The political reaction to Donald Trump’s indictment predictably has been a mess, but Ted Cruz actually made a good point — then, of course, quickly ruined it.
The Republican senator from Texas was responding to the following tweet from former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
Law students can recognize a problem lurking in the California Democrat’s otherwise laudatory statement that no one is above law. The problem is that defendants don’t need to prove their innocence at trial. Defendants have no burden at all. Rather, the burden is on the government to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. (Also, if I’m being picky, and I am, we can’t presume that the grand jury “acted upon the facts and the law,” though a judge will review transcripts of the grand jury presentation in evaluating Trump’s inevitable motion to dismiss the indictment.)
Cruz, a former Supreme Court clerk and litigator, is aware of the burden of proof in criminal cases. And despite Trump having nastily attacked Cruz and his family in the past, the senator nonetheless defended his party’s de facto leader:
Cruz is correct that Pelosi had it backward. But he took a wrong turn in prejudging the case by calling it “frivolous & an abuse of power.” As I wrote earlier today, there’s just no way for us to meaningfully start analyzing the case before knowing the charges and the prosecution’s theory of the case.
Stay tuned as our politicians continue to embarrass themselves as this historic case unfolds.