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There Does Seem To Be A ‘Two-Tiered’ Justice System, And Donald Trump Is The Poster Child

WASHINGTON ― Republicans complaining about a “two-tiered” justice system might find the evidence they’re looking for in prosecutors’ treatment of their own de facto leader: Donald Trump.

From the lack of a cash bail requirement to the ability to keep his passport, to the absence of any sanctions for his attacks against judges and prosecutors, to his successful avoidance of the humiliation of a mug shot, the coup-attempting former president has been afforded remarkable deference in all three of his felony prosecutions to date.

Last week, Trump even posted the statement: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!” ― but has yet to suffer any consequences.

“Most defendants who enter the federal criminal justice system do so with a knock and a warrant at 6 a.m.; handcuffs and possibly shackles; removal of cell phones, belts, shoelaces and wallets; mug shots and fingerprints; and some form of bail package,” said Danya Perry, a former federal prosecutor and now a defense lawyer. “They also face serious consequences if they issue threats or tamper with witnesses once released.”

Multiple lawyers representing Trump ― who as president suggested to police officers that they intentionally slam the heads of suspects into door frames as they pushed them into squad cars ― did not respond to HuffPost queries about the gentle treatment Trump has been enjoying.

“I do think Trump has been treated favorably by the prosecution in light of his status as the former president and a current candidate for president, and because, with Secret Service protection, he doesn’t present a risk of flight,” said Mary McCord, a former top official in the Justice Department.

Ty Cobb, a former Trump White House lawyer who was also once a federal prosecutor, said it was hard to say if Trump has been getting favorable treatment. “He is sui generis ― unique as a defendant,” he said. “Is it two-tier? It’s hard to say because he’s the only president who has ever been indicted.”

Trump and his allies in Congress and right-wing media have for months complained that prosecutors have been far more aggressive with Trump than they have been with the son of current President Joe Biden ― even though there is evidence that a complicating factor in the Hunter Biden investigation may have been Trump’s overt attempts as president to push charges against him to damage his father politically.

In reality, though, it is Trump who has received non-standard treatment for an accused criminal now facing a total of 78 felonies in three separate cases.

Ordinarily, in “white collar” prosecutions of fraud where the accused is wealthy and has easy access to private air travel, defendants are hit with sizeable bail requirements as well as the loss of their passports to discourage them from fleeing. Trump, on the other hand, has had to post no bond and retains unfettered access to his personal Boeing 757 jetliner ― which in theory could spirit him off to Riyadh or Moscow overnight.

“When Mr. Trump points to a two-tiered system of justice, he might have the tiers inverted but he might not be wrong,” Perry said.

Cobb, who worked in the White House Counsel’s office as Trump was under investigation for the assistance his 2016 campaign received from Russia, said he agreed that a defendant accused of monetary fraud, rather than trying to defraud the United States and its citizenry to remain in power, would have received stiffer pre-trial release conditions than Trump did.

“A wealthy defendant in a multi-million fraud indictment would certainly have to forfeit his passport at a minimum and possibly be incarcerated,” he said.

As to Trump’s menacing statement last week, which he shared immediately after posting a video attacking the prosecutors in his various cases, Cobb said U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan appears to be aware of it, given the accelerated schedule she has set to determine a “protective” order for evidence prosecutors will hand over to Trump’s lawyers. Prosecutors pointed out Friday’s social media post in a court filing just hours after Trump had shared it.

“I think Chutkan will address that. That’s wrong, and you can’t do it. That is intimidation, and that’s sanctionable, in my opinion,” Cobb said, adding that he supports the federal prosecutions, both for Trump’s attempts to hide top-secret documents from authorities as well as his attempt to fraudulently remain in power. “Those are bad things.”

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