Justice Defanged

Rodney Clough
3 min readMar 16, 2024
Photograph by Samuel Corum/Bloomburg, courtesy The New Yorker

Stirrings of a corrupted judiciary.

March 13

“Don’t worry, be happy” seems to be that ‘can’t-keep-out-of-my-head’ refrain one seeks refuge from, but is heard echoing from — of all places — America’s court rooms.

Pivot to grand jury trashing (Judge Scott McAfee, Fulton County, Georgia), public reproach (Justice Amy Coney Barrett, Supreme Court, Washington, DC), and blatant court trial schedule manipulating (Judge Aileen Cannon, Southern District, Florida).

What are a grand jury, the public and the DOJ criminal division to do? Is America witnessing the meanderings of a “politicized” judiciary or a corrupted justice system?

It’s a slippery slope. (1)

Pause while we try to drive the lyrics from our heads.

A chorus of Trump lawyers will be setting America’s campaign agenda, months running up to November. This week, it’s the Espionage Act, rendered “unconstitutionally vague,” casting a shadow on the Mar-a-Lago papers case before District Court Judge Aileen Cannon. Tomorrow, “absolute immunity.”

Consider, what is a President to do?

Nobody told me they were classified and if they were, they were mine anyway, so only I could declassify them.

To which the Judge, rather than dismiss the argument as having no standing, paves the way by offering this advice, ‘your points about unconstitutionally vague, can be made during jury instruction.’ Translation: take your delay now rather than closer to November. (2)

And this was supposed to be the “obviously criminal case,” for the DOJ, the low hanging fruit.

“Don’t worry, be happy.”

The overall legal strategy of delay is not merely delay by days, but by process — the “walking back” — a potential verdict in Trump’s favor in the immunity case before the Supreme Court.

If this strategy sounds familiar, it is. It is being used to defend the fake electors cases in Georgia and in Michigan. Despite Trump having lost multiple tests of his “stolen election” claims and Fox News paying millions in civil proceedings, the Trump legal team pushes the claim that while arguments are being prepared, and considering a favorable decision is plausible, Trump as President and citizen should not be held criminally liable. All the criminal cases should be tossed or at minimum considered “toss able.”

After all, this perverse logic claims, Trump is running for President.

What’s a former President running for President to do?

In sum: What Trump’s lawyers want by “walking back” in the short term is get a stay until SCOTUS decides the “absolute immunity” case. Which brings ALL the cases to trial post election.

In the long term, clear Trump of ALL charges.

“Don’t worry, be happy.”

Fueling this folie is not a legal strategy; rather a public relations strategy designed to position the President as immune to the sorts of things we common folk abide. The more absurd, the more the mockery of the contest.

The latest perturbation comes in the form of a document dump Thursday by the Feds in Manhattan. The sheer volume of surveillance documentation in the hush money trial forced Alvin Bragg, Manhattan DA to request a minimum 30-day delay. The defense short of asking for case dismissal, requested key witnesses, Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels and David Pecker, be disqualified from testifying on the grounds of subpoena violation.


“Justice delayed is Justice denied.” Hardly.

America is tasting justice defanged. Justice stripped of accountability.

“Don’t worry, be happy.”

March 16


1- For a recent reporting on the Mar-a-Lago papers case see Lucian Truscott IV, “The bottomless patience of Jack Smith, Substack, March 15


2- Letting the argument stay is tantamount to providing room for the defense to invoke ‘double jeopardy’ if during proceedings Judge Cannon rules against arguing that the Espionage Act applies. So suggested David Aronberg, States Attorney for Palm Beach County Friday on MSNBC, Friday March 15


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Rodney Clough

Refuses to nap. Septuagenarian. Cliche’ raker. Writes weekly.