Are we abandoning the rule of law?



The bedrock of our nation’s founding and preservation is the Constitution of the United States of America. The rule of law is its founding principle. Equal application of the law to all has been a long evolving, not yet perfect, vital corollary. Will that continue?

Ed Sherwood
Ed Sherwood

The resilience of our nation to withstand national political crises and continue as a nation “of the people, by the people, and for the people,” rests on the outcome.

It appears that some in both political parties are choosing to abandon these formerly cherished foundational precepts. The Democrats as the party in power with the presidency and control of the Senate appear to be selectively enforcing the law by refusing to charge and try “favored persons.” Hunter Biden is one case in point. Hillary Clinton is another.

But they have had no hesitation to initiate impeachments of Donald Trump or bring the weakest of charges against him — as the New York City District Attorney Bragg did recently in Manhattan.

Trump has been an inviting target. He is an autocratic, narcissistic brawler who is quite comfortable using and abusing the legal system. From the 1980s until his presidency, Trump has been involved in thousands of legal cases. USA today puts the number at over 3,500 lawsuits for and against Trump and his business interests.

Former Vice President Pence and insiders who were personally aware of Trump’s efforts and pressure to have Pence overturn our last presidential election on flawed constitutional grounds have testified under oath of Trump’s inappropriate disregard and failure to uphold his personal oath to defend our Constitution.

Not a single court, including the Supreme Court, accepted Trump’s bogus claims that the election was stolen from him. None of the 200+ judges Trump appointed during his term of office formally and legally supported his claims. That included three Supreme Court justices. The legal evidence was not there.

Now comes a serious and severe test of whether Trump is a law-abiding citizen. It is also a test of whether the GOP and conservative, patriotic citizens genuinely believe in the rule of law.

If Trump willfully violated national security laws by inappropriately and illegally taking Top Secret records about our nation’s nuclear weapons and defense plans and failed to properly secure or declassify them, and was deceptive about what he has done, why shouldn’t the full weight of the law be brought to bear on his actions?

Yes, he is innocent until proven guilty. That is another bedrock principle of our nation. But many Trump supporters have already begun to rail against Trump being charged and tried in a court of law even though that is how our legal system works.

To oppose this legal process shows many conservatives really do not believe or support the rule of law or its capacity to provide justice.

The bickering between political parties is reminiscent of kindergarten squabbles. “She hit me first. I just did to her what she did to me. You didn’t punish her, why punish me?” Right and wrong in the matter of Trump’s actions must be determined in a court of law with the right to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court.

True, the court of public opinion is important, but God forbid that becomes more important than the rule of law. Let’s let a jury and judge hear the facts of the case before we make any final judgments. In Scripture, Proverbs 18:13 says a person is foolish (acts like a fool) if they answer a matter before it is fully heard.

Some former supporters of Trump like his last Attorney General, Bill Barr, say, “Trump’s mishandling of classified information is a self-inflicted wound. If he had returned the documents as requested, he would not have been charged.”

There is also an opportunity for a plea bargain by Trump. He wrote the book, “The Art of the Deal.” No harm in letting him have his day in court with the best lawyers money can buy. If he is once again vindicated, all the better. May justice be done according to our laws.

The question for all of us is this: “Does Lady Liberty still wear a blindfold in matters of justice according to our laws?” Does our Statue of Liberty still rightly proclaim, “Liberty Enlightening the World”?

For now, I will settle for liberty enlightening our nation. If not, we all are losers, and our nation is headed into a dark and deepening abyss.

[Ed Sherwood formerly wrote a local weekly editorial opinion called “Taking a Closer Look.” He is the author of the widely acclaimed 2021 book, “Courage Under Fire: The 101st Airborne’s Hidden Battle at Tam Ky.” The book honors young, junior enlisted paratroopers who courageously fought and won an undisclosed, almost forgotten, 1969 major battle at great sacrifice of life during the Vietnam War. The battle was fought just as President Nixon, who was newly elected to end the unpopular war, announced the first US troop withdrawals. “Courage Under Fire” was a finalist in the Army Historical Foundation’s 2021 Book of the Year in the category, Battles and Operations.]


  1. What a schizophrenic letter! Sherwood begins by raising complaints that Democrats will not bring charges against H. Biden when they just did bring charges against the president’s wayward son. And he wonders why Clinton was not indicted even though the Trump administration had four years to indict her if they could have mustered any case against her.

    Suddenly, Sherwood changes directions and offers a reasoned explanation of why the 45th president was indicted and urging restraint from partisans until the case is adjudicated.

    I suppose the reader must decide between his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personas.

  2. Seems like the rule of law is working. The Justice Department, or any District Attorney, brings charges when there is sufficient evidence that forms a consensus on the viability for reaching a conviction. Hillary Clinton has made plenty of mistakes, but despite years of investigation nothing has warranted charges.

    Hunter Biden was just charged, so your argument there is moot.

    Donald Trump has been recorded admitting he committed a felony, enlisted the support of another person to obstruct the process to recover the documents associated with the alleged crime and both will get their day in court. No doubt he is presumed innocent, but let’s recap the types of folks Trump has surrounded himself with and see if history has any indication on what happens next.

    Copied from newsweek

    Rick Gates
    Gates worked as a deputy to Paul Manafort on Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. He was indicted in October of 2017 and entered a plea deal in February of 2018, pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy and lying to investigators. In December of 2019, Gates was sentenced to 45 days in jail and three years of probation.

    Paul Manafort
    Manafort, who chaired Trump’s 2016 campaign and also worked as his campaign manager, was indicted along with Gates in October of 2017. A jury found him guilty of tax fraud and bank fraud in August of 2018. He also pleaded guilty about a month later to charges related to money laundering, witness tampering and lobbying violations.

    He received a 7 1/2-year prison sentence and was released to serve the remainder of the sentence from home in May of 2020. Trump pardoned Manafort in December of 2020, less than a month before the end of his White House term.

    Michael Cohen
    Cohen worked as an attorney for Trump from 2006 to 2018 and also as a vice president of the Trump Organization. He pleaded guilty in August of 2018 to eight counts, including campaign finance violations, tax fraud and bank fraud. The charges also related to “hush money” payments to women who said they had sexual encounters with Trump ahead of the 2016 election.

    He received a three-year prison sentence in December of 2018 but was released to serve the remainder from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cohen has gone on to become one of Trump’s biggest critics, regularly appearing on cable news to discuss his former boss’ scandals.

    George Papadopoulos
    In 2016, Papadopoulos served as an adviser to Trump’s presidential campaign. He pleaded guilty in 2017 to lying to FBI agents regarding his communication with individuals who claimed to have ties to prominent Russian officials. He served 12 days in prison and 12 months of supervised released. Trump granted him a full pardon in December of 2020.

    Roger Stone
    Stone was indicted and arrested in January of 2019 on seven counts, including lying to Congress, obstruction of an official proceeding and witness tampering. This was related to special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

    Stone was convicted and sentenced to more than three years in prison in February of 2020. Trump commuted his sentence before he had to report to prison in July of that year. The former president then pardoned him in December of 2020.

    Michael Flynn
    The retired Army lieutenant general served as a national security adviser to Trump’s 2016 campaign. Flynn was then selected to serve as his national security adviser but was fired after less than a month into that role after it was reported he lied about his contact with Russian officials.

    In December of 2017, he formalized a deal to plead guilty to making false statements to the FBI regarding his Russian contacts. He later withdrew the guilty plea and Trump’s former attorney general, William Barr, instructed the Justice Department in May of 2020 to drop all charges against him. Trump issued a pardon for Flynn in November of 2020.

    Elliott Broidy
    Broidy was a fundraiser for Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and was involved with his inaugural committee. He pleaded guilty in October of 2020 to carrying out a secret lobbying campaign in exchange for millions of dollars. He forfeited $6.6 million in the plea deal. Trump pardoned him in January of 2021, right before leaving office.

    Steve Bannon
    Bannon served as the chief executive officer of Trump’s 2016 campaign and then as a White House strategist for much of 2017. He was convicted by a grand jury in July of contempt of Congress over his refusal to comply with a subpoena to appear before the House select committee investigating the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol. He will be sentenced in October and faces a minimum of 30 days and up to one year in jail, as well as a fine.

    Bannon was indicted in August of 2020 for allegedly defrauding donors to a crowdfunding campaign to help build Trump’s long-promised wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Trump pardoned him and prevented him from facing possible conviction for the previous charges on January 20, 2021.