Former Watergate prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks has predicted that Donald Trump will not be acquitted in Florida, drawing parallels between his conduct and the legal troubles of former President Richard Nixon.
Reflecting on the missed opportunity to indict Nixon during Watergate, Wine-Banks and historian Michael Beschloss suggested that had Nixon faced trial and the consequences of his actions, it might have deterred Trump from flouting the law both as president and in his post-presidential capacity.
“If Jill and her colleagues on the Watergate special prosecution force had gotten to indict Nixon as they wanted to do, and Ford had not pardoned him 30 days after Nixon left office, Nixon might at least have gone to the brink of a trial and then fingerprinted, been indicted, seen going into court. If that had happened, if Nixon had been that close to prison, as I think Jill and I agree he would have been, in such a circumstance, Donald Trump might not have been so reckless about breaking the law as president and as an ex-president,” Beschloss said, according to Raw Story.
Wine-Banks agreed, saying: “We were unable to do that. Even though Donald Trump is a person with no shame and no recognition or value to the laws, I do think that the reality of Nixon having been held accountable might have sent a message to him that would have had him under control, would’ve had him listening to his lawyers who said, you can’t do these things. It would have made a difference. Do I think it makes Nixon look like a choir boy? No. I often think it is worse because I did not feel that democracy was at stake during Watergate. I feel democracy is at stake now.”
She lamented the absence of accountability during Watergate compared to the current situation, emphasizing the critical state of democracy. Wine-Banks also criticizes the influence of Fox networks and social media platforms, which perpetuate an alternative reality and enable widespread belief in falsehoods.
Elaborating on the Florida case, she acknowledged the possibility of a hung jury in the heavily red Ft. Pierce area but firmly asserts that an acquittal is unlikely. She highlights the strength of the evidence and hints at potential future indictments in New Jersey related to the mishandling of classified documents.
“Let me start with your latter point which is, is there going to be a hung jury?” Wine-Banks said. “That is a risk in Florida. There is no question that, in particular, in Ft. Pierce, which is heavily red, that there could be a hung jury. There is no way that there will be an acquittal. I say that because jurors take very seriously the guidance from the judge that says you must judge on the evidence in this courtroom. Based on what is already publicly known about the evidence. The case is very strong. And there are cases in New Jersey, waiting to happen. I can’t imagine based on the tape that there won’t be an indictment in New Jersey for showing a classified document to a person without security clearance. So, I think there is more to come from classified documents.”