Why Donald Trump Won't Be Held Accountable by Our Justice System

My house is crazy. In a good way, but crazy nonetheless. It's full of kids, dogs, and chickens—each desperately needing to be fed. You know what else it's full of? Charging cords. Everywhere. I'm up to my eyeballs with them. For everybody's phones. And now, with 5 kids and adults in the house enrolled in school, we have a full on war for computer chargers. It's brutal. Of course, none of the Apple chargers work for any of the other computers. And even some of the MacBook chargers don't work for other MacBooks. Each cord and clunky square white charging box has been built to be able to do a very specific job for a very specific computer—and even when some of the cords and boxes seem interchangeable, they aren't.

That was my metaphor for the American justice system. It might look like it was built for everybody, and that the millions of laws and policies we have here apply equally to every citizen, but I assure you, that's simply not the case. I wish that was true, but white men, even without money and power, never needed an emancipation proclamation or constitutional amendment just to make sure this country treated them with dignity and respect.

Trump Jan 6 Fraud
Many of the winners in this year's GOP primaries for the November midterm elections have publicly supported former president Donald Trump's inaccurate claims that fraud cost him the 2020 elections. Pictured, a video image of Trump during a House Select Committee held on June 13, 2022, hearing to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the US Capitol. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The American justice and legal system is primarily about punishment. First off, let's be very clear on something—it does very little correcting or rehabilitating. When certain people get out of line, police and prosecutors are in place to make sure those people are punished, penalized, and removed from society for their behavior. It's nowhere near cut and dry that whoever breaks the law is who gets punished. It's about who breaks the law in certain zip codes, from certain backgrounds, with certain income brackets. It's why Black and white New Yorkers have smoked weed at an identical rate for the past generation, but 95 percent of the arrests and prosecutions have been of Black and Brown New Yorkers. Weed has been functionally legal in New York for white people since the 1970s. Why? Because who gets policed and who doesn't for smoking it has always been more about race and wealth than public safety.

The harsh truth about the systems of justice and punishment in America is that the machines that keep those systems moving were created to protect white people, white property, and particularly white power, and to punish Black and Brown people by any means necessary. It's why you won't find a single honest political observer in America that believes Black people or Muslims would've ever been allowed to storm America's Capitol, take it over, threaten to hang its vice president, while destroying offices and heirlooms alike. And then walk away and go home with next to no resistance.

And it's why Donald Trump is being investigated by at least half a dozen different prosecutorial and investigative bodies across the country without a single charge filed. It's widely accepted that he brought tens of thousands of his supporters to Washington DC on the very specific date of January 6th to somehow overturn the legal results of the presidential election. We've learned ad nauseum that he was repeatedly told that no verifiable election fraud was preventing him from winning the race, but he didn't care. And to this day he doesn't care—continuing to lie about being cheated out of the presidency.

But these bodies that are investigating Trump simply were not built to hold rich, powerful, popular white men accountable. These systems were built to protect those kinds of men. And as much as we want to squeeze and contort and force these systems to go against their own intent and design in order to actually hold powerful white men accountable, everything I see suggests it will do no such thing.

It's not about the quality of evidence. The evidence is rock solid.

It's not about the articulation of the argument. That's just fine.

It's that we are asking, needing even, the American justice system, that was built on the backs of enslaved Africans, inked with their blood, to now go against its very nature. Of all the presidents in American history, and all the criminal ugliness that they've done at home and abroad, did you know that only one American president has ever been arrested for a crime?

Guess who.

It was President Ulysses S. Grant—arrested, and literally taken to jail, for repeatedly speeding around DC in a horse drawn carriage. And guess who had the unmitigated gall, the nerve, to do such a thing? A young Black man, a Civil War veteran, formerly enslaved himself, named William West of the DC Metro Police Department. That might feel like a whole hell of a lot of irony. But it's deeper than that. It was the whole system, in the midst of Reconstruction, turned upside down on its head.

William West broke the code.

It had never happened before.

It never happened again.

And I won't hold my breath for it to happen with Donald Trump—no matter what he does.