It’s Not Just Stormy Who Drew the Short Straw*

4 min readApr 27, 2024


Photo by Gregor Scheithauer on Unsplash

In 2015, a news day like we had April 25, 2024, would be living in infamy. Nine years later, it’s just another day of news to which we’ve adapted in the Trump era.

In our most extreme 2015 nightmares, we could never have dreamed that a former U.S. president would be on trial for 34 felony counts of having cheated his way into office by falsifying business records to conceal from the voting public a sexual liaison he’d had with a porn actress. Or, that he would be charged with another 54 felonies in three other jurisdictions with staging a violent coup to disenfranchise 81,283,501 voters and overturn a presidential election he lost by significant margins, stealing classified and other government documents, and obstructing their return.

In 2015, we could never have imagined that at least four members of the United States Supreme Court would, with a straight face, entertain the argument that Article II immunizes a president from criminal prosecution for having his political rival murdered or staging a violent coup to remain in office after the voters resoundingly elected the other candidate. Or, that at least four members of the court would want to assure the person who appointed them and/or with whom they are politically aligned is given king status and never held to account for the most serious crimes a president can commit against voters in a democracy.

Beyond any peradventure, our 2015 mind’s eye could never have conceived that this same person, a monster really, and the most dangerous person in the country if not the world, would be the nominee of a major political party for the U.S. presidency.

“Donald Trump’s claim that he has absolute immunity for criminal acts taken in office as president is an insult to reason, an assault on common sense and a perversion of the fundamental maxim of American democracy: that no man is above the law.”

Jamelle Bouie, The New York Times, This Whole King Trump Thing Is Getting Awfully Literal.

The founders never intended a president would be immune from prosecution for crimes committed in office. Yet, they established a system of government in which minority rule, or “counter-majoritarian measures . . . built into the Constitution,” and “designed in part to benefit a small propertied upper class,” have resulted in the events of April 25, 2024. Presumably, they did not foresee both a tyrant like Trump and his enablement by the separate branches of government they endowed with independent checks and balances on the executive. The founders must have assumed the structure would survive if not thrive on the good faith and patriotism of participants. But when the system allows a minority of right-wing American voters to elect as president a despot through the Electoral College, and a minority of right-wing Americans through red state senators to confirm right-wing justices to the high court, the fix is in, and the end may be near. See Ari Berman, Minority Rule: The Right-Wing Attack on the Will of the People — and the Fight to Resist It.

As an American and a lawyer who is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, I am ashamed of the four conservative justices. Justice Alito, however, stands out as the most shameful. See Justice Alito Is Holding Trump to a Different Standard. Alito suggested through questioning that to maintain a stable democracy, “presidents need to be above the law to raise the odds that they follow the law and leave office without incident,” especially in close elections, to avoid politically motivated investigations and prosecutions. Hmm. “There have been, in the nearly 236 years since Americans ratified the Constitution, 45 presidents. Of those, 10 sought but did not win re-election. In every case but one, the defeated incumbents left office without incident. There was no fear that they would try to overturn the results or subvert the process, nor was there any fear that their successors would turn the power of the state against them.”

Yes, Trump, with his enablers, changed everything.

As an American, I am ashamed that April 25, 2024, will not live in infamy.

For having raped his way into an office that belongs to the people of the United States and plundered and despoiled the presidency, Trump should spend the rest of his life in prison. Short of that he should pay every American at least $130,000 for having to “lay there, annoyed that [we were] getting fucked . . . . It may have been the least impressive [presidency we’d] ever had, but clearly, he didn’t share that opinion.” Stormy Daniels recounts her dalliance with Trump. See Mitt Romney: Of Course Trump Had Sex With Stormy Daniels.

R.VanWagoner publishes.

*My brother the very talented fiction writer and novelist, Robert Hodgson Van Wagoner, deserves considerable credit for offering both substantive and technical suggestions to Rob’s second novel, a beautifully written suspense drama that takes place in Utah, Wyoming, and Norway, dropped on November 17, 2020. Available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple Bookstore and your favorite local bookshop, this novel, The Contortionists, which Rob himself narrates for the audio version, is a psychological page-turner about a missing child in a predominantly Mormon community. I have read the novel and listened to the audio version twice. It is a literary masterpiece. The Contortionists is not, however, for the faint of heart.




Exercising my right not to remain silent. Criminal defense and First Amendment attorney.