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Donald Trump

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Donald Trump has invoked his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in a civil case, and if he ever stands trial on criminal charges, neither a judge or a jury may take that as evidence of guilt. But in the court of common sense, we are entitled to reach the obvious conclusion: Trump has committed crimes and wants to keep them secret.

The Fifth Amendment privilege, after all, is not to refuse to exonerate oneself. It's to refuse to incriminate oneself. Answering questions truthfully, as a rule, is incriminating only to someone who has done something wrong.

In our daily lives, everyone understands this. If you ask a coworker if he took your sandwich and he declines to reply, you have identified the thief. If you ask your child if she cut class and she says it's none of your business, you can guess the answer. Innocent people with solid alibis are usually eager to speak up on their own behalf.

But Trump is a master of stonewalling. When he faces suspicions of wrongdoing, the man who never tires of talking about himself falls into surly silence. So when investigators for the New York attorney general asked him questions related to whether he engaged in financial deception, he took the Fifth some 440 times.

The privilege against self-incrimination serves as a shield against police coercion. It requires the government to shoulder the full burden of proof before it can send someone to prison. It's an important safeguard in our criminal justice system

But there is no denying that Trump's use of it suggests a consciousness of guilt. He had refused to appear when subpoenaed by the attorney general, and he complied only when a state court ordered him to do so.

Concealing the truth is as natural to Trump as cheating at golf. He has declined to release his tax returns, as every other presidential nominee has done for decades. He refused to be interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller during the investigation of Russia's interference in the 2016 election. He made a practice of tearing up documents that he was legally obligated to preserve.

He denounced the FBI's search of his Mar-a-Lago estate as part of a partisan "witch hunt." But he chose not to make public the search warrant, which had to specify what material the FBI was looking for and the crimes it suspected. Attorney General Merrick Garland finally asked a judge to release it and a list of the evidence collected. Trump, his bluff called, decided not to object.

Trump claims the congressional committee investigating the January 6 Capitol riot is determined to "damage me in any form." But he has tried to block every attempt to learn what he and his aides did during, before, and after the bloody siege.

The White House phone log from that day contains a gap of more than seven hours, even though he is known to have made calls during that period. Clearly, he was actively trying to avoid leaving a trail of his communications.

He ordered some of his chief advisers not to comply with the committee's subpoenas to give testimony. One of them, Stephen Bannon, was convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to appear and could go to prison for two years.

Trump has not hesitated to justify his conduct around the Jan. 6 insurrection and in condemning his critics. He accuses the January 6 committee of presenting a shamefully one-sided case, with no witnesses to defend him. But why does he need witnesses to defend him? Nothing is stopping him from appearing before the committee to give his version of events. Trump, however, is unwilling to take that stage.

The reason, it's fair to assume, is the same as the reason that he took refuge behind the Fifth Amendment when grilled by the attorney general of New York. A guilty person, speaking under oath, has three options: 1) lie and risk being prosecuted for perjury; 2) tell the truth and risk being prosecuted for breaking the law,; and 3) zip his mouth.

The third option has its downside, such as reasonable people concluding that you're a criminal. But better for Trump to be thought a criminal by the general public than to be convicted in court and locked up for his crimes.

Trump can blather nonstop against the FBI, the Justice Department, state law enforcement officials, and the January 6 committee. But it's his silences that tell the real story.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.

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Interesting headline in The New York Times: "In an Unequal Economy, the Poor Face Inflation Now and Job Loss Later."

This headline appeared last Monday, after more than 50 straight days of falling gasoline prices, the biggest inflation fear. Once exceeding $5 a gallon, the price of gas in many states was already down below $4 a gallon.

As for "job loss later," what do we mean by "later"? Later includes eternity. What we do know is that more than 500,000 Americans were hired last month, greatly exceeding economists' predictions. The unemployment rate is at a 50-year low, and employers remain desperate for help.

We must recognize that it takes a good deal of mental dexterity to write successful clickbait headlines. But when the headline contradicts the reporting — much of it in the same news source — you have an "alternative facts" situation.

Although the Times is considered liberal, it is also hyper-woke and sensitive to left-fringe feelings. That translates into constant carping against the Democratic leadership for not doing enough — enough of what, not always specified.

The mindset further stipulates that the working poor must be subject to pity and that good news for this group cannot be acknowledged. That's why the report that average hourly earnings grew more than five percent in July from a year earlier — after similar annual gains each month this year — sat so unappreciated.

In truth, it doesn't matter whether the news is good or bad. President Joe Biden must always be seen as not meeting expectations. A rhetorical trick to this end is inserting a "but" in the middle of a headline tied to an encouraging development. An example that just popped up in the Times: "Slowing inflation gave Biden a reprieve but high prices remain a political problem."

The right accuses CNN of also being in the pocket of Democrats, but the news channel rarely presents good news without inserting its own big "but." While reporting on the slowing of inflation, anchor Christine Romans bizarrely added, "That job market is still too hot."

In addition to gas prices, the cost of food is down. Nonetheless, CNN tied the inflation report saying just that to a segment about food shoppers in Philadelphia complaining about ... the prices. One need not go far to find someone willing to gripe about the cost of eggs.

In any case, these are First World problems. If the price of filet mignon has some consumers switching to cheaper chicken, well, the sun will still rise tomorrow at dawn. (Caviar also costs way too much, don't you think?)

This consumer whining gets tied to Biden's low approval numbers. And the low numbers must — The Story goes — get tied to inevitable disaster for Democrats in the midterms.

But a recent Monmouth University poll has 50 percent of adults preferring Democrats in the midterm elections, versus 43 percent for Republicans. Perhaps, just perhaps, the popularity of the president doesn't predetermine what will happen in November. What about the unpopularity of the opposition?

CNN had Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan on to comment on the FBI search of Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago home. Duncan is a good Republican who fears that putting Trump back in the headlines will hurt his party in the midterms.

"I'm one of those Republicans that wishes we were sitting there, talking about how bad Joe Biden is doing, how bad inflation is," he said. Never mind that Biden is doing well and that inflation seems to be coming down. Duncan is just passing on the Republican Party talking points.

But Republicans don't have to do that. So-called liberal media is doing it for them.

Reprinted with permission from Creators.