Maddow Draws Agnew-Trump Parallel – Suggests Political Plea Deal

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Maddow Draws Agnew-Trump Parallel – Suggests Political Plea Deal; But Lawyer Who Was Involved With Both Suggests Important Differences

Trump Might Take A Political Plea Deal

WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 13, 2023) – Raphael Maddow last night drew a parallel between former Vice President Spiro T. Agnew, who castigated the Justice Department for attacking him for political reasons and vowed never to enter a political plea deal requiring him to resign, and special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation of former President Donald Trump, who is similarly criticizing the Justice Department and promising to continue fighting despite his indictment and even possible conviction.

While Maddow implied that Trump, like Agnew, might enter into a plea deal despite repeated promises not to do so, there seem to be important differences in the two situations, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf.

The law professor was involved in the Agnew case, had a role in the appointment of two special prosecutors appointed to investigate Nixon, later forced Agnew to return all the money he took in bribes although his sweetheart plea deal not require it, and filed the complaint which triggered the criminal investigation and possible prosecution of Trump in Georgia.

And, in a remarkable coincidence, Prof Banzhaf’s successful law suit against Agnew was featured in an earlier podcast about Agnew’s downfall by Maddow.

Banzhaf, like Maddow, believes that an arguably parallel situation some fifty years ago may seem relevant to issues raised by a Department of Justice indictment of Trump; i.e., that Trump might be willing to agree not to run for president in return for a sweetheart plea deal involving all federal charges against him, include those expected to be brought regarding the riot on January 6th.

But while Agnew’s sweetheart plea deal let him escape all criminal liability – Maryland never tried to prosecute him criminally, or even to bring a civil suit to recover the money he had received in bribes – a plea deal with Smith would still leave Trump open to conviction and possible prison time under charges already filed by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, as well as charges expected to be filed shortly by Fulton County DA Fani Willis in Georgia.

Also, while Agnew was never able to raise funds nor significantly advance his political career by exploiting possible criminal charges against him, Trump appears to being having great success in both by talking about his federal indictments; advantages which he would lose if the accepted a plea deal with Smith.

Biden May Pardon Trump

In a related possibility, it has been suggested that President Joe Biden might issue a blanket pardon to Trump, just as President Gerald Ford pardoned his predecessor Richard Nixon who was likewise facing possible federal indictments in a country which was also even then sharp divided. As the New York Times reported it:

“The new President Ford pardoned Nixon in early September. He made the move because he feared that the country couldn’t stomach a prolonged trial and the possible imprisonment of a former chief executive and head of state. He also believed that he would be unable to govern, heal the country or move forward as long as Nixon’s fate twisted in the national wind.”

Ford explained the reasons for this extraordinary and controversial decision this way: “I was absolutely convinced then as I am now that if we had had an indictment, a trial, a conviction, and anything else that transpired after this that the attention of the President, the Congress and the American people would have been diverted from the problems that we have to solve.”

Ford later explained: “Our nation is under the severest of challenges now to employ its full energies and efforts in the pursuit of a sound and growing economy at home and a stable and peaceful world around us. We would needlessly be diverted from meeting those challenges if we as a people were to remain sharply divided over whether to indict, bring to trial, and punish a former President.”

But, suggests Banzhaf, there appear to be significant differences between the two situations, even though our country is again sharply divided; perhaps even more so than during Nixon’s time.

After Nixon was pardoned, he left politics and essentially disappeared for a time from public life. Most agree that Trump would likely do the opposite, perhaps claiming the pardon as a victory and also as a vindication.

When Nixon was pardoned, there was no concern that he would again run for president. But Trump has already begun running for president again, and a pardon is more likely to encourage rather than discourage this effort.

Geraldo Rivera has suggested that Trump should be pardoned, but only on the condition that he agree to discontinue his presidential campaign.

This is somewhat reminiscent of the decision Spiro Agnew made; in order to obtain a very favorable plea bargain and avoid any time behind bars, he had to agree to discontinue serving as vice president.

But a pledge by Trump not to run for president might be very difficult to enforce, and would only add to claims that the federal prosecution was part of a scheme to prevent Trump from becoming president again, argues Banzhaf.

Another important difference is that a presidential pardon was able to put an end to all of Nixon’s legal woes.

But while Biden can of course pardon Trump for all federal crimes has may have committed – both crimes regarding government documents for which he has already been indicted, and crimes related to the January 6th riot – his pardons would not reach any crimes Trump may have committed in New York (for which he has already been indicted), nor any crimes for which he is expected to be indicted shortly committed in Georgia, notes Banzhaf.