The defeated former president contends his efforts to overturn Biden’s 2020 election victory were proper official acts, even though vote recounts and over 60 court decisions rejected his evidence-free claims of widespread election fraud. But Trump has nevertheless convinced millions of Republicans to believe his big lie that Biden wasn’t legitimately elected. 

Trump is already warning that if he loses to Biden again in November it may be because the upcoming election will be rigged. Where’s the proof? How will it be rigged? Who’s trying to disrupt the process? And again: where? 

Trump is simply incapable of admitting defeat. It’s all about him. If he didn’t win, the game was rigged. If he didn’t score a victory, the game was rigged. It doesn’t matter if it is at the ballot box or in the courtroom.  

As the first sitting or former U.S. president ever convicted of a crime, Trump faces a possible prison sentence of up to four years when he is scheduled to be sentenced on July 11 by New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan. However, Trump could be sentenced to home detention or simply released on probation. He probably wouldn’t begin serving a sentence before his appeals are concluded, which likely won’t happen until long after the November election.  

It’s no surprise that Trump is a sore loser. But it’s frightening that many Republican elected officials and candidates at all levels of government are falling in line behind their dear leader and echoing his attacks on our justice system, terrified of incurring the wrath of Trump. 

These Republicans have denounced Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg for daring to prosecute Trump. They have leveled attacks on Merchan, repeating Trump’s false accusations. They have baselessly accused Biden of orchestrating Trump’s prosecution in a New York state court and even attacked jurors who unanimously convicted Trump in his trial.  

House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) led a group of Republican officials on a visit to Trump’s trial in New York City to show their support for the former president. Johnson even called on the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday to overturn Trump’s state court conviction and give him immunity from prosecution.  

Johnson also announced that House Republicans have set up a website — — to raise money for self-professed billionaire Trump. The site falsely claims that Democrats have “denied our former president his constitutional right to a fair trial.”     

How will Trump’s conviction affect voters in the upcoming election? At this point, we just don’t know.  

Trump’s base of fervent supporters will stick with him. According to his campaign, online donors contributed nearly $53 million to Trump within 24 hours of his conviction — a record haul. But as the impact of Trump’s new status as a convicted felon sinks in, my hope is that enough moderate Republican and independent voters, along with undecided Democrats, will decide to cast ballots for Biden.  

“I am the law and order candidate,” Trump said during his first presidential race in July 2016. He fooled millions of Americans with that line, but eight years later, the truth is painfully apparent: Trump is the candidate of lawbreaking and disorder.  

Trump still faces three more criminal trials on charges of trying to illegally overturn Biden’s 2020 election victory, mishandling classified government documents after he left office and obstructing a Justice Department investigation of the mishandling.  

I don’t know if Trump will be convicted in those other trials, which probably won’t take place until after the upcoming election. I don’t know if he’ll ever spend time in prison. 

I do know that no one is above the law. And I know that a convicted felon who has no respect for our legal system and wants to ignore limits on presidential power has no place in the White House.

Donna Brazile is a political strategist, a contributor to ABC News and former chair of the Democratic National Committee. She is the author of “Hacks: Inside the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.”