COMMENT: Unlike other democracies, US is wary of prosecuting former presidents

NEW YORK: If Monday’s FBI search of Donald Trump’s Florida home leads to the impeachment of the former president, as supporters fear and critics hope, then citizens of democracies around the world could ask Americans : “What held them back?”

The United States has fallen behind in an important measure of liberty: holding former leaders accountable under the law. From Brazil, France, and South Africa to Israel, the Philippines, and South Korea, many of the world’s leading democracies have tried, and often sentenced, former presidents and prime ministers, primarily for crimes committed, undercover, or both while in power. . .

The indicted list includes such prominent figures as Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy of France, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Dilma Rousseff and Michel Temer of Brazil, Jacob Zuma of South Africa, Park Geun-Hye of South Korea, and Silvio Berlusconi of Italy. .

The closest a US president came to joining the list was Watergate, but Richard Nixon was pardoned by his successor, Gerald Ford, before facing a day in court.

Ford’s explanation, that Americans “would be unnecessarily sidetracked from meeting (our) challenges if we as a people remained deeply divided” over Nixon’s impeachment, has been invoked by those seeking to draw a charitable curtain over the misdeeds of Mr. subsequent occupants of the building. the White House, in particular Bill Clinton, George W Bush and, of course, Trump.

And this is not just a matter of partisan politics. Americans are generally wary of prosecuting former presidents.

In a recent PBS NewsHour/NPR/Marist poll, just over half of all respondents said Trump should face criminal charges, and only 28 percent felt he would, for his role in the January 6, 2021 insurrection. at the US Capitol

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