Kelly John Walker
George Santos was arrested Wednesday, May 10 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and charged with seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds and two counts of lying on congressional financial forms.
Obviously, he’s guilty, right?
Not so fast…
Presumed Innocence is Foundational
The presumption of innocence is enshrined in common law systems going back to the Code of Hammurabi. This legal maxim applies to anyone charged with a crime, ensuring that the defendant is treated as innocent until they are proven guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt” in a court of law. Prosecutors must prove a defendant’s guilt rather than a defendant having to prove their innocence.
In other words, no one is obliged to go to court to prove they’re innocent. Rather, they have the opportunity to dismantle the prosecution’s allegations—they are even entitled to any exculpatory evidence the prosecution may have.
The presumption of innocence is a fundamental right recognized in various documents like The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Fifth, Sixth, and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.
English Common Law—from which U.S. law was birthed—swung from a presumption of guilt to the fundamental principle that one is considered innocent until proven guilty in the 19th Century. While trial by jury was established in 1219 by King Henry III, trial by combat remained an option in English law until 1819.
Trial by Ordeal
In medieval times, trial by ordeal was common.
According to Harvard Law School Professor, Elizabeth Papp Kamali, “It’s referred to as the judicium Dei, the judgment of God. The two methods used most typically in England were trial by cold water and trial by hot iron. In trial by cold water, a person would be dunked into a cistern. If they sank, they would be declared innocent, because the water had accepted them. If they floated, they would be declared guilty. In trial by hot iron, the priest would heat an iron, and at the appropriate point in the service, the accused would grasp the hot iron, walk a certain number of paces, and put it back down. The hand would be bandaged, and then three days later, the hand would be examined to see, not if the person had been burned or not burned, but whether the hand was healing or festering. If the hand appeared to be festering, they would be pronounced guilty. And if the hand seemed to be healing, they would be pronounced innocent.”
The U.S. Constitution enshrined the finest Justice System of its time, providing a model for the world to this day: “No State shall…deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws” (Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, Section 1).
“In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence” (Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution).
Standard jury instructions state that “In every criminal proceeding a defendant has the absolute right to remain silent…at no time do defendants have a duty to prove their innocence…from the exercise of a defendant’s right to remain silent, a jury is not permitted to draw any inference of guilty, and the fact that a defendant did not take the witness stand must not influence your verdict in any manner whatsoever.”
So, why, after hundreds if not thousands of years of legal precedent and worldwide acknowledgement of this foundational right is presumption of innocence dying in the “City on a Hill?” Once a beacon of hope for a world riddled by injustice and corruption, America has regressed because the U.S. Department of Justice is broken and corrupted.
Our society has a new system of “trial by ordeal,” but instead of fire and water, guilt is pronounced by the priests of the Legacy Media and social media mobs.
“How Americans Know Trump is Guilty,” a 2021 CNN article headline read. Okay, CNN, we don’t just “presume,” we KNOW. Why have courts at all?
This presumption of guilt is paired with selective enforcement and “protection” of the current regime’s criminals. The FBI lied to the American people and to Congress about Hunter’s laptop to shield him from prosecution and influence the 2020 election; they are ignoring the mounting evidence against “the big guy,” Joe Biden. But they’re going after Donald Trump, Miles Guo, and George Santos with a vengeance because they don’t have the “acceptable” politics.
And the Media is complicit in this as the mouthpiece of this corruption.
Mother Jones Magazine is one of the most destructive, puerile publications eroding the principle of presumed innocence. Senior reporter, Dan Friedman, who doesn’t bother with objective reporting (and who has ties to the Chinese Communist Party) has a long history of targeting anti-CCP dissidents, published an article suspiciously quickly after the indictment of George Santos—which “coincidentally” occurred on the day James Comer and the House Oversight and Accountability Committee revealed a trove of influence peddling against Joe Biden. It was also immediately following Santos’ support of Chinese Whistleblower icon, Miles Guo, who is still being held without bail by the Southern District of New York and DOJ, both increasingly criticized for prosecutorial misconduct.
Besides likening Mr. Guo to Santos and labeling him a “fraudster” and “definite liar” Friedman also wrote, “Santos showed up Friday…to back Guo supporters’ kooky conspiracy theory that their leader has been framed by the FBI at the behest of the Chinese Communist Party.”
Santos has the right to the presumption of innocence until he gets his day in court—no matter how Friedman or anyone else feels about it. Comparing Guo to Santos is a classic False Equivalence fallacy (also known as comparing apples to oranges). It is also a breathtaking demonstration of the Genetic Fallacy, whereby Friedman assumes that because Santos is facing charges, Guo must be guilty.
Don’t American Media programs teach basic logic anymore?
Utah Senator Mitt Romney had the coup de grâce, however with his recent comments regarding Santos. “I think the wheels of justice grind slow,” he stated, “but they grind fine.” Right, Mitt, they grind people into dust before they ever see the light of a courtroom.
House Republican leaders Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise opted to respect centuries of judicial tradition, saying Santos deserved a presumption of innocence until proven guilty.
It is not my job as a journalist to comment on whether or not Santos is innocent, but I sure as hell am not going to assume he’s guilty until he is able to avail himself of the protections afforded by what used to be—and must become again—the most advanced system of justice the world has known.
The corrupt DOJ and SDNY, as governmental agencies, do not enjoy the presumption of innocence, however. Their misconduct and abuse is rampant and traceable, and the House must investigate them deeply, particularly in regards to their treatment of Guo and the Chinese Whistleblowers.
“Not even Rep. Jim Jordan—the Ohio right-winger leading the House’s ‘Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government’—has taken that bait,” boasts Friedman, “at least so far.”
Jim Jordan, that sounds like a challenge. Look into it, and let’s restore true justice to the land.