After weeks of feverish anticipation among former President Donald Trump’s political enemies, a grand jury in Manhattan, New York, reportedly moved to indict him on charges apparently related to his alleged hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Trump, whose popularity among Republican voters increased ahead of Thursday’s grand jury decision, issued a statement predicting that the development would “backfire” on his rivals — but that did not stop fierce critics like former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) from celebrating the news.
In a tweet on the topic, she highlighted either her ignorance of the precedent that defendants are presumed innocent or her belief that Trump should be deprived of this key consideration.
“The Grand Jury has acted upon the facts and the law,” Pelosi wrote. “No one is above the law, and everyone has the right to a trial to prove innocence. Hopefully, the former President will peacefully respect the system, which grants him that right.”
Shortly thereafter, the tweet received a fact-check explaining how she inaccurately placed the burden of proof on Trump instead of the prosecutors tasked with making the case against him.
“Law in the US assumes the innocence of a defendant and the prosecution must prove guilt for a conviction,” the addendum clarified.
A slew of other Twitter users also piled on the criticism, with many comparing Pelosi’s interpretation of the criminal justice system to that of China or Soviet Russia.
The right to “prove innocence”? This is America, not Stalinist Russia. https://t.co/v5ELf9Rth6
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) March 31, 2023
Former U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) asserted that she was “dead wrong,” adding: “Does she really have no clue that the burden is not on a defendant to prove their innocence at trial?”
Longtime Trump ally Rudy Giulini also chimed in, noting that students used to learn the concept of “innocent until proven guilty” by the time they entered high school.
“Stalinist Pelosi,” conservative commentator Mark Levin concluded. “Prove innocent? It’s innocent until proven guilty, moron. Or at least used to be.”
Trump, who is expected to appear in court next week, issued a lengthy statement in which he unequivocally declared his innocence.
“The Democrats have lied, cheated, and stolen in their obsession with trying to get Trump, but now they’ve done the unthinkable, indicting a completely innocent person in an act of blatant election interference,” he wrote. “Never before in our nation’s history has this been done.”