Editorial: Proposed criminal rule sets dangerous precedent

If you detected an emotional pall settling over Colorado Springs last Thursday, Feb. 20, there was a reason.

The president was at The Broadmoor World Arena, stumping for himself and, to a lesser extent, his Colorado lapdog, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner, before an adoring crowd of red-hat-wearing Always Trumpers.

As you will see from this week’s articles and images (p. 8), we dispatched the entirety of the Indy news team to the rally — both inside and out — and to counterprotests and rallies elsewhere in the city. Presidential fans told our team that they loved how Donald Trump cleaned up corruption in Washington, D.C., how he is endeavoring to bring Christian values into the school system and how “he’s not there for himself or the special interests.”

OK, hey, if that’s what you want to believe, cool. We’re huge advocates of free speech and encourage you to express yourself.

But forgive us if we don’t see it that way.

You see, at the same time people were queuing up to see their savior-in-chief — the guy they elected on promises that he would, among other things, “drain the swamp” — Trump’s longtime friend and advisor, Roger J. Stone Jr., was being sentenced to 40 months in prison for obstructing a congressional inquiry, lying to investigators under oath and trying to block testimony of a witness … all related to Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Oh, and it’s worth noting that Stone was the sixth former Trump aide to be assigned to the big house in relation to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of that meddling.

Nonetheless, just a few hours later, Trump told supporters in Nevada, “Roger has a very good chance of exoneration in my opinion.”

That’s not out of the realm of possibility, given that the president on Feb. 18 commuted the sentences of or pardoned a slew of convicted swindlers and shysters including: former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the guy who was recorded trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat; the so-called “junk bond king” of the 1980s, Michael Milken; former New York City Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik, who was convicted for tax fraud and making false statements to the federal government; and one-time San Francisco 49ers owner and fellow real estate mogul Edward J. DeBartolo Jr., who was convicted in 1998 for his role in a gambling extortion scheme — all white-collar crimes involving wealthy, white men.

[pullquote-1] So why shouldn’t we expect Trump to negate the prison sentence of a good friend who quite clearly knows more than the president wants him to?

Here’s the other thing: The same day the administration freed a slew of old rich guys, it also announced Trump would deploy an elite unit of the Border Patrol to help ICE track down undocumented migrants in sanctuary cities, including Denver.

That’s worth repeating: Members of the Border Patrol Tactical Unit — basically the border’s SWAT team — will help ICE officers arrest undocumented immigrants in large cities across the nation. Meanwhile, wealthy ex-cons who bilked millions of dollars via schemes aimed at investors and taxpayers are strolling around some of those same major cities and having their pictures taken with “super fans.” It’s hard to imagine more patently obvious evidence of the president’s xenophobia than those simultaneous decisions. And not only are they disgraceful coming from the conmander in chief, they are dangerous.

With every one of these moves, Trump is setting a precedent for future chief executives. So is it OK for people to commit white-collar crime? Apparently if they are the right ethnicity and closely enough tied to the leader of the free world. But is it OK for people of color from other (remember when he allegedly called them “shithole”?) countries to be here seeking sanctuary? Clearly not … and we’re sending out the SWAT team to really drive home that point.

The best thing we can say about the Trump Train rolling over Colorado Springs is: It’s gone for now. Here’s hoping the same thing can be said for the entire administration, come Nov. 3.