Nancy Pelosi Mocked for Erroneous Tweet Saying Trump Must Prove His Innocence at Trial

The former House speaker is being compared to the Queen of Hearts in ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland,’ who famously said ‘sentence first, verdict afterwards.’

Via Wikimedia Commons
Sir John Tenniel's illustration of 'The Queen's Croquet-Ground' in ‘Alice's Adventures in Wonderland,’ detail. Via Wikimedia Commons

A former Democratic speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, turned the presumption of innocence on its head in a recent tweet about President Trump. She is now earning a rebuke from Twitter and providing a warning about letting passions rule rather than the law.

“The Grand Jury has acted upon the facts and the law,” Mrs. Pelosi tweeted, adding, “No one is above the law,” a scold that I predicted we’d hear in an earlier Sun column that listed the many — including members of Congress — who are, in fact, given Get Out of Jail Free cards.

“Everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence,” Mrs. Pelosi said, prompting a Fox Business host and writer, David Asman, to call the statement “revealing” for illustrating how those Mr. Trump has driven mad as hatters would deny him rights enjoyed by even the worst criminals.

In 1865, Lewis Carroll published his farce, “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.” In it, as soon as the White Rabbit finishes outlining the charges against Alice, the King of Hearts demands the jury begin deliberations.

“Not yet!” the Rabbit says. “There’s a great deal to come before that!” The trial concludes and the King again commands, “Let the jury consider their verdict,” prompting an objection from the Queen of Hearts, who has moved the goalposts once again. “No, no!” she says, “Sentence first, verdict afterwards.”

That’s the message of Mrs. Pelosi’s tweet, which Twitter rebuked with “added context” from readers — though in America, there is no “context” where “innocent until proven guilty” is reversed.

Twitter’s note reads: “Ms. Pelosi mistakenly says that Trump can prove his innocence at trial. Law in the U.S. assumes the innocence of a defendant and the prosecution must prove guilt for a conviction.” These are enumerated in the Fifth, Sixth, and 14th Amendments, and were confirmed by the Supreme Court in 1895’s Coffin v. U.S.

“Hopefully,” Mrs. Pelosi’s tweet also read, “the former president will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right.” Again, that’s not how America works. “The system” does not grant our liberties; the Declaration of Independence states that citizens are “endowed by their Creator” with them.

This is why those rights are described as “inalienable” in the Declaration, meaning they cannot be separated from the individual by man or mob. God installs them standard at the factory.

Instead of holding “these truths to be self-evident,” sentiments like Mrs. Pelosi’s are more in line with the head of the USSR’s secret police, Lavrentiy Beria. While rooting out opponents of a Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, Beria said, “Show me the man and I’ll show you the crime.”

Disliking people — even those who deserve disdain — cannot lead us to void their rights. “Whoever fights monsters,” as Friedrich Nietzsche said, “should see to it that, in the process, he does not become a monster.”

The dictator of Nazi Germany was indeed a monster, yet America did not need to become Adolf Hitler to defeat him. On the contrary, we provided his minions a defense at Nuremberg, showcasing for the world a democratic contrast to the show trials the regime had held in that very city.

Closer to home and our time is President Nixon. “Always remember,” he said in his farewell to the White House staff, “others may hate you, but those who hate you don’t win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself.” 

With these reflections, the deeper importance of Twitter rebuking Mrs. Pelosi emerges as about far more than her or Mr. Trump. It’s a warning to all who would join a mob: The rights you rip from someone else today may be stripped with greater ease from you tomorrow.

As the Sun wrote after reports of Mr. Trump’s indictment leaked Thursday, this may be “a case not of the former president being above the law, but below the law.” If that comes to pass, it will be one small step to shredding the Constitution and one giant leap to a day where “sentence first, verdict afterwards” becomes the norm, reducing us all to mere subjects of a dystopian Wonderland.

The New York Sun

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