A couple of days ago, Vice News decided to look at the parameters of a "jail to the chief" scenario and their Greg Walters was especially interested in the idea about what jailing Señor Trumpanzee would say about America since no president has ever been prosecuted before. Around the world, heads of state have rarely paid for their crime. A few have been executed here and there (like Romanian dictators Ion Antonescu and Nicolae Ceaușescu, Saddam Hussein, Tojo, Hungarian fascist László Bárdossy, Pakistan's Ali Bhutto, Adnan Menderes of Turkey, Benito Mussolini, England's Charles I, Nicolas II of Russia and France's Louis XVI) but even when they're tried and convicted many wind up under house arrest, not actually in prison (examples include the father of Algerian independence and that country's first president Ahmed Ben Bella, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe, Pol Pot, Silvio Berlusconi of Italy, Ne Win of Burma, Carlos Menem of Argentina, Sukarno and Suharto of Indonesia, Jean-Claude Duvalier of Haiti, Tunisia's father of independence and first president Habib Bourguiba, Haile Selassie and Aung San Suu Kyi.)
Heads of state who just straight up went to prison included Chun Doo-hwan and Lee Wan-koo of South Korea, Bangladesh's Hossain Mohammed Ershad, French prime minister François Fillon, Peru's Alberto Fujimori, Leopoldo Galtieri of Argentina, Indira Gandhi (briefly), Greece's Georgios Papadopoulos, Hosni Mubarak, East Germany's Erich Honecker, Isabel Peron of Argentina, Turkey's Kenan Evren, Japanese prime minister Kakuei Tanaka, Lula da Silva of Brazil, Philippe Pétain and Pierre Laval of Vichy France, Congo's Patrice Lumumba, Slobodan Milosevic of Serbia, Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan, Pervez Musharraf and Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan, Augusto Pinochet of Chile, and, more or less, Nicolas Sarkozy of France.
Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy who was imprisoned from 1865 until 1869. He was given an amnesty by Confederate sympathizer Andrew Johnson, widely considered the worst U.S. president before Trump.
Walters noted that "prosecutors are closing in on Trump and may be ready to charge him with a crime. "But indicting an ex-commander in chief might say more about America than it does about Trump. No former president has ever been formally charged before. And while prosecuting an ex-president would send the message that no one is above the law, it also comes with risks-- including further destabilizing an already divided country, and potentially normalizing the use of prosecutorial powers against defeated political opponents... Biden has expressed unease about the long-term consequences of such a move, while also stressing he won’t interfere with his Department of Justice’s decision-making on Trump.
The video, despite all the silliness, is worth watching on a lazy summer weekend. If Nixon wasn't indicted, would any president ever be? The video gets serious-- more or less-- just after the halfway mark, but doesn't really move the argument along much because Walters would rather be cute and, presumably, relatable than too serious. The real story here though, is that America is so corrupt as a society that a president-- even a career criminal like Trump-- can't really do anything for which he'll be held accountable, the way, say, Slobodan Milosevic, Robert Mugabe and Czar Nicholas were.