Not everybody remembers the early history of the Nazis. Hitler’s party had failed to achieve some of his goals. He and his Stormtroopers had gotten busted in September 1921 for attacking a meeting of the Bavaria Union, for which Hitler had gone to prison for a month. In short, he was on the radar of local law enforcement.
But funny thing–the Weimar Republic didn’t watch the Nazis very much, even after it was clear they were violent thugs. And many in law enforcement were downright sympathetic to the causes the Nazis were pushing, which meant they handled the Nazis with kid gloves. Not like anything that could happen in the US.
Anyway, fast forward to 1923. The Nazis stage a coup (or Putsch) in Munich to replace the leadership with good fascists. Hitler leads it and is wounded in the subsequent street battles. Sixteen Nazis and four Police officers are killed, and Hitler goes on trial for Treason. Could have–should have–been sent away for a long time considering that police had died. Imagine how a US police unit would’ve responded to letting a cop killer off. Larry Davis got a not guilty verdict after there was a shoot-out with corrupt cops in the NYPD and the police unions went ballistic. Hitler committed a treasonous act and was found guilty by the judges. What was his sentence? Five years (he could’ve gotten at least a decade) at a military prison (where discipline was lax and prisoners had free time) and he served less than a year. He used his free time to write MEIN KAMPF.
By the way, the writeup of the Putsch in Wikipedia goes into a lot of great detail–I’m trying to keep this under 800 words, but you get a full sense of the pro-fascist feelings in Germany that lead to Hitler’s quick exit from jail for a crime that should have left him in the graybar hotel for at least a decade. Go here: ).
And that brings us to the present, when Trump crony Paul Manafort went in for sentencing for his crimes. He was looking at 15-25 years for his crimes. Judge Ellis, a good Republican, gave him… 47 months.
I’m not saying that Manafort’s crimes for Trump are on the same level as Hitler’s crimes (prior to the war, that is–Hitler’s judge in the Munich Putsch case had also given Adolf a really light sentence in 1921). The Reichstag fire was nine years away (1924-1933). It was thought by the German upper-crust that the Nazis would make things safer for them (after all, Germany had Communist and Socialist parties, and you can’t let THEM wield power).
But it makes me wonder. After all, many of the people picked for judicial appointments by W Bush and now Trump will have LIFETIME APPOINTMENTS. We have reason to suspect that many of those people think of themselves as Republicans first, Americans Second. We know, for example, that Sandra Day O’Connor was the swing vote in Bush V Gore 2000, and we know that part of that decision (told to her colleagues) is she wanted to retire and she didn’t want Gore to pick her replacement–merits of the recount be damned. But back to the present, acting AG Matthew Whitaker told a congressional inquiry that he had seen pardon paperwork. He didn’t elaborate, but what if Trump doesn’t need to pardon some of the people in question? If people look at Manaford’s sentence and decide they’d rather take their chances with the Judiciary than wait for Trump to bail them out? Trump may be saving up the pardons for his kids, after all.
Is the judiciary swung so far to the right that we can’t count on them to enforce the law?
We live in interesting times.