At Donald Trump’s unhinged press conference yesterday, he ranted on about how Brett Kavanaugh is innocent until proven guilty.
“When you are guilty until proven innocent, it is just not supposed to be that way. Always I heard you are innocent until proven guilty. I have heard this for so long, and it is such a beautiful phrase.”
Innocent until proven guilty is indeed a “beautiful phrase”. However, the presumption of innocence is a legal right of the accused in a criminal trial that puts the burden of proof on the prosecution to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not a right that would preclude a trial. The burden of proof to begin a trial is probable cause: a reasonable amount of suspicion, supported by circumstances sufficiently strong to justify a prudent and cautious person’s belief that certain facts are probably true.
The GOP Senators on the Judiciary committee seem to have concluded that there is probable cause to ask for testimony from Dr. Christine Blasey Ford regarding the sexual assault accusation against Brett Kavanaugh, and to bring in a criminal prosecutor, Rachel Mitchell, to interrogate Dr. Ford. This testimony and interrogation is being treated in the same manner as a trial, and the purpose of a trial is to deem whether a crime was committed by a defendant.
However, a trial does not just end with the testimony and interrogation of the accuser and defendant. If there are other potential witnesses, they are also called to testify. If there are corroborating actions by the defendant, evidence of those actions are entered.
In this case, there is a named witness by the accuser: Mark Judge.
Yet, the GOP Senators have refused to call any of these people to testify. Why? If the point of this testimony by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford is to determine if Brett Kavanaugh has committed sexual assault, why are Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh the only people they have called to testify? The only reasonable conclusion is that the GOP Senators on the Judiciary Committee are not actually interested in finding out if Brett Kavanaugh committed sexual assault. GOP Senators on the Judiciary Committee have instead purposefully tried to setup this hearing into a case of “he said, she said”, so that they can preserve reasonable doubt in order to intentionally maintain Brett Kavanaugh’s presumption of innocence.
It is not a coincidence that Donald Trump was rambling on about the “beautiful” phrase “innocent until proven guilty” yesterday. This is the GOP’s strategy: maintain Brett Kavanaugh’s presumption of innocence so that they can vote to confirm him to the Supreme Court.
This is what is known colloquially as a “show trial”: a judicial trial held in public with the intention of influencing or satisfying public opinion, rather than of ensuring justice.
But will the public be satisfied?