Be a Cleese Very Best Person


Last updated 6/13/2023 at 11:13am

It’s hard to think clearly when partisan pundits hyperventilate every hour out of every media device. About the Trump indictment: It’s a big emotional, historic, legal, political, divisive thing. It involves complex issues that deserve argument and judicial scrutiny. A trial will take time. And be mostly boring while each side goes through discovery and prepares pre-trail motions and responses. With everything else going on in life, who has time to follow details? It’s easier to pick a side and let commentators do the thinking. This is too important to do that.

Bipartisan politicization of the latest Trump case, and of the one before it and of the others that will likely follow, is forcing a choice: trust the justice system gave Trump constitutional due process and accept the result, or distrust the system, deny he got due process, and reject any guilty verdict. Predictably, Trump-is-innocent and Trump-is-guilty talkers proclaim they are right before finding out if they are. In “Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide,” John Cleese of Monty Python fame says, “The trouble is that most people want to be right. The very best people, however, want to know if they’re right.” Before choosing for or against the justice system, try being a Cleese very best person. Be sure you are right. Do more reading than listening.

Begin with the June 8 indictment at It is a mostly plain-language story. For information about how a federal grand jury is formed, what it does, and how it makes decisions, see Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 6 — The Grand Jury at At trial, Trump’s defense team will probably make numerous motions for dismissal or delay. One might challenge the Mar-a-Lago search warrant that led to the indictment.

Legal federal searches and seizures are not arbitrary or capricious. They follow Federal Rule of Criminal Procedure 41. Search and Seizure and must meet the Rule’s probable cause requirement at

crimalprocedure. If Trump’s lawyers argue there was no Rule 41 search and seizure, and the court agrees, that could end the case. They might argue the Presidential Records Act allowed Trump to take and keep the documents. Decide for yourself. A summary of and link to the Act are at

act. It will be interesting to see what motions Trump’s team makes. Meanwhile, there’s another case to follow. The Biden documents investigation.

The special prosecutor working it is Robert Hur, a former U.S. attorney for Maryland nominated by – dramatic pause – then President Trump. There is no report or indictment. Yet. Anyone claiming to know the result does not.

There will be endless commentary and speculation about those cases before they end one way or another. That’s a punishment delivered 24-7 by news cycle profit centers. Try to listen critically. Be a Cleese very best person. Read from primary sources online when you can. Look for the answer to this question: If Trump had returned the documents, there’d be no case. Why did he keep them? In the end, take some quiet time to decide for or against the legal system. Be sure you’re right. It’s important.


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