Witch hunt of Trump allies continues, as Cy Vance goes after pardoned man

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Is there anything more politicized than the criminal justice system in an administration run by Democrats?

Yes . . . a criminal justice system run by elected Democrats in a blue-dyed stronghold, such as New York City, ensnared by one-party politics.

That is not mere politicization of the justice system. It is weaponization of the justice system against political enemies. Ken Kurson is the latest Trump World habitue to learn that the hard way.

Kurson, the former editor of The New York Observer, is a close friend of former President Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner, as well as a one-time speechwriter for Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. He is also a jackass — or, at the very least, conducted himself like one several years ago when his marriage was disintegrating.

Kurson’s obnoxious behavior, which involved harassing people involved in his personal drama, came to the attention of the FBI only because Trump nominated him to sit on the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities. By normal prosecution standards, it was ancient history, having occurred in 2015, and dubious grist for criminal charges.

Jared Kushner and Ken Kurson attend an event together in 2013.
Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

Federal prosecutors in Brooklyn nevertheless filed a criminal complaint weeks before the 2020 election. The “cyberstalking” case never reached the indictment stage because Trump pardoned Kurson before leaving office, reasoning that there would have been no criminal case but for the political connection.

As if to prove the former president’s point, Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance swung into action. The federal investigation had uncovered evidence that Kurson had used a computer program to spy on his then wife, whom he suspected of having an affair. Vance has charged Kurson with felony electronic eavesdropping.

Donald J. Trump
Former President Donald Trump nominated Ken Kurson to sit on the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

At a time when violent crime is surging and the district attorney has declined to prosecute a raft of cases arising out of last summer’s deadly rioting and looting, there is no enforcement justification for devoting resources to a six-year-old non-violent domestic-relations matter.

Kurson’s own ex-wife doesn’t want this pursued. In his pardon application, she wrote that she “repeatedly asked for the FBI to drop it . . . I hired a lawyer to protect me from being forced into yet another round of questioning. My disgust with this arrest and the subsequent articles is bottomless.”

This is sheer political retribution.

What’s stunning is how unabashed Vance is about that. Announcing the charges, he brayed, “We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York.” Kurson is not being punished for the alleged crimes; he’s being punished for being a Trump crony who got a pardon.

Jared Kushner
Ken Kurson is a close friend of Jared Kushner.
REUTERS/Shereen Talaat/File Photo

It is not the first time. Vance earlier indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort after Trump pardoned him for convictions arising out of the Mueller investigation. It was a blatant violation of New York’s double-jeopardy protections, and the state courts threw it out.

Vance, meanwhile, has spent years and resources — including two trips to the Supreme Court — trying to nail Trump himself on what he hoped were frauds burrowed in the former president’s financial records. After finally getting access to the records, he still has no case. Did he drop it? Of course not: he is now squeezing the Trump organization’s chief financial officer — charging him with bookkeeping improprieties that, in any other instance, would be settled in civil litigation. But it’s Trump, so New York Democrats must treat it as the crime of the century.

In New York, unlike in the federal government, top prosecutor posts are elected rather than appointed positions. That’s why state attorney general Letitia James, a progressive darling, campaigned on a promise to spare no effort to sue or prosecute Trump. The system lends itself to abuse.

There is a term for the exploitation of government police power to crush political foes: banana republic.

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