Trump Verdict: Chance for Divisions in U.S. to Grow Deeper is Concerning

His stance of not accepting the verdict against him and using it as a tool for political struggle by denying the fairness of the trial is extremely self-centered. It is concerning that the divisions in the United States could deepen further.

A jury in a New York state court has handed down a guilty verdict in a case in which former U.S. President Donald Trump was accused of having falsified records to conceal hush money related to an extramarital affair. This is the first time a former U.S. president has been found guilty in a criminal trial. Sentencing is scheduled to take place in July.

Trump was found to have paid the equivalent of about ¥20 million in hush money to a woman with whom he was having an affair through his lawyer before his 2016 presidential election, and to have made false entries in the business records of a company run by his family to conceal that fact.

After the verdict was delivered, Trump, who has denied having the affair and involvement in mishandling records, criticized the trial itself. He made statements to the effect that it was arranged by the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden in order to hurt a political opponent.

Fundamentally, both national leaders and ordinary citizens are equal before the law, and all people should comply with judicial decisions in a country with the rule of law. If a key person who aspires to be a leader denies this fundamental principle of democracy, trust in the judiciary will be lost.

Trump is certain to win the nomination from the Republican Party for the presidential election in November. Under the U.S. system, a person can run for the presidency even if convicted, but it would be highly unusual for such a person to seek the presidency.

The fact that Trump’s words and actions could strengthen his base of support is serious. Many Republican supporters have accepted Trump’s arguments at face value, and have become increasingly hostile to the Democrats and the Biden administration.

This shows how deep-rooted the division and confusion is in the United States.

Trump is reportedly planning to appeal the verdict. There are three other court cases in which he has been indicted.

The most serious case involves his alleged involvement in a bid to overturn his defeat in the presidential election four years ago by attempting to interfere with the counting of votes and inciting people to storm and occupy the Capitol Building in Washington. As for the other two cases, one is related to taking classified documents and the other involves attempting to overturn the results of the presidential election in the state of Georgia.

Trump should strictly refrain from words and actions that threaten the stability of society and promote domestic division.

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine has become prolonged, and there is no end in sight for Israel’s attacks on the Palestinian territory of Gaza. U.S. involvement is essential to rebuilding the international order. As the superpower leading the democratic camp, it is hoped that the United States will fulfill its responsibilities.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, June 1, 2024)