Donald Trump indictment: Prosecuting ex-leaders is common in democracies

WASHINGTON: Donald Trump has denounced his indictment as an abuse befitting a banana republic, but the move in fact puts the United States in line with fellow advanced democracies that have prosecuted former leaders.

France, Israel, Italy, South Korea, Romania and Croatia are among countries where courts have convicted a former president or prime minister, with charges pursued against former top leaders in a number of other democracies including Germany, Japan and Portugal.

For the United States, there is no precedent in the republic’s nearly 250-year history – Trump is the first president, current or former, to be charged with a crime.

Trump, who has faced a slew of legal accusations, is expected to turn himself in Tuesday in New York over a US$130,000 payment allegedly made to an adult film star to buy her silence during his 2016 campaign over an affair.

“There is evidence out there that democracies can be, and are, able to hold former leaders accountable,” said Shelley Inglis, a former United Nations expert on democratic governance and rule of law who is now at the University of Dayton.

“It’s a teaching moment for the United States, when you haven’t had that sort of test, to think about what is the strength of our democratic institutions when they’re meeting the biggest challenge – to hold the most powerful people to account,” she said.

She pointed to France – where two former presidents, Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, were convicted of corruption – as an example where democratic institutions were not weakened but strengthened, despite “inevitable” accusations from partisans that charges are politically motivated.

Related Articles

Back to top button