(HorizonPost.com) – In an op-ed at CBS News last week, Princeton history professor Julian Zelizer described the latest indictment against Donald Trump as a “historic turning point” and said the trial could be “the most important” in American history.
The former president was charged with four counts related to his actions after the 2020 election, including obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the United States.
Zelizer recaps the details of special counsel Jack Smith’s 4-count indictment in which Trump and his allies are accused of conspiring to overturn the 2020 election to keep the former president in office.
He argues that Trump’s scheming “culminated” with the January 6 riot at the Capitol and accuses the former president of rejecting “the integral norm” that undergirds a “stable democratic system, specifically the loser accepting “legitimate defeat.”
Zelizer argues that the indictment breaks with the precedent set by former President Gerald Ford when he pardoned Richard Nixon.
When Ford pardoned his predecessor, he argued that it was more important for the nation to heal than put Nixon and the country through a lengthy trial.
The history professor argues that Ford’s decision failed to heal the divisions in the country as many Americans opposed it believing that it sent the message that Nixon was above the law.
According to Zelizer, with the special counsel’s indictment of Donald Trump, the Biden Justice Department is responding to Ford’s decision by showing that it was wrong.
He said indicting Trump will “preserve” the “key guardrails that prevent the abuse of presidential power,” arguing that when America’s leaders violate democratic principles, they should be “held accountable regardless of the political fallout.”
Trump was arraigned last Thursday in Washington DC, where he pleaded not guilty to all four charges. The next court hearing is scheduled for August 28.
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