The criminal indictments of former President Trump have created a political crisis in their unprecedented nature. Historically, U.S. presidents have not faced criminal charges even in cases where there is a high likelihood of guilt, in large part due to respect for the office. Gerald Ford’s pardon of Richard Nixon embodies this norm.
What can the U.S. learn from other countries that have prosecuted former presidents? And what can we learn from American history about the prosecutions of political figures? Is the prosecution of former heads of state simply the weaponization of justice mechanisms? And how common is this political charge? [ dur: 58mins. ]
Jeremi Suri is Professor in the Department of History and the LBJ School of Public Affairs and the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of The Impossible Presidency: The Rise and Fall of America’s Highest Office and his latest book Civil War by Other Means: America’s Long and Unfinished Fight For Democracy. He hosts the podcast This is Democracy.
Tom Ginsburg is Leo Spitz Professor of International Law and Ludwig and Hilde Wolf Research Scholar at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of the books The Endurance of National Constitutions, Constitutions in Authoritarian Regimes,and co-author of the paper The Comparative Constitutional Law of Presidential Impeachment.
- Ezequiel González Ocantos is Associate Professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations, and a Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College, at the University of Oxford. He is the author of Shifting Legal Visions: Judicial Change and Human Rights Trials in Latin America, The Politics of Transitional Justice in Latin America: Power, Norms and Capability Building, and co-author of Prosecutors, Voters, and the Criminalisation of Corruption in Latin America(w/ Paula Muñoz, Nara Pavao & Viviana Baraybar).
This program is produced by Ankine Aghassian, Doug Becker, Mihika Chechi, Melissa Chiprin, and Sudd Dongre.