New York’s 2-Tiered Justice System

May 24, 2021 Updated: May 27, 2021

Commentary

New York clearly has a two-tiered justice system, at least for high-profile figures. I experienced this double standard of justice myself several years ago, as the Southern District of New York, working in conjunction with the Obama Department of Justice, prosecuted me for exceeding the campaign finance laws by $20,000.

I did indeed do that, but it was a first-time offense with no corruption or quid pro quo, and no American in the country’s history has been prosecuted, let alone locked up overnight for eight months, for doing what I did.

Much more typical than mine is the case of Sant Chatwal, a New York hotelier who gave more than $180,000 to a slew of Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton, using “straw donors,” as I did. Chatwal, however, did expect political favors in exchange for his money. Moreover, he engaged in witness tampering, urging one associate to lie to the FBI. Chatwal got a fine and community service but no prison time—a vastly lighter sentence than mine for a vastly more serious violation.

My experience, as it turns out, was an early sign of things to come. Now, the New York attorney general is going after Donald Trump. For what? Well, they aren’t exactly sure. What began as a civil investigation into Trump’s business operation has now expanded into a criminal inquiry. New York Attorney General Letitia James is working closely with Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance to find something that they can use to criminally indict Trump.

This seems to have been partly the goal of the FBI’s dawn raid on Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani, of course, is Trump’s attorney, and presumably, the government is examining not merely what Giuliani did but also what Giuliani’s records might reveal about Trump. The newly expanded criminal inquiry into the Trump Organization is a further escalation. Criminal investigations of this sort are typically crippling for any business because they make other parties wary of entering into contracts with a company under prosecutorial scrutiny.

Trump himself recognizes what’s going on. In a passionate statement, the former president lambasted James. Trump pointed out that she campaigned on a promise to go after him, to shut his business down, to pin whatever she could on him. And now, Trump says, she’s making good on that promise, launching what he accurately termed a “witch hunt.”

No American president has ever been charged in a criminal case, let alone gone to jail or prison, and one can only imagine the political ramifications of this occurring. But beyond this, what exactly has Trump done? The prosecutors won’t say. That’s because they don’t know themselves.

“There is nothing more corrupt,” Trump noted, “than an investigation that is in desperate search of a crime.”

It’s hard to disagree with Trump’s conclusion: “If you can run for a prosecutor’s office pledging to take out your enemies, and be elected to that job by partisan voters who wish to enact political retribution, then we are no longer a free constitutional democracy.” The objective, here as with the Trump impeachments, seems clearly directed at preventing Trump from running again, which is to say, at preventing the American voters from choosing him again in 2024.

All of this is going on at the same time that the New York attorney general—the very same Letitia James—is conducting a non-investigation of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. I use the term “non-investigation” because this is an investigation that seems to be functioning more as a cover-up.

The contrast between the aggression of the Trump investigation and the passivity of the Cuomo investigation couldn’t be more stark. With Trump, there’s no clear-cut offense. With Cuomo, there are at least two. First, multiple women have credibly accused Cuomo of sexual harassment. These are credible accusations because some of these women worked for Cuomo, they are all Democrats, and their descriptions of Cuomo’s behavior all fit together to create a pattern.

A single charge of sexual harassment, uncorroborated by a single witness, from decades ago, by a woman who was clearly a political adversary, almost sunk the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh. If Cuomo was a Republican, he would have resigned already. Leading Democrats in New York have called for Cuomo to step down. But he refuses, while the attorney general investigation is underway.

Two months into this investigation, the women involved have only just received subpoenas to testify. This is obviously a delaying tactic. Meanwhile, The New York Times cites a source saying the probe is likely to continue through the summer, possibly into the fall. Bottom line: The New York prosecutors are hoping to stall and take the political heat off the governor. Maybe the women will also become frustrated and move on.

Then there’s the other, even more serious, Cuomo scandal. This isn’t merely the scandal of sending COVID-19 patients to nursing homes, where they infected elderly residents and may have caused upwards of 15,000 deaths. This was horrible political judgment, in part the result of Cuomo’s refusal to make use of the Navy ship that Trump sent to New York harbor to alleviate the stress on New York hospitals.

But public officials can’t be criminally prosecuted for lapses in judgment. Cuomo’s real crime would seem to lie in his cover-up. Under specific direction from the governor and his staff, the New York authorities concealed the death toll in the nursing homes. At first, it seemed like Cuomo’s motivation for this cover-up was to avoid giving political ammunition to the Trump administration.

Now, it’s clear that Cuomo also sought to conceal the body count from Democratic officials in New York. He didn’t want the information to get out to the media. Why? Because Cuomo was at the time writing a book. He was being lionized in the media as a genuine leader who knew how to deal with COVID. Cuomo sought to portray an image of New York doing better than other states, even though his own data showed that it was doing markedly worse.

This is potentially criminal. It’s also impeachable conduct, even by the most exacting standard. Yet, New York Democrats have blocked impeachment proceedings. Why? Pending the “investigation.” So once again, the attorney general is the point person here, and her actions—or more accurately, inactions—clearly suggest that she’s stalling for time to tamp down the political heat.

Democrats, of course, are part of the scheme. They don’t want to impeach Cuomo. They merely want it to appear publicly like they’re taking the two scandals seriously. So James isn’t merely covering for Cuomo; she’s also covering for the New York Democratic establishment.

Bottom line: When we contrast the disparate treatment of Trump and Cuomo, we can hardly deny that Lady Justice in New York is not blind but rather ideologically motivated.

Dinesh D’Souza is an author, filmmaker, and daily host of the Dinesh D’Souza podcast.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.