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Douglas Brinkley and the lesson of Trump's guilty verdict

Douglas Brinkley and the lesson of Trump's guilty verdict
Douglas Brinkley and the lesson of Trump's guilty verdict 02:08

Two years shy of this country's 250th birthday, 12 New York jurors have convicted former President Donald Trump on 34 counts for falsifying business records in an attempt to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

When the guilty verdicts were read this past week, America—in a tangible way—rechristened itself as a republic.

It was a sobering reminder that every American is precisely equal before the law.

I have always admired Thomas Jefferson for wanting no title before his name except "Mister." Like the other founders, he didn't want or expect special treatment under the law. Former President Trump's conviction proves that, in the eyes of the law, even an ex-president is just another "mister."

It's also worth noting that this kind of jury trial never could have happened in the authoritarian countries that Mr. Trump so admires. Xi of China, Russia's Putin, Hungary's Orbán, Erdoğan of Turkey—none would ever be tried by a jury of their peers.

Unlike those countries, the United States vigorously upholds the rule of law. Our founders ardently believed "liberty and justice for all" would bring monarchs, despots, and populist demagogues to heel.

The good news is our judicial system ran a cogent and fair trial in New York.

The Manhattan Criminal Court has changed American presidential history forever. Out of 46 Presidents, only Mr. Trump carries the ignoble albatross of "convicted felon." It's a sad phrase, but it also gives reason to rejoice that Jefferson's republic is new all over again.

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Story produced by Robert Marston. Editor: Ed GIvnish. 

See also: 

Trump's guilty verdict: A stress test for democracy 04:47

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